How to Paint Formica Countertops

Formica countertops.
What You'll Need
150-grit sandpaper
Acrylic latex enamel paint
Solvent cleaner
4-inch paint rollers with pans

Painting Formica countertops is a way of enhancing a vintage look or transforming it into a contemporary look. It will also save you the money and the trouble of replacing a countertop that is worn. Many older apartments, campers, mobile homes, and older construction homes were originally fitted with Formica countertops. Some are fitted with Formica cabinet doors, which you can paint as well. All you need is a few materials and the right know-how to bring these dated countertops back to life.

Step 1 – Pick a Paint

Research the variety of paint colors available to you when painting the Formica countertops. You may wish to mimic a stone look. You could also consider a charcoal effect. Once you’ve selected the type and color of paint you wish to use, measure the surface area of your Formica countertops and take the measurements to a paint store or home improvement center to acquire the necessary amount of paint to complete the job. Make sure you get enough primer as well as paint rollers, brushes and other tools needed.

Step 2 – Prepare the Counters

After you’ve decided which paint you want to use and have acquired the necessary materials, prepare the countertop for painting. You will need to "rough” up the entire surface area using a fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure to buff all surface areas so the paint will adhere to the counter.

Step 3 – Clean the Countertop

Black Formica counters.

Make sure there are no gas pilot lights burning when using liquid cleaners. Using a solvent cleaner, wipe down the entire surface area removing all dust and debris before beginning to paint. Use either a lacquer thinner or acetone as your cleaning agent. These both evaporate quickly allowing you to proceed in no time. You also need to make sure the area is well ventilated by opening all the windows where you are working.

Step 4 – Apply the Primer

Apply a primer base using the 4-inch rollers to apply an even coat across the entire surface area. Allow the primer to dry before proceeding to paint the countertop.

Step 5 – Use Epoxy Paint

For best results, use an epoxy paint when painting the Formica countertops. It dries harder and will last a lot longer than regular paints. Epoxy paints are available in many different colors and are quite durable. You will need at least two coats to get the desired results. Use a soft bristled brush.

For a less expensive option to epoxy paint, consider using an oil-based enamel paint. This paint will take a bit longer to dry than epoxy does, but it is less expensive to buy. However, it is not as tough as epoxy paint is.

Tips to Remember

Always make sure to work in a well-ventilated area. Make sure to clean any excess paint quickly and tape off areas near cabinets and the sink to make clean up easier.