Redecorating a bathroom is tricky because most surfaces are permanent fixtures. Bathroom countertops, in particular, are hard to remove and expensive to replace. So, what do you do if your bathroom counter is a permanent eyesore?
You don’t have to wait for a full bathroom remodel to fix this dilemma. Painting bathroom countertops is a budget-friendly way to get the look you want. Do you want to tone down a bold counter? Make your laminate look like stone? With the right paint, you can achieve anything you imagine!
Read on for our complete guide to painting bathroom countertops.
Why paint bathroom countertops?
Bathroom countertops are designed to last. That’s great news if you just invested in your dream bathroom vanity. If you’re redecorating your space, though, it’s hard to justify replacing counters that are still in good condition.
Even with heavy use over many years, bathroom countertops are generally easy to maintain. At most, you may have chips or rings on the surface. You may have a few stains if your counters are made of a porous material, like concrete.
Thankfully, you can fix these minor issues without wrecking your budget. The paint and supplies needed for painting bathroom countertops are much less expensive than purchasing all-new materials.
As DIY projects go, painting bathroom countertops is a pretty quick job. Think about it: unlike painting walls or even bathroom tile, you won’t be working on vertical surfaces. You won’t have much square footage to cover, either. In fact, when you’re painting bathroom countertops, most of your time will be spent waiting for each coat to dry. That gives you plenty of time to tackle other decorating projects!
Choosing the right paint for bathroom countertops
If this is your first time painting bathroom countertops, consider using an all-in-one refinishing kit. Even if you’re not a beginner, these kits are incredibly handy! An all-in-one kit includes everything you need for your project from start to finish.
These all-in-one kits are also the easiest way to create a faux finish. Some kits will help you create a marble effect or granite effect. That’s much easier than trying to teach yourself faux finish techniques on the fly.
One word of caution: double-check the box to be sure the product is made for your countertop surface. Some paints work better on laminate countertops, while others are best for stone or tile. Make sure the kit you’re buying is the right all-in-one kit for painting your bathroom countertops.
Water-Based Acrylic Paint
Are you looking to upgrade your plain laminate counters? Your best bet is a water-based acrylic paint.
This paint has several advantages. It bonds easily with slick laminate surfaces. Plus, water-based paints are easy to clean up and have low odor, although you’ll still want to properly ventilate.
Acrylics are available in a variety of colors, so you have plenty of options.
However, creating a truly smooth surface with acrylics can be hard. Brush strokes and roller marks will be very noticeable on bathroom countertops, so paint carefully!
Always keep a wet edge while painting and smooth out each section with a foam roller. You should be able to get complete coverage in two coats.
It’s a little trickier to paint porous bathroom countertops, like concrete or tile, than it is to paint laminate. You’ll need to use epoxy paint instead of acrylic for these surfaces. Because epoxy is essentially resin mixed with a hardening agent, it seals your existing countertop from the very first coat.
Epoxy is a versatile countertop paint. In fact, many all-in-one countertop painting kits use epoxy to create faux finishes.
Epoxy generally requires more drying time than acrylic paint, so plan extra time for painting your bathroom countertops.
If you decide to purchase your own epoxy paint and materials instead of using a ready-made kit, read carefully. Make sure all products are designed to work together and will give you the look you want!
A durable, waterproof sealer is essential for your painted bathroom countertops. The area around your faucet and sink basin will be subjected to plenty of water and soap. Protect your hard work by sealing your countertop well.
You can use polyurethane over acrylic and epoxy paints. Sealing acrylic is a must because the paint itself could be scratched or worn with constant use. While epoxy will dry to a hard, water-resistant surface on its own, polyurethane will make it more durable. A polyurethane coating is harder to scratch and protects the epoxy from UV rays.
Pro tip: if you’ve painted your bathroom countertops white, be sure to choose a polyurethane that dries clear. Unfortunately, polyurethane that yellows over time could make your freshly painted bathroom countertops look dated.
How to prepare bathroom countertops for painting
Prepare the room
Paint that is durable enough to stick to slick, waterproof surfaces is often high-odor. You’ll need to provide adequate ventilation throughout the bathroom and the house. Open windows where possible and set up extra fans to help keep the air moving.
You’ll also need to protect the other surfaces in your bathroom. Use tape, plastic, and tarp to mark off all the areas around the countertop. Accidents do happen. If you end up with paint drips or stray splashes, these permanent paints will be hard to remove later.
Finally, prepare your countertop space. If possible, removing faucets and handles from the countertop is best before painting. Cutting in and painting around these fixtures would be very difficult. It’s much easier to reinstall after your painted bathroom countertop has cured.
Bathroom countertops are prone to collecting moisture and product build-up. Give them a good scrub, especially around any beveled edges or drainage holes. Consider using a degreaser if your countertop has been exposed to lots of hairspray or makeup residue.
If you can, it’s a good idea to remove the caulk so you can really get into the edges. You can re-caulk after painting.
Apply primer to help paint grip onto a smooth surface. Primer acts like an adhesive between the countertop and the paint. The primer will bond tightly to the slick countertop surface and will also grip your painted topcoat.
You may also need to sand before painting. Sanding is a good idea if your existing countertop has a shiny topcoat, which is often the case with laminate. Use a fine-grade sandpaper, such as 220 grit. This will take away the shiny finish without scratching your counter.
Painting bathroom countertops
Follow Package Directions
Now that the surface is clean, primed, and ready to go, it’s time to paint, finally.
First things first: check the manufacturer’s directions very carefully. Your paint will likely have a recommended room temperature and humidity range. If your room is too cold or humid, your paint could take much longer to dry.
Apply your top coat in one thin, even layer. Look carefully for any bubbles forming on the surface. Run a craft foam brush over the area to pop the bubbles if you see them.
There will often be a window for how soon you can recoat, such as more than four hours but less than six. Plan ahead so you can be sure to fall within the window.
If you’re applying a faux finish, this is the time to work your magic. You might want to practice stippling or feathering in patterns on a piece of cardboard.
Finally, seal your countertop to preserve its new look. It’s especially important to get this coat of polyurethane smooth. Any bubbles or bumps in the sealant will be noticeable after drying.
Allow to Cure
Your countertop may feel dry within hours of rolling on the final coat of sealer. That’s a good time to remove your painter’s tape and drop cloths.
Hold off on reinstalling your faucet or running the tap, though. Before subjecting your painted bathroom countertop to regular use, you should allow the surface to cure.
Curing is different than simply being dry to the touch. Even after you can touch the surface without smearing the paint, solvents in the paint and sealer are still evaporating.
When all the solvents have evaporated, and the product has reached its maximum hardness, the surface is considered cured. At that point, exposing the countertop to water, soap, and daily use is perfectly fine. In general, a water-based polyurethane will take 48 hours to cure.
That’s a wrap on what it takes to paint bathroom countertops! Check out our complete guide for a detailed step-by-step example of painting laminate countertops.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I maintain my painted bathroom countertops?
Clean your countertops often with a gentle cleaner and sponge. Avoid using ammonia or stiff-bristled brushes, which could scratch the surface. Drying off the sink and counter is also helpful to avoid water spots.
In a frequently used bathroom, consider resealing once a year or every other year. This will help maintain your painted surface if the polyurethane has started to wear down.
How long will my painted bathroom countertops last?
Depending on the materials you use, count on your paint job lasting two to five years without a touch-up.
Resealing once a year can help preserve your painted bathroom countertops even longer. The paint underneath won’t scratch or wear off as long as the polyurethane sealer is in good shape.
All About Painting Bathroom Countertops
Painting is the most efficient and economical way to update your bathroom countertops. It’s a fairly small-scale project since bathroom countertops have very little square footage. The most time-consuming aspect of painting bathroom countertops is allowing plenty of dry and cure time.
Seeing the difference painting bathroom countertops can make, you might be inspired to try more DIY projects! Take your bathroom refresh up another notch by painting the bathroom cabinets, too.
I started painting in 2001 and have seen just about everything in my painting career. I started in production and commercial painting, then moved over to new construction and remodeling during the boom of the early 2000s. Post 2010, I niched down into residential painting where I have done everything from exteriors, decks, interiors, furniture and more. Over the last few years, I’ve had a focus on kitchen cabinets.
I started the DIY Painting Tips blog in 2015 to start sharing everything I’ve learned over the years and help all the people who’d rather tackle their painting projects themselves.
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