Refurbishing your kitchen is expensive and, even if you purchase cheap countertops, replacing all of your kitchen surfaces may be out of your budget. But if you want to make your kitchen look almost as good as new, resurfacing countertops can be a great alternative. Many stone and metal manufacturers specialise in resurfacing stone countertops, such as granite one, but you could try your hand at resurfacing a laminate countertop yourself if you want to lower costs even more.
Resurfacing Laminate Countertops
While not a beginners DIY project, resurfacing countertops made of laminate is something within reach of most DIY enthusiasts, and it can significantly lower the costs compared with having a professional do it, or buying a new laminate countertop.
To resurface laminate countertops you’ll need to strip the existing laminate off the plywood base. Afterwards, the glue needs to be removed, using solvents or paint removers. This can be dangerous unless you follow to the letter the manufacturer instructions, take the relevant security measures and most importantly, work on a well-ventilated space. Inhaling solvents can damage your health and even kill you, so don’t do this without making sure all the safety measures are in place.
Once the glue has been stripped, you’ll need to sand the plywood surface so it’s smooth, and cut out new laminate to fit exactly the countertop surface. If you are resurfacing countertops for your kitchen but don’t have enough room to cut the new laminate you may want to have it cut for you at the store, just make sure you take the measures right. The base needs to be totally covered, or water will get into and potentially damage your resurfaced countertop over time.
The next step is actually gluing the new surface to the old base, and to do so you’ll need to carefully apply glue evenly to the laminate. If it’s not applied evenly, you may end up with bubbles and bulges sticking out, which is not exactly what you want when refurbishing your kitchen. The new laminate should be laid carefully over the base, and using rollers it will be pressed against the plywood base. Again, it’s important to make sure there are no air bubbles left and the rollers apply pressure evenly. Once this is done, all that is left is removing ant remains of glue and finishing any sharp borders or corners to make them smooth.
Resurfacing Countertops Made of Stone and Granite
Resurfacing a granite countertop requires more than your average home DIY kit, but it’s worth knowing the process in case you want to ensure the professional doing it for you is actually doing his job well.
The old countertop needs to be removed from its supports, using special tools to remove the bolts and screws and a heat gun to remove the glue. It can be very heavy, so usually you’ll need at least two people working on it. After cleaning the surface and removing all traces of sealant by using a chemical stripper you’ll need to sand the stone’s surface lightly, in order for the new glue to stick to the stone.
The process from here is similar to resurfacing countertops made of laminate, with the new surface sheets being carefully glued to the old surface with a roller. You’ll need to remove any traces of glue with acetone or other chemical solvent and after about 48 hours of drying time, your resurfaced countertop will be ready to use and as good as new.
Resurfacing Wood Countertops
Resurfacing a butcher’s block or any other wood countertop can be done over a few of days, and will make your kitchen look brand new. You will first need to determine if you want to use your countertop for cutting and food preparation, or if it’s just a decorative part of your kitchen. If you want to be able to bake or actually prepare food on it you’ll need to use a food safe finish, whereas if you only want to use it as a surface you have more options. But the process is basically the same.
You will need to start by sanding down the old finish so you get back to the first layer of actual wood. This obviously only applies to wood countertops that are actually solid wood, not thick laminate. How much do you need to sand your countertops? Only until the marks and scratches that made you want to refinish your wood worktops are gone. There is no reason to remove more wood than necessary for the surface to look new again. You won’t need a very expensive sander either, you could technically do it by hand. But things will go a million times quicker if you get yourself an orbital sander.
Once the top layer has been removed, use a tack cloth to wipe off any dust. The cleaner the countertop is, the better finish you will achieve afterwards. Once it’s really clean, it’s time to refinish your wood countertops with a suitable product. A satin finish is usually better and more long lasting than a glossy finish, and tung oil based products are effective and clean. So we like the Waterlox brand but there are many alternatives and the best one will also depend on the type of wood for your wood countertops. So go check options online until you find one that ticks all your boxes.
Now, after applying the first coat you will need to leave and let it dry, which can take up to 24 hours depending on the degree of humidity and temperature of your home. A well ventilated kitchen is a must here, so crack open the windows if you can. After it’s dry, you will see how the finish is very uneven, there are marks and splashes everywhere! The solution for this is to apply another coat. And possibly another, after waiting for it to dry again. Just keep adding coats until the finish is even, as that means the oil has finally saturated the wood evenly.
Sanding the countertop LIGHTLY in between layers will help you achieve the best finish. But don’t use the machine for this, use a sanding block and a light touch because the last thing you want is to remove all the finish you just applied. And after sanding, clean up with the tack cloth again to remove any dust particles.
If you find out that there are bubbles in the sealing, you may be using the wrong tools. A wide painting pad is better than a brush as it gives a more even finish.
Once the finish is looking even and glossy you are done resurfacing your wood countertops.