How to do a Sturdy & Stunning Granite Contact Paper Countertop Makeover

Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

NOTICE: One year update at the bottom of this post. Please read before starting!

Doing a contact paper countertop makeover has been a popular way to inexpensively cover up an old ugly countertop. Granite contact paper is typically used as it resembles a real granite countertop  and while if done well it looks awesome, this comes with a variety of inherent problems. Well, we’re going to show you how to fix almost all of them on one fell swoop! And if your looking for other great inexpensive fix-up ideas check out our Frugal DIY Bedroom Makeover Ideas and our Classy Living Room Ideas on a Budget.

PROBLEMS WITH A CONTACT PAPER COUNTERTOP

  1. Seams. There’s no way around having seams and even with pattern matching they tend to show. With granite paper you can’t match patterns and they show up more. Accept it.
  2. Water can get under the seams.  If it does, they will start to peel up.
  3. It’s easily damaged because, well, it’s paper. In a kitchen you can’t cut on it or put anything hot on it. In the bath room no curling irons can touch it.
  4. Edges peel up. If your countertop has a straight edge as the one shown below, the paper will peel away easily where it meets together when anyone rubs against it.
  5. Be careful. You just have to be careful because it can be nicked with anything sharp or discolored easily.

Those are some pretty big issues considering all the work you go through to put the stuff on. And it does take a good bit of work.  But we found a way to make it more sturdy and long lasting. You still can’t set extremely hot things on it or cut on it but water and peeling should not be an issue which is the biggest problem in a bathroom.

NOTE: This is best done in bathrooms mainly because you can’t cut or place hot things on it even with our method. However, if you’re really careful in your kitchen, go for it!

How To Make a Contact Paper Countertop Last

Water Based Polyurethane Gloss Finish.  Because it’s water based it doesn’t harm the contact paper.  It seals over the seams and edges so water cannot get in. It protects the surface and all your hard work. The only type I found is linked below and made by Rust-Oleum. A little goes a long way. It’s a bit pricey but we use it for all types of things such as my post on how to build a Large Surface Home Office Desk.  Buying it in the two quart package can save you almost $15.   This is of course optional. You can  just treat your contact paper with great care. But if you have kids or just don’t want to worry about being extra careful you don’t have to use it.  But if you have edges of your counter like mine, I’d still suggest gluing them somehow as they will find a way to peel just from leaning against them.

FYI This does make it more of a permanent thing. You cannot easily remove the paper later. You would have to do some light sanding to get through the gloss.

Contact Paper Countertop Supplies

NOTE: Once companies realized people were using granite contact paper to cover counters they raised the price of that type so its a bit more costly. Buy enough to cover your counter. If you’re  using a pattern that you can match you’ll need more.  One roll “barely” did my small countertop.

Time Frame

This job could be done in a day and ready to use the next day but you’d need to start early to allow yourself to get all the coats of varnish on.

How Long It Took Me
(I’ve never done this before.)

Covering small bathroom vanity: 2 Hours
Clear Coat: 1 day due to drying time of 2 hours in between each of three coats.

 

Download Reminders

Should you decide to not use clear varnish grab one of our free reminders to print and/or frame and  set on  your countertop! Photos of them printed up are at the bottom of post. Various sizes!Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Instructions

  1. Scrub and clean your countertop thoroughly and wipe with a clean dry cloth. You want to make sure there is nothing left on it to make the contact paper not adhere to the surface.
  2. Having someone to help makes it go much faster and makes the paper easier to handle.
  3. This project takes patience. If you hurry it up you’ll mess up.

This is what our bathroom looked like before we repainted our walls.  The house must have been a rental because at some point they had painted over wall paper. Sad but true. For the moment we were looking for a quick fix up so we did a little sanding and hole filling and added a new coat of paint.   Eventually we’ll redo the entire bathroom the “right” way and also replace the vanity but for now we were looking for a quick inexpensive facelift. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! The walls had been painted here. But the counter top still needed some work. It appeared that some past owner had also painted the countertop. It wasn’t too bad of a job, however, they went over everything including the part of the back splash that was metal. I debated what to do and finally decided I would paint the metal parts metallic silver. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!I chose Martha Stewart’s metallic silver as it’s close to the real thing. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I masked off everything with painters tape.

Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I probably didn’t need to do the inside parts as those would be painted over anyway but I was thorough. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I painted two layers of silver paint on all the trim parts, allowing it to dry in between coats. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

It looked quite a bit better in my opinion. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Now it was time to start on the counter top itself. I grabbed my roll of granite contact paper. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

There will be some measuring involved on parts but for the larger areas you just unroll and start. Again, your surface should be cleaned spotless and free of any soaps etc. so that the paper sticks well.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

The trick is to make sure you have no bubbles and that it’s even as you lay it out. Use a credit card or something similar to help smooth it down as you go.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

When you come to the sink you will carefully press up to it and down into the area around it. Because our sink was curves as many are we were only able to go so far and then needed to start cutting small slits that allowed us to press the paper closer to the sink. Cut a large hole out for the sink, making sure to give you plenty of paper to work with on all sides. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Notice how I cut the paper and moved on. At some point you might run out of paper and have to make a seam. I did not due to how short my counter was. If you do have to make a seam you can decide ahead of time where you might want to have it fall for atheistic purposes. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Once I had my paper laid longways across my counter, I’d go back and do the detail work around the rest of my sink. I make small slits with my X-acto knife, part way down and NOT TOO FAR, just enough to allow me to push the paper around the edge of the sink and curve it around as shown. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Again, you want no bubbles. This might require some lifting and re-positioning. It takes patience and time. Go slow.  Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

You want your paper tucked tightly next to your sink. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

More slicing down to allow for the curve. Again, do not go down too far. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Trimming off extra. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Moving onto the other side. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

The front edge.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

The paper was not deep enough to go to the back which is where I thought I would rather have my seam as apposed to having a seam vertically down my sink.  I decided this would show much less.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I cut a piece of paper a bit larger than the area and moved it around to determine where the pattern was the “best”. Remember you can’t match granite exactly.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I then put it in place and rubbed it down.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

My piece was going to need a seam at some point. I decided right behind the facet was perfect. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

After it was in place I carefully trimmed it with my knife.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I cut the pieces for the backsplash and added and trimmed those, seaming if needed.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I was now ready to trim around the sink. I trimmed a bit high to start. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Then I went back and trimmed it where I wanted it. You’ll notice my sink has a brown area where it was caulked years back. I plan on re-calking around it, so that’s fine.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I bought a tube of waterproof DAP acrylic latex silicon caulk. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I squeezed out a bead around my sink.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Because it is water based I wet my finger slightly.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Then I smoothed it out.  Don’t use too much water or it thins it out too much.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

If you mess up,  you can quickly wipe it off with a damp rag and add more. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Make sure to wipe off any extra with a damp paper towel. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I now have a nicer edge to my sink. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I now need to cut the pieces to go on the edge of my counter. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! I cut them larger and added them on.  Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Corners like this are tricky and these areas problematic if the contact paper is not sealed with something as they tend to come up if leaned against. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I then trimmed the sides.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

More trimming.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

As an added precaution, I dabbed some clear glue under the corners. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Now comes the part that makes your new countertop last. The clear finish. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

I added a light coat of this everywhere on my counter where I placed the paper. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Make sure its brushed on evenly. Let it dry 2 hours or until its not tacky. I then added another coat, it dry as before and added one more.  Once the last coat is on, let it cure 24 hours and its set!Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

You now have a beautiful new countertop that will last a good long while. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Here are some close ups to show the details. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

  The seams are noticeable but because of how the human eye works, most people won’t see them unless you point them out!Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

See the One Year Update at the bottom for a problem with the seams separating and possibly solutions.Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests! Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

You can choose to use this humorous poem to set on your counter or tape to your mirror  if you don’t use the clear coating. Or even with it!Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

Here’s a more standard reminder. Both are a free download on the top of this post. Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

One Year Update

March 3, 2018
It’s been a year since I covered my countertop and I wanted to give an update. Overall the covering has held up perfectly, even on the sides where I had separate strips. The only problem is that my one seam, which I placed at the back where it would show less, has separated a tiny bit on most of it and in one small section it’s lifted a little. It’s almost like it shrunk away…  though the shorter piece to the left of the sink still looks good. I’m not sure why this happened but I’m  going to suggest that where you have any seams you might need to use some sort of glue and paint a strip down where the seams will meet… before you lay down the paper. But that’s just a suggestion and I’ve not tried it.

The seams will show more or less depending on your contact paper design, but the lifting and separating makes them show worse… and dirt gets in them because there is no coating over where it separated. When I first noticed this  I should have added a strip of that clear coating I used. That may have helped. Anyway… I’m still very happy with it. I’m going to ask on some forums about that. If you have any suggestions please send them to me!

It does not look too bad from a distance.

Another section. You can see on the right that it’s separated a bit.

This is the worse spot and is CLOSE UP which of course makes it show up even more. But I wanted you to see it. Maybe I didn’t press or coat it well enough on the seam.

But as you can see, overall it’s still gorgeous and I’m very happy with it.

Image to Pin

Finished Contact Paper Countertop!

Transform your bathroom for only a few dollars with a contact paper countertop. You'll be amazed at how beautiful it looks & so will your family & guests!

 

 

 

48 Comments

  1. Jody

    I thought of using contact paper for a few things. But not the counter top. I want to paint the the cabinet and this would be great.
    Thank you for inspiring me.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Hi Kerry! That was just the standard good protection amount they stated on the container so I assumed it would be great. I image you could add a few more if it was a high use area though I’d worry about adding too many. You may want to email the company themselves on that topic. No matter how many you add I’m sure you still couldn’t set anything hot on it as its just not meant for that. But for typical use 3 has worked great in my bathroom!

      Reply
      1. Annie

        Good job description on this. I’ve been thinking on doing this, so I was Googling contact paper for counter tops and saw that Home Depot offers 26 in wide faux marble contact paper, which is the size I need.

        Reply
  2. Karen

    You did an outstanding job! LOVED your thoroughness and attention to detail in explaining all of your steps and tricks along the way! Wish others explained things so well. Congratulations on a job well done and thank you for your time consuming efforts to share!

    Reply
  3. dee

    Just wanted to take a moment to say thank you–We were having a hard time selling our house because of our bad kitchen.( I followed your instructions and redid our kitchen-we received an offer the day after i did it and we quickly sold it.) My kitchen cabinets were also were in rough shape so i covered them in the wood grain and coated them with the polyurethane. if anyone does theirs, make sure your brush strokes go with the grain so that it looks like real wood. Also make sure you use some extra glue on your corners and all seems-allow glue to dry then coat with the poly. ( I redid my kitchen for $150.62 cents and that included discounted peel and stick flooring). Thank you so much for your wonderful ideas and for helping us to sell our home.)

    Reply
  4. Rachel

    I love this idea and a more seriously thinking of trying it. However, my counter tops are curved on the edges, not straight. Do you think it would still work or that there may be some bubbles where it goes up the wall?

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      This is just my opinion, but I would think as long as you’re careful and press it firmly it would adhere find to the curve. There shoudld be no bubbles if your going slow and pressing it down well. Ü

      Reply
    2. dee

      I recently bought peel and stick contact paper for my new houses kitchen–i have children & it didnt last long so i switched to peel and stick floor laminate-0094507 style selection luxury vinyl planks can be bought at lowes and home depo a box cost me $34 dollars and it covered 45 Sq ft. Very easy to put on just peel the back and stick down, Cut ur edges with an exacto knife and use the contact paper for ur trim. last alot longer and with the contact paper it looks amazing.

      Reply
  5. Betty

    HI, you inspired me to revamp my vanity. I think the only difference is that I had hubby take out the sink so I could work on it. I had to buy plain back splash as there was just a plain piece of the old counter top acting as a back splash. I used the stick on kind and had to cut a few pieces. I went with my favorite color scheme of purple and found it in a granite kind of appearance and though this was a painstaking job overall, I just love love love the outcome. I wish I could post pictures of before and after.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      I’m so glad you asked that Lisa. I needed to update the post. Overall it has held up perfectly, even on the sides where I had separate strips. The problem is that my one seam, which I placed at the back where it would show less, has separated a tiny bit on most of it and in one small section it’s lifted. Almost like it shrunk away… I’m not sure why this happened. I’m going to put an update on that post with photos. I may have needed to press it down more, coat it more… but I’m thinking I’m going to suggest that where you have any seams you might need to use some sort of waterproof glue and paint a strip down where the seams will meet… The sames DO show more or less depending on your contact paper design, but the lifting and separating makes them show worse… and dirt gets in them. When I first noticed I should have added a strip of that clear coating I used. That may have helped. Anyway… I’m still very happy with it. I’m going to ask on some forums about that. I did the same thing in my master bath only with a darker color and it turned out gorgeous. That will be a post in the future. I will email you as soon as I get the photos up… in just a bit. And you can check them out and see what you think.

      Reply
  6. Alexia

    Hi I love this project and this contact paper so thank you. I was just curious if you had any varnish issues? I did this over a kitchen island and it’s starting to turn yellow. Probably only 2 weeks old? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Hi Alexia! Sorry for the delayed answer. I’ve been on the road. Mine has not yellowed at all and its been almost 2 years. So that’s odd. Did you use the exact type specified? I’m not sure what would cause that.

      Reply
    2. Cristy

      If you didn’t use a water based poly for the top coat, it’s been known to cause yellowing if you use chalk paint. Even though this project isn’t chalk paint, maybe something in the paper (or glue on the back of it) causes the yellowing as well. I can’t wait to try this on our old counters in our new (to us) manufactured home!

      Reply
  7. Dany

    I love this tutorial. Very specific. I also appreciate the update. However, I was just wondering if this is rental friendly. Can it be removed without damage or residue stuck to the original counter?

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Hi Dany! This version with the gloss painted over it is NOT. But you can do it without the gloss. Just have to be more careful. Then you just pull it off when you move. Ü

      Reply
  8. Nina

    I am just getting ready to do a small guest
    bath counter. Do you suggest slight overlap
    for the seam. Could you touch up with paint
    prior to sealing to blend areas if needed?
    I am almost wishing for all this work I maybe
    should have painted faux marble.
    Thoughts & Thanks,
    Nina

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Hi Nina! I’m not sure on the overlap… if you’re going to seal it with clear coating that might be an issue but I’m just not sure as I’ve not tested that. It might work out just fine. I’ll probably do that the next time I cover a sink. Ü Good luck!

      Reply
  9. Kelsey

    Hello! I am using your helpful tips to redo a table in our popup camper. All was going well until I started applying the water-based poly at which point bubbles started erupting under all my carefully applied paper. Any ideas how to combat/prevent this?

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Hey Kelsey! Just to clarify… the bubbles were not in the poly but underneath the paper… as in it was not sticking down. Sounds like you used the correct waterbased poly. My next guess would be something to do with the surface of your table or the temperature in the camper. I’m sure you cleaned the surface really well then rinsed with water and dried… was it really warm? Was it a typical countertop surface? When dealing with chemicals and different surfaces it could be a variety of things. I hope you’re able to figure out and not ruin all that work. Sorry you had that happen.

      Reply
  10. Stephanie

    I put this contact paper on my kitchen countertops!! I LOVE IT! I have two boys (3 and 5 years old) that are anything but “careful” around the counters… well, anything really 😉 and it has held up really well! It’s been a little over a year now and I have had just about everything spilt on them: Kool-aid, spaghetti, markers, PERMANENT MARKER, I have cut right on the counters, I could go on and on about how not careful we were! I just use soap and water to clean them up! Except for the permanent marker that needed a little nail polish remover. I did not use and sealer on them. I figured if it got bad, for $25 I can buy a new roll and replace it! I did do a small amount or overlap and can barely tell. I am planning on replacing the paper on the kitchen island because it has been a year and it doesn’t look as shiny as I did at first. Love love love it!!

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Wow! That stuff lasts better than I thought! If it holds up to two young boys it’s pretty tough… lol. Thanks so much Stephanie for sharing that. Ü

      Reply
  11. Jasmin

    I used contact paper in my bathroom counter top in an old appartment i used to rent. I used a granite pattern so one could see seams, and i slightly overlaid each seperate piece by a centimeter. I didnt add a top coat and that countertop looked perfect for the next 2 years till i pulled it up when moving. The reason you are getting gaps is that vinyl shinks and expands depending on temperature. So usually its best to overlap the pieces to prevent that.

    Reply
  12. Melissa K

    Thanks for posting, I’m planning on doing this in my kitchen and worried about the seam as well! Yours looks great!

    I had been planning on doing an epoxy (which is like 100 coats of poly or something and only usually 25 bucks for a kit!) over mine regardless of seam or not so I’d suggest doing that, then you don’t have to worry about water! Good luck and thanks for posting!

    Reply

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