Dec 07 2010
The last time we were up north, I was seduced by a Designed to Sell marathon on HGTV to find an inexpensive way to spruce up my kitchen. I had heard somewhere before of people painting their counter tops, so I turned to Google. Google directed me to Giani Granite Paint, which intrigued me mightily. I knew that actual granite counter tops would be a stupid thing to buy, both for financial reasons and because we still don’t know yet what – if anything – we’ll end up doing to the kitchen in the long run. I needed a temporary and inexpensive fix, and this looked like it. I mean, the kit only cost $60! And that included everything you would need – the paint and the tools (well, not things like painter’s tape or paint pans, but rollers and sponges). So, I ordered the kit. And then it sat around for a few months, because I am pretty good at conceptualizing but not so good at follow through. But, a couple of weeks ago I decided I’d better just GET TO IT. So, I did. And here’s what happened:
First, I degreased the counter tops using 409, as recommended in the instructions that came from Giani. Then, I taped off all of the “delicate surfaces” (otherwise known as the painted walls and the brick) with painter’s tape. Then, since it was most definitely below 70 degrees outside, I opened all of my cupboards and turned the heat up to 74 degrees. Giani recommends 72 degrees, but my house is drafty, so I hedged my bets. I let the counters warm up for a few hours. Giani recommends letting them warm up overnight, but I am impatient once I get going. I wanted to paint!
Once the counters were sufficiently heated, it was time to apply the primer. I chose the Chocolate Brown color combo, so my primer was black. I’m not sure if they all are or not. Anyway, I got out the primer, shook it and stirred it, and then poured some out and used the included roller to start painting. The primer is thinner than normal latex paint. I would call it…runny. And I’m not sure if it’s just me or what, but if I went over the same spot too many times, the primer would start to come up or smear, revealing the original counters beneath. So, it also is not as sticky as normal paint. After some trial and error, I found a light touch was best. This holds true both for the roller-ing, and for brushing on the backsplash (Giani also included the foam brush to do edges and corners). So, you roll this black primer on in about two-foot sections, and then you backroll over it to kind of smooth everything out. Soon, your counters look goth.
At this point, you have to stop and let the primer dry for eight hours. That sounds like “overnight” to me, so I went to bed.
The next day it was time to tackle the sponge painting part. Giani sends you one sponge that you have to cut up, and three different color shades, depending on which kit you ordered. As I said, I ordered the Chocolate Brown kit, so my colors were kind of a taupe brown for the first color, a gold-brown for the second, and a dark brown for the third. Giani also sends you a piece of black poster board so that you can practice your sponge technique for awhile. You are supposed to sponge in two-foot sections, doing all three colors one right after the other while they are still wet, so that they blend and look more natural. And this is pretty easy to do…on a flat surface when you’re not dealing with a corner. However, I found the vertical backsplash and the area where the backsplash meets the counter EXCEEDINGLY difficult to get into, no matter how small I cut the sponge. And, no matter how much I “dabbed” the sponge to get most of the paint off, I couldn’t keep the paint on the backsplash from running down. I think the problem is that, as you go on, the sponge gets more and more saturated with paint. You’re supposed to dip the sponge into paint, and then dab most of the paint off using a paper plate or something, and THEN dab it on the counter. But, like I said, I think that eventually, no matter what, the sponge gets too full of paint for that to work well. If I were to do this again, I would buy two or three back up sponges to use when the first one got gooey. Live and learn. But, even with the running, things ended up looking pretty good. I was quite pleased when I was all finished.
After getting all the sponge paint on, it’s time for another eight hours of drying time. Are you starting to see that this is not a fast process? Actually, the painting itself goes pretty quickly. It’s the drying that takes so long. And, once this drying period is over, it’s time to roll/brush on the top coat! Giani sends along a clear topcoat that they say is automotive grade polymer resin. Okie dokie. This is pretty easy, you just use the brush to get the edges, and then roller in the middle, making sure that your roller is loaded up at all times, because you don’t want any dry spots. The instructions make it very clear that three coats of sealer is the MAX you can put on. I only put on two coats, because I thought (and the instructions seem to back me up) that two coats is plenty. Each coat of sealer has to dry for four hours.
And, because I don’t know when to stop, I also bought under cabinet lights and had The Man put those into place. So, once the counters were dry and the lights were in, I was very, very pleased with my “new” kitchen.
I have to say, the pictures don’t really do it justice. People who haven’t seen the counters ask me all the time if you can tell it’s paint. All I can say is that my Dad came into the kitchen the day after I did the sponge paint – before the topcoat was on – and asked when we got stone counters installed. When I told him it was paint, he said “No way” and put his face right down next to it to check. To him, it still looked real close up. So, there you go. I’m very happy with it, and so is The Man. It really changes the entire room.