How-To – Upcycled Kitchen Counters

A few weeks ago I shared that I have been giving my kitchen a facelift on a very tight budget.  After giving my floors a facelift, painting the walls and adding two chalkboard doors, I was ready to tackle my kitchen counters.  I found out that replacing them was way out of my budget, even if I DIY-ed; because I lack the measuring and cutting skills required –  I’m horrible when it comes to measuring and as a lefty I’m even worse when it comes to cutting anything even with guides.  I also struggled with what to do with the counters if I replaced them, the whole thing was just so difficult.

In the end I decided on an alternative – I would upcycle my kitchen counters.  Now the term “Upcycle” is turn something old into something of more value – so I decided I would make my kitchen counters look like brand new high-end granite counters with the magic of Paint! In this post, I’ll share the process and steps I used to upcycle my kitchen counters – taking them from ewww! to Fabulous.

Here are my kitchen counters before – white and dingy:


Here are my kitchen counters after – beautiful – plus people who come over don’t believe I did it with just paint:


Now on to how I did it.  First I visited Home Depot’s kitchen cabinet department and grabbed a few sample chips for countertop finishes – they are like paint chip you can take home and see which you like best. I decided on two finished I liked, but before I even dared to tackle painting my counters, I create a practice board where I tried to match the two finishes.

To make my practice board, I gathered my materials:

  • 1 can of primer paint (had some on hand in my basement)
  • 3 coordinating colors of Acrylic Craft Paints
  • 1 – 3 inch foam paint roller
  • 3 -Sea Sponges
  • a couple paper plates
  • 1 aluminum pan lid
  • A piece of wood (mine was an old white shelf)

I was glad to find that I had all the things on hand so I didn’t spend a dime.


I impressed myself by matching the boards to the finishes I hand chosen. Both panels were created using just the three coordinating paints I had on hand.  I just used a darker base for the left side and the lighter color as the base on the right side. I also had to figure out how I would finish my counters once painted to protect my masterpiece. I was going to use Envirotex, but after much thought and dread, I decided water-based Polycrylic would work best for me.

Painting Kitchen Counters

Once I decided on a finish, it was time to put my work into action my counters.  I started by cleaning my counters thoroughly with Whip It! and making sure they were dry before I started. I decided not to tape off the walls as I plan to add a beadboard backsplash I picked up at a local home salvage store called Urbanminers. Once I was happy that they were clean and ready to go, I was ready to get started:

Step 1 – Sand and Prime

I sanded down my counters and wiped them down to remove all the dust and then dried the counters with an old t-shirt. Next, I primed my counters with a white primer, painting on 3 coats of primer letting the counters dry for about an  hour between coats. Then I let it sit overnight.

Step 1 - Sand and Prime


Step 2 – Apply Base Color

The next day, I applied 4 coats of my base color (Apple Barrel – Melted Chocolate.)  Your first coat will look splotchy you want to make sure you don’t see your primer peaking through.  Give your paint time to dry before applying another coat.

Step 1 - Sand and Prime


Step 4: Sponge 1st accent color

This was the fun part for me.  I let the base coat dry completely before I started sponging. I sponged on the medium color first (Apple Barrel – Territorial Beige) using the larger sea sponge. You want to make sure that your sponge isn’t heavily loaded with paint – you want it to be almost dry. Pat the sponge using an up and down motion to avoid dragging. Be sure to cover your entire counter with the you color making sure the base peaks through.

You will only need one coat.  Be sure it is completely dry before moving on to your Step 5.

Step 4 and 5 Sponge Accent Colors


Step 5: Sponge on 2nd accent color

Once my 1st accent color was dry, I sponged on my 2nd accent color (Apple Barrel Sable). You want to apply your 2nd accent color sparingly because you want your base and your 1st accent color to show through.

While my counter was drying I found some metallic silver paint and I dabbed some onto my counters using a small sponge and only dabbed it on a few areas very lightly for some shine.

Step 6: Protect Your Work

I let my counters dry overnight before I applied the Polycrylic to my counters. I had a two-hour drying time Polycrylic and I applied 4 thick coats of this stuff using a 6″ no lint, thin roller.  You want to make sure that whatever you use as your finish will protect again high and low temps, mold and mildew and is easy to clean.

The counters were completely dry in a little under 4 hours after all the coats, however, you have to let your counters cure for 72 hours before you put anything heavy on them such as a microwave or toaster.  I actually let mine cure for a week.

All in all the process was pretty fun.  I hung signs over my counters warning my girls not to touch the counters or place things on them. The signs may or may have not worked as I received this text message from one of my girls while I was sleeping with this photo:

my kids ignoring the signs

Total material costs: $30 but I had a lot of the stuff already so I only really paid $12.0o for the Polycryclic

Total materials $30

I was very happy with the end product.  It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought I would be. By upcycling my counters I managed to keep one more counter out of a landfill and save myself some hard-earned money.

Have you ever tried to replace or paint your kitchen counters?  Please share.


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About Myra @ HerbanLuxe

Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.


  1. Wow, this is impressive lady!! From your pics, they look brand new. Great job!

  2. It looks great! My counters badly need some help but I hadn’t thought of painting them. Thanks for the idea!

  3. This looks totally doable. Love the idea!

  4. Ahhahahaha! You have teenagers!

    I love your kitchen and what you did with the counters. So creative. I have not attempted to paint countertops but you make it look doable.