Go to Part 1 to see my Giani Granite Paint application fail.

These are the directions I left you with in Part 1 but with major revisions to topcoat and wipe down materials.  This project has taught me a TON so I’ll share my lessons learned down below.

Procedure for painting Formica Countertops

  1. Sand Formica with 80 grit sand paper.
  2. Clean with TSP and wash thoroughly then wipe with Acetone.
  3. Apply Giani’s countertop primer and follow directions.
  4. Paint any color (I used Pearly White SW7009 and LOVE it) Sherwin Williams All Surface Enamel Latex Paint in Satin sheen with a foam roller, 1-3 coats letting dry 6 hours in between each coat then allow 2 weeks 1 month to fully cure then sand smooth with 220 grit and wipe with a damp cloth in preparation for topcoat.
  5. Spar Urethane Water based in Satin sheen with lambs wool pad moving in same direction across the wood. 3 coats total sanding with 220 grit paper then wiping with 100% Mineral Spirits after a dry time of 6 hours. Do Not Sand 3rd and final topcoat.
  6. Apply Waterbased Polyurethane Topcoat (I used Giani Granite Paint’s topcoat, $18 for 16 oz, as it is made for counters.  They say it is an “Automotive grade waterbased polyurethane”, whatever that means) with a SYNTHETIC roller 1/4″ nap.  3 thin coats 4 hours apart if temp is between 70-80 degrees.  Do not apply topcoat if temps are below 70 or above 90.  You may wait 8 hours between topcoat to sand previous coat smooth.
  7. Allow topcoat to dry at least 2 weeks before you begin using. Giani says “light use” after 2 days but after all this hard work I’m waiting at least 2 weeks, probably a month.

*Tumbleweeds roll in*
‘eww we eww we ewww, da don don, eww we eww we eww, da don da’
Alright Mr. Table, it’s high noon and time for you to straighten up. What’s it’s going to be?

Remember this tired old blue Formica I began with?
Painting Formica Countertops

After my debacle with the Giani Paint I sanded and applied 5 thin coats of the SW Enamel Latex paint and finally on the last coat covered up my mistake. I let the paint cure for about 1 1/2 months as waterbased products take a LONG time to fully cure.
Sanding Acrylic Paint

I then sanded and applied the waterbased Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane I was told would work best for a table on a boat even though Tate vehemently disagreed. After getting a perfect 3 coats on I let dry for 3 days then started “testing” the table. I soon found the Spar Urethane was far too soft and stainable to be used. The soft black rubber on my computer stained it black. When I tried to remove the stain with rubbing alcohol the topcoat came right off. Man I was soooo frustrated.

After much disgust and basically deciding to bite the bullet and use Formica, Tate suggested we try the waterbased polyurethane topcoat that came with the Giani kit.

Ok..I suppose it couldn’t hurt. I sanded off the Spar Urethane best I could and proceeded to apply the topcoat. Unfortunately I used a lamb’s wool pad (also recommended by SW) which left TONS of brush strokes. I then sanded them as smooth as possible without taking up the base paint but there were still ridges. Finally I used the synthetic 1/4 nap roller Giani recommended and the result was much better but still you can see the brush strokes on the layers underneath.
Giani Polyurethane topcoat

The topcoat is pretty glossy I’d say. I’m not sure if I like it yet or not. You can’t really see the brush strokes unless the light hits it just right. Look at the reflection!
Painting Formica Countertops with Poly
Painting Formica Countertops, reflections

See the streaks? It’s kinda like mirrors in a fun house. The perfectionist in me wants to sand this back down and reapply the topcoat, but I ran out and would have to order more. For now I’ve decided to let it cure for a month and “test” using it first before doing any more work. I’ve read that you can “rub the finish” with a high grit 600 wet/dry sandpaper to take the gloss sheen down to a Satin and smooth out the brush strokes.  After at least a month I may try this.

Also it may look just fine in the light on the boat. I’m crossing my fingers this doesn’t turn into the vomit table when the boat is being tossed around at sea. I’ve heard mirrors on a boat can make you sick, I can only imagine the damage a funhouse mirror would have.
Painting Formica Countertops, streaks in topcoat

The Polyurethane is MUCH much harder than the Spar Urethane. I actually LOVE the way the table came out except for the streaks. I’m hoping this will work. Regardless this will always be known as The Table.

If money were no object we’d definitely have Corian or something like that installed to be a permanent solution, but for now an inexpensive fix that will last through our trip would be great. I imagine any surface we put in the boat will take a beating around the world. I’d rather fix it up nice when we return and live on the boat in port.

Dani’s Top Five things I’ve learned about painting and topcoats, Lessons Learned

  1. Only use synthetic brushes, rollers and water dampened clothes with waterbased products, and natural bristle brushes and mineral spirits with oil based. I think the Sherwin Williams lady was confused on the phone when she recommended the lamb’s wool and mineral spirits for this application. The lamb’s wool soaked up the topcoat and made it hard to spread around evenly leaving the fun streaks, while wiping with mineral spirits after sanding left an oil residue on the surface causes the topcoat to “fish eye” and separate when applied.
  2. Polyurethane dries soooo much harder than Spar Urethane. Overall I was disappointed in the Spar and how easily it was to scratch, dent and stain. I’m not sure I would use it again.
  3. Carefully pick your shade of white. I spent about 45 mins at Sherwin Williams picking the shade “Pearly White” and we LOVE it. It’s easy on the eyes but I could have very easily picked the bright white option like I have in the past only to hate it and wish I had gone darker.
  4. Get naked.  No seriously I’ve learned that when applying the topcoat the easiest way to assure no fuzz or hair gets stuck on the surface is to take it all off. Pour yourself a glass of wine and pretend your European.  Worked great.
  5. When in doubt let waterbased products dry longer. I have read tons on this project and find that many people have issues with the latex enamel paint curing completely. They spend all their time painting then applying the topcoat only to have it never fully cure and remain tacky. They say wait at least 30 days, more if it’s humid to topcoat over Latex enamel.

So why are we painting naked instead of replacing the rigging?  The weather lately has been awful!  Next on the list is to epoxy the bow area shut but the temps and rain have thwarted us.

This is how it looked Sunday.
More Rain outside

And this is how it looked last night. Same rain puddle by the side of the road.
Raining outside

We only have Saturday this weekend to work so if any of you out there have Native American friends or the like please give them a ring. The Sundowner’s would like the rain to stop.