Saturday, November 2, 2013

Faux Granite, Painted Countertops

One of the first things I wanted to tackle when we moved into our house was the kitchen.  Everything about it screamed builders grade and I couldn't stand it.  The cabinets were a honey oak with brass knobs, the countertops were regular ol' laminate, the floors were vinyl, and right in the middle of all of that was a brass chandelier.  I knew we weren't going to have the money to renovate the entire kitchen for at least a few years, so I immediately began looking for DIY, budget-friendly solutions for the builder's-grade blues.  Within a few weeks of moving in, I started my first DIY kitchen makeover project of painting my countertops!

You might be thinking, "What?!? Painting your countertops?  Is that safe for your food prep?  Will it stand up to the daily use?"  At least those are a lot of the reactions I received from friends and family when I mentioned my idea. But, I had found the idea during one of my many internet searches for budget-friendly kitchen reno ideas and it sounded like the perfect way to jazz up my laminate without spending a fortune on that Corian countertop I had fallen in love with at Lowes.  Plus, I figured it couldn't really hurt considering I hated the stained laminate countertops we already had.

In my research, I had seen where some women bought all of their own materials and painted their countertops themselves.  Being new to the whole idea, I decided to go with a product called Giani Granite Paint for countertops (check out their website here).  They offer several different color schemes and allow you to paint almost any kind of countertop. I went with the Silican Sand kit for $79.95.  Looking back, I think I could've done some more research and gotten all the materials I needed to paint the countertops myself (probably for half the price), but since I was already a little nervous about doing my first DIY project in our new house, it was nice to just hit "Place Order" and have everything I need arrive on my doorstep within a few days.

I started by cleaning all of my countertops and taping off my sink, walls, and cabinets to make sure I didn't get paint on anything but the countertops.  The kit comes with all the tools you'll need for the application (roller, sponge, and "how to" CD).  It also comes with some paper to allow you to practice, which was a life saver for me!  I really wish I had taken a picture of my practice sheet because it was definitely...interesting (yes, that's the nicest word I can think of to describe my first attempt).  

I learned during my practice that I liked it best when I let the paint dry between layers; this allowed for distinguishable colors and layers instead of a more blended look.

You start by applying what they call IronCore primer all over your countertops.  Once the primer has dried, you start applying the different colors from your kit using the sea sponge they provide you.  As you can see in the picture, when you first start it looks like a child's sponge-paint art project.  But, once you get a few layers and colors on, it really starts coming together.  I preferred a slightly darker look than the Silican Sand examples I had seen online, so I tried not to cover up all of the black primer.

If you peruse through the pictures of others that have used the Giani paint on Giani's Facebook page, you will be absolutely amazed at some of the things people have done with it.  I tried to read up on how to get the veining and more of a true-granite look, but quickly realized that I am just not that talented.  But, I still feel like mine turned out great! The absolute best part of this project was that you can't really mess up.  There were a couple areas that I didn't like the look of so I just let them dry, blotted on a little bit more black primer and then redid the colors.  

The hardest part of the whole project was applying the top coat.  I watched the CD on how to do it multiple times and thought I had it down pat.  But, when I went to apply the top coat, I encountered several issues.  First, even though I had enough paint to do my entire kitchen and island with one kit, I didn't have nearly enough top coat and ran out before I was done.  Second, even after watching the CD, I could not get the top coat to go on without showing streaks once it dried.  Since I ran out of top coat while doing my island, I ended up sanding down all of the countertops (just the layer of top coat) and going to the store to by some Minwax polyurethane to apply on top instead.  While I didn't end up with streaks in my top coat with the Minwax, I didn't end up with nearly the amount of shine as the top coat that I originally got from Giani.

Overall, I am very happy with the project!  Like I said earlier, I think I could've gotten similar results by buying some acrylic paint and a sea-sponge, especially since I ended up using my own top coat, but it was still a successful project and I'm glad I took it on!

Close-up of the Countertops: Before and After
What do you all think?  Would you ever paint your countertops?

NOTE:  I completed this project in November 2012 and I have been living with my painted countertops for a year now.  I very excited about how they have held up!  We have not had any chipping and they look as good as they did the day I finished the project.  I clean my countertops with soap and water and on occassion have even used stronger cleaner and have had no problems.

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