DIY Kitchen Renovations ~ Resurface Countertops

We knew that we couldn’t afford new countertops. Even with all that money we saved buying appliances on Craigslist.

We also knew that even if we could afford granite that it is porous and that skeeves me out in the “my four kids are piglets” category and we didn’t need more hidden bacteria in the house.

Furthermore, we decided granite would be a very unwise investment in these economic times and with the plummeting value of our house.

I was not willing to buy new laminate counters and have PhilBillPaul deep in another installation mess. Instead, we did extensive research on how to resurface our existing lovely almond laminate countertops.

We looked at options available at our local Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Option #1: Laminate sheets you can overlay and stick on your old laminate counters. Frankly, those are worse than the original laminate, in my opinion.

Option #2: Counter transformation kit from Rust-Oleum®. I wasn’t crazy about the speckled finish or any of their colors.

One Sunday afternoon while I watched Tiger-free golf, I spent the day with my friend Google and found two other options.

One was Granite Transformations which PhilBillPaul nixed almost immediately because they have no prices on their website. He’s a tough consumer and believes you need to at least give a price range or he won’t even call.

The second thing I stumbled upon was Giani Granite. After I spent the whole afternoon reading their website and blog reviews, I knew I had found the winner! I always try to read product reviews from real people in addition to testimonials on the company website.

I took some screenshots of different kitchens on several blogs and then showed PhilBillPaul. We both decided the price was right at $69.95 for a kit that covers 35 square feet. It really came down to us both agreeing that it is paint and if we hated it, we could go to plan B.

(We didn’t have a plan B but we would make one if we needed to.)

Giani Granite Countertop Paint Kit

Our favorite selling points on Giani’s website were these:

  • Water-based safe and low odor 
  • Hides any existing stains, scratches or burns
  • Granite color is adjustable to your decor
  • Durable automotive grade clear polyurethane topcoat
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Sunday evening I told him I was going to email the company, tell them I have a blog and if they would send me two kits, I would review their product. Nothing to lose and if they didn’t respond, we would order the 2 kits we needed.

Monday morning I received a lovely email saying they would be glad to send me 2 chocolate brown kits for me to review. This was better than Craigslist. Woo hoo!

Then I realized PhilBillPaul was going to make me paint.

Step-by-step counter resurface project

Here is my pictorial review and believe it or not, we did this in one weekend…

98% photo credits to Scary Baby except the first blurry one which is mine.

On Friday night, PhilBillPaul prepared the old countertops by using wood fill putty & spackling compound to repair some chipped and broken places and then cleaned them with S.O.S pads. I stayed in my bedroom because we had a big fight.

He did a good job – amazing how things look better when they are clean.

Yes, we are removing everything from top of cabinets and aren’t re-hanging the goofy baskets, thank you very much. Please stay focused on the countertops.

Since he did do all the prep work, I broke down and painted the black iron core primer base on all the surfaces.

Most painting falls to me because of his failing eyesight. The black primer went on very easily and covered very well. We didn’t even open the second can in our other kit. The black base coat needs to dry for 8 hours before the “fun” part can begin.

After watching the excellent DVD (twice) included in the kit, it was time to practice with the 3 mineral paints that you apply one at a time in the order of numbers on cans. I like simple instructions I can follow.

The kit includes a piece of black poster board and sponge that you can cut into several sizes. At this point, I was apprehensive about ruining our whole kitchen.

We liked the three mineral paint colors but I was paranoid that we didn’t want dark counters and it would make the kitchen too dark.

The practice poster board is very helpful. Maybe we should have picked the lighter kit. Breathe, Sherra – it’s just paint. We decided that I would add more of the lighter two mineral paints to keep it on the lighter, neutral side.

You work in small sections and don’t want to create a pattern. It should be random so it looks more natural and granite-like.

If I was doing it again, I would have left more black and added more chocolate. Dark would have been fine. I’m a spasz.

You have to wait 4 hours before you can apply the topcoat that adds the shine. This is the part I was most excited about. And most nervous.

This was with just one coat! I watched that section of the DVD three times and still wasn’t sure I could do it right.

Four hours later, I added a second coat. The biggest tip is not to dry roll this topcoat as it will leave lines. You have to keep the topcoat product on the roller and roll a very thin coat but not let your roller make that dry sound that happens when you paint walls.

The maximum third topcoat was added on Monday morning after spouse peer pressure. I should have stopped at two. I used every last drop of 2 cans and I liked it better with two coats. Yes, I’m blaming PhilBillPaul for this bad call. No one can tell except us. In the right light and if you bend over and hunt for my mistakes. Please don’t.

All in all, I did a pretty good job. Our pictures would be better with some daylight. We are night owls and do our best work after dark. Then again, with more light you might be squinting at your computer trying to see my roller lines.

Giani recommends that you wait 72 hour hours before putting your small appliances on the counter. Since we were going to put up a backsplash and work on our dated honey oak cabinets, we decided to ban the children from the kitchen. We may continue working in the kitchen indefinitely so they stay out of it.

Seriously though, while we are doing other work, it has given the counters time to cure and harden properly. We are very, very happy with the results!

I think the big box stores need to work with Giani Granite and get their kits in their stores. Immediately.

Suggested Improvements

Things I think Giani Granite should change:

  1. Put everything in the kit. They have a “Save-a-trip” kit for $12.50 that is buried in 2 or 3 clicks and hard to find. I would raise the price of the whole kit to include everything you need. This still keeps the kit under $100 and that’s a win/win. Please don’t make me go back to the store with PhilBillPaul on the weekend!
  2. Add a trial size of their cleaner to the kit. Make us fall in love with the cleaner so we’ll order it but you’ve got to reduce the shipping on that. Right now, I can’t see ordering a bottle of cleaner for $4.50 and paying $9.75 to ship it.
  3. Hire me to re-do their website. Needs BIGGER, gorgeous photos of all the before and afters. Type is too small. LOTS of material for Typo Tuesday. Make the shopping experience more user-friendly. Don’t make me click the “Add to cart” button to see the price. Embrace your fabulous price point and put it everywhere!

Even if they don’t change anything and they don’t hire me, this granite paint kit is hands-down the best thing on the market to give your kitchen counters a new look at a fraction of the price of new counters. Giani Granite really made us say “WOW” at every step.

PhilBillPaul has brought people into the house to show them our handy work. LOVE having people stop in and see our giant mess.

Let me know what you think and if you would tackle a DIY project like this. With or without your spouse?

Disclosure: While Giani Granite provided us with two paint kits to review their product, our opinions are our own and you know I’m not afraid to share my true and unbiased opinion on most anything. 😉

P.S. In my dream kitchen, I would get new recycled glass countertops.


One year ago..

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  1. 1
    Ann says:

    WOW! The countertops look great! So glad that it’s beautiful and done and everyone came through the DIY project (mostly) unscathed! I’ll be directing several DIYers to see your review and pics.

  2. 2
    Barb McC says:

    Wow – I am majorly impressed!!! I will bookmark this info to share with my clients.

  3. 3
    Peggy says:

    Good job Susie Homemaker!!

  4. 4
    Melinda says:

    Awesome job and maybe you and Philbillpaul could go to work for Giani? Be a local dealer? Love the look and jealous that you are so talented. Of course I already knew that from your scrapbooking skills and painting skills and mothering skills etc…..
    I would gladly hire you to come and do any DIY job for me in the future but I will not be DIM (doing it myself). My hubby is a DIY but none of us enjoy working with him either as I feel like he tries to do more than he should and would rather pay any amount of money to have it done right the first time!!

  5. 5
    Sally says:

    Beautiful! My kitchen is suddenly looking messy and dull. I love DIY projects that work. Good for you (both)!

  6. 6
    ~julie says:

    Impressive! You make me think that I could do it, too.

  7. 7
    ABell says:

    I am SOLD! I can’t thank you enough for this! I don’t follow your blog however found it by googling “DIY Kitchen counter renovations”. And again I can’t thank you enough for this. I am ready to purchase my kit today! I have been looking and looking for ideas for my kitchen counters. I have HUGE counters with a built in round table thing at the end. They are very wide and very odd and I’m not sure my old cabinets would support that much granite, or my pockets for that matter and this is absolutely the perfect solution for both. Seriously Thank you! And great job!!! Yours look amazing! I can’t wait to get my kit in!!!!!!

    • 7.1
      Sherra says:

      Glad to help. We still love our counters and it was such a great, inexpensive way to update the kitchen. Have fun with your new project!

      • Gina Ritzman says:

        I am searching for the perfect refinishing kit for my formica countertop and I am torn between the Giani kit or the Spreadstone kit. I am wondering how the surface is holding up to wear and tear??? Any marks from heat or signs of wearing through to the original formica? Do you know anything about the Spreadstone kit?
        Thank you

        • Sherra says:

          Gina–We still love our Giani countertops. Some slight wear and tear in front of the sink edge and a high traffic corner that I think people rub up against. We’d done some minor touch up in those spots after a year and a half. We still love how the counters look! I don’t know anything about Spreadstone so I can’t offer an opinion on that. Either option seems like affordable option vs. new counters.

        • Rebecca merola says:

          Giani is not durable. Wears of leaning by sink. Chips easy. Just redid it with the spread stone. Can till putting it on it gonna be durable. Everything alot thicker than giani. And looks just as nice. Giani u cant use in cleaners, not heat resistant not durable, no water puddles can sit on it. It was pretty at first but didnt hold up at all.spreadsto.e seems to be durable and is heat resistant, impact resistant u can use cleaners on it.

  8. 8
    Tracee says:

    I think your counters turned out awesome! I think the most important part of using Giani Granite Paint is the prep work and the drying times. We have decided to use the Giani system rather than the Spreadstone or the Rustoleum methods. The benefit to Giani is that if there is damage, you can easily fix it! You can mix and match colors to give different colors and effects, lighter or darker and even add metallics. The only real benefit to Spreadstone or the Rustoleum methods in my opinion is that you can paint the edges of counters heavier as they are high use areas. I havent seen any videos of these products being mixed to achieve different looks like in the Giani method. I don’t really like the limited color options in the Spreadstone or the Rustoleum methods although it seems easier to apply. For the Giani method I am going to use the brown with some blue. I am excited to get started. Your article was very well written and your suggestions to Giani were great! Tracee’ in Arizona
    Tracee recently posted..Typo Tuesday ~ Writer {Desperately} Needed

  9. 9
    Jenn says:

    This looks great! I’m considering trying this in my kitchen, I just need to get the motivation and courage!

  10. 10
    Meg Lemaster says:

    This looks like a great altnative to completely replacing countertops. I will post pictures if I go this way. My question is: I have corian counters that I had installed about 5 years ago but I’m tired of the color…green? What was I thinking. Will this kit work on a corian surface?

  11. 11
    jenny says:

    Do you have any suggestions on how to cover up the gap in between the laminate? Should I just paint over it? Thanks

    • 11.1
      Sherra says:

      That is what we did and I think my husband actually used a silicone sealer in the gap before we painted. Hope that helps and sorry for the late reply. Good luck 🙂

  12. 12
    Susan says:

    Sherra thanks for putting this out there! I LOVE DIY and am going to do this after I do the tile on the floor. My hubby is trusting me to do it right the first x. (lol) Our counters are just LIKE yours! Now I’m pumped to do it:)! Again, THANK YOU!!! *I’ll be back! 🙂

  13. 13
    Rhonda Martin says:

    I have a kitchen counter top that is tiles so I wondering if the same kit that is used for laminate can be also used for tiles on the kitchen counter top? I really do not want the tiles to look like tiles so I would love to hear the feed back and also love the counter top after the project is done..

    • 13.1
      Sherra says:

      Hi Rhonda–your comment was hiding in my spam folder so apologies for delayed response. Sounds like a great question for Giani and their customer service is very responsive so I would contact them through their website. Good luck!

  14. 14
    Elaine says:

    Sherra, thank you for this posting; I came across your website because I want to redo my countertops and want real people input. My sister did hers a year ago and she is not happy with it now. I asked her what brand she used and all she knows is her husband and daughter bought the stuff at Walmart. I’ve looked at a product for kitchen countertops restoration on Armor and was very impressed…per their ad you can put hot pots directly on it….but their product cost 5x what you paid for yours. You have had your product for almost 3 years and I see where you’ve had to redo your edges a time or two. I guess my question is this: Is the low price comparably speaking worth the trouble (not to say the same problem wouldn’t occur with the high priced Armor stuff) and does the touch-ups “blend” with the older paint job? I hope you get a chance to respond. Thanks, Elaine

    • 14.1
      Sherra says:

      Hi Elaine–Depending on wear and tear in your kitchen, the edges have continued to be a problem. Yes, the touch-ups do blend with the older paint job but we still are having issues, mainly with the edges and we need to fix several areas again. I don’t know anything about the other product you mentioned but it seems the sealing with the top coat may be the key to success. Thanks for your question – you have actually reminded me that I need to contact Giani and see if this is common and how to repair or if we need to choose a different product.

  15. 15
    Debbie says:

    I used this product 3 years ago in a rental house so not sure how it was taken care of. After 3 years, 2 foot area near stove is chipping and also edges of countertop, especially in front of sink. I can scrape away more paint with my fingernail in the places where the finish has worn away. I am currently touching up these spots. Don’t have enough of the poly left to coat the countertop next to the range, so will be applying a water based poly in a different brand. Am currently searching web for a good product to use. Would not buy this product again as it did not hold up for 3 years.

  16. 16
    Nan Rotramel says:

    Hi Sherra – I used the Giani product on my countertops last November, 2013 and have been proudly shouting about this product ever since!! It is everything you say and I cannot walk through my kitchen without feeling the wonderful surface. I don’t have children at home anymore and it is holding up very well. I thought I would use this until I could afford granite, but I quickly put that thought out of my mind. Thanks for the review and the follow-up comments from a couple years later – I know what to watch for! Nan

  17. 17
    BES says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your “life lesson” and about the new counter top renovation. I’ve been looking for such a deal but I’m afraid it would be too big for me. I wish there was a simple one step deal out there somewhere. Thanks for your candid report. Lots of fun. BES

  18. 18
    Lizbeth says:

    Hi Sherra, I too found you when I did a Google search for DIY countertops. We want to sell our house and have been getting complaints that our kitchen is outdated with laminate counters. New granite counters would cost $5000! My husband and I can’t wait to try this. I also signed up for your emails! Thanks.

  19. 19
    Val Kelly says:

    I have been searching for an alternative to buying new countertops within my price range and I believe this is it. However I’m seriously considering removing my counters and refinishing them in my project room. I’m a stay at home mom and my kitchen is never closed! I think it would be to difficult with a large possibility of them not curing properly if I left them in? Thanks for all the info. I look forward to seeing if I can make it work and yes I’m pretty sure I’ll drag my husband in to help out at some point 😉

  20. 20
    Jennifer says:

    I know it has been a while since you posted this, but I’m VERY interested in the cleaning aspect of these countertops. I LOVE my Clorox wipes (we have allergies in the house) and I want to know how you clean it and what you use.



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