How To Fake Gorgeous Wooden Countertops With Ordinary Laminate

If you purchased a home that had laminate countertops or if you installed them because they fit better into your budget than other options, you know that laminate countertops only last 10 to 15 years – less than other options. If yours is starting to show its age, but you need a way to make the laminate continue to work for your kitchen countertops, rather than replacing it, you can dress it up with a special paint-like product and a little elbow grease. Instead of looking at worn laminate, you can create something that resembles a high-end hardwood material.

Southern Yankee DIY put together a TikTok video that shows the process of using a product called Retique It to transform the laminate and make it resemble hardwood. The Retique It product works for bathroom or kitchen countertops. You also could use a gel stain product, such as General Finishes Gel Stain or Minwax Gel Stain. 

Although these products are especially useful on laminate, they may work on almost any hard surface in use as a countertop, including granite and quartz. You could even use them over an existing hardwood countertop to give it a freshened look. Several stain colors, ranging from oak to mahogany to pecan to walnut, are available. Gel stains are easy to use as a DIY project for anyone who has the skills and patience for painting.

Making use of Retique It to create a wood finish on a laminate countertop

The simplest option for mimicking this project is to purchase a Retique It Wood Finish Countertop Kit, which is available on the Retique It website or on Amazon for about $200. The kit covers 100 square feet and contains the liquid wood in your desired stain color, the primer that you need, and the finish topcoat sealant. It has the tool for creating the faux wood grain pattern, too. You also will need a bottle of rubbing alcohol (about $10 on Amazon), a microfiber cloth (about $6 on Amazon), and a sanding block (about $9 on Amazon).

Use the rubbing alcohol mixed with water to wash the countertop completely, removing any grease or other stuck-on items. Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth to remove the rubbing alcohol. You can then use a fine-grit sanding block to scratch up the laminate countertop lightly. 

Once the countertop is completely clean, you are ready to begin using the kit to create the hardwood look for your laminate countertop. Start by applying two coats of primer with a paintbrush. Give it a couple of hours to dry. After applying the stain liquid from the kit, use the graining tool that's included in the kit to make a pattern in the stain. After drying, apply the protective top coat with a paintbrush. 

Using other gel stains to give a laminate countertop a rich hardwood look

Using a gel stain product to go over the laminate countertop involves a process similar to that of the Retique It product. However, you don't need to purchase the kit when going with a gel stain. Clean and sand the laminate to start.

Then, apply a primer over the top of the laminate. Stix Acrylic Bonding Primer is a good choice for about $26 on Amazon. After it dries, apply the General Finishes gel stain ($37 on Amazon) or the Minwax gel stain ($24 on Amazon) over the top of the laminate. You may want to apply one coat and let it dry. Then, as you apply the second coat, you can make use of a graining tool that creates the faux wood grain pattern in the gel stain. You can purchase a graining tool for about $10 on Amazon. Work in sections, as using the tool only works when the application is still wet. Try to work lengthwise across the counter so the faux wood grain looks natural. If you don't like the look of the grain, just paint over it with more gel stain and try again.

After everything is dry, you can apply a polyurethane product to seal the stain and prepare it for use as a countertop again without affecting the quality of the stain or the faux wood grain pattern that you created. Polyurethane costs about $15 on Amazon.