DIY Wood Countertops for under $200! Part 3

In: Kitchen Tutorials


DIY Wood Countertop Tutorial for under $200.  Part 3
Post 1 of the countertop Trilogy can be found here.
Post 2  can be found here.


This post contains affiliate links.  Please see Disclosure for more info.
So I already showed you the experimental countertop.  The stand alone fella by the pantry.  Well, since that worked out so well and so cheaply, it’s time to do the rest of the counters.

Here are the birds and bees talk about how we do counters On Bliss Street.

First you take a Mommy board and a Daddy board.  At first, they look like this.

bare piece of aspen wood
bare aspen wood
Then they fall in love and start to look like this:
bare and stained aspen wood
Then they have a beautiful baby countertop!!!
Okay, there are a few steps in the middle there, but can’t we just skate by those details now like when we have “the talk” with the kids?  No?  Okay fine.
I bought 2 of these 1″x 24″ x 6′ boards  and 3 of these 1″ x 2″ x 6′ boards to finish off the rest of the kitchen.  I sanded and stained each one with Minwax Provincial and gave them a healthy, impenetrable five coats of Poly on the top and three on the bottoms.  These were going to be the ones near the sink and above the dishwasher so they need to be pretty waterproof.  Since fall had just begun when I started this part of the project, I had to take over the office as a staining/polying station.  Both windows open with a fan in one sucked out all the noxious fumes.  I’m a little concerned that Maddox said he “liked” the smell… secretly, I do too!
Now to start the install.  
Just a tip from me to you… It’s always important to keep a clean workspace.  I try to set a good example.
messy counter
That’s not my Diet Coke.  I swear.
After measuring the sink which is 33″ wide with a 1″ lip, I knew that my 1×2’s that were going to be supporting my sink needed to be 33″ long in the front and back of the sink.  The cabinet was already reinforced with 2×4’s in the corners and the middle.  I also added a couple “L” brackets in the back for extra support.  Here’s a post on reinforcing my cabinet under the sink.
I cut my pieces using a circular saw, a straight edge and a prayer.  Woo Hoo they fit!!  Now to stick them together.  I definitely did not want them to warp and start pulling away from each other in the corner joint so I used the (affiliate link) Kreg Jigto make sure they weren’t going anywhere.  
I did a straight joint instead of a diagonal one in the corner for two reasons: 1.  It would have taken another piece of wood.  2.  It seemed really hard.
using kreg jig to drill pocket holes
joining 2 pieces of countertop with pocket holes
awww, a baby countertop.  Isn’t she just the cutest thing! 
 I may have gone a little overboard with the screws, but Dad said to put in as many as I wanted.
Pleeease fit….Pleeeease fit!
Yeah!  They fit.   I did a little happy dance, threw in some spin moves and a cabbage patch.  I could do all of this because I was the only one home.
Once all the pieces were on, I added the trim, mitering the corners.  I cut a 1×2 in half on the table saw for our trim so it only took like 1 1/2 boards for all of it.  Glued and hit it with the nail gun.
I gave the trim a coat of stain then poly’d the entire surface once more.
Now, for the trim, I poly’d and sanded 4 times, paying special attention to the gap between.
Here is the where the sink will go- you can see where I used wood putty to fill the gaps between the counters and the 1×2’s.  There are the “L” brackets in the back.
sink hole in countertop
I know, the fronts are still orange.  Thank you for noticing.  And that white on the wall with the grodey water lines was behind my backsplash.  Don’t judge, it’s probably behind yours too!

All I did to secure the counters to the cabinets was use some screws in the same holes that the previous crappy counters were anchored to.  Works great and they are not going anywhere!

As for the sink, our sweet neighbors, Paul and Fernando came and helped lift it into the hole.  There was no way that Tyler and I could lift that thing alone.  Apparently I cannot lift 200 pounds to chest level.  I totally thought I could.  I was crushed when I discovered that I truly do not have super human strength.

I installed our sweet new faucet- you can find it here.  Yes, it completely rocks and it cost more than the sink and the counters.  The worst part of the entire install was getting the stupid drains to stop leaking.   I watched so many Youtube videos of plumbers putting drains in sinks that I swear I thought I could do it for a living, but alas, I would get fired because they would ALL leak!  I tried the plumbers putty rope, smush, screw on with the funny wrench and repeat like 15 times!
Finally, I gave in and put a bead of silicone around them.  Now they’re watertight.  They beat me, but at least I don’t have water under my sink, so maybe I won…  a little.

So, without further ado…

Here is the BEFORE:

white laminate countertop
And the AFTER:
finished stained wood counters
oops, my dishwasher was open.  

Heres a picture after Thanksgiving.  I painted so my kitchen didn’t look like a bad Newman knock off.

Let’s do a running total of expenses for the countertop shall we:
3- aspen 1″x24″x6′ boards at $42.74 each
4- aspen 1″x2″x6′ boards at $4.39 each
Materials-stain/poly etc.- Let’s ballpark it at $50
I didn’t count the sink or faucet since they aren’t countertop.  duh.
Total for new countertops:  $195.78
So I guess it’s not exactly $120.  It’s close enough people.
Next up-
Paint all the leftover orange portions of the cabinets
dun, dun, dun….
The tile backsplash!


  • Marci Nelles Bergman

    I love these countertops. Two questions: 1) Maybe I’m missing this (and I’m not very handy so…) but how did you actually cover the current countertops–you couldn’t just place a flat board over a flat surface, there is a narrow side to the countertop. And 2) Would these wood countertops lay over tile countertops do you think (mine are tile with grout). Thanks, I love this blog!

    • Erica

      Hi Marci! What I did was take the old laminate counters completely off, then I installed the wood on the top of my cabinets and screwed them from the bottom to secure. As for doing it over tile, my philosophy is always going to be “Go for it!” What you would probably need to do is create a thicker edge to cover the current tiled edge. Maybe use a full 1″x 2″ for the trim. It all really depends on the measurements of your tile counters. I’d love to help in any way I can- this sounds like a project I totally would love to tackle! Your not in the Midwest are you? 😉 Thanks for reading! xoxo

      • Erica

        My friend Timisha over at Toolbox Divas and I are working on doing a Q&A Google+ Hangout. This would be a great question to bring to it. I’ll let you know as soon as we schedule!

      • FIT FAWN

        Did you ever do the wood over the tile? I’ve looked everywhere on the internet and this is the only blog I found,,,i’m curious as well as I wonder if you could glue the wood to the tile as well as drill a screw to hold on place!! I just wonder if the tile will crack! Gah! TIA

  • Kari Bassett

    Your kitchen looks amazing! Quick question….how have the counter tops held up with daily use, washing dishes and little kids?

    • Erica

      Hi Kari, they certainly have! We love them and we do not baby them at all! In fact, many times water is left on them and they are perfect. Nothing seems to penetrate them!

  • Cecilia Bramhall

    I love your countertops! I have a question…did you use the oil based poly? Thanks!

    • Erica

      Yes, I used Minwax Wipe-on Poly, but applied it with a brush so no air bubbles and a nice finish.

      • Cecilia Bramhall

        Thank you! (Sorry, I just realized I misspelled your name). Have a wonderful weekend!

        • Erica

          Oh my goodness- don’t even worry about it!! xoxo

  • Victoria Richardson Bill

    I am preparing my home to put on the market in a few months. I have a very dated kitchen and very little money to change it. I bought a kit from Home Depot to refinish the cabinets but I have been trying to find a way to change my countertops and I just found it. This is a great idea and your updated kitchen looks fantastic! Just one question: On the end of the counter on the right of the sink, why did you extend the new counter about 5 inches longer than the cabinets? Was there a reason or did you just want it that way? I will be subscribing to your newsletter.

    • Erica

      Hi Victoria, I’m so sorry it’s taken so long to respond! This comment was lost down the email rabbit hole!! I hope putting your house on the market has gone well! I extended it because I intend on adding a few little shelves there eventually. It’s on my “To-do” list, but my list keeps getting longer, never shorter! Thanks for reading!

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  • Ann

    I love the look of this counter…thank you for the diy tutorial! Maybe I missed this, but how did you get such a nice beveled edge on he front of the counter?

    • Rachel Blalock

      I’m not the blogger here, but I’d assume a router? I know I’ve used routers before to get an edge similar to this on horse-cart projects. :) I restored an old meadowbrook cart and added a dash, a router was fitted out with a nice rounded edge blade like this one and did the trick easily. :)

    • Erica

      Hi Ann, yes, you could use a router like Rachel said, but I didn’t on these counters. I cut a 1″ x 2″ board in half lengthwise then glued and face nailed it to the counter. Once it was on, I filled in the holes and gave it a nice sanding. Don’t forget to miter the corners. Actually, this was easier than using a router for me. Thanks for reading!

  • Lorene Nance

    Hi Erica! I work with Cassity over at Remodelaholic, and I just emailed you about being featured in a round-up there. Sometimes my emails get caught in spam filters, so I wanted to leave a comment, too, just in case. Email me back at please!

    • Erica

      Awesome, thanks Lorene! I’m on a mission to go find your email now! xoxo

  • Kim Vincent

    Erica this is so impressive and what a terrific price. I live in Florida and there are no Menards only Lowes which leads me to question what you mean about the Lowes aspen sheets? I don’t understand what you mean about them being laminated? The have a coating on them? I will definitely have to get my aspen from Lowes. I am so doing this…I want wood countertops so badly!

    • Erica

      Hi Kim! The Lowe’s sheets are totally fine, they just have the appearance of many smaller boards glued/laminated together to make one large sheet. That’s all. I also noticed that they are much more rough and need a good sanding before you start anything. Otherwise, they are exactly the same size and thickness as mine. I love my countertops! I’m actually working on a follow-up post about how they have held up for the past year. Keep an eye out for it! Thanks for reading! xoxo

  • M. White

    I am about to build my wood countertops this upcoming weekend. Please forgive me if I am having you to repeat yourself, but what exactly did you use (screws, brackets, etc) to connect the countertops to the base cabinets?
    Also, did you paint the cabinets before or after connecting the countertops?
    Thank you in advance for any input and tips that you may have. Have a wonderful day!

    • Erica

      Hi there,
      Yes, I painted the cabinets first because I didn’t want any accidental paint splashes on my pretty countertops :) As for attaching to your base cabinets, I used screws to secure. Once you take your old counters off, you’ll be able to see where they were attached and gauge what size screws you will need for them to make it 3/4 of the way through your countertop. Just be careful when attaching, you don’t want to go through the wood! Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help :) Happy building!

  • Tessa VanZevenbergen

    Hi Erica! do you have any recommendations for other types of wood to use? I haven’t seen any aspen up in Canada!
    Thanks :)

  • Molly Day

    Hi Erica! Beautiful kitchen and we are getting ready to update our kitchen in order to sell the house using your counter top idea. I’m sorry if I missed this somewhere…I can see where you joined two pieces of wood at the corner, but wondering where you joined two pieces of wood running the same direction on one side of the sink (if that makes sense). I couldn’t see that joint in the pics & trying to figure that part out for our kitchen as it is similar. Thanks!