Kitchen countertops are expensive to replace. By painting them instead of ripping them out and installing replacements, you can give the countertops a fresh look while saving money and keeping them out of the landfill. Using a sponge to apply layers of paint gives the newly painted countertops interest and depth.
Enamel paint is normally equated with high gloss, but it comes in several finishes, including flat, eggshell, satin, semigloss and high gloss. For countertops, a matte finish is less than ideal, since it does not clean easily. Semigloss or high gloss is durable, and the surface is easy to clean. Select a base color that will be painted on the countertop and one or more complementary or contrasting colors that will be applied with the sponge on top of the base color.
Clean the countertop to remove all traces of grease and dirt, which would prevent the paint from adhering. Lightly sand the entire surface with a medium-grit sandpaper, and then clean it again to remove any dust created by sanding. Tape off the edges of the countertop where it meets walls, cabinets and any other areas that won't be painted. Cover lower cabinets with plastic sheeting to protect them from any paint drops.
Primer and Base Coat
Apply a single coat of oil-based primer with a roller and let it dry completely before applying the first coat of paint. Roll the base coat on with a thin-napped roller. Use a brush to cover any corners or edges that the roller can't reach. Let the paint dry for at least three hours, and then sand lightly with a fine-grit paper. Wipe away any dust created by sanding. Paint a scrap piece of lumber the same base color if you want to practice your sponging technique before trying it on the countertop.
Pour a small amount of paint, in a color different than the base coat, into a disposable pie tin or paper plate. Dip a sea sponge into the paint, wipe away any excess, and dab the paint onto the countertop, or your scrap lumber, in a regular pattern. Let the paint dry, sand lightly, clean and repeat the sponging process with any additional colors, until you've achieved the desired effect.
Apply two or three coats of clear urethane to protect the new paint finish and prevent it from peeling or scratching. Thin the urethane according to the manufacturer's instructions, and then apply a light coat with a high-quality paintbrush. Wait for the urethane to dry, lightly sand with a fine-grit paper, and clean the surface. Repeat the process to apply one or two additional coats.