How Formica Works

Painting Formica

With a little bit of work, you can transform a boring kitchen into a sh­owpiece for less than what you might expect -- just by painting your Formica. The whole process will take two to three days, depending on how much countertop you have, and if you're going to get creative and apply custom artwork to the countertops.

Before you begin painting, you must prepare the surface. You'll need to clean the area with hot, soapy water to remove dirt, and then clean it again with ammonia or denatured alcohol to remove any greas­e and soap residue.


After your Formica has dried, use a light- to medium-grade sandpaper and sand the entire surface. Use this time to fill any deep nicks or scratches with a good-quality wood filler. Once you've prepared the surface, vacuum the counter to remove all sand and dust.

Coat the surface with a quality primer so the finish paint can adhere to the surface. After the primer is completely dry, apply your first coat of finish paint. Oil-based paint is best. Allow your counters to dry for 24 to 48 hours before applying the topcoat [source: AsktheBuilder].

The topcoat will protect the paint from cracking and chipping, and it adds durability. (In spite of this, your counter will not be as wear- and heat-resistant as it was originally.) Apply a polyurethane topcoat -- after it dries, apply a second coat.

If you're painting your kitchen countertops, be aware that you'll need to be a little careful from now on. Even though the polyurethane is strong, you'll need to use trivets for hot foods, and you'll always need to use a cutting board when cutting and chopping. You'll also have to reapply the polyurethane topcoat on a regular basis to keep your counters looking their best [source: AsktheBuilder].

For more information on Formica and painting and repairing your countertops, check out the links below.


Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • About Formica. "History" Formica (Accessed 12/16/08)
  • About Formica. " Manufacturing" Formica (Accessed 12/16/08)
  • Carter, Tim. "New Countertops with Paint". Ask the Builder. (accessed 12/16/08)
  • Hanby-Robie, Sharon. "Painting a Countertop" Do It Yourself Network. (Accessed 12/16/08),2037,DIY_13942_2275236,00.html
  • Harmon, Archie. "Laminate Countertop Repair" Do It Yourself Network. (Accessed 12/16/08),2037,DIY_13942_2268441,00.html
  • Rose, Mike. Personal Interview. 12/16/08
  • The Natural Handyman. "Q&A with NH" (Accessed 12/16/08)