Home Decor Ideas: Alternative Countertop Decorating

Replacing counter tops can get a little costly, but there are alternative methods to covering ugly, scarred counter tops yourself. Here are some cheap, unique ideas to improving the look of your home counters.

Counter tops with scuffs, burn marks and knife wounds aren't pretty. Replacing the worn counter tops isn't cheap. What to do? Forego the standard counter top replacement techniques for something a little more crafty.

Chances are if there's a burn mark from a pot on your counter top, that's a good place to put a built-in, heat-proof section for setting pots. Ceramic tiles are the perfect solution. Use contact cement or tile adhesive to place four squares of the tiles together on the counter top for setting hot pans.

Leftover linoleum makes a pretty counter top for a bathroom or kitchen. It's not heat-proof, though, so never set hot pans on it. Glue the linoleum on to the counter top. To do the front edge of the counter top, glue the linoleum onto the front, then on the top, then place narrow molding over the joining sections.

In the bathroom, spread a thick layer of plaster of Paris, concrete, cement or grout on the counter. Now arrange shells, marbles, stones, river rock, glass pieces or broken China. Make sure any sharp edges are covered with the grout. Seal with clear sealant.

Clear shelf paper with adhesive backing provides a way to cover up ugly counter tops. Arrange flat objects, like fabric or pictures from magazines, onto the counter top. Now cover the entire thing with clear shelf paper. A different way to achieve the same results is to laminate the photos, fabric or pictures and then glue the laminated items to the counter top. You can also use regular printed shelf paper to stick to the counter tops for coverage.

Fabric that hasn't been laminated can easily be attached to the counter top with decoupage glue. Apply a thin coat of the glue, making sure entire counter top is covered. Place the fabric, cutting around the sink. Spread a thin layer of decoupage on top of the fabric, too. After the glue is dry, use a very lightweight steel wool to slightly sand the counter. Spray or brush on clear varnish or lacquer. The fabric doesn't have to be all one piece. You can cut squares, triangles and other shapes and arrange them on the counter top.

Thin, colored foam, which comes on a roll, can be glued onto bathroom counters. Although the foam is washable, it's easily marred. Be careful with scissors, hot blow dryers or curling irons. Never lay hot items on this type of foam.

Dimension paint, found at a craft or department store, is a great way to make counter tops beautiful again. The paint, which is spread on, makes any surface look like stone. After giving the counter tops a couple of coats, seal with spray-on sealant. You can also find spray-on, granite-look paint that usually includes the sealant. One can doesn't do a very large area, and it's a little expensive if you're doing a large area, but the results are nice.

Combine techniques, like laying linoleum on the counter tops, or laminated pictures, then setting the four square ceramic tiles for hot pots. Or, use the dimensional paint and then lay the ceramic tiles. Whichever you choose, you'll be very happy with your new counter tops.

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