DIY Kitchen Countertop

We’ve lived in our house for 9 years and had plans to redo the kitchen from they day we moved in. As home ownership goes, many other projects have come up in the meantime (new windows, furnace, siding – you know really fun, cheap stuff). We’re getting to the point where we will likely only live in our house another year or two, so we need to do some updating, but don’t want to go all out for something we won’t be here to enjoy.

After painting my bathroom cabinets last winter, I got the bug to repaint the kitchen cabinets too, which spurred other kitchen updates – like countertops. We got pricing for a variety of new countertop materials, and then I ran across Rust-Oleum’s Countertop Transformations kit.  I scoured review sites and looked at a lot of before and afters, and my husband and I decided to give it a try. Worst case scenario – we had budgeted for new countertops and if it didn’t work out we could still go that way. At around $250 for the large kit, if it worked we would save at least $1500.

Here’s the dreaded before picture which was off-white laminate with a wood trim. The good news is that it was in good condition with no gouges or cracks. The countertops were the first project we tackled in our kitchen update, so this was before I painted the cabinets or repainted the walls.

old counters close up

Counters before.

The resounding advice that I got through reviews I read as well as from someone at Lowe’s was WATCH THE VIDEO that’s included in the kit. It’s also available on the Rust-Oleum site. I’ll repeat it, watch the video! Things will go much more smoothly if you do. Follow the directions to the letter, refer to them often.

We chose the Desert Sand color in the 50 square feet size. You can use the measurement guide on the site before you buy the kit. If it’s close, round up. The top coat is the one thing in the kit you will likely be running short on.

Step 1: prep and sand your counters.

counter prep

Tape off cabinets and use drop cloths to catch the mess. Sand down counters with included sanding tool.

Step 2: Roll on adhesive and spread the decorative color chips.

counter color chips

The counters will look really rough at this point. Make sure to apply color chips liberally.

Most of this project could be done by one person except this step. You need to work very quickly so the adhesive stays wet while you’re applying the color chips. This is a lot easier with 2 people working at the same time. This step is extremely messy (imagine throwing bags of cat litter around your kitchen – without the smell). You will have plenty of the color chips. We had at least half of the material left over and we felt we applied it very generously.

Step 3: Let dry overnight and then sand down again.

counter sanded

Sand down the counter with sanding tool included in the kit. Try for an extremely smooth finish.

The sanding process is very important to try to get as smooth as possible. The topcoat does not “fill-in”. At this stage the end product will only be as smooth as it is now. Finish with any touch ups and let those dry. At this point, we actually really liked the color of the sanded down countertops, but we knew the color would change once we put on the topcoat. Thankfully we were thrilled with the final color.

Step 4: Apply adhesive topcoat. Let dry.


We finished this project in a weekend with most of the time spent on waiting for each step to dry for the required time. In terms of actual work time it was about 5-6 hours. For the relatively low-cost of the product and the ease of use, I was extremely pleased with the outcome. It looks like a new solid surface countertop. My mom came over a few days after we had finished and she was shocked at how well it turned out and how much difference just that change made to our kitchen. I’ll do a post with better pictures on the rest of the kitchen updates once we get the floor finished.

The countertops have been done for about 4 months now and are holding up very well. They wipe up easily and the finish is still the same with no visible blemishes that we’ve noticed. We try not to set anything hot directly on the surface without a hot pad or trivet, but we’ve always done that.

This is one of those products that I actually rave about to anyone who is thinking about an inexpensive update to their kitchen. I was extremely pleased with the results. For once, a project that actually cost less than I was anticipating!

Related Posts:

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

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2 thoughts on “DIY Kitchen Countertop

  1. Suzanne April 10, 2013 at 9:07 am Reply

    I was thinking of doing this months ago but chickened out. Your countertops look great. Here’s the link to my ugly laundry room countertop. Do you think I should do what you did?

    • sometimes-homemade April 10, 2013 at 9:44 am Reply

      Definitely! It would be a pretty quick project too. I know 3 other people who have used the product now and they’ve all been happy with the results. I’m still so happy with how it turned out.

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