Painting Our Countertops to Look Like Marble With a Giani DIY Paint Kit
psst. I've answered a ton of frequently asked questions at the bottom of this post for you!
A few weeks ago I started the intimidating process of painting our countertops. I knew this was something that I wanted to do when I first started my budget friendly kitchen makeover.
I also knew it was the thing that would make the biggest impact in this space, I was excited, but nervous. The kitchen countertop is one of the biggest workhorses in our home and not being able to use them for two weeks while we did this project and while they cured really drove that point home. Before we started I was talking to my husband Kris about the process and he had the idea to do the project right before our spring break trip to Disney with the kids that way they could cure while we were out of town. This turned out to be the best idea. It was a little stressful finishing up a major project like this the day I was supposed to be packing up for our trip (cut to me packing at 9pm for a 10:30pm departure...let's just say we left an hour late and I was a little cranky), but it all worked out in the end. But let's rewind back to the beginning of this project when our kitchen looked like this.
It was already a beautiful kitchen and I don't think this photo does justice to how dark the counters made the kitchen feel, but it did feel dark and I was so ready to brighten this space up! Before we get into the process of painting I want to say that Giani provides extremely detailed instructions for painting over any countertop surface as well as wonderful video tutorials. This post is not meant to replace their instructions and if you purchase their kit please please please follow their directions perfectly! That's the only way you can hope to achieve the results I did. Also, keep in mind that I am sharing the process for painting over real granite, the prep/process varies slightly depending on the surface you're painting over. I am hoping this post will serve as some insight into the process and help you decide if you want to tackle the project if you're on the fence. So let's get into it!
- Giani paint kit, before ordering make sure you calculate the square footage of your countertops, each kit covers 35 square feet and we used two kits to cover our 65 square foot countertops. While this kit comes with pretty much everything you need there were a few other supplies I used and these will vary depending on what type of surface you are painting over.
- 600 grit sandpaper (for sanding the wood filler)
- lacquer thinner (to clean the granite before painting)
- acetone (for epoxy clean up)
- razor blade (to remove caulk before painting)
- white acrylic caulk (this is to clean up the edge where the countertop meets the backsplash/faucets, I only needed one tube)
- wood filler and putty knife (to fill cracks before painting)
- paint tray (not pictured)
The first step was the prep. This is definitely my least favorite part of any project (I just want to DIVE in!), but the prep was super important! First, I used a razor blade to scrape off old caulk. For some reason we had all of this nasty yellow caulk that was dripping all over the counters and even onto the tile, so taking that off was quite satisfying.
Next it was time to wipe the entire countertops down with lacquer thinner.
Then another wipe down with Isopropyl Alcohol.
Now it was time to fill cracks and seams. I used wood filler to fill one seam that I found.
Once the wood filler dried, I sanded it with 600 grit to smooth everything down. I've gotten a lot of questions about why I didn't sand the entire countertop down and the reasoning behind that is because the Giani instructions say specifically not to sand granite. Would I have needed to sand with another surface? Maybe, I'm not sure. But again, I recommend you follow their instructions to a T depending on your surface! Next it was time to tape everything off. I did two layers of tape above the countertops and one below that was partially to block the cabinets, but mostly to attach the drop cloths to the underside of the counters.
The drop cloths are SO important because the last step is epoxy and it is MESSY. I can't stress this enough, you want to be sure you protect everything from the epoxy- your sink, appliances, and floors(more on this later). After the prep is complete it was time to paint. The first layer was the white base primer. I cut in around the edges and then rolled everywhere else, working in about 3'-5' sections at a time. The Giani instructions say to do two coats, but I ended up doing four coats to get complete coverage. I'm sure if your countertops are a lighter color two coats would do the trick.
This was after the first coat.
This was after the second coat, which I did late at night hoping it would be ready to go in the morning, but as I was doing it I could tell it would need a third coat.
The next morning I applied the third and fourth coats and here's how it was looking. At this point I was starting to get excited. The kitchen already felt so much lighter and brighter!
After letting the last coat dry for a few hours it was time for the step I was the most excited about! The veining! For this I used the grey vein paint and tiny artist's brush that came with the kit. I dragged the brush at a diagonal turning it in my hand as I went to create a very imperfect line.
Then I sprayed it with water and used an angle brush to dab at it to soften the line.
Rinse and repeat this process for the entire countertops. In some places I would split the diagonal line to create a Y, or duplicate a line right next to it, in some places I just added a little mini line to add more depth. Here's what the island looked like when I was done with that process.
Some lines are darker and others are fainter, which I think helps it look realistic. To help achieve that effect I would wait about thirty seconds before spraying my grey line with water and that helped obtain those darker lines. The kit's instructions recommend mapping out your veining before you start, but I'm a wild woman and just went for it. I'm pretty familiar with how real marble looks and my philosophy was to have it all go the same direction on a diagonal. The grey vein paint was also very forgiving, there were a few places I didn't like my vein and I just sprayed it with water, wiped it off, and started over. After this I went back in with the sponge and white detail paint that came with the kit to add some spots. I did this suuuuper lightly, it just added the faintest bit of texture.
At this point I assumed I would stop and wait for Kris to help me the next day with the epoxy...but I had done everything by myself up to this point so I thought, why stop here? So I kept going... it was time for the epoxy! I was sooo stressed about this part and looking back rightly so. It was stressful, but I also don't think it was as bad as I thought it would be. There are three cans of epoxy activator and epoxy resin in each kit, so with my two kits I had six total. I ended up using all six. I worked in three foot sections and started by pouring my first can of epoxy activator into the can of epoxy resin.
Then it was time to stir....for three and a half minutes. Which felt like an eternity. My arm was definitely tired by the end of the night. Three and a half minutes times six cans of epoxy equals 21 minutes total of stirring vigorously- ha! I poured the epoxy in an S shape in each section and used my angle brush to push it around the edge and then my foam roller to spread it around applying as little pressure as humanly possible. I was going for a nice thick layer of epoxy and the more pressure I applied the thinner my epoxy was, which I didn't want. I rolled the epoxy right over the edge of the counters and at this point the excess just fell straight over the side. This is why the prep and dropcloths were so important! The epoxy was so messy! As I was doing the epoxy I ended up adding a few extra large black trash bags around our island too just to be safe. After the epoxy was dripped over the edge I went back with my angle brush to catch the drips that formed underneath the countertop.
The epoxy continued to drip for about two hours. I came back and continued to catch drips until about 1am because I did not want bumpy little drips dried onto the bottoms of my counters.
After about an hour of the epoxy being on it was time to remove the tape, the instructions say to do it at this point so it doesn't harden into the epoxy and I struggled with this to be honest.
The tape did not come up easily and it tore in many places. A sweet follower suggested cutting it with an exacto knife before removal and I think this would have been a great idea- just maybe don't use a knife you care about or will ever need to use again, I learned the hard way that pretty much anything I used or touched while I was doing the epoxy became trash. I had a screwdriver that I had been using to open the cans of epoxy with and in the morning it had hardened to one of the can lids, haha! Thankfully, I have lots of screwdrivers so it was no big deal. By the way the gloves that came in the kit were important- wear them.
The next day the counters were dry and hard to the touch, but definitely not cured yet. That night I used white acrylic caulk in all of the seams, which was the perfect finishing touch. The kit recommends clear acrylic caulk, but I did not want to see that seam at all so I made the call to use white instead.
In the photo below you can see on the right the area that I had caulked and the left that still needed caulking.
The entire process took two full days and then a few extra hours here and there over the next day or two for clean up, caulking, and fixing a few problem areas. After that it was just a matter of waiting for them to cure... going on vacation definitely helped with that and when we came back I got to do the fun part of bringing everything back in and styling it all out for the full kitchen reveal.
I couldn't be happier with how they turned out! I wanted to answer a few questions I keep getting:
Why would you paint over granite?
I don't love the look of brown speckled granite, it just wasn't my aesthetic. Down the road I plan to fully replace the countertops with either real marble or quartz, but that will likely be at a time we are looking to address some other issues I have with the kitchen (stovetop and downdraft on the island I'm looking at you), right now I just wanted an easy quick solution to freshen up the kitchen and I'm fortunate to be in a position that if they didn't turn out or don't hold up well over the next few years then I will just prioritize a more major kitchen renovation on my to-do list.
How are the countertops holding up?
I feel like I can't speak on this just yet. Our countertops still look perfect because they are just two weeks old. I will plan to keep you posted and do a check in post in a few months, I'm just as curious as you are!
How do they do with heat?
They are supposed to hold up to heat, but this probably isn't something I'm willing to test. We typically use hot pads or place hot pans out of the oven on our stovetop. Even when we had granite we would do this, so that's what we will continue to do.
How do you clean them?
The instructions say to only clean with soap and water, I don't typically clean my home with harsh chemicals anyway so I don't see this being an issue. The one thing I do love so far is that I can actually tell when the counters are dirty now, before when they were speckled brown things like crumbs and dirt just disappeared. I feel like cleaning is so much easier now because I can see exactly where to need to wipe up!
Why would you paint over granite? It's so valuable.
Value is a perceived concept and to me it's more "valuable" to have a light and airy kitchen. Someone else may prioritize the monetary value of the natural stone and that is absolutely valid. To each their own!
But couldn't you have removed the granite and sold it? Then added plywood to use as a countertop to paint?
Probably! I personally had no interest in going this route because our type of granite is pretty common and stone that has already been sized and cut is significantly less valuable than an entire slab because there is only so much you can do with the pieces. For example, someone may have been able to use it for a coffee table or console topper, but to move it to a new kitchen with a completely different layout and sink hole sizes would have been a stretch. The hassle of removing it, trying to sell it on Facebook Marketplace (for probably next to nothing) and then having to cut all new countertop pieces sounds like an enormous project and something I had no interest in dealing with.
Is it food safe?
Only after it has fully cured for 7 days!
But why would you want to cut food directly on top of epoxy?
I've never used our countertop to cut food directly on, we have several cutting boards we leave out at all times for this purpose. I've had laminate and granite in our homes in the last five years and we always just used a cutting board. My mom and I were chatting about this the other day and mentioned that even if we had butcher block, which is literally meant to be cut on we would probably still use a cutting board so the wood stayed looking nice- ha!
Is this good for resale?
I don't think I would do this if you're looking to sell your home. I think it could turn off some buyers. But one of my friends DM'd me to say she's currently house shopping and granite is literally a con while she's looking, so it really is so subjective. However, if you have laminate or some other inexpensive countertop material then I actually do think this could be a great project for resale!
Please let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments below!
Disclaimer: My Giani paint kit was provided to me free for my honest, unbiased review and all opinions, words and images are my own.
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