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It might sound tacky, but putting contact paper over your Formica counter top works. I was cleaning the bathroom prior to having the family over for Christmas dinner. The counter was just so sad looking. It needed a pick-me-up. I remembered this trick I had heard and thought for five bucks I would give it a try.
I made sure the counter was clean and dry. I ran the paper from side to side and over the front. Cutting around sink and edges with a razor blade. Then again from side to side along the back, using half the width of the paper and allowing the clean edge to over lap. When I was done it looked clean and new and you couldn't even see the seam. The trick is to use a busy pattern, like granite.
Thanks for the tip, Jan. If I win, we'll go to lunch.
Now I'm wishing I'd thought to post this, a sighted assistant and I refreshed my formica countertops like this, just this past summer! Kudos to you for sharing!
For all of you who have orange and olive counters, gold fleck Formica or turquoise and pink tile counters! Be they in a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, this is a cheap way to disguise the ugly while being durable, cleanable and replaceable!
This tip is ideal if you live in an apartment where you're not allowed to do permanent things, or if you're just not sure how you'll feel about it in a year. This only works if your sink is the set in the whole in the counter type, not an under mounted sink or one piece marble counter with sink.
I did my apartment bathroom counter like this. It had cigarette burns in the gold fleck Formica and curling iron burns. I left it on for nearly 2 years, and then just peeled it off before I moved. One or two little spots were a little sticky, so I just used some Goo Gone, and it was like I had lived with the ugly for all that time!
Step 2: Select your roll(s) of contact paper! There are many surface looks for you to choose from. There are many colors of "granite", "marble", "wood", "brushed metal", "stone", "onyx", solid and printed styles for you to choose from. Try to get ones with cutting grids on the peel-off paper side of it, it will make things much easier!
Note: Darker mottled colors are better as they won't show stains from hair color, pasta sauce, coffee, etc. If you get a pattern, you'll have to be careful to line up the patterns with separate pieces. I suggest dark marbled/granite papers.
Step 3: Start with the counter surface. Unroll the paper down the counter, butting it up to the back splash if it is at a right angle to your counter top. If it is rounded into the counter top, start wear the back splash and wall meet, and follow the contour of the counter to its lip. Fold the paper to cover the counter over hang and add an inch. Cut off the excess paper, this should only be a few inches. If the paper isn't wide enough, you'll have to decide where you want a seam. Either in the rounded part of the back splash or the edge of the counter before it turns down for the lip.
Step 4: Peel apart the contact paper and it's backing for a foot or two. Have the other person hold the other end while you both line the paper up to the back splash or wall. Lay your sticky end down, starting at the edge and back splash corner, or wall-back splash corner. Work your way down the counter, peeling the backing off as you go, always moving from the back splash towards yourself, don't go over the counter lip yet, leave the hangover sticking out. Smooth out air bubbles, pushing them towards an edge using your hand, rolling pin or other smooth flat edge. Work this way until you come to the edge of the sink.
Step 5: Smooth the contact paper all the way to the little crevice between sink lip and counter top. This is where it gets tricky, especially is your sink is round like mine was! With your box cutter or knife, cut into that crevice, erring on the side of the sink, not the counter. You can always cut a little shred hanging over, but it's hard to fill a little shred in smoothly! When you get to a rounded part of the sink, or if it is all round, work on one edge at a time. Cut along the crevice as you press the paper down, working your way around the sink. When you're done with this part, you will have a cut out of the shape of your sink, or two halves if ends met there. I find this an easier way than trying to exactly trace the sink and then cut it out. Usually you can tuck a millimeter's worth of contact paper into the sink-counter crevice and it looks as if the sink was actually placed on top of the contact paper.
Note: If you have to use 2 rolls, the sink is a good place to put the seam, the the ends meeting in the very middle of the sink.
Step 6: Finish the rest of the countertop. If the paper hanging over the lip isn't enough to cover it completely, stick a separate line of paper on the front of the lip first, then fold the hanging over part down onto it. If there is enough hang over, you can wrap it underneath the counter lip, but it probably won't stick to the bottom of the counter. This is wear the push pins come in hand to keep it tucked under.
Step 7: Lastly, cover the flat edge of the counter ends. This is very easy if it's all right angles. If not, either make a pattern and cut out the appropriate piece of paper, or roughly cut the right shape, stick it on the end and then trim hang over.
Finally, you've covered that hideous counter! If you decide this was a mistake, red checkers just aren't as cute as you thought, just peel it off and toss it! It's like it never happened! Sticky spots can be removed with Goo Gone, vegetable oil, even shampoo.
Be sensible and this will last as long as you want it to, but if it does get damaged, it's cheap to replace it, and free to demolish it!
By Panktty from Anderson, IN
I used this trick in my last apartment, it had no counter tops just old icky wood, so we put marble look contact paper over it and even made a backs plash with the contact paper and some thin wood trim, no one ever knew it was contact paper. You just have to remember not to let anyone cut on it or set anything hot on it and you'll be good to go :)