How to Paint Over Formica

Formica is a budget-friendly option when it comes to kitchen counters, but some people don't care much for the appearance. If the cost of natural stone counter tops is out of your reach, you can fake the look of natural soapstone counters with paint.

Natural stone has color variations and a somewhat mottled appearance, which makes this technique forgiving of small mistakes. Treat these counters with the same care as marble counter tops and they will last for years.

  1. Sand the Formica with an electric sander outfitted with 100-grit sandpaper.

  2. Make a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar with a few drops of dish soap added. Scrub the surface with the mixture applied to a sponge and then rinse with water and wipe it dry with a clean towel.

  3. Paint a coat of gray-tinted alcohol-based primer onto the entire counter with a paint roller or a large paintbrush. Let the primer completely dry.

  4. Apply a heavy coat of the gray primer with a brush to a 2-foot square section of the counter. Press a sheet of newspaper into the wet primer and then remove it immediately. This creates a mottled impression on the counter.

  5. Flick denatured alcohol over the wet primer with a toothbrush to create tiny holes in the primer resembling natural stone.

  6. Sponge paint with a clean sponge a layer of black paint over the section of counter on which you have been working. Then sponge paint a layer of white paint followed by a layer of gray paint. You don't want to completely cover the area with each color, just dab it on randomly with the sponge to create the color variations found in natural stone. Press another sheet of newspaper into the wet paint as soon as you finish and smooth the paper down to soften the colors a bit and blend them together. Remove the paper.

  7. Flick denatured alcohol over the area to create a few more holes if you desire.

  8. Paint the rest of the counter in 2-foot sections following the process outlined above.

  9. Apply three coats of an oil-based polyurethane clear coat to the finished counter top. Allow each coat to dry completely, sand with 400-grit sandpaper and remove all dust before applying the next coat.

  10. Rub a coat of paste wax into the counter top with a scrubbing pad one week after the polyurethane was applied.