One of the first things I wanted to replace on our pop up camper was the countertops. They were stained, the plastic t-trim was chipped and peeling off in places, and they were just plain ugly. We really contemplated how to fix these for a few weeks. We thought about replacing the Formica. It seemed simple enough, but then what about the t-trim? We’d have to replace that, too. It wasn’t something we really wanted to do. We were stumped for a while.
While I was in Home Depot one day, I came across a sad, lonely looking box of Rustoleum Countertop Transformations. Apparently, Home Depot is no longer carrying this product, and there was one box left on clearance. You can still get it online at Amazon and in store at Lowes, if you aren’t lucky enough to pick up a clearance box at HD.
I knew that we would not be able to use our existing countertops with this product. The plastic t-trim wouldn’t take the paint well, and if I removed it, there would be a channel left in the edge of the counters. It is a good thing Mr. TypeTwoFun is so handy! We removed the countertops and used them as a template to cut new countertops out of MDF.
We used 3/4″ MDF for the galley kitchen and table top. For the long counter and cassette toilet cabinet, we used 1/2″ MDF. Mr. TypeTwoFun took a router to the edges to give it a custom rounded look. Then we gave everything a good sanding.
I was a little concerned that the MDF would soak up too much paint, so we decided to give the new countertops a good coat of primer. We used the same Glidden Gripper that we used inside on the wall board. I really like this stuff. I may like it more than my go-to Zinsser — and the clean up is so much easier.
By the time we got around to applying everything, it was dark. We didn’t get many pictures of the process, but we did snap this one of the chip application. Basically, you paint your base coat on really thickly, then you apply a wetting agent, which comes in a spray bottle. At this point, your countertops are ready for the chips. You use a spreader to apply these plastic chips on top of the wet paint. Apply them really heavily, because once you sand them off, if there are places that you missed, you’ll see it. You can touch up your application before applying the top coat if you need to, but we found that you could see a difference in our touch up spots. It’s always better to do it right the first time. Now you have to wait at least 12 hours, but no more than 24 before you sand and apply the top coat.
Once you’ve waited for the paint to dry, you use a plastic scraper to get off all the excess chips. Then you use a diamond embedded sanding pad to sand the countertops until your arms feel like they might fall off… and then you sand some more. When you’ve got the right texture (there is a sample provided for comparison), you mix the topcoat and apply it with a foam roller. Rustoleum has a really good video tutorial on their website, and we referred to that quite a bit throughout the process. We used a small kit, which covered all of our counters well. We had a little basecoat paint left over and just enough topcoat for the job. There were tons of plastic chips left over.
And here is the long counter installed! We built a new cabinet out of MDF, because the original one had been damaged by water and dirt from a torn rubber wheel covering. Mr. TypeTwoFun fixed the wheel well and installed this new cabinet with the beautiful new countertops. It is starting to look like a brand new trailer.
Here are the countertops that we installed on the cassette toilet cabinet. The lid was a little tricky, because when flipped up, you see the underside of the counter. To make sure the lid looked nice on the bottom as well as the top, we gave it a coat of semigloss paint, and then we sealed it with Parks Super Glaze. This stuff is awesome, and gave the bottom of the lid a nice durable finish. We plan on doing this to the bottom of the table top as well. Ugh… Ignore the crooked Velcro on the lid… that will slowly drive me insane, and will be fixed soon.
Since we built our own cabinet out of MDF, we had the chance to make a few changes that would bring our little pop up into the modern age. We changed out the outlet for a USB outlet. Of course, we can only use the outlets when we camp places with electrical hookups, but I knew that the main things that would be plugged in to those outlets would be chargers for phones, mp3 players, and tablets.
Now I only have to pack a few USB cords, and we’re set. We also changed out all of the brass hardware for pretty brushed nickel, which complimented the new cabinet color nicely. We added some shoe base molding at the bottom of the cabinets, and all we have left is to touch up paint. Then the cabinets are finished! Yay! Let’s take another look at that transformation…
Ahhh… so much better. Now I can work on the fun stuff — curtains and cushions!