One more part of my DIY kitchen makeover is complete. YAY! :-) Painting kitchen countertops to look like marble was a big decision and a lot of work, but all worth it.
Painting kitchen countertops with Giani Countertop Paint was new to me. I had not used it before and wanted to make sure I did it right. I have painted Carrara Marble many times before, but used craft paint and paste wax to do that. You can see that method in this post: Faux Marble Painting Technique
For kitchen counters that get abuse, I needed something more durable than craft paint and wax. After reading many reviews online about Giani Countertop Painting Kits, I decided to go for it. Most of the kits are made to create a granite look countertop. I tweaked the way I painted mine counters though to look like white Carrara Marble.
This photo shows how the kitchen looked as I started painting the cabinets white and countertops to look like Carrara marble. The brown is history.
Hello light, bright and white. This is the counter on the right side of the sink.
I didn’t paint the counters all at once so we could still use the kitchen while the transformation was taking place. Back in October I did the cooktop side and then split the larger U-shaped counter on the opposite side of the kitchen into two sections. I did the section to the left of the sink in December and the section to the right just last week.
I did this section in October. It has been used for 4 months now and I could not be happier. I treat the counter as if it were Formica. I use a cutting board and place anything hot on a trivet, never right on the counter.
Here is the section that is to the left of the sink.
The actual painting process is easy. What takes time is you need to allow drying time between each step. Creating the veins doesn’t take much time, but it does require a teeny bit of confidence to start painting them on. When I didn’t like a vein I created, I simply painted over it using the White Limestone paint that is part of the kit.
The nice thing about painting Carrara marble on your counters is you can decide how much veining you want. I like the veins to be subtle, but if you prefer more veins, larger veins, or a mix of dark and light veining, you can do it easily.
I am going to show you the steps I used to create the marble look. On close inspection you can see and feel that it is not real marble, but the overall white and updated look that I was after.
Painting kitchen countertops to look like marble is all about layering. If you have a slab or tile of real marble you can see that some of the veins look deeper that others, all are under the surface. Layering the paint helps to achieve the same look.
When I created veins using craft paint on a desk top I mention earlier, I used water to let the veining paint flow naturally. Giani recognizes this method to create marble, but does not recommend it for kitchen counters. So to help make the veins look more realistic, I used a small piece of the sponge that comes with the countertop painting kit to soften them.
My counter is original to the house that was built in the mid 1970’s. It was in good shape, but it is Formica with seams. If your counters have any damage, you will need to fix it first, then paint. The paint will not hide imperfections in the surface such as a seam in the laminate. This is what the paint looks like over a seam in the laminate.
You can also see how shiny the surface is if you look at the upper right of the photo (above) you can see the color reflection of the cookbooks I have on the counter.
I added 3 light coats of the Topcoat. As you can see it is very shiny. The surface is smooth, but at certain angles you can see a slight texture in the rolled on topcoat sealer. For me, applying the topcoat was the scariest part since you cannot go back over the topcoat more than twice as you roll in on. More on this below in the tutorial.
Painting Kitchen Countertops To Look Like Carrara Marble
supplies needed: affiliate links used
Everything you need to paint comes in the Giani Countertop Paint Kit. I used the White Diamond kit.
2 cans of the White Limestone paint that will give the counter the white marble look come in the kit. I ordered 2 more cans since I wanted my counters to look like very white Carrara marble. Each kit covers 35 sq. feet. If your kitchen counter is small, one kit will be plenty, if you have a very large counter, you may need two kits, or at least more White Limestone. So order that separately from the kit.
You will also need:
- 100 and 660 grit sandpaper
- Sanding block
- Tack cloths
- Dish Detergent, clean rag, Brillo or SOS pad
- Tape & Drape drop cloth
- Painter’s tape
- Craft knife
- Fine-tipped paint brush and or a feather
- Paper plates
- Latex gloves
- 2 plastic containers with lids
- Optional: Water based caulk/sealant for around sink
On the Giani Countertop Paint website there are video tutorials that I highly recommend you watch on how to paint a counter to look like granite and also how to paint a table to look like marble where they use water to help make the veins look more realistic. Using water is not recommended for countertops though, but the video will help you with creating veining in general.
I followed the directions that came with the kit, they are well written and easy to follow. I altered them when it came to applying the paint since I wanted to create a marble look, not granite.
If you are going to paint your counters to look like marble, I recommend you purchase a marble tile with veining at the home improvement store. They cost about $5.00 a piece. You can use it as a guide to see what veins look like since when you are painting them you can create the most realistic look.
Use painter’s tape to mask off the backsplash and around the sink or any section that will not be painted. Use Tape & Drape to protect the base cabinets from getting paint on them.
- This is truly the most important step of the entire process. You need to create a super clean surface for the primer to adhere. Wash your counters with detergent and hot water a few times. Rinsing well after each washing.
2. Then go over with an SOS pad. Rinse well and then because a little sanding will only help the primer to adhere, go over the counter surface with 100 grit sandpaper. Don’t rub too hard, just a light going over. Clean the surface well and rinse, rinse, rinse, with clear water and then let dry. When dry make sure there is no grease on the counter surface. Get down to the counter level and look across the counter to make sure. I had one spot in the last section I painted that had something super gunky (not sure that is a word). I needed to use a razor blade scraper to remove it.
3. When the counter is completely clean and dry, you can proceed to start the painting process.
The kit comes with the primer, paint and topcoat sealer. It is all marked by steps which makes knowing what layer is next easy.
4. Stir the primer well and pour into a paint tray. Put the roller cover on the roller.
5. Start adding the IronCore black primer to the counter where it meets the backsplash using the foam brush that comes with the kit. You only need a light coat.
6. Then begin to roll on a light coat of the primer over the counter. Don’t roll on with too much pressure that you create roller lines. Don’t re-coat any missed spots, wait until this primer is dry and then see where you missed and roll over those areas.
The primer dries to the touch in about 30 minutes, but you need to wait at least 8 hours before you can begin the next step.
Before applying the mineral paints you need to figure out which direction you want the veining in the marble to flow. All marble veins flow mostly in the same direction. To make your veining look as realistic as possible, draw out how you want to see the veins. Here is my sketch of the vein flow I chose for each section of my counter
7. After waiting 8 hours you can begin to apply the “mineral paints” There are 3 in the White Diamond kit; Inca Gold, Pearl Mica and White Limestone. I did not use the Inca Gold.
Start with the Pearl Mica. Stir it well and then pour a little out on a paper plate. Tear up a piece of the sponge that comes with the kit into a small section. Dip the sponge into the paint and then dab once on an empty part of the paper plate to remove some of the paint. Begin painting by dabbing the sponge up and down following the angles you want the veins to flow. Move the sponge in different directions so you don’t create the same sponge print with each dab.
Here is what the counter looked like after I applied the Pearl Mica. I let it dry for 4 hours. If you are painting to make the counter look like granite, you can apply the layers of the mineral paints one right after each other so you can blend them together.
8. After waiting for 4 hours, I then started to apply the White Limestone using the ripped up section of sponge. Stir the paint well, pour on plate and then dip sponge into paint, then off to unload some, then onto the counter top in a light pouncing motion. I applied it on an angle the way I planned for the veins to run. Dab over the just painted areas to make sure the paint is not being applied too thickly.
9. After each layer of paint is dry, go over the surface with your hand to check for raised spots of paint. Go over with 660 grit sandpaper and then a tack cloth to remove the sanding grit.
9. Once the first coat of White Limestone is on and is dry to the touch, add another layer of White Limestone paint in the same manner. Let dry
Keep adding thin layers of White Limestone paint in the direction you want the veins to flow.
Don’t forget to carry the flow of the veining in the same direction on the counter edges just like a slab of real marble would have. The veins go through the slab, they are not just on the top.
I added 4 layers of White Limestone, but depending on how white you want the counters to be you can add more or less layers. Right after the last layer was applied, I added the veining. Doing the veining while the paint is wet will allow it to soften the lines.
How to Paint Marble Veining on Painted Countertops
1. To create the grey paint for veining:
- Light Grey Veins – Mix 1 part IronCore Black Primer and 3 parts White Limestone in a plastic bowl
- Dark Grey Veins – Mix equal parts IronCore Black Primer and White Limestone together in a plastic bowl.
2. Dip the tip of a fine-tipped paint brush into the the color vein you would like to create. Apply them following the vein flow pattern you decided on. You can also use the tip of a feather to paint the veins. It works well especially when you can use water. Since using water is not recommended I didn’t use it. You can see how I used it in this post.
3. Immediately after you paint a vein, dab over it with the White Limestone on the sponge.
Follow the flow, go over the actual veins or on either side of them to create the flow of the veins. Dab a second time to remove excess paint. Continue to add veins and soften them by pouncing the sponge with little or no paint on it over them. Let dry.
I like the look of light veining. I let this dry overnight.
Before applying the topcoat, make sure there are no paint ridges in the painted surface. If there are, go over them with the 660 sandpaper and wipe off the grit with a tack cloth.
When applying the Topcoat, you have to be quick and not go back over a just rolled area more than 2 times or you may create unwanted texture. If this happens, let it dry, sand with very fine grit sandpaper, clean off an then add another light coat of the Topcoat.
You can apply up to 3 light coats of the Topcoat sealer waiting at least 4 hours between each coats. Two are recommended. After the last coat is on you have to wait 24 hours before using the counters. Wait 3 days to place small appliances back on. Be gentle with the counters for 2 weeks while the paint is curing. Wait 24 hours before using a dishwasher.
How to Clean The Painted Countertops:
Giani sells a cleaner for the painted countertops but I have not used it. I have been using dish soap, hot water and a rag. It does the job very well. Do not use bleach, cleaners that have essential oils in them, or anything abrasive like Comet, SoftScrub or SOS pads.
Important TIPS to Follow When Painting Countertops
- Make sure the counters are very clean and free of all dirt and grease before you begin. Use a tack cloth to make sure no dirt or dust is on the surface before each step.
- Apply the paint and topcoat when the temperature in the room is around 72. This will ensure good adhesion and smoothness while allowing the paint to dry in optimal time. When I painted the first two sections of my counters I had my outside doors open since it was warm outside. The paint and topcoat went on beautifully. When I did the last section, it was January and we were having a cold spell. The topcoat didn’t go on as smoothly. It still looks great, but I can tell you first hand that the temperature in the room and under the cabinets is crucial. Open the base cabinet doors to get the warm air in so the temps all around the cabinets and counter is around 72 degrees.
I tried making a video showing me actually painting, but some of the steps are not in focus. I can create a simple video showing the steps on a piece of plywood. If you think this will help you let me know in the comments.
If you have any questions leave them for me in the comments.
If you have been thinking about painting kitchen countertops or even the counters in a bathroom or any surface using the Giani paint, I say go for it. I am so happy that I did.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE how the counters turned out. I will do an update every few months to tell you how they are holding up. So far so good on the counter I did back in October by the stove. :-)