February 07, 2012

My $40 Faux-Granite Countertops - Tutorial

Well, after a few months I guess this FINALLY deserved to get laid out for everyone.  Especially since I'd originally promised a delay of only a week or two... ha ha ha. 

Ok, so as related in my (much) previous post, when we first rented this place, the place needed some cosmetic love.  Since we know the landlords, they trusted us enough to give us the green light to go ahead and do so some touchups that wouldn't normally be allowed for most tenants.  The kitchen was the first on my list.

The house is fairly old... I'm guessing 1950's or so... and probably hasn't been 'updated' since the 70's or 80's.  The poor kitchen was pretty sad. 

The countertop had been subjected to years of stains and being used as a chopping board.  Not to mention that it was just UGLY to begin with. 

Of course, I wasn't going to shell out to get the countertop replaced... but neither did I like the idea of preparing food on that stained mess.  I searched around online and found a few people who'd redone theirs... so I used their ideas as a jumping point for my own. 

Mine is a very dark grey / black faux granite.  It actually turned out quite a bit darker than I'd initially intended, but I really liked it once it was done.  To get an idea of the colours I needed, I simply looked online for pictures of granites, and then observed the subtleties of the colours in the stone.  A stone that looks one colour will usually have about 4 or 5 actual shades and colours within it.  And there are literally hundreds of different colours of granite, so you can match it to any kind of decor!

I didn't get photos of the actual process, sorry!  I kind of jumped into things and zoned out.  But I'll detail things step by step.

Here are the supplies I used:

My daughter insisted that the black paint go on top...

  • Zinsser BIN Primer - Heavy-duty stuff!  Can be used on pretty much all surfaces (without sanding!), to prime for any kind of paint on top. 
  • Assorted paints - Besides the first coat of latex wall paint, I just used acrylic paints, the kind you'd find at any arts and crafts store.
  • Acrylic Polyurethane - To seal your paint job and make a nice work surface on your countertop.  Apparently the acrylic polyurethane is safer to use on a food preparation surface than regular polyurethane (this is what I read when researching... of course I could be wrong on this... if you're concerned, please research!!)  Acrylic polyurethane also won't yellow over time, which wouldn't matter so much with my dark counters, but if you're going for lighter tones, it might make a big difference.
  • (Not pictured)  Small Foam Roller and Paint Tray - To apply your primer!
  • (Not pictured)  Good-Quality Paint Brush - To apply your clear coat!
  • (Not pictured)  Sea Sponge, Scrunched-Up Plastic Bag, Ratty-Tatty Old Paint Brush - used for applying and stippling the paint for the granite effect.

First, make sure the countertop is REALLY clean.  The BIN primer doesn't recommend using TSP to clean the surface.  I used regular household cleaner, and wiped it down with clean water a few times afterwards to get rid of any residue. 

After it was totally dry, I taped off the cupboard, backsplash, and wall edges where I didn't want paint to go (just in case!).

Lay down a coat of the BIN primer.  It only takes 45 minutes to dry before you're able to recoat!  Downside - it's really really stinky.  Make sure you can open a window!

My first coat of paint was plain white latex wall paint, just to coat the primer.  When that dried, I started with the colours.

These are the colours I used - blue-ish grey, light grey, black, cinnamon brown, buttermilk. 

I used a styrofoam plate as my 'palette'.  Squirt a good blob on there, enough to dab your paint tools into.

The first colour I used was a cinnamon brown colour.  I used a sea sponge to do small blotches of it all over the counter, covering about 40% of the white base coat, just enough to have it peeking through the other colours.

I did the same with the black paint right after (I didn't bother waiting for the paints to completely dry), then the different grey paints, and lastly I touched up with the cream colour.  I alternated between using the sea sponge and the scrunched up plastic bag to blot the paint on the counter.  Just dab dab dab dab.  If the paints mixed together slightly I didn't care.

Don't worry too much about technique - you can always paint over a spot if it doesn't turn out the way you want!!

After those layers were done, I used the frayed old paint brush to stipple little dots on any spots I thought needed a little touch-up. 

A good shot showing all the different colours used.

When you're satisfied with the way everything looks, you can get ready to put the topcoats on.  Wait until your paint is completely dry and make sure to keep the surface clean (don't let your hubby or kids get their messy fingers on it!).

Using your good paint brush, lay a coat of your poly-acrylic on top.  Don't be stingy with it, or it will dry in streaky ridges.  You may notice a few small bubbles as you brush it down too... blowing on them will help to pop them.  They will leave small bumps if they dry that way, so best to get 'em popped.  A portable fan may do the trick, as well as speeding up the drying time (something I didn't think of until after I was done, ugh!)

Leave to dry completely before you recoat.  I did a total of 10 coats on my counters.  I bought the quick-dry formula, so I was able to recoat every two hours or so.  After the final coat was dry, I gave it another 24 hours or so to cure before I actually put my appliances etc. back on the counter.

In all, this was about a 3-or-4 day project.  The longest part was just waiting for the layers of topcoat to dry (and trying to keep little fingers off it in the meantime!).

As for the backsplash, it needed some jazzing up once the countertops were done.  It is made up of really strange old individual plastic tiles.  I didn't want to peel them off (one popped off accidentally when I was doing the counters, and there was huge gunky glue residue underneath), but I couldn't think of what to do with them. 

I had bought a can of silver spraypaint to paint the cupboard handles with... and just on a whim I tried it on the backsplash.  I thought it looked pretty neat, so I used some more primer on the whole thing, then did a good coat of spraypaint on top.  I figured hey, if it looks cheezy then I can always paint over it... but I really like it!  It's not soooo silvery that it's shiny and distracting... it just blends in really nicely with the counters. 

So to tally:

Primer: $18
Acrylic Polyurethane: $17
Paints, Brushes, etc: Free! (Had on hand already)
Silver Spray Paint: $5

Total: $40

I actually still had most of the primer left over (about 3/4 of the can), and about 1/3 of the clear coat left.  So, if you want to get technical, it really didn't even cost the $40, because I'll be using the rest for other projects.

Now, just to figure out what to do with those boring cupboards....

Linking up to:


  1. Looks great! We have 90's white tile countertops and backsplash with a lovely pink stripe running along the backsplash. I am trying to figure out a way to update it for cheap.

  2. Wow! What an incredible transformation! You did an amazing job!!!!! :)

    xoxo laurie

  3. Amazing! I have the WORST countertops, and no budget to get a new one. I'm totally doing this!

  4. Brilliant. I'd never have imagined they'd look so genuine! Well done. As for the cupboards, my mom once had cupboards like those - she just put molding around the edges and painted to make them look paneled.

    1. Thanks so much... and what a great idea for the cupboards! I had a few ideas rolling around, but that sounds alot simpler than any I'd been considering :)

  5. Wow! Amazing transformation! Would love it if you came by and linked up to my Manic Monday Linky Party!

  6. Fabulous post,
    Thank you for linking your post up! , hope you will stop by today and link up another great post!!
    See you there
    Claire x

  7. Wow, that looks great. You are very artistic. I'm afraid mine would look choppy and not realistic. I'd love to try this as my counter tops are all yucky Formica and need an update. Thanks for the info...maybe my knight would say yes to this after seeing how lovely yours look.
    R u happy with how they are wearing?

    Mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted

  8. These turned out AMAZING! Just curious how the paint has held up?

  9. These look FANTASTIC! Just curious how the paint has help up so far? Do you have to be super careful with it?

    1. Hi Amy,
      It's been about 7 months now, and they look just like new! I do be careful not to put anything hot on them, and make sure that no one is using them as a chopping board, lol. But they do go through lots of day-to-day wear, and I'm pretty pleased with how they're holding up!


I love to hear from you, don't be shy!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...