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I’m so excited about how our new DIY kitchen countertops turned out! I expected it to be a lot bigger project than what it really was. It’s so rare when that happens, I keep raving about the process.

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 (amazon.com link).  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. (Do some price compares, recently someone told me they found the kit on amazon.com for around $190.)

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.

Counters before.

diy kitchen counter tops - before picture

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 (amazon.com link) 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. Tape off cabinets and use drop cloths to catch the mess. Sand down counters with included sanding tool.

DIY kitchen cabinets - prep process

Step 2: Roll on adhesive and spread the decorative color chips. The counters will look really rough at this point. Make sure to apply color chips liberally.

DIY kitchen cabinets - spreading color chips

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

DIY kitchen cabinets - counter sanded

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.

DIY kitchen cabinets - finished counter

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!

14 Comments

  1. Suzanne says:

    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?
    http://andmyhouse.blogspot.com/2012/04/diy-countertop-transformation.html

    • 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.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Hi – I just found this link regarding your countertops. Beautiful job!!! I do have one question, my countertops have a couple of “seams” Does this process cover up those seams?

    Thanks for your help.
    Marilyn

  3. Mande says:

    How have they held up now that it’s been a couple of years?

    • Hi Mande – it’s still looking almost as the day we finished it. I say almost just because there is one spot where we went over grout between our counter top and backsplash. We should have re-grouted but we didn’t. We have a spot about 1 inch long where the finish chipped off. We just hid it behind a canister for a long time, but finally we re-grouted over it.

  4. Wendy says:

    Hi Erin, So this works over formica countertops?

  5. Geena says:

    Hi Erin, This looks beautiiful. One question: Is the top coat a matte finsh? I am hesitant to use any of the products out there because they are all shiny/glossy finishes.. Don’t like that look, and I think it’s prone to show scratches, where as matte finish may hide it.

    • Hi Geena – it is a fairly shiny finish. Ours has been refinished almost 2.5 years and no scratches, but if you don’t like the look of a shiny finish, you probably wouldn’t like the final outcome of this product. That’s a great product suggestion though!

  6. Sue says:

    My countertops are curved along the edges and there is no seam for the edging going up the wall. It is all one. I see everything on yours is flat and basically two separate pieces counter and top edge. Will this work for my counter?

    • Hi Sue – the curved edges should be fine. I’d suggest looking on the Rustoleum site – they have lots of pictures people have uploaded of their projects. The fact that your counter and walk is not separate would likely work better than what we did with our tile backsplash area. In another comment I mentioned that the only place we had an issue is when we tried to go over the grout between the counter and tile on the wall. Trying to sand in the area between the counter and up the wall may take some extra sanding to make it smooth, but it should look great!

  7. Sue says:

    Thanks! I will check it out.

  8. Chad Pfeffer says:

    This countertop kit looks amazing when finished. Great job. I think this is a great solution for those looking for an upgrade but not ready to spend the cash on a stone version.

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