GFM Tested: DIY Countertop

As I’ve already mentioned, my chosen summer project this year was to update the main bathroom in our house ahead of the arrival of our house guests in August. It’s mid-September, so I thought it might be time to share how that project went.

I went into the project with two major goals in mind: To actually get the thing done, and to do it as budget-friendly as possible, without it looking like rubbish.

So when it came to the bathroom vanity, which is the original, built-it, metal-doored vanity, with ugly laminate countertop and rusting sink, I wanted to do my best to update the look and function of the vanity, without actually ripping the thing out.

Looking at it, though, I was starting to doubt this was possible.

The sink had to be replaced. And the plumbing redone. There was no getting around that. So, we ripped the sink out. And after a trip to a Restore (where the proceeds of the store go to Habitat for Humanity), I found a white ceramic sink for $25. It was slightly bigger than the original sink, but as luck would have it, it fit into the countertop as it was.

We cleaned out underneath the sink, the cabinet itself was also metal and cleaned up very well. So far, it was looking like the vanity overhaul was going to be a success.

But what could be done with that countertop. I’d started pricing out a small portion of counter, when my sister-in-law told me about the research she’d done into countertop-refurbishing when she was working on their bathroom. They ended up having to replace their counter, but she still had all of her research. Plus, she’d found a really fun looking tutorial that involved spray paint.


So we decided to give it a go, figuring if it turned out to be a complete disaster, we could always just replace the countertop.

We used this tutorial from Pinterest as a guide into the wonderful world of countertop painting.

The sink was already out, so we didn’t have to worry about working around a sink. I’d recommend that, if you’re able. It just makes things so much easier.

My sister-in-law and I sanded down the old countertop, then wiped it down and dried it with microfibre cloths. The tutorial warned that you really have to make sure the walls and other surfaces that you’re not doing to be painting are covered well, so we taped off the walls around the countertop, then covered the walls and vanity cabinet with many layers of newspaper.

Then it was time for the SPRAY PAINT.

We were so excited. But the actual spray painting went fast.  Too fast, if you ask me.

We followed the tutorial pretty closely, except for a few minor changes:

  • We used a white base coat
  • We used 4-5 coats of the stone accent spray paint, but that was because I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I screwed up a spot on the counter top and had to fix it
  • I didn’t sand it nearly as much as was recommended in the tutorial
  • We used the Minwax as a sealer from the beginning and I did 3 coats of that

I’m fairly happy with the final results. We’ll have to see how it stands up to use, but I figured that if the woman who wrote the tutorial had success with this method in a kitchen, it should hopefully holdup well in a bathroom?  We’ll see. Either way, this was my favourite part of the bathroom project and now I totally get the appeal of being a graffiti artist. Watch out, Banksy!

Tackling home improvements, DIY style

For someone who claims to hate the upheaval that comes with home improvement projects, I certainly engage in that activity often. In the six years since we bought our home, we have undergone four major home improvement projects. And we’ve decided to tackle another one this summer.

For the most part, we’ve been pretty hands-off with the actual work. We know our limits and have hired professionals to install the new vanity and sink in the ensuite and the new kitchen. Last summer’s main level floor replacement was the result of water damage, so again, professionals were involved in that six week process. Painting is something I feel comfortable handling myself and my brothers helped install new floors in all four bedrooms, as well as the main entry way and kitchen. I’ve never been super confident in my own handiness, but this summer, with M back at school, there wasn’t exactly room in the budget to hire pros.

Unfortunately, a leaky toilet, stopped up sink and general ugly gloom of the main bathroom wasn’t going to cut it when we have guests coming to stay with us for a week in the middle of August, so…

This room has been in desperate need of an update. We didn’t paint it when we moved in. I’ve been ignoring the paint stains on the floor from the previous owner. I’ve tried not to look too closely at the out-of-date countertop. I pretended not to notice that the toilet was while and the sink was off-while, caulked with almond-coloured caulk. It’s the only room on the entire upper floor that hasn’t had any work done to it. So it’s time.

Time to tackle another home improvement project. And this one, it’s going to be DIY all the way.

The plans for this hopefully cost-effective bathroom up-date are:

  • Replace sink & plumbing under the sink
  • Replace toilet
  • Update countertop
  • Paint walls & ceiling
  • Update flooring

Fingers crossed that we’ll survive this and that the main bathroom will be useable once we’re through with it…