Here's How: Refinish a Countertop to Look Like Real Granite
Dear James: I have an old laminate kitchen countertop still in good shape. I want to refinish it myself so it looks like real granite. What options do I have? -- Sandra N.
Dear Sandra: There are several do-it-yourself refinishing kits you can buy to provide a durable, real-granite or stonelike appearance. They are available at most home center stores for between $150 and $200. Typical kits can cover about 40 to 50 square feet of counter area that is in good condition.
My own house is about 45 years old and had butcher block counters. There is one large, L-shaped one with the sink and three smaller ones by the range and refrigerator. They total about 55 square feet, so I needed two kits. I wanted a golden-toned granite look to compliment my kitchen cabinets.
I chose a SpreadStone countertop refinishing kit, which you can find at http://www.daichcoating.com, because of the color and the real stone particles in the surface. Making your old countertops look like real granite is a three-step process. Plan on this project taking a couple of days total. This gives each layer time to dry before preparing for the next step.
As with any of the refinishing kits, clean and sand the old laminate surface with 80-grit sandpaper. Don't worry if you can see scratches after sanding. The base layer is very thick, almost like icing, so it covers any scratches. This also works well on wood or concrete surfaces. When applying over tile, a bonding coat must be applied first.
If you have several countertops, start on a small one. There is a short learning curve, so learn on one that may be used to set a microwave oven. The kit includes a medium brush, miniroller and matching paint tray. Using the miniroller is recommended, except for space-restricted spots, where the brush is needed.
Stir the base coat, roll it on, and allow it to dry. A second coat is recommended but not needed if the first coat totally blocks the color of your old countertop. The base coat is just being used for color and as a primer, so its thickness does not affect the finished surface.
Next, apply a colored coat, which includes the tiny real stone particles. Roll this on fairly thickly. You will see and feel the tiny stone particles when dry. Put on another coat of the stone-filled coating, and even add a third coat if there is enough left in the can.
Once it is thoroughly dry, sand the surface with 120-grit sandpaper. Sand it in a circular pattern. This really makes all the natural stone colors stand out. If you have an orbital sander with a vacuum, the sanding takes less time. You will be sanding actual stone, so there will be a lot of fine dust. Wear a breathing mask or respirator.
You can sand it down as smooth as you like. While trying to get it too smooth, I accidentally (the learning curve) sanded all the way down to the base coat in a few spots and had to touch them up with more of the stone coating. This is where three layers of stone coating really helps; the layers provide more thickness for sanding smooth without going through it. My finish has a slight texture to it.