We are often asked how to paint an existing laminate countertop, and if it is even possible. Yes, you can paint countertops, but you need to prepare the countertop surface carefully beforehand with special primer. Here's how.
(1) Wash the countertop with some ammonia-based cleaner or some warm ammonia diluted with water. Get it as clean as possible, removing all dirt and grime. When the surface is dry, you may wish to put strips of low-tack painter's tape on any trim around the countertop.
(2) The next step is to prime the countertop surface with a bonding primer, this will make sure the paint will stick to a non-porous surface. Some good bonding primers are XIM 400, Sherwin-Williams PrepRite®, or Zinssers Bin. Follow the primer manufacturers instructions; plan on allowing the primer to set for about 24 hours before painting. The odor can be strong, so consider opening windows and closing the room off from the rest of the house when using these products.
(3) When the primer is dry, it's time to paint your selected new color paint to the existing laminate countertop. Nothing changes a kitchen's look quite so much as countertop finishes, so make sure you've matched swatches to your existing colors – appliances, walls, flooring and all. If you use your laminate countertops to prepare food directly on, use water based paint; the chemicals in oil based paints may leech into your food, which is not a good thing. Apply two to three thin layers of paint, letting them dry between each coating. If you like, and are feeling creative, you can stencil-paint some patterned borders on your laminate countertops new base paint as well at this point.
(4) The final step is to seal the paint. Three coats of satin or high-gloss non-yellowing polyurethane will give you maximum durability. I prefer water-based sealer; it will not alter the appearance of your paint's colors when it dries. Allow the sealer to dry 24 hrs. You might have to order take-out dinners for a couple of days, but it will be worth it when you see your fabulous new painted laminate countertops in your kitchen.