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How To Rescue Ugly Old Laminate Countertops


Laminate Countertops

Update Your Countertops with Paint

Randall Schwanke

One thing I am convinced the children of the 60s and 70s will be held accountable for in the hereafter is avocado green laminate countertops. . . or orange. . . or harvest gold. But we can be delivered, Dear Reader!

But this salvation is gonna take some work! And you will be banned from using your countertop as a chopping block - and forget the extra elbow grease when scrubbing. The new surface will be durable, but not as durable as the original one.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Depending on your kitchen or bathroom size

Here's How:

  1. Clean that green monster with Trisodium phosphate, otherwise known as TSP. It is a professional-grade product used as a degreaser by painters. This step removes all the ‘gunk” that will keep paint from sticking. And if these countertops are from the 60s, that is almost 50 years of "gunk.”
  2. It's a good idea to follow up with an alcohol wash to remove the last traces of any oil. Dry the counters with paper towels, being careful not to get your oily fingerprints all over it!
  3. Use sandpaper to rough up the surface a little bit and give it some “tooth” to make the primer and paint stick better.
  4. Follow up with another alcohol wash.
  5. Some experts recommend that you use a product like Aquabond for a primer because of its”sticking” qualities, but any high quality primer made for shiny surfaces would do. Ask your paint store or hardware store to recommend their best primer for shiny or metallic surfaces.
  6. When your primer dries, paint with a melamine paint in your favorite color. You can find melamine paint at your favorite paint store, or check this website out: Melamine Paint from General Paint. Home Depot carries a brand called Cabinet Rescue. One caution though - it isn’t cheap, but it’s cheaper than a new countertop! I recommend you use a roller meant for a smooth coat or use a brush - whichever gives you the smoothest look with the paint you choose to use.
  7. After the paint dries, finish with at least 3 coats of polyurethene to add more durability. I like Varathane Diamond High-Gloss water-based poly. Allow the finish to dry completely between coats.
  8. Then stand back and admire your handiwork. And remember - that lovely color you painted your countertop today, will seem as bad as avocado green to your kids in a few years!


  1. I like to use a dense foam roller for the melamine paint. They give a smooth finish and are inexpensive.
  2. Try a sponge technique using two or three colors of melamine paint for a granite countertop look.
  3. Don't be tempted to paint too soon after you apply the primer. If you apply the paint before the primer completely dries, you will run into problems.

What You Need:

  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Alcohol
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper Towels
  • High Quality Primer Made for Shiny Surfaces
  • Melamine Paint
  • Paint Roller Made for Smooth Surfaces
  • Quality Paint Brushes
  • Polyurethene
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