Painting kitchen countertops to look like Carrara marble can be done successfully to last for years. This post will give you the knowledge and the confidence to do it on your counters.
I have been blogging since 2009 in this time many things have changed and/or get updated in the world of paint and decorating. This is the case with the paint I used to paint my kitchen countertops. It is called Giani Countertop Paint. Before using it I have always used a marble painting method I learned in while I was in college. The kit is great and if you have never painted a piece of furniture or a counter, then you can’t go wrong using one of the now many Giani Countertop Painting kits.
UPDATES: There are few Updates Since I Posted This Tutorial
Giani now makes a Carrara Marble Painting Kit. When I painted my counters back in 2016, they only sold one, the White Diamond Granite Kit that I tweaked to look like marble. If you want the look of marble, I would use the new Carrara Marble Painting Kit as it will look even more like real marble than what I was able to create using the White Diamond Granite Kit.
How to Paint Kitchen Counters Without a Kit
If the $89 Gianni kit is out of your budget and you want to paint any surface in your home to look like Carrara Marble.
I have painted Carrara Marble many times before using a kit. I used craft paint and paste wax to create a realistic marble look on the top of a dresser turned into a bathroom vanity that gets wet. It has lasted over 8 years so far. You can see that method in this post. —-> How to Paint Carrara Marble Using Craft Paints
- After using the White Diamond Granite Giani Paint Kit and seeing what the new Carrara Marble Kit has in it, if I ever was to paint a surface to look like Carrara Marble again, I would use my Faux Marble Painting Tutorial, (linked above) method as it will work just as well and will cost less. The products that come in the Carrara Marble kit are basic paints and supplies that you can buy at any paint or home improvement store. White primer/paint, two shades of flat grey acrylic paint, 2 small tipped brushes, a 2-inch soft bristle paint brush, a microfiber paint roller and Minwax Polycrylic – it is water-based and will not yellow over time.
- No matter what you decide to use, the key to making a lasting Carrara marble look and finish is cleaning and prepping the surface properly and then after adding the veins – sealing with water-based poly like Minwax Polycrylic in a semi-gloss sheen.
Things To Consider Before Starting
- I used the poly in the kit on my kitchen counters that is the same as Polycrylic. This works well. I am very happy with it, but the roller does leave some stippling texture if you look closely. When you seal with paste wax, as I did my bathroom vanity, the surface is smooth and shiny just like real marble. The other benefit of paste wax is that when it wears, you can simply rub and buff more paste wax over the surface and it will look like new. When the poly wears, which it will do around the sink, you will need to refinish the area again by sanding, repainting and adding a new coat of poly trying to blend it in with the rest of the counter.
- I would read both this post, my other Carrara Marble painting post and watch both videos at the end of this post. Doing all these will be worth your time as they will give you confidence and answer any questions you may have about the best way to proceed.
- In the video I made I show the technique I used to paint my kitchen counters using the White Diamond Granite Kit back in 2016 so it would look like Carrara Marble. I am leaving it up since it may help those who want to know more about how to prep the surface and add the veining. But I highly suggest you watch the new Giani Carrara Marble video as it is the one that shows how to use this new kit that I wished they made back in 2016. Jump To Video
BEST TIPS: The best tips I can share with you now that my kitchen counter painting was done two years ago are these:
- It’s All About the Prep – Take the time to really clean and prep your counters before painting. It can make or break how well the painted counters will hold up.
- Veining – Use water. To create real looking veins, spray or dab water over them with a soft paint brush after you paint them on. When I painted my counters using the Giani Granite kit back in 2016, they told me not to do this as they were not sure it would stand up to the test of time. But now their new marble kit shows doing this. Water is the key to creating real-looking veins.
BEFORE & AFTER Kitchen Counter Carrara Marble Painting
This photo shows how my kitchen looked as I started painting the cabinets white and countertops to look like Carrara marble.
Hello light, bright and white. This is the counter on the right side of the sink that I painted to look like Carrara marble.
I didn’t paint the counters all at once so we could still use the kitchen while the transformation was taking place. I did it section by section. I did the cooktop side and then split the larger U-shaped counter on the opposite side of the kitchen into two sections.
Kitchen Counter AFTER Painting
This section 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. (Now they do). So to help make the veins look more realistic, I used a small piece of the sponge and a soft bristle paint brush that comes with the countertop painting kit to soften them.
My Formica 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.
Countertop Tips Before Starting
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.
How to Paint Kitchen Countertops To Look Like Carrara Marble
supplies needed: affiliate links used
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
- 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
Again, remember that 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
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.
Giani recently made a Carrara Marble Painting Kit, two years after I painted my counter using the White Diamond Kit. If I had this kit option when I painted my counters, I would have used this kit and would recommend you do to since it was made to resemble marble and uses water when to create the veins.
Here is the video I made showing how I tweaked the only available Giani kit to me at the time. It still may help you see the proper way way to prep the counter for the paint and a few tips on veining.
- In the video I show adding two coats of the White Limestone paint. For my counters I added four coats to get a very white color. Once I liked the amount of white, I let the paint dry overnight, then began the veining process.
- I used both 220 and 660 grit sandpaper to smooth the paint after each coat of paint was dry.
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.