Perfect is Boring: I Painted My Kitchen Counters with Chalk Paint and Its Definitely not Boring.
Yay!! I FINALLY painted my counter tops. So my mantra throughout this entire process was “Perfect is Boring”. Repeat after me “Perfect is Boring”. Again. One more time. Say it out loud this time. PERFECT IS BORING. Okay now that you have the right mindset lets dig in. I was a teensy bit scared of even trying to paint them for fear that they would look worse. But since paint has touched just about every surface in our kitchen I thought, why not? Paint, have you ever steered me wrong? No. Okay let’s do it. Here's a quick before and after to get you motivated.
First of all, when I start a project, I like to make sure to do it right before a really stressful time that way I have loads of motivation to finish (like OMG, these counters MUST be done before e-learning starts next week). Also, when I start a project, I want it to make a BIG IMPACT but I want to spend very little money (‘cause we don’t got a lot). For me, these dang counters made me cringe every time I was in the kitchen, which is all day, every day, just basically always (making snacks and milk ba-bas). But we don’t really have it in the budget to buy new counters, so painting them was my best option. Chalk paint is cheap. It doesn’t stink up the house so the kids can hover around while I’m working on it. And it dries super fast. So using chalk paint, as opposed to a specially formulated counter top paint, was the right choice for me.
Did you barf a little when you saw that picture? 'Cause I did.
Another thing to point out here is that I chose colors and a stencil pattern that would not only look good with the rest of my kitchen but that would also hide any types of chipping that may occur over time. I also did a test on a piece of cardboard to hold up against the wall to make sure I liked the colors. From a financial standpoint, it's looking like we might have to keep these counters until we are 80 so I wanted to be sure all my hard work would not be sabotaged by a small (or medium sized) chip or scratch. I’ve been using these counters full on for about 3 weeks and I’ve had ZERO problems. So let's go, let's paint your kitchen counters!!!
The first thing you want to do is start with a super clean surface. For this I used TSP - Heavy Duty Cleaner. Follow the instructions on the box to get a surface that is embarrassingly more clean than what you started with. Its so clean that your paint would be CRAZY not to stick to it. Then use painters tape to tape off any areas that you don’t want painted (for instance the sink, cook top, wall...you get the idea).
Next, I applied a primer. This Zinsser Primer is what we had laying around from another project so that’s what I used. I’m sure there may be other “better” primers to use for a project like this, but remember “perfect is boring”, money is tiiiight, and also dragging 3 kids to the hardware store is not ideal during a pandemic.
After the primer is completely dry, apply 2 coats of your base color of chalk paint. I used Retique It Renaissance Chalk Furniture Paint in Ivory Tower which can be purchased on AMAZON. I also used this chalk paint on our kitchen floor and let me tell ya, this stuff is legit.
Once your base color is completely dry it’s time to start stenciling with your second color of choice. I used the same brand of chalk paint but this time in the color Alabaster.
I used this Royal Design Studio - Tribal Baltik Furniture Stencil. I love Royal Design Studio stencils because they hold up super well, they have clear and easy to follow instructions, and if your stencil starts getting too heavy with paint you can just rinse off the excess, dry with a towel, and you are good to go. If you notice that your stencil is having a lot of bleed (paint getting outside of the stencil cut out area) you can simply rinse off the stencil in the sink or bathtub (you may need to use a washcloth to scrub), dry it off with a towel, and then continue stenciling. I did this 3 times during the stenciling of my counters. I used this Round Stencil Brush for this project which worked really well and gave me a little more control since my stencil had so many little cutouts.
While you are stenciling remember our mantra “Perfect is boring”. Put this on repeat in your head, because guess what, you may not get a perfect stencil every time. Especially when you are working on weird angles on a counter top, like between the cook top and randomly shaped embedded marble cutting board. So yeah, while you may notice allllll the teeny tiny imperfections just remember PERFECT IS BORING! And, zero people besides yourself will notice these tiny un-boring parts of your counter.
The un-boring part in this picture is hardly noticeable. If you found it.....I don't even care because guess what? PERFECT IS BORING!!!
Finally, it's time to apply the clear protective finish. I used Minwax Water Based Polycrylic in Clear Matte. And I applied it with a Mini Foam Roller. I did a total of 3 coats. I did not sand between coats as suggested on the can because I didn’t want this project to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r and I don’t really mind having a slight texture. You literally can’t tell by looking at it at all. But, if you are indeed wanting a super smooth finish, then go ahead, sand between coats.
There you have it. A counter painted with chalk paint that has been holding up so far so good. One quick tip, I bought a few of these super cute wooden cutting boards from IKEA so that I can set my appliances on them because what I’ve found with my floor is that the more things that you scooch, or move slightly everyday the more you will have an increased likelihood of getting scratches, remember I have to keep these looking good until I'm 80. Plus, I just really like the way the wood cutting boards look against my spakin’ new counters. I mean look how much better our cook top (original to this 1964 build) looks with these painted counters.
I hope this helps anyone wanting to make a big impact in their kitchen without spending big bucks. Don’t forget PERFECT IS BORING!!!
- Chalk Paint
Retique It Renaissance Chalk Furniture Paint - Ivory Tower
Retique It Renaissance Chalk Furniture Paint - Alabaster
- Stencil - Royal Design Studio - Tribal Baltik Furniture Stencil
- Mini Foam Roller
- Nice edging brush - this one's my favorite. I’ve had the same one for years - Wooster Ultra/Pro Firm Shortcut 2 Inch Angle Brush
- Round Stencil Brush
- TSP - Heavy Duty Cleaner
- Minwax Water Based Polycrylic - Clear Matte
- Painters Tape
- Zinsser Primer
Amazing! Can’t believe it’s the same kitchen counters, cabinets & floor you started with! Looks like a major renovation! Great post, Chalk paint cheerleader!