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How To Paint Laminate Countertops (Not Using A Kit)

Are you looking for an easy way to update your countertops? Use our step-by-step tutorial to paint your laminate countertops to look like marble without an expensive kit.

white marble painted bathroom counters with sink and faucet.

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Can you paint countertops?

Yes, you can. It is actually a pretty simple and straightforward DIY painting project. With the right tools and supplies, you can change the look of your counters in just a few days.

Factors To Consider

Before You Begin

It would help if you decided what materials you will use, the design and color and how you will accomplish this without using your kitchen or bathroom.

Remember that you need to allow for proper dry time in between each coat of primer, paint and topcoat.

Time and Difficulty Level

Our small bathroom counter was able to be completed in 2 days. We tried to limit using the space for 14 days after to let the acrylic topcoat fully cure.

This is honestly a relatively easy DIY project. The hardest part is waiting for each layer to dry and having confidence when painting the marble veins. Just do it! It is only paint and can be painted over if it doesn’t look right.

hand painting countertops white in bathroom.

Cons Of Painted Countertops

  • Wait Time: The biggest con to painting your countertops is that you had to let them fully cure. You don’t want to ruin your work by rushing to use your kitchen or bathroom counters.
  • Takes some DIY skills: While this is a pretty simple DIY painting project, you still need the confidence to go for it. Try this in a small bathroom (like we did) before you tear out the old counters. You may surprise yourself with the outcome.
  • Time: Do not rush the dry time and try to limit the contact people have with your countertops during this DIY project.
  • Hard To Remove Paint Once Painted: Once you follow these steps, removing the paint will be pretty hard if you do not like them. Therefore you should be committed to painted counters or know you may remove them in the future.

Reasons To Paint Your Counters

  • Budget-friendly: Need we say any more? This project really only cost us the price of ordering the top coat because we had everything else from past DIY painting projects.
  • Control Over The Design: We wanted a more simple vein design on our painted counters, but you can also create a more textured granite look by using different layers of paints with sponges.
  • Endless Color Options: Since there are tons of different paint colors out there, you can choose to go completely bold or more neutral.
  • Demo-Free: just tape out the areas you don’t want to be painted and go for it. There is no need to rip out the old counters to get replaced.

Our Decision

Honestly, this pros list is the reason we went for it and painted the counters in the bathroom vanity. We had already painted the vanity cabinet and wish we would have taken on this counter project sooner.

woman using small foam roller to paint countertops in bathroom.

We chose to paint our counters in this bathroom because it does not get a lot of use and it was super-budget-friendly. We always love trying to save what is there first before replacing it. In a few years if the paint hasn’t held up then we will replace the counters.

The “Before” Bathroom Vanity

This bathroom counter was a light blue laminate on an oak vanity cabinet when we moved in. We painted this bathroom cabinet when we did our cheap bathroom makeover upstairs.

blue laminate countertops with white sink.

Luckily this laminate counter was in pretty good shape but just needed a little updating to fit our current design style.

Recommended Supplies

  • Bonding Primer: we used the leftover primer we had from when we painted the glass tile backsplash in our kitchen.
  • Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel: from our repainted kitchen island to painting molding this paint is our go-to with its self-leveling capabilities.
  • (3) Small Foam Rollers with Handle: since you can buy these in bulk, we chose to throw out the primer one when we were finished. You could wash, dry and reuse them but we like starting with a fresh roller for each step.
  • 2.5″ Angled Synthetic Brush or Small Foam Brush
  • Large Ziploc Gallon Bags: these can store your paint brush and roller in between coats of paint.
  • Small Paint Trays: our favorite small tray we use for a lot of our painting projects.
  • Painter’s Tape: since we were caulking after the project was done, we didn’t care what type of tape we used.
  • Bathroom Caulk
  • 220 Fine Sandpaper
  • Deglosser and Rag
  • Small Paint Brush
  • Spray Bottle with water
  • Gray Paint
  • Dry Paint Brush
  • Acrylic Top Coat or Epoxy Top Coat
bonding primer, small roller and paint tray on countertop.

If your countertop is in bad shape, has chips, or needs repairs you will want to complete that first before trying to paint.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Lightly Scuff Up The Laminate Surface

Use 220 sandpaper to lightly scuff up the counter surface. Wipe to get rid of dust before taping out counters.

hand holding 220 sandpaper and using on blue laminate countertop.

Step 2: Tape Out Surrounding Areas

Use painter’s tape to block any areas you don’t want to get painted such as around the sink and along the walls.

Step 3: Wipe Down With A Deglosser

Use a rag and a deglosser to wipe down all surfaces needing to be painted. Make sure your counters are completely dust-free and grime-free.

hand holding Krud cutter deglosser with laminate countertops in the background.
hand wearing black glove using yellow rag to wipe down bathroom countertops.

Step 4: Start To Prime

Use a brush to trim and a small foam roller to paint flat areas with primer.

view of laminate countertop being primed with white primer.

Step 5: Let Primer Completely Dry

Let each layer dry completely before repeating the painting steps.

small foam roller with paint tray and brush with painted counters in the background.

Step 6: Add The First Layer Of Paint

Use a small foam roller, brush, and mini paint trays to apply a thin layer of hybrid acrylic paint such as Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Paint in semi-gloss.

primer being added with small foam roller to blue bathroom sink countertops.

Step 7: Work To Paint 3 Layers With Proper Dry Time

Paint 3 coats of white paint. Let the paint fully dry for at least 4 hours in between each layer of paint.

view looking down on white paint on bathroom counter.
This was after the second light layer of paint on the countertops.

Step 8: Paint Marble Veins

Use a darker-colored gray paint and a small brush to create a vein pattern.

small paint brush added gray lines to painted counters.

Work in small sections. Once you have painted a few veins, spray lightly with water.

hand holding spray bottle with painted faux marble counter in the background.

Take a dry brush and dab to make a muted more marble appearance.

hand holding small paint brush and dabbing on top of gray marble lines.

If an area appears too dark, you can also use a small foam brush with the original white color to add extra texture on top of the vein patterns.

hand holding small foam brush adding white paint on countertops.

Step 9: Let Paint Fully Dry

half painted faux marble countertop.
Here is what it looked like with half of the countertop painted in faux marble finish.

We waited 24 hours before starting to apply our topcoat.

zoomed in view of faux marble painting on countertop.

Step 10: Acrylic or Epoxy Top Coat

Use a small foam brush or a clean small foam roller to apply the top coat.

hand holding acrylic top coat can with small paint tray in the background.

We applied the clear coat with the large foam brush on all areas first.

hand holding large foam brush applying clear coat to painted counters.

We had difficulty getting the clear coat to texture to look right with the foam roller. I didn’t want to chance it being bubbly.

We found you can smooth out the foam paint strokes with the foam roller after applying.

hand using small foam roller on top of clear coat on painted counters.

Step 11: Coat With Layers With Proper Dry Time In Between

Let dry in between layers.

Add at least 3 coats for extra protection. Note that this top coat is very glossy. If you are going for a more honed granite look, you may want to consider using polyacrylic in the finish of your choice.

zoomed in view of painted marble laminate counters with shiny clear coat drying.

Step 12: Let Top Coat Fully Cure

Remove the tape and let the countertops cure for 14 days before heavy use.

Optional: Caulk Around Fixtures and Backsplash Pieces

Let the top coat fully dry. Caulk around the bathroom sink and backsplash pieces for a completely clean look.

Tips For Painting

  • You want natural lines when painting veins. Don’t try to be perfect.
  • Twisting your small brush and holding it loosely will help you get that feeling.
  • Look at real marble or the finish you want to get your design inspiration.
  • Paint in light layers when doing your base coats to limit bubbling.
  • If nervous to paint, use a very light gray color to start. There is no need to buy a new color if you already have some gray or black. Just mix a little with your white base on a plate to use. You need very little dark paint.

Before and After Painted Counters

half picture of blue laminate counters and half faux painted marble counters with arrow pointing to before and after.

Tutorial FAQs

What kind of paint do you use for your countertops?

Water-based acrylic or epoxy paints are what you want to use to paint your countertops. To ensure your paint job last, cleaning, prep, priming, and your topcoat are equally as important.

What is the difference between an acrylic topcoat and an epoxy topcoat?

Acrylic is water-based and hardens by water evaporating while epoxy hardens from a chemical reaction. According to Giani, the only real noticeable difference is the full time it takes each coat to

Will the countertop topcoat yellow over time?

Both Polyacrylic or the brand of top coat we used are meant to have a non-yellowing effect. We decided to use a specific topcoat meant for counters even if we did not use the whole recommended kit.

Why did you not use the whole marble painting kit?

It was cheaper to try to use primer and paint we already to had to paint our countertops. Since this laminate bathroom countertop was super small it made sense to save money using supplies we had.

Would you do anything different when painting counters next time?

We would consider paying for the full counter kit if we were taking on a larger project. However, for our small bathroom counter painting project, we would not change any of the steps we took.
We will update you about how our painted counters are holding up in a year.

zoomed in view of painted faux marble bathroom countertops.
white marble painted bathroom counters with sink and faucet.

How To Paint Countertops

Learn how to paint laminate countertops without a kit to look like real marble or stone.
Print Pin Rate
Course: DIY Paint Ideas
Keyword: how to paint countertops, painted countertops
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Dry Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 2 hours 25 minutes
Author: Erin
Cost: under $40

Equipment

Recommended Supplies

Instructions

  • Use 220 sandpaper to lightly scuff up the counter surface.
  • Remove dust and dirt with a handheld vacuum.
  • Use a rag and a deglosser to wipe down all surfaces needing to be painted.
  • Tape out any areas you don't want to get painted such as around the sink and along the walls.
  • Use a brush to trim and a small foam roller to paint flat areas with primer.
  • Let each layer dry completely before repeating the painting steps.
  • Use a small foam roller, brush and mini paint trays to apply a thin layer of the Emerald paint in semi-gloss.
  • Paint 3 coats of white paint. Let the paint fully dry.
  • Use a darker colored paint and a small brush to create vein pattern.
  • Use a small foam brush and clean small foam roller to apply top coat.
  • Let dry in between layers.
  • Add at least 3 coats for extra protection.
  • Let cure for 14 days before heavy use.
  • Caulk around the bathroom sink and backsplash pieces for a complete clean look.

Notes

Tips To Create The Vein Pattern

  • Use a small brush and make irregular lines with gray paint urethane trim enamel paint. 
  • Spray with a little water and then use a larger dry brush to tab on top to make the line fuzzy
  • Practice on a different painted surface if you are nervous
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