Painting Kitchen Countertops: Can You Actually Do it? (Pro Tips)

April 29, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner asking, can I paint kitchen countertops, the good news is that some countertops are paintable, and some paints are made specifically for common countertop materials including wood and tile. The bad news is that you might not get the results you expect even with the best paints and extensive prep work!

Laminate, wood, and tile countertops are typically paintable, while stone and glass don’t sand or hold paint easily, so that your fresh paint might start peeling away before long!

If you’re ready for a fresh new look in your home’s kitchen and bath, you might consider some tips on how to paint kitchen countertops, and why you might leave this work to the pros. You might also note some alternatives to painting countertops and why new counters or a full kitchen renovation can be the best choice for your home!

How to Paint Kitchen Countertops

To paint kitchen countertops properly, ensure you’ve prepared the space with a thorough cleaning and have also blocked off switches, outlets, and other items with painter’s tape. You’ll also want to have adequate ventilation and wear all needed protective gear including gloves, to avoid skin irritation.

kitchen sink countertop

Painting laminate and wood butcher-block countertops

To paint laminate and wood butcher-block countertops, start with a medium grit sandpaper and sand the surface lightly, then clean away all dust and allow the counters to dry before priming. Use a primer meant for flat latex paint, the best choice for laminate and wood. Apply the primer as instructed on the package and allow it to dry completely.

Once the primer is dry, apply one to two coats of your flat latex paint and allow it to dry in between coats. Next, add a coat of polyurethane to seal the paint and provide a nice finish. Once dry, sand the first coat of polyurethane with a moist sanding sponge and apply another coat, and then allow that to dry as well.

How to paint tile countertops

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are designed for durability, which means that they might last so long you get tired of their appearance before they wear out and need replacing! Painting tile countertops is an option; shop for paint meant for kitchen and bathroom tile in particular, as this paint will adhere to the tile's smooth surface while resisting peeling even in high humidity.

granite countertop selection for boise idaho kitchen remodeling

Start by sanding the tile with a medium grit sandpaper, using a light touch to just rough up tile surfaces slightly. Clean away all sanding dust and ensure the tile is dry before applying a primer meant for tile paint. Ensure you apply primer over the grout!

Next, apply your tile paint; as with the primer, ensure the paint gets into grout and any little pits and pores along tile surfaces. Allow the first coat to dry and then add a second coat. Once dry, add a coat of clear urethane, for added protection, and ensure this coat is dried completely before using the countertops.

Can you paint stone, quartz, or glass countertops?

While it is possible to paint stone, quartz, and glass countertops, note that these dense materials don’t sand very easily; their smooth surfaces also don’t hold paint well even with sanding and priming. Quartz is especially difficult to sand, and requires specialty polishing compounds and diamond-tipped polishing pads for proper preparation.

Homeowners might also note that some stone countertops are easy to resell! You might not recoup your entire purchase and installation price by selling your home’s existing countertops and investing in new counters, but selling those pieces is often recommended versus trying to paint stone, quartz, and glass.

Is Painting Countertops a Good Idea?

As with all changes you might make to building materials in your home, there are pros and cons to painting countertops. One advantage of this process is that new paint can change the entire look of a kitchen for less cost than new countertops, and sanding down those counters can eliminate some minor scratches and stains.

The downside to painting kitchen countertops is that a homeowner rarely ends up with a high-quality finish, and paint doesn’t last as long on countertops as it does on walls and other surfaces! Laminate, butcher-block, and tile are not designed to hold paint colors so that, even with sanding, the finished look and texture is not necessarily what a homeowner wants or expects. Even bright white paint can look dull and dim, while some textured paints might have an artificial look and feel that detracts from the kitchen’s appearance.

black kitchen countertop

Since countertops are subjected to lots of use and outright wear every single day, paint colors typically don’t last more than six months before they start to peel and chip, or show worn areas. You might then need to touch up that paint or even sand down the counters and apply an entirely new coat more often than you expect!

Spray Painting My Countertops

There are two important concerns to note when it comes to spray painting countertops; the first is that you need to use a paint recommended for your countertop materials in particular, and these might not be available in spray form. Never assume you can use any household paint, even indoor/outdoor varieties, for laminate, tile, and other counter materials!

The second concern is that it’s difficult to use spray paint without getting it on surrounding surfaces. In the kitchen or bath, this can mean damaged floor tiles and sinks, appliances, mirrors, and lighting fixtures. Covering and taping those surfaces and fixtures is a big job and can offset any inconvenience offered by spray paints.

Replacing Laminate Countertops Without Removing Them

It is possible to put new laminate over existing laminate, to freshen your kitchen without removing the current counters. The current laminate must be smooth, without deep gouges, and glued to the underlayment securely so that your new laminate doesn’t peel away.

countertops in kitchen

To install new laminate, cut it to size and then use contact cement applied with a soft-bristle brush. Ensure you smooth out the laminate and trim any overage, and allow it to dry completely before using the counters.

Mistakes to Avoid When Painting or Renewing Kitchen Countertops

Painting kitchen countertops is not as easy as painting walls or new wood shelves, as countertop materials are meant to be dense and durable, and resist sanding and staining! Many homeowners fail to realize how much prep work is involved in painting kitchen countertops and might try to “skimp” on the sanding or cleaning, but this can mean peeling paint, painting debris onto the counters, and other unsightly messes.

Homeowners also need to avoid using materials not meant for countertops when renewing those surfaces. Online videos often advertise how easy it is to use contact paper, pennies, and even paper bags when updating a home’s countertops, but these items lack the same durability as stone, tile, and wood designed for interior surfaces.

If you need a cheaper alternative to new counters, ask a renovation contractor about granite or stainless steel coverings, designed to install over existing counters. You might also invest in their services for painting existing countertops, as they have the right tools and skills to ensure a high-quality finish.

Why Choose a Kitchen Renovation or New Countertop Installation

Rather than trying to paint and refinish existing countertops, you might consider new countertop installation or even a small-scale kitchen renovation instead. One reason for investing in new counters or a renovation is that it might not be as expensive as you assume! Homeowners can often spend just a few thousand dollars and end up with a beautiful, fresh look in the space they’ll love for years.

kitchen countertops without paint

Some older counters also need replacing rather than refinishing. Sanding and painting might cover small scratches but won’t repair deep gouges and chips, and these often hold germs, bacteria, and other harmful residues. Damaged laminate might also peel away from its underlayment, resulting in uneven, unsightly surfaces.

New countertops mean a clean, hygienic surface, safe for food prep and cooking. Today’s countertop materials are also easier to clean and more durable than ever, so they might last far longer than you expect. Including energy-efficient appliances in your kitchen renovation plan can also mean lower utility costs and even increased property values!

One last vital reason to choose a kitchen renovation is that the current space simply might not work for you and your family, creating frustration for everyone, every day! A kitchen that lacks storage or room for entertaining, or that offers a cramped and awkward layout can make cooking more of a chore than a joy, and detract from the use of the space. Renovating a kitchen to create a space you love can mean more enjoyment for everyone in the family.

North Star Kitchen and Bath Remodels is proud to offer this information to our readers and we hope it helped answer the question, can I paint kitchen countertops? If you’re in the market for a beautiful, affordable kitchen upgrade, turn to our expert kitchen renovation contractors in North Star. We offer a wide range of renovation services at prices you can afford. To find out more or to get started with your FREE consultation, call us today!

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