DIY Wood Countertops for $120! Eat that expensive countertop people! Part 3

In: Kitchen Tutorials

How To DIY Wood Countertop Tutorial
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!

  • Kari Bassett

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