Faux Finish Your Formica Countertops to Realistic Granite With These Easy Steps

by THAT Painter Lady

By Victoria Larsen

I once had a neighbor who faced brilliant orange Formica counter tops in her home. Raising little ones on a single mother’s salary didn’t allow her the budget to replace those counter tops. To her, (as it would be to me), living with those counter tops would be nearly unbearable! She tried everything she could to cover them to no avail. They were still orange, they were still an eyesore.

If you face the same sort of dilemma with Formica, or even with ceramic tile, there is a great solution and not at all difficult.

Faux finish them!

The technique is the same for both surfaces.

Read Victoria’s Technique Here –>  Faux Finish Counters

The counter tops in our Everett, Washington home were white and very poorly done. We will replace them before we sell the house in 2009 to move to our home in Idaho, but I didn’t want to do that until we were ready to put it on the market.

Could I stand the poor glue job one more day? Not a chance. So while my husband was on a business trip to Italy, I faux finished them to pale, but rich looking granite. The difference it made was incredible!

Here’s how to faux finish your formica countertops:

Step 1) Go on the Internet and find photos of granite that appeal to you and match your decor colors. Print out a sample sheet as your working example.

Step 2) Examine the photo closely. Real granite typically consists of a main, over-all color with “blotches” or dots of secondary colors. Decide what would be the base (background color) would be and the two or three secondary colors. For instance, my granite choice required a deep gold background and dark brown, white and gold as secondary colors. Ask your local paint store employee to help you with choices if need be.

Step 3) Clean the surface well then wipe with pure white vinegar to give it a bit more “tooth”. On Formica, a very light sanding helps to make your primer adhere.

Step 4) Prime the surface with oil based primer such as “BIN” or “KILZ”. Oil based primers give you the best adhesion and durability.

Step 5) Once the primer is completely dry, you can now use water based paints to do your project. Paint the base color over the entire surface and allow to dry.

Step 6) with a brush, blot on your main secondary color (the one that seems to stand out the most in your printed sample) allowing the background color to show through. You can either use an old towel, wall paint brush or flat end stencil brush with great results.

Depending on the look of your sample (a very blotchy look or smoother, softer colors) you may want to blend as you go. My sample showed smoother, more blended colors. Yours might be quite spotty with definite “dots” of color. In that case, don’t blend.

Step 7) Spatter on 2nd color either by blotting larger dots as with the first color, or by dipping a toothbrush in to the paint color then flicking the bristles with your fingers (Protect the floor and back splash or walls when performing this technique). Repeat the above processes with any further colors needed to complete the look.

Step 8) Allow the surface to dry completely then seal with 3 coats of water based Polyurethane sealer in “gloss” finish. The gloss gives you the appearance of shiny, polished granite. DO follow manufacturer’s directions when using all products.

There are many styles of granite to choose from and with just a bit of practice on a sample board before beginning, you can achieve basically the same look with just a paint brush and these techniques.

Granite color examples:

Deep Green Granite: Background dark Olive green, light olive green and black as secondary colors.

Gray Granite: Pale Gray background color with dark gray, brown and white as secondary colors.

Light brown granite: Light brown background with secondary colors of dark brown and cream.
Now you can venture out to find just the right granite color choice for your project.


Victoria Larsen is a professional wall stencil designer and interior specialist. Her products and ideas have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Women’s Day, Craft Trends, Creating Keepsakes, Rubber Stampin Retailer and Memory Maker magazines and The Wall Street Journal. Visit Victoria on line at http://www.victorialarsen.com Blog: http://victorialarsen.typepad.com

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jared Crenshaw July 10, 2009 at 12:27 am

Great information. Thanks so much for sharing with us. My wife, Ande, and I own Mojo Faux Finishes. You can see our work online at http://www.mojofaux.com. Check it out to see some other ideas for faux work.

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