A few weeks ago I was roaming the aisles of Home Depot looking for trouble when I happened upon a product I didn't know about. It turns out Rust-Oleum makes a tintable counter paint that is supposed to adhere to basic laminate and provide a lasting surface as strong as your existing counters (I think that's about what it said). I was hooked! I don't hate my counters but I don't love them and we really just aren't going to fit new fancy counters into our budget so this seemed like the product for me. I decided to just use the untinted version of it which came out ivory in the end. Please forgive the spotty photographs as my camera LCD screen is still broken so I didn't know my memory card was actually in the computer, not the camera, when I did the bulk of the photos along the way (that particular error message would have shown up on the screen if it worked).
I started out by sanding the counter to rough it up a bit. Then I used some trusty blue tape to protect my work area. I used a regular paint brush to coat the backsplash and the tight areas that I knew my foam roller wouldn't fit in. The paint was just the right texture to level out so the brush strokes easily vanished. You have to be really careful not to over work the paint as it will show strokes if you do. You just want to gently brush it on then leave it alone to settle out. In working with the larger flat counter space, I just poured a bunch of it down then spread it with the roller and waited.
Unfortunately, the first coat barely made a difference and it put off the kind of smell that makes you wonder if you're going to kill your family with the project. As soon as I got that first coat on, I dug up a tarp and some plastic sheeting and attempted to seal off the kitchen. It was cold and rainy outside but fortunately the kitchen window looks out to the covered back porch (roof but no walls) so I was able to open the window and leave it open for the next few days with a fan in the window to pull air out.
The second, third and fourth coats seemed to be getting me somewhere but it wasn't until the fifth coat that I finally stopped seeing the veining in the original counter top.
Then we let it sit for 3+ days as the can said we had to. It was hard to wait and we had to keep that darn plastic up and the window open most of that time because the fumes were just horrendous. Finally, I put everything back and stepped back to admire my work (and decide if I'd be doing the rest of the counter tops or stop after this one back corner).
I know what you're thinking, or at least I know what I was thinking, "Um, Jules, that kinda looks like crap for something that was that much work and likely killed off half the brain cells in your family." It isn't all bad but that seam just won't take the color. It is actually a little bit raised so the paint kept running off it no matter what I did. Overall the finish was nice, a bit of a pebbly effect even though I used the ultra smooth foam roller. I'm not sure what exactly happened there in the corner down by the cabinets but it doesn't look great either.
[This is the part in the movie where they start playing some sort of ominous sounding music]
Then a couple of days later I went to grab a wooden spoon out of the holder and had to move the holder to get the spoon out and what did I discover?
I learned that my son will stop what he's doing if he hears me swearing in the kitchen. Sigh, that just looks like crap. I guess the paint wasn't fully dry because those aren't washable marks, those are lumps and bumps of paint that ruined the finish thanks to that pot. I checked and sure enough, same deal under the toaster and microwave.
[Enter supportive and understanding husband.]
"Well, I guess that answers the question about whether or not you're going to do the rest of the counters."
"Yeah, I'm trying really hard not to get super angry right now. Not only did I use most of one can of paint that was supposed to cover 25 linear feet of counter top but it doesn't even look good and now I have to figure out how to fix the marks. I guess I'll just sand them out and paint those areas again."
"You can if you want or we can just always leave those things exactly where the marks are and act like it never happened. Someday we'll get good counters and it won't matter."
[I love my husband.]
I put the pot back and started my own healing process. Just as I was about to get over it completely, I dropped something on the counter.
But this time, I didn't even swear. I'm so over this project and what a royal waste of time it was so all I can do is blog about it hoping maybe I can save someone else some heartache and be glad I started with the back corner and didn't try to do any more.
Here's my summary of lessons learned through this project:
1) Don't attempt to paint the counters unless they're really super horrible, so bad that not painting is no longer an option.
2) Seal off the space BEFORE you start painting 'cause it's gonna get stinky.
3) Buy a mask, not a particle mask, I mean like the expensive ones you're supposed to have when you're dealing with super extremely toxic fumes. Wear it.
4) Don't store your wet paint brushes in the fridge (you CAN do this with latex paint however. Just cover the brush with plastic wrap or put it in a baggie then refrigerate and it won't dry out nearly as quickly) because not only will it actually make the brushes gummier, it'll leach toxic chemicals into your Parmesan and make it taste weird.
5) Let the counter dry for many many many days, longer than they say.
6) Wait until the weather is good (low humidity, warm air, comfortable window opening weather)
7) Don't believe them when they say one can will go 25 linear feet of counters. Sure you can start with just one can but I'd be surprised if that's all you need unless you're not making a significant color change.
Have you done this? Did you have better luck? If you blogged about it, I'd love to see your success (or failure) story.
UPDATE: Months later, stuff still tastes weird if we leave it sitting on that counter. Now not only do we have an ugly section of counter with dings and marks but we can't hide our chips and bread in the back corner anymore. It leaches tastes and no doubt chemicals into our food. That seems safe.
Thank you for reading,