One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to give your kitchen or bathroom a dramatic design update is by painting the countertops. There is no need spend thousands of dollars replacing your dowdy laminate countertops with stone or granite, when you can create your own contemporary finishes using paint.

Paint countertops with a water-based acrylic primer, color, and topcoat; or an oil-based enamel primer and color, with a non-yellowing, oil-based polyurethane topcoat. Resin can be used as a protective topcoat too. Spray paint can be used on countertops, together with a spray-on primer and topcoat.

There truly is no need to put up with those outdated laminate countertops any longer! This is also an enjoyable weekend DIY project. Before you eagerly run off to the hardware store for DIY supplies, here are some tips for choosing the right kind of paint to use on your countertops:

Things to Consider When Choosing Paint to Use on Countertops

  • Where are the countertops? In a high-traffic space like the kitchen or in a quiet guest bathroom? Consider durability to wear. Acrylic paint dries very hard and is good for most countertops. Using a resin topcoat will increase the hardness – good for heavily used counters.
  • Are your countertops going from light to dark in color? You may need to use a tinted primer to ensure good paint coverage in fewer coats.
  • What material are your countertops? Are they laminate, wooden, ceramic tile? This will affect the type of primer you will need.
  • Do you want a textured finish? You will need to use three to four different paint colors to imitate a marble or granite finish.
  • Matte or glossy? High-gloss enamel or resin give a shiny finish, whereas a water-based acrylic topcoat or polyurethane sealer can be a more muted matte.
  • Odor – water-based acrylic paint has a low odor, so by turning on a fan and opening some windows, you will get rid of the paint smell quickly. Some spaces are harder to ventilate than others. Using a high odor enamel paint in a bathroom under the staircase is not a good idea.

You Will Need More Than One Kind of Paint for Your Countertops!

Even if you are planning to paint your countertops a solid color, you will still need to buy at least three different paints: primer, color, and topcoat.

  • Primer – the base coat acts as a sticky layer for the color paint to adhere to. Using primer ensures consistent coverage, increases the durability of the paint, and protects the material being painted.
  • Color – you will need at least one paint color, more if you are creating a faux marble or granite finish. If you have used a water-based acrylic primer, use a water-based acrylic color too. If you are using an oil-based enamel primer, use an oil-based enamel paint.
  • Topcoat – a topcoat is 100% necessary on a painted countertop. This will create a smooth, glossy finish and protect the countertops from chips, dents, scratches, and stains. Essential for durable kitchen counters!

Best Types of Paint for Countertops

There are many different paints one can use on countertops, each with pros and cons:

  • Water-based acrylic paint – convenient to use because messes or mistakes can be cleaned with water and it has less of an odor. The topcoat takes 14 days to fully cure, so you will have to use your new countertops gently for the first few weeks.
  • Two-part water-based epoxy – may be intimidating to first time DIYers because you need to mix the two paint components together. It only takes about four days for this paint to cure to full hardness and it does not require a primer! Epoxy fumes are harsh though, so be sure to ventilate the area you are working in very well. Look for brands with lower volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Water- or oil-based latex house paint – if you have half a can of this in the garage, use a coat of primer first and then paint your countertop. This may be the most budget-friendly option.
  • Textured spray paint – there are a few brands of spray paint like Rust-O-Leum, Krylon and Giani that are designed to create a textured stone or granite finish. These are easy to use and cost effective. You do need to use a primer and topcoat to increase the strength and durability.

How to Paint Your Countertops

Follow these steps for a DIY countertop makeover:

  1. Are there any chips or scratches? Is the Laminate buckling or peeling? You need to address these problems first because paint alone will not hide them.
  2. Use fine-grit sandpaper (180-220) to sand the entire counter, including the edges and backsplash. This removes any rough spots and creates a nice smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.
  3. Use painter’s tape to protect the sink, taps, and walls, and cover the cabinets and floor with newspaper or plastic.
  4. Use a smooth foam roller. Avoid using a paint brush, as it leaves streaks.
  5. Paint on a coat of primer and let it fully dry and harden for a minimum of six hours.
  6. Apply a coat of color paint, let it fully dry for at least four hours, and then apply the next coat. Repeat if necessary.
  7. After the color has dried and hardened properly, apply a layer of topcoat. Wait four hours for it to dry and harden and apply a second layer.
  8. After the final layer of topcoat, wait a full 24 hours before using your new countertops. Different topcoats have various curing times, from 4 to 14 days! Read the label carefully to determine how long it will take for your countertops to harden fully.

Is a Painted Countertop Durable?

You may be wondering if this all sounds too good to be true. Is painting your counter tops just a short-term solution to tie you over while you save for a full remodel?

Painted countertops can be very strong and durable if they are done correctly. Choose the best quality paint your budget can manage, and apply a few thin coats of each paint, allowing ample drying time between them. This will ensure a high-quality level of finish and maximum durability, even in high-traffic areas like the kitchen.

To prevent fading and discoloration and reduce wear, use gentle cleaning products and a cloth or sponge to wipe painted counters. Avoid detergents that contain bleach or harsh acids and avoid using anything abrasive.

Be careful of certain cosmetics like nail polish remover spilling on painted bathroom counters. Acetone will damage your painted countertop, especially if you have used a spray paint!


There are many different paints that you can use to give your kitchen or bathroom countertops an updated look. Water- or oil- based acrylic paints work well, as does two-part water-based epoxy paint. Textured spray paints can also be used to give your countertops a faux marble, stone, or granite finish. One can even use water- or oil-based latex house paint! With all these paints, one should prepare the surface correctly, use an appropriate primer and apply a strong topcoat to ensure a beautiful, durable finish.

Related: How to Remove Paint From Countertops

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