I have since put ceramic tile on our counters, but about 2 years ago, I painted them. I did mine to resemble red and white sponged enamelware....I used a natural sea sponge, latex paint and latex poly (on the advice of someone who had done it - because of the reduced drying time and the smell)....I liked the way it looked. I cleaned the counter before beginning, but did nothing else to the suurface sice the white of the laminate was to be the background for my effect. If you want to cover the entire coiunter with paint, I suggest using a moderate grit sandpaper to rough up the surface just enough to allow the paint to adhere well to the surface. As for the poly, after doing it, I would not recommend the latex variety if going over latex paint. The water in the poly "re-wets" the paint and can destroy your effect if you are not very, very careful in your application. I would suggest using regular old polyurethane instead. As for wear, I didn't have any trouble except when someone used the counter for a chopping block - sharp knives will scratch the painted just like they scratch other surfaces. All in all it was a positive project. It spruced up the kitchen for very little money and very little time. Other questions about my experience - feel free to email me. Good luck!