How I Transformed My Ugly Cracked Countertop For CHEAP
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Hi there! I’m Emily, one of Collin’s savvy sidekicks!
I like nice things, but I live a pretty frugal life. So when I decided that the massive crack in the off-white countertop in my very dingy looking bathroom had to go, I needed to get creative. I’m not about to replace a countertop, let alone in a rental, so after remembering the countless pins I scrolled past on Pinterest, I ordered some marble-look contact paper to try my hand at “refinishing” the countertop.
I chose this marble contact paper by Very Berry Sticker because it had great reviews, seemed very durable, and had the most realistic looking marble print. Even though it was relatively inexpensive, I didn’t want the end product to look cheap. Score one for me, because this paper turned out to be seriously thick, has a rich, glossy sheen, and looks so natural – unlike the other pixelated marble papers I’ve seen.
So now to the part you probably came here for – the tutorial.
I am NOT a pro-DIYer (Lina is your gal for that 😉) but I do love fun DIY projects. Keyword: fun. I really wouldn’t categorize this DIY as fun. Making pretty jewelry to give as gifts = fun. Decorating wine glasses with your girlfriends = fun. Spending an hour and a half in a small bathroom cursing at a countertop = not so fun.
BUT, I would do it all again because the countertop actually turned out decent!
Here’s my tutorial – the good, the bad, and the ugly…
1.) Clean, clean, clean! And if you think it’s clean, do it once more.
No seriously. Clean once, then do it again, and then even a 3rd or 4th time. My cleaning process involved an all-purpose cleaner, then bleach, then vinegar, then alcohol. There was no method to my madness, I just really wanted to make sure it was super duper clean.
2.) Measure, kind of, and cut along grid for straight-ish lines.
There are 2 methods to this: measuring the countertop with a measuring tape and relaying those measurement to the paper, or trying to spread the paper over the countertop and eyeball where to cut. I chose the second option, mainly because I forgot measuring tapes existed for this purpose.
The paper has a grid on the back to help cut straight lines which was super necessary for my plan of attack. A helpful tip – err on the side of more vs. less so you can make sure the paper exceeds all edges.
3.) Choose your starting point, preferably a corner (your paper is not Baby from Dirty Dancing).
I started in a corner (I recommend this) and worked very slowly, only peeling back small amounts of the underlying paper. Then I worked the contact paper down with a flat plastic putty knife (I also recommend this) to avoid any bubbles. You could probably also use a debit/credit card, a pancake flipper, or a piece of cardboard from your most recent Amazon purchase. Get creative!
After 5 seconds of fun when I stuck the first piece down, I quickly realized that this marbled covering isn’t the easiest medium to work with. That “Yay, this is so thick and durable!” excitement quickly shifted to “Why is this so impossible to manipulate!?” That was when the swearing started, and I totally started to regret spending my Sunday afternoon this way.
4.) Continue laying down paper and close the bathroom door if your vulgarity heightens.
After finishing the edge along the back of the countertop, I pressed the contact paper down the front edge of the mini backsplash, where, of course, I started to see some wrinkles and bubbles… just great. Could I have been more diligent about not stretching the vinyl and worked a little bit slower? Sure I could, but I’m human, so it happens. I decided any wrinkles from this point on were “3D marble veins” and got over it pretty quickly.
5.) Cut out the faucet area and make note to invest in proper tools next time.
You’ll see from these pictures that I left the faucet fixture intact (other tutorials specify to remove it, but I seriously don’t have time, expertise, or any care to do that). I [sloppily] cut out an area so the faucet could pop through and planned to work on trimming that area last.
Oh, I also didn’t have an X-acto knife on hand, so I used a paring knife from my kitchen (I do not recommend this) for cutting the paper. These, as I experienced, are not interchangeable tools. Do yourself a favor and use an X-acto knife.
6.) Fix mistakes as you go – they are inevitable.
As I was working my way down the counter, realized that I was off-center and the vinyl wasn’t touching the starting edge. I trimmed a piece off from the roll with the marble veining angled in the same direction as the rest of the counter and laid that down where the main piece wouldn’t reach. This way, the rest would overlap. Honestly, it was such a small area, it really wasn’t noticeable at all.
7.) Remember to take pictures if you’re posting this as a DIY tutorial.
After that, it was smooth sailing, for the most part. So much so that I forgot to take pictures to use in this tutorial – I was on a roll, people!
Working steadily and evenly across the whole countertop, I laid down the contact paper, smoothed it out with the scraper, and figured I’d deal with the fact that I had completely covered up the sink basin at some other point. There were some bubbles here and there but I “popped” them with my knife by making a tiny hole in the center and pressing the air out.
As I neared the end, I saw a MASSIVE wrinkle forming right in the center. Since it was up to the front edge of the countertop, I just cut straight through the potential wrinkle and let the vinyl overlap as I flattened that section down. Trust me, if you make it this far, any desires of perfection fly right out the window and you’ll just be proud you finished.
8.) Hack off the excess paper and roll underneath countertop edge.
This was probably one of my favorite parts, not only because I was so close to being done, but it didn’t require a steady hand or precision. No one’s going to see those choppy cut lines from trimming the edges since it’s rolled underneath the edge of the countertop. Well, that is unless someone is lying on my bathroom floor at an angle to view them, which just means that I have bigger problems on my hands than sloppy trimming.
9.) Don’t forget there’s a sink under there!
I debated rendering the sink obsolete because it looked really pretty with the marble stretched across it. Unfortunately, my boyfriend would not allow that, so I kind of just hacked into the center of the paper covering the sink basin with the paring knife and worked it around to get closer (but not all the way) to the edges. It really wasn’t doing the trick so I upgraded my paring knife to a sharper steak knife – again, the X-acto knife would have been great here, but I was not abandoning this project until it was finished.
I held the knife flush with the basin at a 45º angle and ran it around the edge. It glided pretty smoothly with a few catches here and there, but overall it worked.
10.) Trim up paper around the faucet area and give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back!
I went back to the faucet area and used the steak knife to cut off the excess around the bottom. This is probably the messiest looking area since I had to lay some small additional pieces of contact paper (similar to what I did for the edge that didn’t reach) to make sure everything was covered. Either way, it still looks a trillion times better.
Guys, it’s finally DONE! Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Did I think it was going to take me an hour and a half? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
To jazz up the counter ever more, I bought a new soap dispenser and toothbrush holder to finish off the look. Oh, and if anyone thinks I care that the gold accessories don’t really match the silver hardware, I don’t. They’re really pretty on their own and they were on sale.
My final thoughts: This project turned out just as nice as I thought it might, though it did require more effort than I imagined. It probably would look a lot cleaner on a countertop where the sink has a bit of a lip around it instead of being one smooth piece that flows into the sink basin, but I’m working with what I have.
Also, I have a TON of paper left, so I’m going to search my apartment for more user-friendly (read: completely flat) items I can refinish next. We just had the kitchen redone, though I’m sure this would be amazing on kitchen counters. Come to think of it, I do have a few scratches on my coffee table 🤔 …
What do you think of my “refinished” countertop? Is this something you’ve tried in your own home?
Written by Emily for Hip2Save. Emily lives in Buffalo, NY where she spends her time drinking lots of coffee, scouring the internet for deals, and tackling DIY projects. She’s a big believer in self-care and living the fullest life possible, all while saving money of course.