Revamp a damaged benchtop on a budget

As one of the hardest working areas in the house, it’s hardly surprising our kitchen benchtops get an absolute hammering and replacing them can be costly. If this isn’t an option for you, here’s how to give the hub of your home a speedy refresh for a fraction of the cost.

Bunnings magazine, June 2020

Timber refresh

A timber benchtop adds character and warmth to a kitchen, but no matter how well it’s sealed, watermarks, steam, dings and heat can all take their toll. 

 If your benchtop has an oil coating, sand it back and reapply the oil with a paintbrush, giving each coat at least 12 hours to dry. In between each coat, lightly sand with 240-grit sandpaper and wipe away any dust. Don’t clean the benchtop with water or any other liquid for at least 10 days. This should be done once a year.

If your benchtop was previously coated, first thoroughly clean the surface with Cabot’s Floor Clean and allow it to dry. Next, do a test patch with Cabot’s Benchtop Clear. “Allow it to dry for 24 hours,then press sticky tape down firmly to the surface and pull it off quickly. If the coating comes off, sand the bench back fully before applying the first coat,” explains Brenna Mathews, senior brand manager at Cabot’sApply the product with a good quality paint brush and short nap roller in the direction of the grain, then allow it to dry for a minimum of two hours. Lightly sand with 240-grit sandpaper to remove any grain raise, remove all sanding dust and apply two more coats, following the same process. “Additional coats give additional durability,” says Brenna.

Tip: If there are ring stains on a timber benchtop that’s been coated with Benchtop Clear, direct a hairdryer on its lowest setting over the mark. Keep it moving – don’t apply too much heat to one area – and the stain should disappear within five minutes.

Watch it: How to apply clear hard wax oil to benchtops

white cabinets with timber benchtop

Granite effect

It’s possible to upcycle your worn-out benchtop to a lookalike granite finish in the space of a weekend. Rust-Oleum Benchtop Transformation Kits are a simple D.I.Y. product that works well on laminate and wood surfaces. The range comes in two pre-mixed colours, Galaxy Black and Diamond White, but there are over 30 additional tint bases available.

Application is straightforward, with a few environmental factors to consider. Room temperature needs to be between 16 - 27ºC and relative humidity below 70 per cent, Rust-Oleum product manager Ashla Magill recommends. “This allows perfect adhesion and curing conditions,” she says.

Start by cleaning the surface and masking up all edges, including sinks, taps, appliances and the splashback. Thoroughly sand the entire benchtop surface using the diamond-embedded sanding tool provided in the Benchtop Transformation Kit. Make sure the entire benchtop is de-glossed to ensure proper coating; you'll know this is done when the entire surface is covered with small scratches. Cracks, chips, deeper cuts or dents can be repaired by filling them with the two-part epoxy putty, also in the kit. When the putty dries, sand the area until it is even with the surrounding surface.

Roll on two coats of the base coat and allow 24 hours for it to dry. Then, apply an even coat of the Protective Top Coat Ultra Durable Finish, which helps to resist stains and moisture on your benchtop. The optimal curing time for maximum stain resistance is seven days, but once the protective coat is applied, you can resume light use of your benchtop after 48 hours.

white cabinets with black granite benchtop

Laminate makeover

"The Dulux Renovation Range provides a quick, inexpensive fix for an attractive solution," says Dulux brand manager Romy Nayagam. For extra adhesion and a longer lasting finish on your kitchen benchtop, Romy suggests applying primer first, and then finishing with the clear coat, which are both available in the Renovation Range.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the benchtop, removing all silicone sealant from the joints and masking any areas you don’t want painted. Next, following the product instructions, add all the additive to the paint and stir well for two to five minutes. Cut in with an angled sash cutter and use a short nap, 100mm wide microfibre roller to coat the remaining surfaces. Paint at least two coats, leaving a minimum of eight hours between coats.

Once each section is coated, gently go over the surface with an unloaded roller in the same direction. Finish with Dulux Renovation Range Clear Coat, again going gently over the surface with an unloaded roller. Let the final coat dry for three days before using the bench for light duties, as it takes about a week for it to cure properly.

Watch it: How to paint a laminate benchtop

timber cabinets with white laminate benchtop freshly painted

What's next?

You've tackled the benchtop so now it's time to start thinking about the rest of the kitchen. Here's some more inspiring ideas to upcycle your kitchen on a budget.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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