In the rare instance that you can't abide your old, pitted marble countertops, or the more common so-over-this reaction to stained, scratched or just plain ugly cultured marble counters, you won't have to rip them out and start over. Save yourself some money and save the environment some wear and tear by painting over those marble countertops, with a finish that will hold up decently under normal wear -- until you're ready to invest in the granite or butcher block counters of your dreams.
You are going to seriously interfere with kitchen duty, so collect everything you need in the kitchen before you start -- saves time and tracking dust or paint into another space.
Take the faucet off and place it to one side with any loose hardware, if it is set into the counter and not inside the perimeter of the sink. If the faucet won't interfere with your countertop transformation, you get to skip a step and plunge right into cleaning.
Clean the counters thoroughly to remove any grease buildup, dried-on substances, or dirt in cracks. Dry the counters, put your particle mask on, and sand counters and edges lightly to create a surface for the primer to grab.
If scratches or very shallow chips are in the marble or cultured marble, this is the moment to gently sand them smooth. Sponge all dust off the counters and wipe them down with a clean rag.
Tape the edges of the counters where they meet the sink, a backsplash that will not be painted, an appliance, a cabinet or the wall. Tape the dropcloth in place so it won't shift while you are working. Painter's tape will peel away later without ripping off your new finish, or the finish on your cabinets.
Once you have taped obsessively, give the counters and edges a coat of oil-based primer and let it dry. Most primer dries within hours, but you can let it harden overnight if you have the time.
Apply an oil-based topcoat, keeping brushstrokes even and long to avoid any streaking. You don't need to sand again because the primer provides a good surface for the finish coat. Let this coat dry overnight -- or even longer if you can -- so it is tough and durable for the wear it will take.
You could choose to give the counters a faux finish with a granite-look paint kit that comes with flecks and a polymer resin base, and usually requires a 48-hour drying period. Follow manufacturer's instructions if you opt for a faux stone finish to cover your old marble.