Dec 27 2011

Giveaway: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

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Earlier this month, I reviewed The Money Saving Mom’s Budget by Crystal Paine. And now, I’m giving away one copy to a reader.

To enter, you’ll need to “like” my page on Facebook. Yes, I’m making you jump through a hoop. I’m sorry.

The winner will be selected at random from those who like Sense to Save on Facebook. The giveaway runs through 5 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, January 3, 2012. I’ll contact the winner and send you your book once I receive it (It hasn’t even been released yet!).

Good luck!


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Dec 27 2011

Check out my “new” kitchen countertops

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EDIT: 2/2/12: Well this is a bummer, but about a month later, the countertops are already starting to chip in places. It’s not showing much now, since we have white counters underneath, but I think it’s only going to get worse with time. I don’t think this is durable enough for a kitchen. Probably better suited for a bathroom. I can’t really recommend this product because of that.

EDIT: 6/13/13: I cannot recommend this product. Kept on chipping in several areas. It looks horrible. Some people may have had good success, but whoa. Bad.

EDIT: 8/6/13: See the bottom of this post for more chipping, and how I’ll be able to get my money back.

I’m calling this a makeover because it’s already a big change, but this is actually just phase 1 of the kitchen updates.

Phase 1 — countertops

Phase 2 — paint walls, caulk

Phase 3 — new faucet and light fixtures

We hope to complete phase 2 very soon, but it might be awhile before we get to the faucets and lights.

As you can see in my before photos, my kitchen had a red and white theme going. White laminate counters, white cabinets, white appliances. I do like white in a kitchen, but there is a limit. I was interested in changing the countertops. We went to a home improvement store to look at the displays for ideas and to get an idea on pricing.

New laminate counters would be in the several-hundred-dollar range.

I checked with a realtor who lives in my neighborhood to get an idea on what’s already here on the block. She sent me a postcard advertisement, so I figured I’d get in touch. She told me that I shouldn’t pour a lot of money into any project and expect to get it back. Just make updates as we like them, for our own enjoyment. She told me that there’s plenty of laminate in the kitchens here and some people also have painted their countertops with a special kit to give it a new look for cheap.

Paint? Who knew! I knew you could paint cabinets but I didn’t know there was an option for countertops.

I found the Giani Granite kits online and in blog reviews and it seemed like a good deal. We chose the chocolate brown kit. The kit is around $80 and includes primer, the paints, sealer, a sponge, roller brushes and a roller. I still needed to buy the painter’s tape, paint trays, gloves, and face masks. We ended up needing to purchase an extra can of sealant unfortunately.

The kit is supposed to cover 35 sq. ft. and that’s around the size of our kitchen. We had plenty of primer and paint color left over, but ran out of sealant. All counters have at least 1 coat and some areas have 2, which is the recommended number. So…$30 later (shipping was expensive, ugh) we’ll have enough sealant to finish it off. Pfft. That’s my only complaint about it. That and the sealant is sort of hard to apply. You have to be verrry fast and not bump it while it’s drying.

We watched the explanation DVD a few times and read the instructions and set out to redo our counters. The longest stage was the prep. We stripped all the caulk and that seemed to take forever. Also scrubbed at those icky laminate countertops that held onto stains. Then, taped and put newspapers down to catch drips.

The primer phase went well and we let it dry overnight. The next morning, we did the three paint colors by sponging them all on. The first layer had me concerned. It looked bad. I kept going with the other two colors and it started to come together (note — you do small areas at a time, within arm’s reach. You do all 3 colors at once without letting it dry). I think it would have been good if I ordered directly from the Giani site and picked up an extra can of color in an additional shade to have even more depth.

I’m still happy with the end result, though.

After the colors dried, we did a sealant coat, let that dry, and did another top coat. That’s when we discovered we ran out of sealant.

After! Ta da! What do you think?

To see more photos from the project, head over to my Facebook page. And hey, “like” me while you’re at it, ok?

Update 8/6/13:

This picture was taken in May 2012. Less than six months after applying the Giani paint. What a bummer! It chipped the most in that area, but we also had spots scattered throughout the kitchen and along some of the edges. It was a disappointment, but it worked out for the best. Turns out, I didn’t like the dark countertops at all. It hid food bits and I’d often put my hand or something else on a tiny glob of jelly or something, because I couldn’t see that it was there.

So, we picked the wrong color scheme for our kitchen. Originally, we were just going to replace the counters, but our thermafoil cabinets were falling apart and looking awful by this point, so we decided to save up and replace those, too, while we were at it.

If we bought a new laminate countertop back around the time that we did the Giani paint, it would have been hard/impossible to get new cabinets and keep that existing counter. So I’m looking at it as an overall positive. We tried a cheap solution, it didn’t work for us, and now we have an awesome kitchen with quality cabinets and solid-surface counter tops. Win.

I wanted to mention that the folks at Giani saw this picture of the chipping counters in Google images, and were disappointed to hear my sub-par results. I was told that this isn’t a common occurrence (and really, there ARE a lot of positive reviews on Amazon, though I’ve seen others mention chipping as well on their Facebook page). Perhaps I got a bad batch? Perhaps there was user error? It’s hard to say what went wrong.

I was told that Giani offers a refund if you’re unsatisfied. I didn’t realize this, and I’m hoping to get my money back.

If you had similar chipping issues with your counters, the company will try to work with you on troubleshooting. Perhaps you could repaint some of the areas and add more topcoat.

Giani counter top paint could be a good option if you have ugly counters and can’t or don’t want to spend the money on new ones. For many people, it seems to work well. But for me, not only did it fail after a few months, I felt my only option was to scrap ’em and get new counters. For that reason, I say only do it if you’d be willing to also replace yours if it doesn’t work out.

I have now received my full refund with no problems.



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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