Personally, I like older homes. I never wanted to own a brand new home. I know many people who do, and have, and really like them – but myself, I like the character of older homes. Our family’s home was built in 1971, and we purchased it three years ago (that’s how I initially came to know Jason Farris, realtor extraordinaire and creator of this here website – he was our realtor and worked extremely hard to ensure we had every chance to get the home we wanted most, and it totally paid off). Some of the 1970’s features about the home, I really like. Things like large bedrooms, a generously sized lot within the city limits, scalloped, hanging globe lights in the front bathroom, floor vents (nothing like standing over the cold blowing a.c. after coming in from a workout!) I could go on. However, there are a few things about the 70’s décor style that I really don’t enjoy. One of them is our tiny master bathroom and its yellowed, faux marble countertop.
Our master bathroom is small, had dark cabinets, white walls and was the black sheep room of our home. I loved all the other rooms, so I had made up my mind to simply ignore the ugly bathroom until I could save to completely remodel it sometime. But, three years have past and looking at the ugly bathroom got old. I decided to do what I could in the meantime, without spending too much money, to make the room at least a bit more attractive. I painted the walls a nice neutral grey, the cabinetry a fresh white and my husband replaced the vanity light. I added new decorations and a towel ring, and made the room as light and beachy as I could. Yes, I am fully aware I do not live near the beach, but I still love a beachy home. Once all this work was done however, it became crystal clear that the countertop looked very ugly and yellow in contrast of the freshly painted white cabinets.
I decided to Google and see if I could find a way to re-do the countertop without having to replace it altogether. I didn’t really want to buy a whole new vanity, since I’d just spent the time sanding, painting and sealing the existing one. And quite frankly, replacing a countertop sounded expensive and like more work than I cared to put in, seeing as I believe these room upgrades are a stepping stone to a bigger remodel down the road. I was able to find a few videos and pins on Pinterest from others who had wondered if the same thing was possible, and several that even had gone through the process of painting their existing faux marble countertop. I took what seemed to be the best advice from several different sources, and sort of smooshed them together to choose a method that I thought I could successfully use, and that would be as low-cost as possible while still yielding a nice result.
Ultimately, I was successful in painting my faux marble bathroom countertop and I’m really happy with the final result. I’m fairly certain there are numerous other home owners who may be preparing their home to put on the market, or like me, they plan to stay in their home and would like to do away with the ugly look of yellowing faux marble counters. So, here I’ll share what ultimately worked well for me, in hopes it can beautify some other bathrooms, too! (I still have work to do in the bathroom overall, including replacing the faucet, but at least these photos will give you a good idea of what the countertop transformation is like.)
Step by Step Guide to Painting Faux Marble Countertops to Look Like Updated Stone
What you’ll need:
- 1 can of Zinzer Bullseye 3-2-1 Primer (this special primer adheres well to smooth surfaces)
- 2 high density foam rollers (4″)
- Painter’s tape
- A sea sponge (the rough looking, natural kind)
- Black or Brown acrylic paint (Apple Barrel or similar works!) Brown if you want a brown/taupe looking “stone” counter or black for a greyish “stone” look
- Paper plates (thick or several stacked)
- Polyurethane sealer (choose one that will not yellow, it should dry clear)
- A fan to aid with drying and dissipating fumes (more for drying in most cases, but depending on the seal you use, it could be stinky)
- Sandpaper (200 and 100 grit)
- Lint free cloths or rags
What to do:
- Begin by thoroughly cleaning and drying your countertop.
- Once clean, use the 200 grit sandpaper to sand the countertop. Yes, I know it’s hard and smooth, but it will sand. Go until you take the glossiness down just a notch all over.
- Switch to the 100 grit sandpaper and repeat. Don’t work too hard on sanding. Just a light, even sanding with both grits will do. Once finished, dampen a lint-free cloth and remove any dust created when sanding.
- Tape the edges around your counter with painters tape to protect the walls, cabinets, sink, etc.
- Stir the primer and pour some into a paper plate, and with long, even strokes coat the countertop with an even first coat of primer. Turn on the fan and allow to dry for 30 minutes. (Go watch Netflix with your feet up. You deserve it!)
- Repeat all of step 5.
- If the countertop is not completely opaque and white yet, it’s ok. Don’t worry. Get your sea sponge and tear it into a couple of big pieces. Dab one piece lightly into the primer and begin dabbling it around the counter. Do not drag the sponge, just press and lift lightly. Do this all over so that some areas look brighter white and others less so. You are making a sponged appearance. Never soak the sponge with primer, just dab lightly. You can dab excess primer off onto a clean plate before sponging it onto the counter if need be. Keep the paint light and feathery.
- Pour a small amount (think half dollar size) of your brown or black paint onto a new plate. With just one small edge or point of the other sponge, VERY lightly dip into the brown or black paint and very lightly dab it onto the counter to make just little speckles of dark paint here and there on the counter. Keep going until you can see a few little darker specks every couple of inches.
- Pour a small amount of primer onto the plate with the acrylic paint and use a new part of the sponge to lightly dab back and forth between the primer and the dark paint to create what will become a mid-range shade of paint. Dab this new shade lightly all over the countertop.
- You will begin to see three shades of color on the table, marrying themselves together. Keep dabbling away until the colors start to blend nicely, like stone. Remember – lightly dabbing the entire time – feathery paint. Never pressing hard or soaking the sponge.
- Once you are pleased with the mixing and mottling of the colors, allow to dry for at least one hour. (Use your fan to help)
- Coat the counter with an even coat of Poly seal using a second high density foam roller. Allow to dry for at least 2 hours.
- Sand the Poly lightly with both grits of sandpaper, then wipe away the dust. Repeat the Poly seal for a second coat.
- Remove the painter’s tape once the Poly is dry to the touch, then allow the counter to continue to cure as directed on your can of Poly sealer.
- Enjoy your much fresher looking bathroom counter!
Natali Carrera is a devoted coffee addict who also loves her nine-year-old son, husband of 14 years and bargain hunting at Target. She works full time with ValleyPBS as their Director of Educational Services and is also a freelance writer and YouTube vlogger (as a hobby). She's been told "bubbly" is the best descriptor of her personality, though she wonders if what people really mean is that she talks too much. Natali is a lifelong Fresno resident and Fresno State grad.
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