Painting Old Countertops

How to Paint Laminate Countertops

It just takes some careful preparation
by Carlo Morelli

We are often asked how to paint an existing laminate countertop, and if it is even possible. Yes, you can paint countertops, but you need to prepare the countertop surface carefully beforehand with special primer. Here's how.

  1. Wash the countertop with some ammonia-based cleaner or some warm ammonia diluted with water. Get it as clean as possible, removing all dirt and grime. When the surface is dry, you may wish to put strips of low-tack painter's tape on any trim around the countertop.
  2. The next step is to prime the countertop surface with a bonding primer, this will make sure the paint will stick to a non-porous surface. Some good bonding primers are XIM 400, Sherwin-Williams PrepRite®, or Zinssers Bin. Follow the primer manufacturers instructions; plan on allowing the primer to set for about 24 hours before painting. The odor can be strong, so consider opening windows and closing the room off from the rest of the house when using these products.
  3. When the primer is dry, it's time to paint your selected new color paint to the existing laminate countertop. Nothing changes a kitchen's look quite so much as countertop finishes, so make sure you've matched swatches to your existing colors – appliances, walls, flooring and all. If you use your laminate countertops to prepare food directly on, use water based paint; the chemicals in oil based paints may leech into your food, which is not a good thing. Apply two to three thin layers of paint, letting them dry between each coating. If you like, and are feeling creative, you can stencil-paint some patterned borders on your laminate countertops new base paint as well at this point.
  4. The final step is to seal the paint. Three coats of satin or high-gloss non-yellowing polyurethane will give you maximum durability. I prefer water-based sealer; it will not alter the appearance of your paint's colors when it dries. Allow the sealer to dry 24 hrs. You might have to order take-out dinners for a couple of days, but it will be worth it when you see your fabulous new painted laminate countertops in your kitchen.

Carlo Morelli writes for, where you can read about pellet stoves and tankless water heaters.


Guest's picture

I have come across one of your articles on painting laminate kitchen counter tops.I was just wondering if you could cut food directly on the painted counter top or would you always need to use a cuttin board?
Thanks G S

Emily 's picture

There is a new paint out by Rustoleum just for painting counter tops. You can purchase it at Home Depot. I did my entire kitchen for $40. I probably could have done the job with one can for $20, but I bought two just in case. I have pictures on my website if you would like to see them and to see what the product looks like in the box.

Candy L's picture

:grin: Yes...I would like to see the pictures if you don't mind? What is your website?


Guest's picture

Hi Emily,
I'm considering painting my old laminate countertops in my bathroom and I would love to see the pictures you've taken of your newly painted countertops that you mention in your post. Can you give me the address of your website so I can view the images? Also, can you tell me how well they've held up? Thank you for your time and consideration.


Imagine That's picture

My husband and I used Rustoleum counter top paint too, and it works like a dream. We used three coats on our old ugly laminate countertops, then allowed this to dry. Next, we took another complimentary color and stippled on a "marble" look, then a third complimentary color was stippled to add more dimension. The countertops look like marble and they are absolutely beautiful! What a positive difference this made in our kitchen. The paint was $80 (two case coat cans and two of the complimentary colors); we also bought some small rollers and replacement heads, an angle brush, some painter's tape, sponges for stippling, and a couple of other items. The entire project cost approximately $100 or a few bucks over. This is obviously a whole lot cheaper than having countertops replaced! The kitchen looks completely different and it looks as though we spent thousands! We highly recommend Rustoleum epoxy countertop paint. Please remember to allow your countertops to dry thoroughly between coats of paint, and also to dry for at least four days before setting anything on them. The directions say 3 days but we went the extra day because of humidity issues. Also, do not allow water to sit on the surface of your countertops; wipe up water and spills immediately.

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