How to Paint a Laminate Countertop to Look Like Real Granite

New granite countertops are light years in the future, but your kitchen counters are old, ugly laminate in a color you can't stand. Wave a magic wand -- that looks suspiciously like a natural sea sponge -- and transform those cheap, unattractive counters into rich-looking facsimiles of your dream granite. Faux granite refinishing costs very little, but it does take some time. To ensure that all counters look as if they came from the same quarry, complete each step over the entire kitchen before moving on. Work in a well-ventilated, dust-free room.

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Step 1

Wash and de-grease the counters, rinse and let them dry. Sand the entire area to be faux-finished with coarse sandpaper, wipe the dust away with a clean cloth, and tape everything touching the counters that should not get paint on it.

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Step 2

Brush a coat of water-based tintable primer, mixed to your chosen base color, over all the surfaces to be faux painted. If you want dark granite, use black primer as the base; for lighter granite, use gray or toast primer. Let the primer dry.

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Step 3

Study the image or sample of your favorite granite and decide which of the colors to apply in which order. Work from darkest to lightest or mix it up, but apply each color over all the counters before starting the next color. Pour your starter color into a wide plastic food container or on a disposable plate.

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Step 4

Dip a natural sea sponge in the paint and lightly dab little hits of color all over the counters. Leave small areas where the primer color shows through. Then move on to the next color, repeating the process but covering the primer sections this time. Use a light touch and don't worry about some blending or blurring of the wet hobby paint colors. This resembles the stone patterns in real granite. Let acrylic glazes dry between color applications to achieve the illusion of depth visible in polished granite.

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Step 5

Keep applying new colors with a clean sea sponge until your counters look like the granite image or sample you selected. For realistic gleam, sponge on some silver metallic paint -- don't overdo it; you're just adding the appearance of natural veins of metal or silica in the stone.

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Step 6

Allow the faux granite finish to dry completely before applying the final protective sealer. Use polycrylic, which will not yellow over time, or an environmentally friendly high-gloss varnish substitute. Apply to bone-dry painted counters and backsplashes according to the manufacturer's instructions. Some of this stuff is thick and messy, so use disposable tools, gloves and old clothes and spread dropcloths everywhere to catch spills.

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Step 7

Monitor the final gloss coat for air bubbles and use a kitchen blow torch if necessary to get rid of them. Just prick the bubble with a pin and then wave the small torch over the area so the polycrylic or other glass-like finish softens and fills in the tiny bubble. Let the counters dry for at least 48 hours and avoid heavy use until the finish cures.