Countertop Cover-Up

Since the article over at Apartment Therapy Re-Nest highlighting my Kitchen Makeover, I've had many requests to do a follow-up post on the status of my painted countertops.  Since it's been almost exactly a year since I painted my kitchen, it's actually a perfect time to see how they've stood up.  And I've finally got everything together to give you all the gory details.

I'm a pretty confidant person when it comes to paint.  The great thing about it is you can always paint over it if you don't like the color.  That being said, I had never painted countertops before, I had never even seen an example of it before.  Around the time I was planning to paint the kitchen I saw an ad on TV advertising a total countertop coating system, similar to the Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations which includes a base coat, color chips, and top coat.  I would have loved to use this, but with a price tag of $248 it was well over my $100 limit.      

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After sulking around Lowes for a minute I, completely by accident, stumbled across my saving grace: Rust-Oleam Specialty Countertop Coating.  Which was actually in the painting isle, a completely different isle than I was in. 

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I had it tinted to "Putty" which was the darkest color on the box.  I wish I was able to go darker, but beggars can't be choosers.  Although in this case, I guess they can.  Maybe it was me not looking hard enough, (although I swear this was the only box I saw in the isle), but I saw this a couple months ago in the same isle:

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Notice the "Tintable to Dark Colors".  Where were you last year?!
Anyways, as far as the process went, I followed the directions on the box to a T.  I was so scared, I even watched the videos online a couple times, (found here).  Remember Mike didn't want me to do this whole kitchen project, so I was worried that I would completely botch this countertop and we would have to a.) live with crappy counters or b.) it would be so bad we would have to replace them, (after doing it I now know that I can easily paint over it, so I was never in danger of completely ruining them, but the bottom line was, I was scurrred).

I started by moving the appliances out a little bit, and then cleaned (with TSP for those wondering) and sanded the counters.  I'm sure it said something like "lightly sand the area", but I was worried it wouldn't adhere, so I really sanded it.  Afterwards I realized it didn't really help of hinder so I think a light sanding is fine.  Box directions: 1, me: 0.  After wiping and cleaning the counters again I was ready to go.  At this point I would suggest taping off all of the edges, (along the sink, backsplash, walls, etc.), but I'm a bad-ass painter, (see my stats here), so I just used my favorite stubby angled brush to do my edging.

After taking a deep breath I used my brush to start painting around the edges.  Surprisingly, the paint was pretty opaque after only one coat and was relived to find out I only needed one coat.  And as for the deep breath, it was the last I took cause this stuff stinks.  Like open all the windows and our back door and it's still stinky.

After finishing up the trim work I used a small foam roller to roll the larger surfaces.  In some spots I used the brush to fade into the roller marks.  After I was done I didn't touch it for 3 days.  This was pretty easy for us since, like I've mentioned before, we still had our apartment for a couple months after we closed on the house, which helped with a lot of the big projects.  I realize this isn't the norm, to completely stay away from your kitchen for 3 days, but just think about how potentially long you would have to go without if you completely removed and replaced the counters.

After the third day the counters were completely dried and I had myself pretty much a new kitchen.

After the third day I was excited to see how they turned out and was a little disappointed to see my brush marks along the edges as well as the rest being textured from my roller.  Since I would have had to use a brush versus a roller along the edges regardless of using tape or not, I knew it wasn't me.  It was hard to capture this in a photo, but see how the it's smooth next to the sink, then there's a feathering that happens about 2-3 inches along the edge.  I'm sure I'm the only one who notices it, but it's something that's bothered me.  I don't mind the texture so much but it's not something I expected.

As far as durability wise, it's not the greatest.  Looking at reviews online, I think I should have done a second coat to make it a little thicker.  I think this would greatly reduce the small scratches that we've made.

It might even have prevented the big scratch that Mike made with his homebrewing equipment a couple weeks ago.

As far as the most used spot, it's seen better days.  This is the little drawer section next to the refrigerator which is directly across from the back door.  We use this for the cat's food container and dropping our keys off when we come inside.

And if you guys ever wondered why we want to completely rip this kitchen out one day, all I have show you are these drawers and it'll give you an idea of what the rest of the kitchen is like.  These are the wonky drawers we inherited, missing board on top and all.  And that's the largest drawer in the kitchen.  The top one is where we have our silverware.  It's about 7 in across inside.  Yeah, it drives me crazy.  There's only so much ugly you can cover with paint.

As for the rest of the counters, they've all taken a beating.  And that's something Mike and I knew would happen.  As much as I would have liked to baby the counters after painting, I knew that wasn't realistic. 

In the end, I'm still very happy with my counters and they made a huge transformation to my otherwise fugly kitchen.  Even with the little nicks here and there, I would definitely do it over if given the chance.

And speaking of doing it over again, I've already hinted to Mike about the possibility of repainting them, this time doing a couple coats and seeing if that helps reduce the nicks.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!


  1. Hi! I painted my counter tops this color about 2 years ago. I did do 2 coats and it still chips and scratches. I am actually going to do it again this summer in a darker color. Even though it scratches/chips I think it is well worth it, I dont have millions to replace the counters yet so 20 buck paint will do!

  2. wdmk - Thanks for the info! I've been wondering if it was my mistake by not painting more than one coat. It's nice to know that other people are having the same issue. And I agree with paying $20 every couple of years is way cheaper than paying to replace them!

  3. Love your blog! I can't wait to see what you do next!


  4. I wonder if spraying on the paint (with an air compressor dealie?) is the way to get it on smooth.

  5. I've been contemplating doing this. The only thing that might help me with the edge chipping is that there was thick wood trim all around the edge of the laminate. I've pulled that off and plan on also painting down the sides that are now just the edges of the underlayment of the counter. But then I'll be putting a slim piece of trim back on (painted the same as the counter). So, if the edges get dinged, it'll be the trim, not the countertop. Also, I will be doing 2 thin coats with plenty of cure time in between.
    I am concerned about the odor of the epoxy since my house is an open plan and I can't close off the kitchen from the rest of the house (and I have pets). I may just use regular water base paint, with multiple coats and a couple of layers of sealer.
    Re your missing silverware drawer board: why don't you just cut a piece of wood to fit, paint it and glue it in place? Try Gorilla Glue or something like that. Or sandwich and glue together a thin piece that is bigger than the missing piece with the correct size piece in front - then maneuver this into place so that the bigger piece is behind the vertical sides. You can use a staple gun to attach it from the inside if needed or just glue it to the inside.
    Your kitchen looks 100% better than the "before".

  6. i'm curious to know if you put any coats of poly down after you painted? many of the tutorials i've read have suggested three coats of poly in order to protect the counters.

    1. I didn't use any poly, (the Rust-Oleum box said it was needed), but if I were going to do it for a more permanent use that would be a really good idea to prevent all of the nicks I have!

  7. I have had all the same problems you have described...and I followed the instructions exactly. Am also looking to re-coat in a darker color (Pewter over the Putty). Thought I would share this recommendation from a review which I came across on Amazon-
    "The only reason I would recommend this paint is for use as a base coat followed by Envirotex Lite high-gloss top coating. It is almost odorless and coats very evenly. It also dries very quickly, it's only been 1.5 days and when a rolling pin fell out of my cabinet and onto the new surface it left no mark. I plan to buff it with pumice polish as I prefer a less shiny finish."
    I'm thinking this may be the route to take...until I can afford new cabinets and counter tops!!!

  8. This is what I sent to Rust-oleum:
    I bought a can of your Rust-oleum Specialty Countertop Coating and refinished the Countertops in my kitchen. My wife and I were very careful to follow all of the manufacturer's application instructions because this was a relatively cheap solution to our problem of horrible 70's green. All went well enough through application and we didn't touch it for 4 days ensuring that it had ample time to set. Once we started using it the shortcomings were clear, this stuff can't take heat and it gets sticky. NOWHERE on the box does it list its limitations. Now I admit that on your website I found information on this stating that it should be protected from hot stuff, but even there it says "hot cookware or other heated objects" which suggests to me a more extreme heat. Shouldn't that be located on the sales packaging?!? Or at least on a paper in the box?! I shouldn't have to go to your website to see these limitations. I brought home a pizza from Pizza Hut and set it on the counter for no more than 2 minutes and the finish was warped beyond repair. If that wasn't enough, things that normally sit on the counter without moving for extended periods of time: bowls of fruit, cookbooks and canisters of flour or large cooking utensils stick to the finish and pull off chunks of it. There are pictures on your box of canisters and a toaster sitting on your product and I think that is misleading. Now I have to problem of trying to remove this crap. I honestly thought that with as easily as it pulls off on the bottom of my canisters that it would scrape right off, but it doesn't. It looks like we're going to have to use paint stripper but we painted the cabinets at the same time so now we'll have to take extreme care not to damage that finish. Do you have any recommendation on how to best remove this product? I realize that I can't expect for much from a $20 can of paint, but I would expect that if a product has this many limitations it should be well documented on the package with warnings or something.

    1. Wow, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I've had nothing like what you've described, just the little chips here and there. We are planning to tear everything out so we treat it as a temporary kitchen, (not worrying about scraping things across the counters, dropping things, etc.) I've never had any of the heat issues you've described either. I have noticed that when I put something hot down, (like a pizza box), and remove it there is a spot that gets moist and the paint is lighter for a second or two. The same happens when I wash them. It goes away as it dries.

      I'm wondering if something happened during the curing process, maybe it was humid, or the can wasn't shaken thoroughly? These are probably stupid guesses, but I honestly don't know what would cause your issues.

      My suggestion would be scrapping, although that sounds like a tedious task. Any other suggestion you would have to get to Rust-Oleum. Good luck!