Rust-Oleum’s new Countertop Transformations coating
system (available at home centers and some hardware stores) is a
simple way to transform worn or damaged laminate countertops
into a new countertop surface. The product is
available in five colors ranging from light to very dark (for this project we chose Charcoal).
The big pluses of this system are it’s not smelly or difficult,
you don’t have to remove your countertops (!), the
instructions are clear, and the kit comes with everything
you need (except basic painting tools), plus it includes a
very detailed DVD. This product
can be applied to any laminate
or hardwood countertop
in reasonable condition. Burns
and scratches are fine, but fill
deep dents and chips before
you use it.
After using this product, we
can report that it’s surprisingly
easy to apply. In terms
of durability, the manufacturer
compares it to laminate.
We can’t speak to its longterm
durability, but when we tried to scratch the newly
resurfaced countertop with car keys, it was surprisingly
tough—no marks at all. And you can reapply the system to
renew the surface later if you want.
Sand and clean
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Photo 1: Rough up the surface
Degloss the countertop with the diamond-embedded sanding pad
in the kit so the base coat will stick to it. You'll know it's deglossed
when there are tiny scratches everywhere.
The first step is to completely degloss the laminate surface
using the sanding tools included in the kit (Photo 1). You
can save on sanding time by using an orbital sander with
60- or 80-grit sandpaper on the flat areas (but you’ll add
cleaning time vacuuming up the dust). Use a light touch so
you don’t sand through any areas or create uneven surfaces.
Vacuum up the dust and wipe all surfaces with a
damp cloth until they’re completely dust-free. Use painter’s
tape and plastic to mask off base cabinets, the sink,
appliances, the walls above the backsplash and the floor. Cover the sink drains so nothing falls into them.
Apply the base coat
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Photo 2: Apply the base coat
This coat is the background color and a sticky bed for the chips.
One person brushes it on the backsplash; the other rolls on the rest.
Work fast; you have 20 minutes to complete this and the next step.
This step is time-sensitive, so before you apply the base
coat, have the decorative chips in the dispenser and
ready to go. Once you’ve applied the base coat, you’ll have a 20-minute window to apply the decorative chips
before it dries. If you have a long countertop or several
countertop areas, work in pairs (Photo 2) and complete one
section (including the chip application) before moving on
to the next.
Apply the base coat thickly using a brush on the backsplash
and a microfiber roller (not included in the kit) on
the flat surface and front edge. You really need to lay it on
thickly and evenly, and maintain a wet edge on the entire
surface for the best result. The kit includes a wetting agent
you can spray on to keep the base coat moist and ready for the decorative chips.
Apply the decorative chips
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Photo 3: Heap on the chips
The multicolored chips hide brush marks and give the countertop
a textured, speckled appearance. Move quickly to cover every bit
of base coat before it dries.
Moving quickly, use the dispenser to broadcast the decorative
chips so they completely cover the backsplash, flat
area and front edges of the counter. Don’t skimp. The kit
comes with a ton of chips, so use more than you need to
cover every bit of the base coat. We found that it works
best to get down on your knees and zing the chips hard by
hand against the front edge for the best coverage (Photo 3).
Inspect for any uncovered base coat, apply more chips and
let dry undisturbed for a minimum of 12 hours, but no
more than 24.
Sand and smooth
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Photo 4: Sand the chips smooth
Sand hard on the flat surfaces but lightly along the front edge to
avoid sanding completely through the chips and base coat. The
goal is a smooth, lightly textured surface.
After the base coat is dry, vacuum up the loose chips. Then
use the chip scraper to knock down the rough chip edges.
Use a light touch so you don’t gouge the surface at the corners
and edges. Vacuum again.
Sand the rough chip surfaces smooth to prepare them
for the topcoat. The kit includes a sample of how smooth
the countertop should be. The challenge
is to sand it smooth without
sanding through the chips. Use the
sanding block and a lighter touch on
the backsplash and front edges since
these areas are likely to have fewer
chips on the surface (Photo 4). The sanding
process will appear to lighten the
chip surface, but the topcoat will darken it again. Make a very light
last pass with
for extra smoothness.
Vacuum and wipe clean with a damp cloth until all the sanding
dust has been removed.
Apply the topcoat
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Photo 5: Apply the clear topcoat
Vacuum up every speck of sanding dust. Then brush a thick, even
layer of topcoat on the backsplash and roll out the rest. Reroll a
final pass in one direction and let it dry undisturbed for 48 hours.
The clear topcoat is a two-part formula that you mix and
then apply to the countertop. Once you’ve mixed the formula,
you must use it within four hours.
Just as you did with the base coat, use a paintbrush to
apply a thick layer of topcoat to the backsplash and back
few inches of the countertop. Use a 6-in. high-density
roller (not included) to roll a thick, even layer of the topcoat
onto the flat counter area and the front edge (Photo 5).
Once every surface is covered, go back and roll a final pass
of the topcoat in one direction to avoid lap and brush
marks. Let dry to the touch (four to six hours) and remove
the tape and plastic. The countertop will be ready for light
use in 48 hours and completely cured within a week.