Paint spare bath formica?

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Old 08-20-13, 07:08 PM
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Paint spare bath formica?

So has anyone successfully painted their formica? I have a small vanity in our spare bathroom that I'd like to paint because it's enclosed on 3 sides with some plastic tiles as a backsplash and we're not sure we could take out the countertop without ruining the tiles and thus having to re-drywall the area. I should probably also mention that one of the enclosing walls is the concrete foundation that has been painted and has the same plastic tiles applied. I wouldn't even know what to do with the concrete wall if those tiles got messed up...

It's more of a decorative than a work surface, since it is the spare basement bath after all, but we're considering selling, so we'd like it to look at least a little bit nicer. I'm not the type who wants to do a crappy job that is strictly for looks though, so if it's a bad idea I'll just leave it alone.
 
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Old 08-21-13, 05:28 AM
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IMO painting formica is a bad idea - too hard to get the coating to bond well to the slick non porous substrate. That said, there have been a few on the forums that claim to have gotten good results with painting their countertops so you might want to do a search.
 
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Old 08-21-13, 08:39 AM
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From what I can tell, lots of people used a kit that 1) does WAY more sq ft than I need and 2) costs more than I'm spending on the rest of the project. Though I notice that there didn't seem to be any reviews that mentioned durability over the long haul...

I was planning to scuff it with sandpaper (it's currently a smooth, matte finish) and then use an epoxy floor paint. I figured if it was made to hold up to foot traffic, it would surely hold up to some use and abuse by a future homeowner, right? Or am I thinking about this all wrong?
 
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Old 08-21-13, 10:43 AM
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I think you're in uncharted territory with this. If you do proceed, please let us know how it works out for you, as you have piqued my curiosity.
 
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Old 08-21-13, 01:12 PM
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LOL! Well, that certainly makes me feel more confident!
 
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Old 08-22-13, 01:22 PM
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OK, so I was looking at primers yesterday and found a couple of contenders that seemed like good options--especially since they are tintable and high coverage.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16643[/ATTACH]

This one is rated for interior and exterior, which seems like a good option as far as durability, but I'm nervous about how much fumes it might put off. And in a small room, that might be a deal-breaker. Plus, I'm not overly familiar with painting with/cleaning up oil-based paints. (If it's the winner though, I'm sure there's a couple of excellent posts on here about them, so I'm not too concerned.)

[ATTACH=CONFIG]16644[/ATTACH]

This one is only rated for interior, but it does say it has outstanding adhesion (don't they all? ). And it's water-based, so cleanup would be pretty easy, and generally (though I'm sure not always) water based paints seem to be less odorous.

I'm not a talented painter by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that the key to a durable paint job is going to be the primer. Which would you choose?
 
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Old 08-22-13, 01:48 PM
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Zinsser is a good brand - it's the brand of primer I use.

In this case, adhesion is a big concern and I use oil based primers when that's an issue so I would go with the Cover Stain.
 
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Old 08-22-13, 04:28 PM
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Oil primer should adhere better than latex but pigmented shellac like Zinnser's BIN has the most adhesion properties ...... but is also the stinkiest
 
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Old 08-22-13, 06:51 PM
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BIN claims to adhere to glass--but I've never tried to verify

Any of those 3 are primers--you still need to topcoat with something that will hold up to hard use.

FWIW BIN--although labeled a primer/sealer--I have found to work miracles on rough thirsty surfaces like particle board & cheap luan doors. Comes out smooth, hard & shiny and I've applied one coat, with no topcoat, and it's lasted for years. Being a shellac it requires alcohol to clean up so I use cheap brushes & rollers & toss them when done.
 
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Old 08-23-13, 04:54 AM
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I do think that the key to a durable paint job is going to be the primer
This is never more true than when coating substrates [like formica] that are slick and non porous - those are the hardest types of substrates to get any coating to adhere to. While you want a hard coating for the top coat, it doesn't matter how good the top coat is if the primer's adhesion is suspect. BIN can be scraped off of glass but it does take more effort than most of the other types of coatings.

btw - it's never a good idea to leave any primer unpainted long term. The primer will degrade [resulting in more prep, possibly repriming before you can paint] and will also attract dirt/grime more than a finish paint will.
 
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Old 08-23-13, 07:52 AM
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btw - it's never a good idea to leave any primer unpainted long term. The primer will degrade [resulting in more prep, possibly repriming before you can paint] and will also attract dirt/grime more than a finish paint will.
I didn't know that, though I suppose it makes sense if you think about it. Thanks for that tip!

If you guys all think the BIN will work best, I'll go with that. As a bonus, I've seen it at my local store vs. driving to the nearest big box for the other two. Any good tips for mitigating the fumes in a small, windowless (window opens, but has a fairly airtight plexiglass "bubble" over it) basement room? I'm only coating about 6 sq ft, but I know that it will smell for a while even after it's on. We have a good rental place if there's some sort of machine I can rent or something??
 
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Old 08-23-13, 10:21 AM
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Fresh air ventilation is really the only way to hasten the removal of paint fumes. A respirator might be helpful while you are working in the confined space.

Just to clarify, I'm not sold on the viability of painting countertops but if I were to paint one, BIN [or most any pigmented shellac] is the primer I'd feel best about. About the only thing that would cause me to use a different primer is if I had some 'special' countertop paint that recommended a certain primer.
 
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Old 08-23-13, 12:47 PM
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BIN (or any shellac) uses alcohol as solvent. Dries fast but with no obnoxious fumes.
Cleanup is also with alcohol--so it's more expensive to save your tools. The directions say you can cleanup with Fantastic but when I tried that it only curdled the paint. For this reason I toss the brush & roller cover and use disposable tray liners.
 
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Old 08-23-13, 03:13 PM
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I've always found pigmented shellac to be one of the stronger smelling coatings ..... but not everyone's sniffer is the same.
 
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Old 08-23-13, 04:12 PM
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Definitely has a smell--kinda like a strong hospital smell. But it doesn't make me dizzy or give me a headache like mineral spirits, lacquer or toluene.
 
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Old 08-27-13, 12:44 PM
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I'll have to see how it affects me, I guess. Maybe hubby will give me permission to take that stupid bubble off if it's a problem. The glass has been disgusting the whole time we've lived here, and with the 3 ft of eave overhang I'm not sure the bubble really serves a purpose anyway (though I've been wrong on this stuff before!) So it would be really nice to be able to clean the outside of the windows.

BTW, how do I get email notifications for these posts? I don't seem to get them anymore, so I guess I need to change my email or something. ??
 
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Old 08-27-13, 03:17 PM
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At the top of the page, click on 'forum actions' and then 'general settings', scroll down just a little and you'll find where you can subscribe to a thread [which gives you the email notification] It's been yrs since I've used it but I think it's fairly self explanatory.
 
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Old 08-27-13, 03:22 PM
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Oddly enough it seems to have magically fixed itself?? I actually got an email this time.
 
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Old 08-28-13, 05:21 AM
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Sometimes I think these computers have a mind of their own but then I never have been all that technologically advanced
 
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Old 09-20-13, 02:01 PM
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It took longer to get to this point than I anticipated, isn't that always the way?

So I put two coats of the BIN on my (sanded) tile, then I will take it back to the hardware store and get it tinted before putting it on the formica (also sanded).

A few things of note:
  1. Sand your surface; I used a 220 grit, but I think a 180 grit might have been better. I'm going to re-sand my formica with the 180 and see what I think.
  2. This stuff was pretty runny and hard to apply to a vertical surface.
  3. It also dries to that "tacky" stage VERY quickly.
  4. The smell isn't too strong, but I wouldn't want to do it over a larger surface than my tiny vanity niche.
  5. Plan to throw away whatever you put it on with. The denatured alcohol didn't work for me.
  6. If I were to do it again, I would try to use a roller on a vertical surface. I was doing plastic tiles, so I thought a brush would get into the "grout lines" the best, but I'm not sure a roller for cabinets/doors wouldn't have worked just as well or better. The brush left a lot of stroke marks.

Finally, I found a quart of porch and floor paint at a nearby Ace hardware--for such a small project, I was afraid I was going to get stuck with a gallon, but they do make a smaller can, so shop around. And they can tint it to whatever color they have on the chart, so you aren't limited to a handful of colors. One thing that the paint person suggested was to avoid letting water sit on the surface for an extended period of time, or it will bubble up. It's paint designed for covered porches and floors, not an exposed deck. This made sense to me, but I'm more of a neat freak than some.
 
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Old 10-06-13, 09:33 AM
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It's done, the paint covered pretty well, and I put 3 coats of polyurethane on top because I'm a belt and suspenders kind of gal. I did my best to scratch the heck out of it with the shop vac (drywall dust and such from the rest of the project) and it held up good with no scratches. I also accidentally got some latex paint from the front of the cabinet dripped on it, and scrubbed that off with a scrubbie pad--also no scratches. The only thing about the project that I'm a bit unhappy about was how hard it was to prime it with that BIN stuff (it just dries too fast!!), and also my taping skills. I need to remind myself before each project that painter's tape does not compensate for my terrible technique....

I'll try to get a picture of it when we get everything finished and fully cleaned up.
 
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Old 10-06-13, 10:25 AM
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Yep, BIN is pretty thin and runny stuff. If you ever use it again, make sure you stir it thoroughly as some of the solids in the formula with settle to the bottom of the can if it sits for a while. You need them mixed in and simply shaking it won't do.

It does dry incredibly quickly as it's a denatured alcohol based formula.

In my opinion it's pretty much the smelliest product in a painters arsenal. However, the smell does dissipate fairly quickly. Proper ventilation is incredibly important. Even if you have to use a fan to move the fumes out of a room with no windows, do it. You're reducing the concentration and possible negative side effects.

A few years back, a woman hired me to paint her daughters bedroom which was in a basement with no windows whatsoever. Serious code violation. The daughter had painted the room black (weird, but so was she) and had put so much magic marker all over the walls I knew I was going to have to oil prime the whole thing. I realized I'd forgotten my respirator that day. Not good, but I wanted the job done and went for it. I rolled out about half a gallon of Cover Stain. In a very short time I felt like I was on LSD. I barely managed to get out of the basement and outside to fresh air, all the time trying not to let on to the customer that I was high as a kite. I was terrified that I wasn't going to get back to normal. Basically I stood by my van for 1/2 an hour until I felt normal enough to go back inside and return to painting. I will never, ever do anything that stupid ever again and I have no idea how many brain cells I killed that day.

True story, ventilation is important, don't take risks like I did.
 
 

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