ESLIE: John in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: I’m in the middle of remodeling after 25 years. I built my house 25 years ago. I’ve remodeled two bathrooms already and they look great with the tile and marble-top vanities. And this month has been a bad month for me. I had a tooth extraction, a hot-water heater replacement and so I’ve gone over my budget for about $3,000.
TOM: Oh, boy. Alright.
JOHN: I’ve talked to the carpenters and I’ve got Formica countertops in my master bathroom and my kitchen. And obviously, I’m going to just paint my counters and reuse – not my counters – my cabinets and reuse them. I talked to two different people. I’ve had one gentleman tell me that he could paint the Formica countertop and it would look just like marble or one of the other products. And it would also take the seam out and I’d be pleased with it. And then that cabinet maker says that the Formica has improved over the last 25 years and it looks much better. It looks elegant.
I want to get your take on it and if I need to, I can dip into my retirement fund and get marble or granite countertops to replace the old ones. Because I just want to update my house to make it look new again.
TOM: Alright. Well, we want to make sure that you are well cared for in your retirement, so let’s leave those funds where they are. So, if I’m understanding you correctly, your one contractor is saying he can do a paint treatment on the countertops and the other one is suggesting just replace the Formica? Is that correct?
JOHN: Yes, replace the old, which has a chip or two on it.
TOM: Yeah. Right.
JOHN: Not real noticeable but it just looks dated. And that’s why I remodeled the bathrooms in the first place. So many people have new homes and I’m on – live in my home and no plans to sell.
JOHN: But I have pretty good people that come visit and I just want to look better than cheap.
TOM: Either of those is a good option. Now, I’ve replaced laminate and I found that as long as the countertop is structurally in good shape, you can actually put the new layer of laminate, be it Formica or any other manufacturer, on top of the old. It’s more work than the painting option, because you’ve got to pull the top of and obviously disconnect the sink and all that. You’ve got to pretty much have it on a workbench to do this job but it certainly can be done.
Now, you asked about painting and yeah, there are a number of products out there that are designed specifically to take that laminate countertop and make it look like granite or stone.
And they do a pretty darn good job, don’t they, Leslie?
LESLIE: I actually used the Rust-Oleum. I believe they call it the Countertop Transformation and it’s a kit. I used that for an episode of Hotel Impossible, just because of the volume of bathrooms I had to do for the episode. And while – it’s labor-intensive in the fact that there’s some sanding in between. So you put a base coat out. Then as that’s sort of setting, you spray in or you sort of use one of those seed spreaders to put these little chips all across the top. And then that dries.
LESLIE: And once that sits on there, then you sand it and sand it and sand it to kind of make that smooth. But once you do that and get the topcoat on, I mean it really looks gorgeous. And you can kind of control the amount of speckle, so to speak, that’s in each of your countertops that you’re working on. So if you’re into the work, it’ll look really great.
And the kit itself, I’ve – don’t quote me on it. I want to say it’s $30 to $50, depending on the size of the kit that you get.
JOHN: And how long will it last?
LESLIE: Well, no, I was going to say, that said, it’s something that you’re going to have to repeat every, I would say, five years or so.
TOM: Few years? Yeah.
LESLIE: Depending on how much scrubbing and how much use and how much water sits on the surface.
TOM: I would give that a shot because you know what? If you get five years out of one of these tops, then you can reassess it back then and maybe you’ll decide to replace it with the real stuff then. Or maybe you can do some laminate at that point. But why not give it a shot right now? It’s a budget way to go and it looks great and it’s going to do the job.
JOHN: Alright. Well, I want to invite you to Georgia. I live on an island 13 miles long and 3 miles wide. Great place. It’s a resort area. And we have Southern hospitality if you come visit us.
TOM: Do we need to bring our tools?
JOHN: No, no, no, no. You would be our guests. We’d treat you like royalty. And I’m old school. I’m old-fashioned Southern.