Thursday, December 31, 2015

DIY Painting Laminate Countertops

This is the post that so many of my amazing friends have been waiting for... How to paint your countertops!! If you're here, I'm guessing you have some seriously awesome countertops that you just can't wait to get rid of love :)

I had some amazing GREEN laminate countertops. I guess that was the thing to do in 1994 when our house was built?? I have hated them since the day we moved in but other things have eaten up our budget. After 11 months, I finally got sick of seeing these green monsters that I decided to take the plunge and use craft paint to change them. You can also use the paint that you put on your walls!! I will give you detailed step by step instructions on how to make your countertops look like granite for way less than the price of real granite.

Here are a few before pics:

It would be helpful to have a sample picture of the look you're going for. Either grab one at Lowe's or look samples up online. You'll also need to know how many square feet of counter space you have. I have 39 square feet. It's important to know that for your top coat.

Plan for a whole day to complete the entire process and then 72 hours for the top coat to fully cure.

Supplies you'll need:
1. Latex gloves
2. Sand paper (I used 150 grit)
3. Drop cloths (I used 3 plastic ones)
4. Painter's tape
5. A few plastic buckets (in the paint aisle at Lowe's)
6. Lighter or small blow torch
7. Paper plates to put your paint on and dab with sponge
8. Primer (I used Zinsser Bulls Eye water based primer)
9. Paint roller, paint trays and paint sticks
10. Small foam brushes (I bought 3 just to be safe)
11. Acrylic craft paint (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby) I also used 2 small samples of paint I   used on my walls from Sherwin Williams
12. Craft sponge (Hobby Lobby - I bought a big sponge in the painting aisle and cut it up into many pieces)
13. Top Coat - you have 2 options here and I will talk about them later but I bought 4 boxes (32 oz each) of Enviro Tex Lite. I found this at Hobby Lobby in the same aisle as the acrylic paint. Each box covers up to 8 sq feet which is why you need to know how much counter space you have. Your other option is to use 1-2 cans of Polycrylic.

I had most of these supplies already so my cost was a little lower than if you were buying everything new. I had to grab a few extra bottles of acrylic craft paint and 4 boxes of Enviro Tex Lite (the top coat) so my total was about $95 for this project. Use 40% off coupons at Hobby Lobby for the top coat and it will save you $14 a box!

I took as many pictures as I could but I had gloves on for the majority of this project so I wasn't able to capture everything. But I will try to give you step by step instructions.

Here we go!

Step 1: Sand counters. Honestly I don't think this did anything. Maybe I didn't rub hard enough but once I wiped off the residue, they felt pretty much the same as they did before. But it made me feel better. This helps the primer stick better but on the can it says no priming necessary so who knows! Wipe it all off really well with a wet rag.

Step 2: Prime. Make sure you have your walls and cabinets taped off first. I did 2 coats of primer and used a small roller for this. It wasn't perfect but I knew all of my other paint would cover this up. Wait 1 hour for it to dry in between coats and before you start painting with your sponge. If you choose to do black countertops, get a primer that you can tint black.

Step 3: Use your sponge to make a design. My one piece of advice is to PRACTICE before you do this on a piece of paper. If I had done this it would have saved me 2 HOURS! I could not get my technique down for the life of me and was so frustrated that it wasn't turning out great. But then I tried something different with the sponge and loved where it was going. Once I got my technique down it took me (another) 2 hours to complete this step.

These are the colors I used from Hobby Lobby (I did not use Slate Gray).  The metallic I used sparingly but I absolutely love the shine it gives! I also used a white I already had and a very light gray I used on my walls in my home. I bought 4 bottles of each color just to be on the safe side and I almost used all of them. *Grey Sky, Metallic Silver, Grey*

I also purchased a small container of very fine glitter and threw it on sparingly after one of my many coats. It's very subtle but I absolutely love it!

My counters looked like this after my initial few coats. I was not liking where it was going.

So I had to basically start all over but at least my primer was fully covered at this point.

Then I started dabbing just a small section of the sponge on the counters and it looked like a dalmatian dog puked all over my counters! Then after the 2 hour mark, I decided to use the whole sponge and it looked so much better. I knew this was the direction I wanted to go. One color at a time it was starting to look like I wanted.

Left: the way I wanted it to look   Right: Dalmatian dog gone wrong

I wanted lighter counters with a hint of dark in them. If this is the look you're going for then I recommend you start with your darkest color first. Work your way to the lightest. After I did this, I went back with one of my medium shade colors to blend everything in. It really depends what look you're going for and that is why you should practice first.

In the end they came out looking like this:

Here's a close up and to me they look like real granite!

Step 4: Top Coat. You have 2 options here. I will tell you what I did and tell you about the other down below. I used Enviro Tex Lite. It is amazing and even though I was afraid to do it, I am so glad I did and highly recommend this one. It is food safe which is a huge plus for this mommy with 3 little kids. It is super thick and super shiny. It goes on nice and smooth. It feels amazing and I wish you could touch it through the computer! Note: While you totally could do this step by yourself, I found it was much easier to accomplish with 2 people.

You will need to read the directions very carefully so I won't go into all the details but you need to pour it on quickly (within 20 minutes of mixing it up) and you will need a heavy duty lighter or small blow torch. You can also just use your breath but that really depends on your counter size. There was no way I was going to blow on 39 square feet of space! I started out using a lighter and that worked fine but when my mom offered me her small blow torch she uses for crème brulee, it was amazing and did the job much faster.

The reason for the heat is to pop the small bubbles that form while you're mixing and applying the top coat. I'll be honest and say that I'm positive I didn't get ALL of the bubbles out but so far the counters feel super smooth.

The box says it will harden within 24 hours and will be ready for full use in 72 hours. It also says it dries best when your house is 70-90 degrees and there's no humidity. I found that at 10 hours it was still tacky and my house was at 68 degrees. Once I upped it to 70 degrees the drying process went faster.

Option 2: Polycrylic. From what I read this will take 8-9 coats and is put on by a foam roller. It is not food safe and won't last as long as the Enviro Tex Lite (which is equal to 50 coats!). It will probably need touch ups every now and then where as the one I did, at least from what I've read, people have had it last 5 years. It also won't be super shiny and super smooth. However, this is easier and less risky to apply and you can do it yourself. You will probably want to sand between coats to keep it from getting too rough.

Now it's time for the AFTER pictures!!

I am a perfectionist and Type A personality so going into this was a little terrifying. I was worried that I would be too picky or would keep going for 20 hours and still not like how it was turning out. But trust me, you'll know when it's done. It will look amazing to you and you'll be giddy with excitement!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Process of Painting a Room

I am getting ready to start painting the nursery (EEEEK!!) so I thought now would be the perfect time to share the process of painting a room. It's fairly simply but I thought writing out step by step instructions may help. Painting a whole room may seem like a big job but it is so rewarding in the end. Ok, maybe I'm just a crazy painting freak. :)

Step 1: Pick out your paint color

This may seem like an easy task but it can be overwhelming. Once you've narrowed down what color you want (blue, gray, green, etc) then get a few different color strips in those shades. I stick the swatches right on the wall and take a day or two to see what they look like in the morning, afternoon, and evening. (In this case I was looking at colors for the door).

Step 2: Buy samples of a few different shades

Once you have your swatches narrowed down to anywhere between 2-5, go to the paint store and ask for samples of those colors. I usually go to Sherwin Williams and they're around $5 a sample. I let these sit there for 2-5 days to really get a good idea of what the color will look like. Keep in mind the color will change in the morning vs evening and if there's sun or rain. Also if your painting a hallway, the color may be close to a window in one area of the hallway but then have no natural light in another area. This will make your color look different so be sure to paint multiple areas of the room/hallway.

I've learned not to rush your decision because you don't want to spend 8 hours painting a room only to hate it a few days later. I've done that way to too many times! I just get so excited to start painting and making a difference that I was always rushing my color decision. In my current home, I took my time and am very happy with the colors I have chosen.

Step 3: Putty any holes, sand and clean your wall

Ok, that's like 3 steps in one but they all go together. You could also do this before you start the other steps but because the above two steps usually takes me a week, I like to do this while I'm deciding on which color to use.

There are probably nail holes from pictures or even some places where the wall was chipped a little. You want to get your putty and cover these up.

Sand down those areas after they have dried.

Then go over the whole room with a damp rag and wipe off the walls and trim really well. If you're moving into a new house or the walls haven't been cleaned in a few years, it's a good idea to put a little soap in with the water and wash the walls. Make sure to go over them a second time with a  damp clean rag to remove any excess soap.

Step 4: Cut in the corners and around trim

It's time to start painting! You can take a small paintbrush or a regular sized one to do this. I prefer an angled brush for this job. If you don't have a lot of experience with "cutting in" then use blue painter's tape to cover up the trim pieces.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How to Caulk Trim

This is going to be a fun one today so hold on to your hats!! Ok, not really. It's a boring topic but I'm sure someone somewhere needs a tutorial on how to caulk trim.

I shared with you my process of how to paint trim a few weeks ago. Going from an orange oak trim to bright white has made such a difference in my home. You can see here the difference of the trim on the floor verses the trim around the door. So much lighter and brighter. It really makes the area feel bigger and taller.

If you really want your trim to look professional and have a crisp clean look, you will need to caulk it. It's super easy and I was actually having fun doing it. Crazy, right?! It goes on so quickly but makes such a big difference.

Let's first take a look at the places you'll want to caulk. The main obvious place is where the trim meets the wall. That is just an eye sore and makes it look very unprofessional and sloppy.

The next place is where all the millions and millions of nails went into the trim. You couldn't really see them when the trim was oak colored, they just blended in. But they stick out plain as day on this white trim.

The other place you'll want to caulk are the seems where trim pieces meet. You could stick a quarter in that slot! I'm actually surprised my daughter never tried. :)

You'll want to stop at Lowe's or the hardware store and pick out your caulk and caulking gun if you don't have one. This caulking gun was only $6-8. I used this brand of caulk. It's nice because you can paint right over it which is actually recommended. Otherwise your caulking spot will turn yellow over time.

The only other supply you'll need is a rag or torn up old t-shirt. I went through a lot so be prepared.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

DIY Abstract Art

On Tuesday I shared with you some abstract art pieces from around the web. I remember being in 8th grade art class and hating it. I had no clue what I was doing. I think at one point we had to make something out of clay and mine looked like a big old blob. But then you see movies where a character paints for fun and it just looks so relaxing (The Notebook, anyone??).

I think because I don't feel very creative and also don't have many relaxing hobbies, I was on a mission to see if I had it in me to paint. After all, it's been a while since 8th grade! Plus art pieces are usually super expensive and wouldn't it be great to save some money?? Then that feeling of accomplishment would be fantastic... if it actually turned out decent.

I had a little luck on my side. My mom. She is a woman of many talents and one of those just happens to be painting. Now usually she does things like flowers but I really needed her expertise in showing me how to paint. Are there certain brushes you use? What techniques are best for what I want to accomplish? How do you mix multiple colors together and not make it look like a 3 year old did it?

So one afternoon I took my daughter over to my mom's and we all had some quality time painting. I really thought I could get this done in 30 minutes (jokes on me!) but it ended up taking 2 hours to complete.

Let's get this party started!

It all started off with wanting a fairly big canvas to paint on. I headed to Hobby Lobby and scored an amazing deal. I always check their clearance section and happened to find this flower picture for $12!

Did you know that you can paint over previous paintings on a canvas? So if you find a hideous picture on a canvas at a thrift store or somewhere else at an amazing low price, grab that baby up because you can reuse it. It's also great because after its been hanging up in your home for a month a year, you can take it down and start all over with a new idea.

I got out some plain white paint that I usually use for my walls or trim and went over the canvas one time. I probably should have done two coats just to be safe but I was too excited to get started.

I knew that I wanted blues in my picture. I am trying to incorporate different shades of blue around my home and so far don't I have any on the walls so this was a good place to start.

I actually used a mix of acrylic paint and paint I had leftover from painting my walls. It's a really neat way to use up some of that leftover paint you have from painting a bedroom or bathroom.

I used several sizes of brushes but the main reason was so that I didn't have to continuously clean them over and over. But for a piece this big I actually preferred the type of paintbrush you use to paint your walls. Nice and big.

I just started swiping on paint, doing one color at a time. The trick is to wet a big paintbrush (wipe off the excess water onto a paper towel) and quickly go over the color so it bleeds out a little. This creates a whispy effect so your lines aren't so harsh.

On occasion we took a blow dryer to the canvas to help a spot dry faster but it really wasn't necessary.

During this whole process I was questioning two things: 1. I wasn't sure if the turquoise color would really match the colors I had in my home. 2. The vision I had in my head had all of the lines in the painting going vertical instead of different directions. I decided I'd take home my piece of art and live with it on the wall for a week to see how I felt. But I was super proud of myself for finishing my first painting!

So after living with it for about 10 days, I decided it looked like a tie dye shirt... wah wah. I also really wanted the lines to be vertical. Luckily for me, Hobby Lobby is having a sale on paints this week so I started my own collection (I was using my mom's acrylic paints before). I grabbed up different shades of blues.
While my kid's were napping I set everything up and started working on recreating my piece.

You can see how the canvas is still wet from using the damp brush.

In reality I should of just painted the whole canvas white again because it took several coats to cover up the turquoise color but I am happy with how it turned out.

I ended up using 4 different colors in the new piece. I toyed around with adding some metallic silver or gold in the future but for now this is how it will stay... at least until I change my mind in a week. :)
This was really easy to create, just a bit time consuming. Remember that you can always start over if you don't like the end result. Keep your brushes a bit damp and it will give you the whispy effect.
Now it's your turn!