Paint a Countertop to Look Like Granite
Three Layers of Paint
The kit includes a sponge with a special texture to impart the granite-style finish when applying the mineral paint. Cut off approximately a 1-1/2 inch of the sponge to use on your backsplash. Use a 2- to 3-inch piece for your countertop. Before dipping into the paint, soak both pieces in water and wring them out; the remaining moisture will prevent the sponge from soaking up too much of the mineral paint. Start with the can of paint labeled “Step 2,” which is the Brown Feldspar color. To achieve the granite effect it is critical that the paints are applied in the order indicated on the packaging. The successive shades provide color depth for a more realistic and natural appearance.
Shake the paint can and pour a small amount onto a paper plate. Then, holding the flat, cut edge of the larger sponge in your hand, blot its un-cut, textured side in the mineral. Dab the sponge on a second paper plate to remove excess paint. To apply the paint, lightly stamp the coated side of the sponge onto your countertop using quick, up-and-down movements. Blot the sponge randomly over the countertop surface, but avoid making sideways swipes with the sponge. Swipes leave brush-type marks in the paint that do not look like natural granite. Stick to vertical, up-and-down stamping. Press firm enough so most of the sponge’s face makes contact with the countertop.
Occasionally, turn the sponge to stamp with a different part of the face to mix up the pattern. The Gianni kit includes a square of black construction paper as a sample surface to practice your application.
Work in 3-foot sections at a time. Be sure not to completely cover your black primer coat, leaving coin-sized black areas showing through the paint. Each mineral coat will reduce the amount of the black primer coat that shows. Repeat this stamping process with the Inca Gold (“Step 3”) and White Limestone (“Step 4”) minerals in one section before moving to the next one. This allows your minerals to mix while they’re still wet.
Along the edges and corners of the countertop and backsplash, I found it difficult to stamp on the paint without leaving the accidental brush stroke. It was easier to use a small, stiff artists’ brush to dab on the paint in narrow or confined areas. Again, repeat the three-layer mineral application process for the remaining sections of the countertop. Apply the paints sparingly and cautiously at first, stepping back frequently to appraise your handiwork. Keep in mind that it’s easy go back and add minerals to areas even when they’re dry, but it’s very difficult to remove the paint after it has been applied. Once all three coats have been applied, you can then add further depth with light accents and highlights.
Rinse out your sponges and use new paper plates for blotting the sponge as needed. Once you’re satisfied with the look of the mineral paint, allow it to dry for at least two hours. Then, lightly sand the countertop surface with a 320-grit or higher abrasive to remove any high spots or particles. Note: I used a Micro Zip Sander on the backsplash edges, which is designed with a narrow 1-inch wide sanding pad—perfect for detail work (www.zipsander.com).
Apply the Topcoat
After the minerals have dried, lightly shake your container of Clear Topcoat (“Step 5”) and pour a small amount into a paint tray. Slowly and lightly roll on the topcoat in 3-foot sections. Then, roll back over what you just rolled, using long, overlapping rows, running the entire width or length of the countertop section. Allow the first topcoat to dry for 8 hours. Sand down any high spots with a very fine abrasive. Then apply the second and final layer of topcoat using the same process as the first. Avoid using more than two coats of topcoat or the glossy finish could become cloudy.
Once the final topcoat has completely dried, carefully score along the edge of the painter’s tape before removing to avoid damaging the Gianni surface.
With careful application, you can indeed use the Gianni kit to create a pattern very similar to natural granite. However, the fate of your success lies largely in the hands of the user, so if you have zero artistic vision, then you might have some difficulty achieving a convincing blend of color tones to mimic natural stone. That being said, I was pleased with the result of our experiment. I felt I had closely mimicked the granite appearance, and the topcoat gave the surface a nice luster. I will note that the paint will not smooth a textured countertop, and the final product looks most like true granite when applied to a smooth surface. However, by virtue of painting the laminate seams, the countertop will have a more continuous slab-like appearance than traditional laminate. And, when it comes to ease of use, you’re unlikely to find a simpler, more affordable way to completely redecorate a countertop surface. Learn more about the Gianni system at www.liquidstainlesssteel.com.