Either you are reading this because you are one of my followers- or you Googled “Rustoleum Countertop Transformations” and stumbled upon my blog. Either way, if you want to read about our experience…..grab a cup of coffee, this is going to be a long one….
For those of you who just stumbled upon this blog and need bit of backstory- this is for a rental house. The current countertops are in great shape, just outdated print (peach and blue and tan stripe/checkered pattern).
There’s about 45 square feet of counter space. We knew we wanted to make improvements, but there’s a counter height issue (you can read about that in this previous post).
Oh- regarding our DIY abilities- I like to think that we are both pretty profecient at a variety of home improvement processes. But, we also both have full-time jobs and three kids (ages 8, 10 and 14- all in soccer or karate so our evenings aren’t very free and clear). Also, we get up at 5:15am which means bedtime at 9:30 at the latest.
First we surveyed our countertop options:
1. SOLID SURFACE (CORIAN, QUARTZ, GRANITE, ETC): We priced out a Corian type countertop from Lowe’s (supposedly one of the less expensive solid-surface options). The estimate was $2,700 which included materials and installation labor and a brand spankin’ new sink! The drawback was that we’d need to do the demo/removal ourselves, furr up the cabinet tops to the right height, change out the kitchen window and reframe it so it’s not part of the counter any longer, and remove the tile backsplash (which did not look like it would be easy in the slightest). We’d also have to hire out the window replacement and framing. This solution would take a chunk of time and money. We were short on both.
2. PRE-FAB LAMINATE COUNTERS: Lowe’s sells pre-fab laminate countertops that you can take home and cut to size, they even have rounded edges and backsplashes built in! But because of the kitchen window, and the peninsula, pre-fab counters wouldn’t work (dang!). This is the only “before” picture that shows the sink/counter/window relationship and the peninsula.
3. TILE OVERLAY: I have experience tiling over laminate, so wasn’t too afraid to tackle that. BUT it would add a lot of time and money and I hate to spend that much time and money on a temporary solution. Ripping out tile covered countertops in the future to raise the counter height did NOT sound like fun. Tile is out.
4. NEW LAMINATE OVERLAY: Probably the cheapest and fastest solution was to buy sheets of laminate and cover the counter ourselves. Lowe’s sells sheets for $98 each and they had some really modern looking stone/granite type/texture/color that would be perfect. We’d need two sheets, maybe three. But, after reviewing the project more thoroughly, we agreed that installing counter laminate was above our scope of abilities and something better left to professionals. I asked a few of our handymen friends if they could help, but all replied that it wasn’t their expertise and they weren’t comfortable doing the job. I interviewed a guy I found on Craigslist and he gave us a bid for $450- for materials and installation. Reasonable price, but I would have to be the one dropping the garbage disposal, pulling the sink out, and removing the slide-in range. Normally removing a slide-in range would be no big deal, but this one is locked in by the floor. Every time we tried lifting the range, since we could only grab it from the front, it would tip back and the feet would lock up with the floor cutout. We were afraid we’d break the ceramic top, too. STOP! This stove is NOT coming out until it needs to be replaced.
5. DIY RESURFACING: I Googled options for refinishing laminate countertops and came up with two options:
A. Paint over the surface with a specialty paint and cover that with an epoxy to lock in the new design. One can get creative with sea sponges and a variety of colors of paint to come up with some fantastic looks- but I’m not in the mood for a creative art project at the moment.
Yeaaaaahhhhh, definitely not in the mood to do something like THAT at the moment!
B. Rustoluem makes a DIY product called “Countertop Transformations” that transforms countertops (lol!). Sold at Lowe’s, Home Depot or any other major home improvement store. Comes in charcoal (blacks/grays) or tan/coffee colors. Lowe’s sells 50sf kits for $248. As luck would have it, Home Depot had the 30sf charcoal black kits on clearance for $99 ea! We bought two (60sf coverage total) and paid $198- yippee! Before using the product, we read online reviews, read other blogs, watched online videos, watched the video included in the kit- and finally decided we’re going for it!
Our Rustoleum Countertop Transformation Experience….
SUNDAY: We spent about an hour (two total since there was two of us) scuffing the countertops with the “diamond embedded sanding tool”. We had two of the sanders since we had two kits. We both worked for about an hour- so I guess it would have been a 2 hour job for one person. Scrub, scrub, scrub, vacuum, wash, dry, wash again. We worked up a sweat!
It looked like this when we were done:
Nice and scuffed. (I’ve read that you can use an orbital sander with 60-grit sandpaper and the process goes MUCH faster (but probably much dustier/messier, too?))
We ran out of time to do the taping/protecting, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.
MONDAY: Applying the base coat and chips is a 2-person job. We had planned to tape/mask and apply the surface after work….but unfortunately my husband was not going to be available after all- dang! I went over to the house and spent about 90 minutes taping off the kitchen.
Egads that was harder than it should have been. Taping the sink was easy- taping the range, not so much. And tape does NOT stick to the fridge, so I’ll have to bring magnets to hold the paper sheeting up- lol!
Here it is! There’s no turning back now!
TUESDAY: We headed over to the house just after 6pm to brave the bonding agent and chip spreading step. YIKES! It actually went a lot faster (and easier) than we thought. First you get everything ready (chips in the spreader, watering agent bottle ready, paint tray and brushes, open the bonding agent can and stir thoroughly, pour into a paint tray and get busy! Watch the video- it really helps.
Jim used the brush and brushed the edges and corners. I used the roller to lay on the goo and spread it evenly. It takes A LOT more than you think to get it thick enough that you don’t see the counter through it any more! Geesh!
Sorry, no pictures of the tar-like substance as we were afraid to stop and take any pictures since it has such a short work-time.
Side note: reviews said there was never enough of the bonding agent, people always ran low. We had purchased two kits because there’s roughly 45sf of countertop…..we only used the product from the 30sf kit. Didn’t need to open the 2nd kit. Hmmmm. We couldn’t see the counter through it, so we figured it was thick enough, but it wasn’t “frosting” thick like other reviewers said. We’re hoping it turns out!
We proceeded with the wetting agent and spreading the chips.
And yes, those chips go a-flyin!
OH- and check out the “gutter” I made between the counter and fridge:
They need to dry for 12-24 hours so we left the furnace on all night in hopes that drying time will be optimized (the house has been about 62 degrees without the furnace on.)
Close-up of the texture at this point:
Total time spent on this step- less than 45 minutes between the 2 of us.
WEDNESDAY: I went over at 10:00am (15 hours later) and used the shop vac as suggested to suck up all the excess. This is what was sucked up:
OK, that picture really doesn’t show the excessive amount of chips, so I dumped the shopvac contents into a paint tray to show you HOW MUCH excess was sucked up:
Well THAT picture doesn’t really do any justice either! Let’s try this again….
THERE WE GO! THAT is how much was sucked up off the countertops alone!
The next step was scary- using the scraper tool to scrape off any excess. I was afraid chunks would be coming off. But OMG it was so easy! And I truly believe the key to getting smooooooth counters is LOTS of scraping! Scrape scrape scrape! Keep scraping until your scraper is “silent”. Seriously. I can’t emphasize that enough- SCRAPE.
This is what the surface looked like after the scraping step was complete (and the counter vacummed):
Next up- the sanding process (using the diamond embedded sanding block).
Super easy. And super messy. Wear a mask for sure.
My arms were tired. It was grueling work. And it’s much easier (I think) to use a handbroom to sweep up all the dust, THEN follow up with a shopvac.
Side note: because the dust is so fine, be sure to have the appropriate filter and bags for your shop vac, or you’re going to lose suction and/or start spewing fine dust out the exhaust!
I wiped the edges clean to get a better look at them because I noticed a couple “thin” spots that I needed to repair:
No worries! I just followed the steps in the brochure- using a damp sponge to blot on more of the black tar-like adhesive and tossing chips at it!
I waited the recommended 4 hours, then sanded those spots smooth. I could have applied the top coat right after, but once the top coat is applied, there’s a magic window of 4-6 hours in which the tape should be scored to make removal easier. This meant we couldn’t apply the topcoat at night- it would have to be applied in the morning so I could get back to it 4 hours later.
THURSDAY: I wanted to make extra extra sure my counters were perfect, so I opted to do one more round of sanding and washing and washing and washing and drying and washing and drying. This is what it looked like before the topcoat was applied:
Smooooooooooth. And it was super easy to make smooooooooth. It’s not as smooth as the sample in the box, but pretty dang close.
Applying the topcoat was super easy. And as everyone else has mentioned in their reviews, there’s lots left over.
The only problem I encountered was a patch that looked kind of thin, so I went over it again with more “paint” to ensure it had a thick enough coat. Mistake. Because now I have an area that is smoother and glossier than the rest.
Now we wait for 4-6 hours to score the tape! Reviews state that if you DON’T score the tape in this window, chunks of the new surface will be pulled up when you remove the tape.
I waited exactly 4 hours to score the tape. The counters were very sticky/tacky. I probably should have waited longer, but my working-window had closed- I had to be back at my regular job by 1pm….and wouldn’t be back until 5:30 (which would have been 10 hours from application time).
Side note: I think the 4-6 hours for scoring the tape is for just that- SCORING the tape. Not removing the tape. Because the tape has loose little chips barely hanging onto it and as you pull the tape from the wall, those loose little chips will fall onto your tacky sticky countertop and you can’t get them off. Also, the tape is very damp and weak, making it hard to remove. So the lesson learned here is- score the tape, but don’t remove it.
Here’s the counter 5 hours after application (not sure if it’s going to get less glossy as it dries?)
I do have to say I’m completely happy with the edge around the sink and stove:
NOT happy with what happened above the counter addition:
That was our bad. We had done some wall repair which included mudding, sanding, retexturing and painting. I think it was all too fresh and not cured, so the tape literally pulled the paint away from the wall. Ugh.
The good news is that we hung the counter addition a few inches lower than it’s final height to make it easier to work on- so that will all be covered up with the counter is mounted in it’s original location (see this before shot):
(Although after considering this further, we LIKE the look of the counter being lower, so we will be doing a little patching up so we can keep the counter the lower height!)
24-hours after the final coat, this is how it looks:
It did lose a little of it’s high-gloss effect (whew!), but my shinier area is still shinier. Oh well. I think it looks a heckuva lot better than some of the other DIY blogs I’ve run across!
Moral of the story- I’m happy. Wish I wouldn’t have gone over that one section again with the roller though. Or wish I would have done another full coating to extra thicken up the topcoat. Or maybe I’ll call Rustoleum to see if they have another product I can use on top of it (since once you mix the topcoat, it hardens in 4 hours so you can’t use the leftovers). Stay tuned on that.
Please Note: although this was a 5-day project for us, the reality is that the prepping, sanding, basecoat and chips can all be applied in ONE day. Just please make sure you have a partner in crime- it is critical. Plan on 1-2 hours of prep-sanding, 1-2 hours of taping, and 1 hour of applying the base coat and chips. So about 5 hours for day one. Let dry overnight. The cleaning, sanding, cleaning stage takes about 60-90 minutes. Topcoat in less than an hour. You CAN do this in 2 days.
I have to add that Rustoleum has been a great company to work with. We ended up not using the second kit at all- well, except for the diamond-embedded sanding block. I asked them if I could purchase another block so I could return the second kit (otherwise we’re stuck with it!) They mailed me a new one (free!) so I can replace it in the kit and get my money back! So yes- we did a full 45sf counter with a 30sf kit! For $100! And got great results (except for the topcoat issue).
LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
UPDATE: 4 YEARS LATER- this countertop is still going strong! All we’ve have to do thus far is take a black sharpie to a few of the thinner (exposed) spots to hide them, and when we replaced the stove with a different cooktop we needed to paint the area that was missed (whenever possible remove ALL appliances prior to applying this, because that touch-up would not be needed if we’d done it right). But yes- 4 years later, in a rental home, this countertop is holding up nicely!
ANOTHER UPDATE: The 5th year has been a little harder on the countertop. I’m not sure if it’s getting heavier use with these tenants or just long term wear and tear. The edges are really worn and showing through now- a lot. The surface itself still looks really good, but the edges don’t.
ANOTHER UPDATE: We are now at 7 years later. Most of the edges are worn, but even worse- since I didn’t pull out the sink to do this installation, the area around the sink is all chipped away and looks awful. SO… if I were to do this again next time, definitely pull out the sink so you can extend this material under the sink, for added durability. My next tip would be to give the tenants some sort of paint or something that they can use for touch-ups as needed, to help “secure” what has loosened.