Here’s how to DIY faux granite, marble, or quartz countertops for under $100

Clean granite countertop
evgenyb / 123RF Stock Photo
In an updated kitchen, you’ll often see stone countertops, and granite, marble, or quartz are among the most common. According to HomeAdvisor, it’ll cost you around $5,000 to install quartz countertops in an average-sized kitchen with 35 square-feet of counter space ($2,500 for installation, and $75 per square foot for the actual quartz).

But did you know you can have countertops that look exactly like granite, marble, or quartz for under $100? Sure, it may require a bit of time and effort, but after about a weekend of work, you can have beautiful faux granite, marble, or quartz countertops without breaking the bank.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A Giani countertop refinishing kit. The kits come in a variety of colors, including white diamond (which produces a marble-like finish), black (which produces a black quartz or a black granite-like finish), and sand (which produces a brown, granite-like finish). You can also purchase the materials separately in a different brand — you’ll need a roller designed for smooth surfaces, a craft sponge, a sponge painting brush, dark-colored primer (ideally grey or black primer), metallic-colored acrylic paints in a pearl white and other colors, and a water-based Polyurethane (like Minwax Polycrylic).
  • Plastic drop covers to protect your cabinets and floors
  • Metallic flakes
  • Painter’s tape
  • A plastic bag
  • A magic eraser
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Brillo pads
  • A few rags
  • An exacto knife

How to create faux granite, quartz, or marble countertops

Step 1: Remove everything from your counters, including all small appliances, food, and silicone caulk.

Step 2: Scrub your countertop thoroughly with a Brillo pad to remove all grease, wax, dirt, and oils. Avoid using any harsh cleaners, as this can prevent your new surface from adhering properly. Rinse the Brillo soap with clean water at least three times to ensure all of the soap is gone from your counters.

Step 3: Prep your area. Apply a liner of painter’s tape above your counter’s back splash, on any walls next to your counters, and on any cabinets that touch your counters. Also, carefully apply painter’s tape around your sink, so you don’t accidentally paint it. Cover any areas with plastic sheets that you could drop paint on, and pull out your stove and cover it with plastic.

Step 4: Apply black primer to your clean counters. Use a roller that’s designed for smooth surfaces. Apply in even, thin layers, and paint small sections at a time. Use a sponge brush to apply the primer to your corners and back splash. Apply two coats if necessary, but wait at least two to three hours between coats. Once your counters are completely coated with primer, allow them to dry completely for at least 6 hours.

Step 5: Apply your mineral paints.

For Granite: Thoroughly and randomly sponge on your pearl-white or beige color.

It should look like this:

faux granite countertops counter paint application

Then, apply your other colors (metallic browns, golds, and other colors) in a similar manner. You can also use a thin artist brush to add veining to your color scheme. On top of your veining, sponge on more whites and dark colors for a more realistic look. This video by Giani provides a good visual.

For Quartz: Sponge on your white thoroughly, as you would for a granite finish. After you complete your white, go back with an acrylic color that is a similar shade to your primer. For instance, if you used a black primer, use an acrylic black, and sponge that color all over your counter, only allowing a small amount of pearl white to show through. Avoid adding too many colors, as quartz counters typically do not have a busy finish. After that, go back in and sponge on some more of your primer to add more depth.

Add random silver or gold dots of acrylic paint throughout your design for a more realistic look.

For Marble: Sponge on your white limestone thoroughly. You should have very few black undertones showing through. Sponge on your Inca gold and pearl mica. Then, sand your finish with 600-grit sandpaper. After you sand, wipe your surface with a damp cloth, and allow it to dry completely. Go back and add long, dark colored veins with an artist’s brush. Sponge back over your veining with more whites. If necessary, sand again to ensure a smooth and even surface. See the Giani video below for detailed instructions.

Step 5b: Apply metal flakes to Granite and Quartz finishes. You can find metal flakes at any craft store or on Amazon for around $10. This provides additional depth and shine, and makes your counters look more like real stone.

Step 6: Apply your top coat. This is the most difficult part of the entire process, as it is hard to get the top coat on evenly without leaving streaks. Use a roller or sponge applicator designed for smooth surfaces, work quickly, and do not roll back over the same area repeatedly. If you over-brush or over-roll, this will leave streaks or bubbles. You can sand between coats with 600-grit sandpaper if necessary. Add three coats of topcoat, and wait at least two to four hours between coats. Also, if you mess up your top coat, you can always sand it off and start over. Watch this Heirloom video tutorial for more tips on how to apply your top coat properly.

Step 7: Remove your painter’s tape and clean up. Clean up any paint on your walls with a magic eraser. Wait until your counters are fully dry (about 24 hours) to remove the painter’s tape, though. Use an exacto knife and cut along the edges of your tape, so you don’t take take the finish off with the tape. Replace any caulk or grout, and your countertops will be complete. You can use your counters lightly, but they won’t be completely cured for a few weeks. This means you’ll need to wipe up any liquid spills immediately and treat the counters gently for the first few weeks.

A Few Tips

  • You can try to use a crinkled-up plastic bag to apply your acrylic mineral colored paints. This can make your mineral paints look more like veins, and less like spots.
  • Make yourself a temporary kitchen area on a table, where you can make coffee or prep food. You will need this temporary kitchen for the next two days as your countertops are out of commission.
  • Use a mild cleaner after you finish your counters, and avoid harsh cleaners, like bleach or ammonia.
  • Compare the cost of a pre-made kit like “Giani Granite Countertop Paint” to buying the materials individually. Some DIYers have reported being able to do their counters for as little as $50, while a Giani kit will cost you around $70 to $80 (plus an extra $20 for extra materials and supplies).
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