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Review of Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations and Laminate Countertop Refinishing

Banish Ugly Laminate Counters With One Easy Product

Last week, I gave you a preview of Rust-Oleum's new Cabinet Transformations, an easy, affordable product which beautifully and durably refinishes cabinetry and furniture. I tested it out myself on a recent trip to New Orleans, and I'm convinced it's the greatest thing since sliced bread for those who are looking to affordably update kitchens. But where there are avocado-colored kitchen cabinet doors to update, there's usually ugly laminate countertops to boot. So Rust-Oleum has also introduced Countertop Transformations, an equally simple and inexpensive way to transform your worn, damaged, or, more likely, dated countertops.

Considering that the average age of the American home is 35 years, there's about 1.4 billion sq. ft. of laminate in the country. Unfortunately, laminate isn't quite à la mode. In a survey, Rust-Oleum found that granite (followed by quartz) is the countertop material most coveted by Americans. So they created a DIY-friendly product to help homeowners get the look of natural stone for only $250. It's really fascinating how this product works, so read on to hear more about it.

What do you need?

Just like the counterpart cabinet product, Countertop Transformations is a layered system in a kit. Nearly everything you'll need is included except for some household tools, which you may already own, including rollers, brushes, paint trays, painter's tape, disposable gloves, and rags.

How it works:


The first step is to scuff up the surface of your countertops with the kit's diamond-embdedded sanding tool. This brand-new product is hands-down the best sanding tool I've used — it's literally embedded with real diamonds, which are super tough and make sanding quick and easy. I'm crossing my fingers Rust-Oleum will offer it for sale separately.
Next up, using a roller brush, you'll apply the adhesive base coat to your scuffed-up countertops. It's a water-based, nonpeeling, one-part formula that has a very low odor and a tar-like consistency. Begin by painting the back edge of the countertop with a regular paint brush.

Next you'll spray the wetting agent onto the counters, which helps to keep the surface open and wet for the next step.

Now here comes the fun part! You'll use the included rotary chip dispenser to spread the kit's decorative chips across the surface. The decorative chips are not only what will give your countertop that natural stone look, but they also enhance the durability of your counters. The chips are made of colorfast, finely ground vinyl and are nonfading.

Don't be fearful — just have at it and go wild with the chips. You can't really put on too many, but you'll just want to make sure you've covered the whole surface area. To help with that, the kit includes a sample swatch that you can use to compare the surfaces.

When it's finished it should like the above.

Now you'll use the chip scraping tool to scrape away excess chips. After that, you'll sand the surface with the diamond-embedded sanding tool. This will give your counters the smooth feel of those granite counters you love.
Using a wet rag, you'll wipe away the dusty particles from the surface.

For the final step, you'll roll on the two-part activating protective top coat. Again, for the edges, you'll watch to use a brush to make sure you can in all the crannies. Then, you'll wait for it to dry! It'll be shiny and ready for light use in 48 hours and fully-cured in a week.

The top coat is a silicon epoxy that's chemical-resistant, nonyellowing, UV-resistant, water and stain resistant, low-odor, and low-VOC. It also bears the HomeShield Antimicrobial Protection Mark, meaning that it's engineered for high performance and long-lasting protection against mold, mildew, algae, and bacteria. It's also been tested against all sorts of stain-inducing items like wet sponges, wine, mustard, etc., so it will keep its color.

What's good to know:

  • Countertop Transformations is available in five different colors, including onyx, charcoal, java stone, desert sand, and pebbled ivory, basically ranging from white to black.
  • The product will cost you 60 percent less than installing new countertops, and it covers up to 50 square feet.
  • You can use it in the kitchen, bathroom, and even on laminate furniture pieces.
  • It's also applicable for both vertical and horizontal surfaces.
  • The chips are necessary for getting that smooth finish and part of the durability factor. So if you want something one-tone (rather than the speckled, natural stone look), you'll have to hold out until Rust-Oleum offers chips that exactly match the adhesive coat. Rust-Oleum does offer a one-coat laminate product, but it has no protective coat, so it's really just a short-term solution.
  • If you're thinking of replacing your sink, now's the time to change it. It'll be harder to get an even edge if you try to install a sink after using this product.
  • If your laminate counters are chipped at all (like so many are!), use an epoxy putty to fill them in before you apply the system.
  • The countertops hold heat up to 285 degrees, so be sure to use trivets for temperatures higher than that.
  • The active amount of time required on your part for this project is four to six hours, but the whole project will take about two days, including drying time. So it's a great weekend project!
  • You can learn more details, see before and after photos, and virtually visualize your makeover on Rust-Oleum's Countertops Transformations website.
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