If you saw the man cave built-ins makeover a couple of weeks ago, you may have noticed that the countertop was sporting a black finish-in particular a black faux stone finish. As it turns out, that faux stone finish only ended up costing me $15 and was pretty easy to achieve.
Before the countertops were faux stone, they were painted white, and before that, they were in their original 1970s laminate burgundy glory. Initially, when my husband and I did a “lazy job” of redoing this space, I painted the countertop white. I knew good and well it would end up scratching off, but I didn’t really care because I was pregnant and just wanted to lounge around in my foldout lawn chair and eat chocolate while I still had a good excuse. So I did.
And what did the countertop do?
It got lots of little scratches here and there, just as I knew it would.
A few months back, when I really committed to overhauling this space, I knew I couldn’t leave the countertops as they were. I had lots of ideas-I would clad it all in pallet wood or 1-by-4s or pleather with nailhead trim. Then, I had a better idea: I wanted to make it look like soapstone. I would paint it black, then come back with a tiny paintbrush and maybe add some grayish-whiteish veining.
Pssssshhhhhh … as if I actually have the patience for all that.
After I realized that idea was a bust, I had a thought: I wonder what this countertop looks like underneath the laminate.
So I did what any normal person would do-I starting tearing it off, having no idea what I would find underneath.
Fortunately, I was left with some very rough MDF/plywood/some sort of wood that would look just like stone when painted black.
Before I tell you how I painted it, let me tell you how to tear off the old laminate. All we did was take a pry bar and hammer it under the edge of the laminate top, then pulling it up and off. Don’t worry if you take a little of the wood with it-it just adds to the stone look. Also, it won’t all come up in one fell swoop; you are likely to get smaller chunks off of it here and there. It was super-easy, though-you really can’t mess it up.
After we had all the laminate off, I gave it a super-light sanding with my palm sander. That was just to remove any loose splinters or pieces of wood sticking up.
I scoured my paint stash for the perfect black-it couldn’t be too black, but couldn’t be too gray-black, either. It had to be the perfect “stone” look. I turned up with a can of Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint, which I put directly onto the wood. I did about three coats of the chalkboard paint.
After the paint was dry, I knew I had to seal it with something, because chalkboard paint tends to have a flat finish that will show anything. I had some Minwax paste finishing wax on hand that I used. I am not a fan of using waxes usually, but I knew the wax would keep that muted look of the paint but still protect it. To apply the wax, I used my electric detailing polisher. In my opinion, that is the only way to apply waxes to furniture-it makes the process much easier. I have a full tutorial on how I use it here.
If you want to do this on a kitchen countertop or bathroom countertop that is going to be getting a lot of use, I would highly recommend that you use a more heavy-duty sealant, such as a polyurethane or polycrylic, which will hold up to water much better.
Also, I can’t attest to the fact that this kind of wood is under every laminate countertop. If you are interested in doing this, I suggest pulling off an inconspicuous piece of laminate first to see what is under it.
Jenna LaFevor rants on at Rain on a Tin Roof about DIY projects, junk décor, thrifty finds, crafty creations and other decorating dilemmas. She went to UTC, where she got a teaching degree that now collects dust. When she isn’t trying to keep her kid from climbing out of the circus ring or making sure her husband’s shirts are taken to the dry cleaners so she gets out of ironing, she can be found with a paintbrush in one hand and a cheap beer in the other. But if you’re buying, she’ll have a cosmopolitan. You can email her at [email protected]; or you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @raintinroofblog or at her blog. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.