Painted Tile Countertops and Cabinets with SK

SK on Elderberry
by SK on Elderberry
This poor old 1950's yellow tile counters and plywood cabinets had seen better days. It was time for an update and she wanted to paint the cabinets red and cream and the old yellow tile to resemble black and gray granite tiles.
This picture is a representative of the counter. The actual counters tiles are on a diamond pattern, but are exactly the same color.

The grout was in very poor shape. Crumbling and cracking. Some grout was missing. We dug out all the old grout using a screwdriver. You can actually buy a tool specifically to remove grout.
These nasty old plywood cabinets needed to be degreased, sanded and primed before painting.
The hinges were gross. They were removed and degreased then painted with a spray hammered iron paint.
Inexpensive handles were in order.
The backsplash grout was in better shape. These tiles were set squared not diamond. We scrubbed the old tile with dawn and vinegar. Then washed with clear water. We sanded all the tiles to give them a "tooth" which is a surface which will grab onto paint.

We re-grouted the entire surface.
We rolled a good blocking bonding primer after sanding the tiles.

It took time for the primer to set. She is a caterer and needed the use of the kitchen in the middle of the project.

Primed and cured for a day.

Ready for paint.
I wet the countertop and then sponged on the different paints never letting my edges dry. This is called a wet-on-wet paint technique. This keeps the edges of the colors blending and much softer. Using a watered down cream paint I flicked spots onto the surface. Then lightly sponged them to lift and soften.
I used a sea sponge and three colors of black, chocolate and taupe from Sherwin and Williams.

Terra Brun:My dark brown

SW 6048

Caviar:My Amish Black. Not a true deep black. This black is not quite as stark as some blacks.

SW 6990

Grecian Ivory: A light taupe.

SW 7541

I used a semi-gloss clear top coat which is manufactured for hard use. We coated this three times.

Each different work surface must have a sealer of some sort.

My copper countertops are the only surface I haven't had to seal. Copper actually has a natural antibiotic property.

Concrete has different issues. I use a food safe sealer. Granite and marble also need to be sealed occasionally. I seal all granite at least once a year. Each of the products need to be researched for food compatibility.

I always do my due diligence before applying a sealer.

Concrete: Cheng Concrete Countertop Sealer. There are others out there.

Natural stone, granite and marble: MB-4 Sealer for Stone.

Do your research. There are great food safe products out there.

My only wish is that I could have gotten better pictures.

Being a caterer, she used this little kitchen and abused these poor countertops. Through all the hard use they still looked great.
Frequently asked questions
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  2 questions
  • Melanie Ross Melanie Ross on Jul 24, 2018

    What was your cost to redo your tile counter top? I have a gross old tile counter that desperately NEEDS help. Debating cost to replace or redo?

  • Jeanie Jeanie on Jul 02, 2020

    I am very intrested in the cost, I would like to try this but I think l will go much lighter, I didn't care for that finished color it just looked old. Was the final result the speckled looking picture or the one that looked like dark brown.

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2 of 144 comments
  • SK on Elderberry SK on Elderberry on Mar 25, 2019

    Using a good Bonding primer I would do it the exact same way. I sand formica first to give the surface tooth. Something for the primer to adhere too.

    Good luck and have fun.


  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Aug 27, 2019

    Excellent makeover. You had me when I saw the sea sponge. (I always use a wet sponge and rinse frequently.) The before and after is so amazing. Thank you for sharing your project with all of us.