Refresh Your Kitchen Counter in 6 Steps

Your kitchen counter is often the focal point of your kitchen. It’s where you prep meals, enjoy snacks, and gather with friends and family. Over time, your counter can start to show signs of wear and feel dated. Instead of undertaking a full kitchen remodel, you can give your kitchen counter a refresh in just 6 easy steps.

Clean Your Counters Thoroughly

The first step is to clean your counters from top to bottom. This will allow you to fully assess their condition and get rid of any grime or buildup.

Start by clearing everything off your counters and removing any appliances or accessories. Mix up an all-purpose counter cleaner or use a degreasing spray made specifically for kitchen surfaces. Apply the cleaner and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing with a soft sponge or rag.

Pay close attention to any stains, marks, or damaged areas. You may need to spot treat them or use a bit more elbow grease. Rinse your counters thoroughly and dry with a clean towel.

Sand Away Stains and Imperfections

If your counters have any stubborn stains, marks, or scratches that cleaning alone can’t remove, sanding can help provide a smooth, fresh surface.

Lightly sand the entire counter with 300 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface. Then go back and focus on problem areas with 150 to 220 grit. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain.

Sweep up sanding dust as you go, and thoroughly wipe down the counters when finished. This removes debris that could impact the next steps.

Fill Any Gouges or Holes

Inspect your counters for damage like gouges, holes, or missing chunks of material. These affect the look of your counter but can also trap dirt and moisture.

Use a waterproof wood filler designed for counters to patch any larger imperfections. Apply the filler using a putty knife and let dry completely. Then sand flush with the counter.

For minor chips or pits, melt plastic pellets or crayons in the holes to fill them. Sand and re-melt if needed to get a smooth finish.

Freshen Up the Finish

If your counters have an existing sealant or topcoat, it’s likely worn in high traffic areas. Renewing the finish will help your counters look revitalized and uniform.

Remove the existing finish with chemical stripper or by sanding thoroughly with 150 grit paper. Ensure you open the pores for the new finish to properly adhere.

Apply 2-3 thin coats of water-based polyurethane, allowing drying time in between. Water-based options resist water damage and allow the wood’s natural pattern to show through.

Add New Hardware

Replacing your existing hardware with new knobs, pulls, or handles is an easy upgrade. Choose hardware that matches your kitchen’s style, whether sleek and modern or traditional.

Make sure the new hardware has the correct hole placement by measuring the existing handles. Standard sizing is usually 3” to 4” on center.

Install the new hardware using the provided fasteners. Fill old screw holes with wood putty, let dry, and sand smooth.

Style with Trendy Accessories

Accessorizing your newly refreshed counters is the fun finishing touch! Potted herbs, fruit bowls, and decorative canisters lend homey character.

Floating shelves create instant display space for plants, cookbooks, or barware. An over-the-counter towel bar and soap dispenser add handy functionality.

Accent your style with on-trend farmhouse, industrial, or midcentury décor pieces. Change out accessories seasonally to keep your counter looking fresh.

How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen Counters

Your kitchen counters see a lot of action and can quickly become grimy. Grease splatters, food debris, and drips accumulate if not cleaned regularly. Deep cleaning your counters removes this buildup for a like-new appearance and sanitized surface.

Supplies You’ll Need

Gather these cleaning supplies before getting started:

  • All-purpose counter cleaner or degreaser
  • Soft sponges and microfiber cloths
  • Old toothbrush or other small scrub brush
  • Paper towels

Clear Off Your Counters

Remove everything from your counters, including small appliances and accessories. This allows you to access and clean the entire surface.

Place items like knife blocks and canisters into the sink temporarily. For small appliances, unplug and relocate to another room.

Mix Up a Strong Cleaning Solution

For the toughest grime, the cleaning solution needs some extra strength. Make an all-purpose cleaner more potent by adding a few tablespoons of baking soda.

You can also mix up a DIY degreasing solution. Combine 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 tbsp white vinegar, and 1/4 cup water for an effective grease-cutting mix.

Start General Cleaning

Apply your cleaning solution liberally over the entire counter and let sit for several minutes. This gives the mixture time to loosen built-up grease and debris.

Use a soft sponge or rag to scrub the counters in circular motions. Pay special attention to high-traffic areas like near the stove or sink.

As you scrub, frequently dip your sponge in clean water to rinse away dirty solution. Wipe clean with paper towels or microfiber cloths.

Spot-Treat Problem Areas

Check for any remaining sticky, greasy, or stained areas after general cleaning. Spot treat these areas using a small amount of concentrated cleaner and a toothbrush or other small scrub brush.

Gently scrub back and forth over the stain to lift it away without damaging the counter surface. Rinse and wipe clean.

For stubborn stains, let the cleaner sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing. This extra dwell time helps lift deep-set grime.

Sanitize and Shine

For sanitized, sparkling counters, go over the entire surface again with a disinfecting cleaner or rubbing alcohol. Use a clean microfiber cloth and rub in circles to remove any last traces of grease and dirt.

Finish by drying any wet edges and buffing the counters with a dry, lint-free cloth. Your counters will look like new again!

How to Remove Stains from Kitchen Counters

Stains on your kitchen counters are inevitable thanks to spills, drips, and splatters. But you don’t have to live with them forever. Removing even tough stains is doable with the right cleaning methods and stain-fighting ingredients. Follow these tips to erase stains from kitchen counters.

Types of Kitchen Counter Stains

Kitchen counters commonly get stained by:

  • Grease and oil: Cooking splatters that leave behind sticky residue or darkened marks.
  • Food and drinks: Sauces, juices, wine, coffee, and other items that seep into porous counter material.
  • Mold and mildew: Caused by excess moisture that allows mold to take hold and grow. Looks like dark spots.
  • Hard water: Mineral deposits in tap water that etch into the counter surface.
  • Heat damage: Discoloration and burns from hot pans and appliances placed directly on the counter.

Cleaners That Remove Stains

The most effective kitchen counter stain removers include:

  • Baking soda: A mild abrasive that also deodorizes. Mix with water to make a paste.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Its bubbles lift stains. Use full-strength for tough stains.
  • Bar keeper’s friend: Contains oxalic acid to brighten and remove discoloration.
  • Distilled white vinegar: Acidity helps dissolve stains. Use undiluted.
  • Dish soap: Degreasing formula cuts through oily stains.

Steps to Remove Stains

Follow these steps to erase various stains from your kitchen counters:

  1. Identify the type of stain to pick the right cleaning solution for it.
  2. Mix up your chosen cleaner. Form a paste with baking soda and water.
  3. Apply the cleaner directly to the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Rub gently with a soft sponge, cloth or scrub brush. Don’t damage the counter surface.
  5. Rinse thoroughly to remove all cleaner residue which could re-stain.
  6. Dry well and buff with a microfiber cloth. Check if the stain is gone.
  7. Repeat cleaning if the stain remains and let the solution sit longer before scrubbing again.

With the proper cleaning methods, you can erase even the most stubborn stains from your counters. Be patient and gentle to avoid damaging the counter material while removing marks.

Kitchen Countertop Materials Comparison

Selecting new countertop material for your kitchen remodel or refresh can be overwhelming. The type of counters you choose impact the room’s functionality, durability, and aesthetics. Explore the pros and cons of popular countertop materials to determine the best fit.

Granite Countertops

Pros: Granite is attractive, heat-resistant, and durable. The natural stone has unique veining patterns. Granite doesn’t easily scratch, stain, or scorch.

Cons: Granite must be sealed routinely to prevent staining or etching. The material is expensive. Edges may chip if struck. Granite is heavy, requiring extra support.

Quartz Countertops

Pros: Made from crushed quartz, this engineered stone is hard, scratch-resistant, and nonporous. Quartz has vibrant colors and patterns. Requires little maintenance.

Cons: Quartz can be damaged by extreme heat. The material lacks the natural uniqueness of stone. Quartz is one of the pricier options.

Laminate Countertops

Pros: Most affordable option. Laminate is available in many colors and patterns to suit any style. Seamless appearance with no grout lines. Resists scratches and stains.

Cons: Laminate can peel at the edges when exposed to too much moisture. Prone to burn marks and fading over time. Doesn’t have the elegance of natural stone.

Butcher Block Countertops

Pros: Butcher block offers a timeless, traditional look. The wood material is naturally antibacterial. Can be sanded to remove stains/damage. Provides a good surface for food prep.

Cons: Needs frequent resealing to prevent warping and damage from spills/moisture. Not heat or scratch-resistant. Can develop grooves and cuts over time.

Concrete Countertops

Pros: Concrete has an edgy, industrial vibe. Heat and scratch-resistant. Can be cast in custom shapes. Stains can add character over time. Provides a seamless look.

Cons: Concrete stains easily and must be sealed routinely. Can develop cracks if not properly installed/cured. Takes skill to make yourself. Is one of the heaviest options.

Refreshing Laminate Kitchen Counters

Laminate countertops provide an affordable option for kitchens. But over time, laminate counters become faded, scratched, or burnt. Refinishing is less costly than replacing them. Follow these tips to refresh worn laminate kitchen counters.

Scrub Away Grime and Stains

Thoroughly clean laminate counters using a soft sponge or non-abrasive pad. For greasy buildup, apply degreaser and let sit before scrubbing.

Use a damp Magic Eraser to lift stains. For scratches or scorches, gently buff with baking soda. Rinse counters completely after cleaning.

Sand Out Imperfections

Use 220 grit sandpaper to lightly smooth small scratches, scuffs or burnt spots. Always sand in the direction of the laminate’s grain.

Focus on damaged areas only. Be careful not to sand through the laminate surface. Sweep up debris and wipe clean.

Refresh Seams and Edges

Heat from stoves and sinks can cause laminate seams and edges to lift or peel. Carefully pry up buckled sections and wipe away old caulk or adhesive.

Reactivate laminate adhesive with a heat gun. Press lifted seams back down and seal edges with 100% silicone caulk. Clamp for several hours.

Reseal for Protection

Apply 2-3 thin coats of clear polyurethane sealant over the entire counter. This fills in minor scratches and provides a fresh surface coating.

Let the sealant dry completely between coats. Abrasive pads or cleaners will ruin the renewed finish over time.

Disguise Remaining Flaws

For scratches or scorches that sanding can’t remove, use permanent markers to color them in. Apply shades that match the laminate pattern and finish with clear coats of sealant.

Small chips or holes can be filled with two-part epoxy resin. Level with a putty knife before drying. Sand smooth when hardened.

How to Measure for New Kitchen Countertops

When replacing kitchen countertops, proper measuring ensures your new counters fit correctly with minimal gaps or overhang issues. Follow these steps for accurate measurements to get a custom counter estimate.

Prepare Your Kitchen

Clear countertops completely – move appliances, wipe surfaces clean. Have a helper assist with holding the tape measure if needed.

Gather your supplies: Tape measure, pencil, paper, and straight edge. A laser measuring device or digital calipers provide extra precision.

Measure Overall Length

Stretch the tape measure across the full length of the counter area against the wall or cabinets. Include any gaps between sections.

Round measurements up to the nearest 1/8 inch. Mark lengths directly on counters or record on paper for each separate section.

Measure Depth

Depth is measured from the wall to the front edge of the countertop. Take several depth measurements along each section of counter.

Countertop depth often varies, so be sure to note any differences. Standard depth is about 25 1⁄2 inches.

Detail Inside Corners

For countertops with a seamless look, the inside corners where sections meet must be measured.

Use a straight edge held diagonally from corner to corner to get these measurements accurate.

Check for Square

Confirm countertops are square using the 3-4-5 method. Measure 3 feet from the corner along one edge and mark.

Measure 4 feet from the corner along the adjoining edge and mark. Measure diagonally between the two points – it should equal 5 feet.

Add Up Total Square Footage

Multiple the length and depth measurements for each section to get its area. Add all sections together to find the total square footage amount.

Provide some extra when ordering to account for potential cutting or mistakes. Know your kitchen layout for sizing.

How to Extend Kitchen Cabinets to Ceiling

Kitchens often have awkward gaps between cabinets and ceilings that attract dust and feel visually unappealing. Extending cabinets up fills this space, increases storage, and gives your kitchen a built-in look.

Check Cabinet Construction

Inspect inside the upper cabinets to see how they are supported. Look for:

  • Wood blocking along the walls and ceiling joists
  • Cleats attached to the cabinet sides
  • Frameless or face-frame cabinet construction

This affects how you modify and extend the cabinets. Have an engineer assess if unsure.

Measure Carefully

Measure from the top of the cabinet to the ceiling in several spots along the cabinet run. Mark the cabinet height on the ceiling with pencil.

Subtract 3⁄4 to 1 inch to allow space for the extended cabinet tops to fit beneath the ceiling.

Cut Filler Panels

Using your ceiling height marks, cut 3⁄4-inch plywood panels to size. Cut panels so adjoining counter sections interlock for stability.

Predrill and countersink holes every 12-16 inches for attachment screws. Sand panels smooth.

Prep and Install Panels

Unscrew any framing, trim, or lighting in the way where panels will be installed. Insulate the gap if needed.

Apply panel adhesive to the cabinet tops. Lift and hold filler panels in place, centered between ceiling joists. Attach firmly with 2-1⁄2 inch screws into cabinet framing.

Finish New Cabinet Tops

Run boards front to back over the filler panels to create one flat, unified surface. Attach with finishing nails and adhesive.

Sand, prime, caulk, and paint boards to match existing cabinets. Add trim molding along the edges for a built-in custom look.

How to Update Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Oak was a popular choice for kitchen cabinets in decades like the 1970s and 80s. Oak has a timeless appeal but orange undertones and heavy grain can feel dated now. These tips give oak cabinets a fresh, modern makeover.

Clean Cabinets Thoroughly

Remove cabinet doors and drawers. Wipe down all surfaces, inside and out, with a degreasing cleaner to eliminate grime before painting or staining.

Fill any holes or gouges with wood filler. Sand surfaces smooth for best results with new finishes.

Prime Cabinets

For painting, apply a bonding primer like Stix to all cabinet surfaces. Hold spray cans 10-12 inches away for even coverage.

Primer creates a surface for paint to adhere. Sand lightly between coats if needed to smooth drips. Allow to fully dry.

Paint Interior and Exterior

Paint the cabinet interiors first, then the exterior frame, doors, and drawers. Use a high quality, satin or semi-gloss cabinet paint.

Apply in thin, even coats, smoothing out drips as you go. Let paint cure fully between coats according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Stain for a Wood Finish

To stain over oak’s orange tones, use a gel stain. Gel adheres well and allows for custom tinting by mixing colors.

Apply gel stain with a foam brush and wipe away excess for an even look. Add coats until you achieve the depth of color desired.

Change Out Hardware

Replace dated brass or worn hardware with modern brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze, or matte black pulls and knobs.

Ensure new hardware properly fits existing holes. Fill oversized