Eco Friendly Laminate Countertop Makeover

One of my readers asked me how can she makeover her 1980’s  laminate countertop without disposing of it.   To add on a layer, she asked me how can she make this transformation eco-friendly.  I love the way she thinks. Don’t you?

Honestly with all the great green countertops out there, it would be just easier to  get rid of it.  However, why dispose if you can just fix?  My first instinct was paint the countertop a great color.

As I perused through the internet, I encountered such conflicting advice.  No one could agree on the sandpaper grit to use to sand the laminate or the type of paint to cover the laminate.  Some insisted on oil based paint while others insisted on latex.  To make matters worse, no one agreed on what type of polyurethane to use.

Even my friend and DIY extraordinaire, Lisa of Condo Blues had a different opinion.  She wasn’t high on the polyurethane idea at all.

What was I going to tell my reader?   Well, when all else fails (um, the internet) head to the paint store for advice.  So, I trotted over to my local paint store, Riccardi Paint store.

As I poured my heart out about my dear reader and her plight, Mike listened with the patience of  a saint.  At one point,  he had to hand me his hanky as I talked about saving that old laminate countertop.  Heart wrenching. (*Sniff*)

Prime Me:

After the drama, he reached for a can of  Insl-x Stix primer,which bonds to “hard to coat surfaces.”   I questioned why not use my old favorites like Kilz and Zinsser BIN primer.  He said you need a “gripper” type paint like Stix or Glidden’s Gripper Primer  to make sure the paint sticks to the laminate.

However, when I spoke to Glidden, they were skeptical that their product would work for this application.

I love Mike but I also confirmed with Benjamin Moore’s technical department about using Stix for this application.

Sand Me

What about the sand paper grit?  Mike said if you use Stix then you don’t have to sand.    Simply clean well and you are off to the races.

NO sanding?  Did I hear that right.  Again, I asked.  And again, he assured me no sanding.   Whoever hates sanding like me, should be doing the happy dance right now with me.

Okay, thinking I was a smarty pants, what was the VOC level (volatile organic compound or off-gassing of chemicals)  in this wonder primer.  There are less than 150 grams per liter VOC excluding water and exempt solvents.

Honestly, the product has a higher VOC level then I would like to see, but it is considered a low VOC product..  However, the adhesion and no sanding qualities are quite attractive.  If you use this product make sure there is adequate outdoor ventilation.

If the VOC issue is a no go, then Benjamin Moore suggested their Fresh Start Multi-purpose primer which has a VOC level of under 50 grams per liter.

What about the Paint?

Mike suggested an oil based paint since he said it would last longer.   I chimed in at that point and said “oh, the smell.”   He knew what he was dealing with and slid me over to the aisle where Benjamin Moore’s oil hybrid, Advance was sitting.  The Company refers to this paint as a waterborne interior alkyd paint.  (I slid this lingo in for all you painting geeks.)

Again, I gave him the green evil eye and said with un-trusting eyes, “that paint must be high in VOCs.”   The Company states that the product has 38 grams per liter. Even after tinting, the Company states it is still a low VOC product.

Listed below is Mike’s advice on how to tackle this project.

1.   Clean surface well.

2.  Prime the countertop with a gripper type paint with a flock paint roller.  Note, most  paints will be a higher VOC level then your usual latex primer. Use adequate ventilation.

3.  Wait 3 to 4 hours.

4.  Paint with a good oil based paint such as Advance in flat or semi-gloss.

5.  Wait 24 hours and then use a 220 grit sand paper to lightly sand.  (It  depends on how good a job they did.)

6.  Apply another coat.

7.  Complete cure time is 2 weeks.  If  use are using a dark color,  it will take 30 days to cure.

Note:  With any of the above product, always check the Material Safety Data Sheet to make sure you are comfortable with the chemicals in the product.

Other Ideas:

Rust-Oleum offers an epoxy acrylic kitchen countertop paint.  However, the paint’s VOC level is higher than the above alternatives with a level of  less than 250 grams per liter. It contains such solvents as xylene and butyl alcohol.  No primer is needed when covering laminate surfaces.  Glidden technical support suggested using an epoxy type product.


At this retail store the prices were as follows:

Stix cost $16.99 for a quart which covers 100 square feet

Glidden Gripper primer cost $15.99 for a quart.

Advance hybrid paint cost $49.99 for a gallon.

Rust-Oleum Tinted Quart Paint:  $32.

Join the Conversation

  •  Have you painted your laminate countertop and if so, what worked and didn’t work?
  • Have you re-laminated over your old countertop?
  • Have you used any of the paints above and if so, what were thoughts about them?
  • Do you think Mike was a saint?

Picture by Charles and Hudson

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  1. 1


    Hi Anna! I wonder if your reader has tries this yet. I would LOVE to have a homeowner guestblog about this after they have painted their countertops and lived with them for a while. I want to know how they REALLY hold up. It’s a lot of work for something that may not last. I hope it does!

    • 2


      Trish, I hope she does try it. I would love to know if it holds up too. Many people have resurfaced their laminate with oil based primers and paints. Their stories are all over the internet. I just wish they would do a follow up like “three years and going strong…” Anna

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