How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop

I got lots of questions about my Office Countertop after I posted that I built it out of Oak Flooring.  So, I created some sketches to try to give you a better idea of how you can make all your dreams come true…if you’re dreaming of wood floor countertops that is!

How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop

How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop

*I’m purposely not giving you any surface dimensions because you have to build the countertop to fit your work space.

My work space happened to be T-shaped, you could do the same thing with a straight countertop, or L or X or + shaped for that matter!

1.   Create a plywood base

  • Cut a plywood base the shape of your countertop but subtract the thickness of your finish material from the desired final width.  (I used 3/4″ flooring for my countertops so I made my plywood base 3/4″ narrower!)  Why?   Because you are going to put a “face” on your countertop to make it look thicker, which will add to the total width.
  • Use two layers of plywood to create a strong base.  If you have seams, stagger your second layer so you’re seams do not end up in the same place.  Screw both layers together to secure the seams.
How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop
(I usually make my countertop about 1″ wider than my cabinets so there’s an overhang.)
  • If the ends of your countertop are going to be exposed, do the same “adjustment” for the length.  (My countertop goes wall to wall so the ends don’t matter)

2.  Nail on your countertop material!
*Now, obviously you don’t have to use flooring.  I did because unfinished 3/4″ Oak flooring was cheaper than buying regular 3/4″ Oak from the lumber store.  Plus, the tongue and groove helped secure each row together without using glue and clamps which I would have done had I used regular wood.

***If you do use flooring, you’ll have to use a table saw to rip 45* angles onto some of your wood because the bottom of the flooring is not flat (it usually has ridges) and you will not be able to do a butt joint!

***If you do not have a table saw or want to rip a 45* angle (I have to admit, it is pretty hard on the motor and a bit scary if you are not experienced!) I would recommend using regular planks of wood and doing butt joints.

How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop

  • I started on the front!  I wanted my countertop to appear to be 1 1/2″ thick so I took some of my wood and ripped 45* angles on my table saw.  I cut the entire first row like this

How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop

 

  • Then I ripped some more wood at 45* angles and cut them to 1 1/2″ wide for the fronts.  (My wood was wide enough to get 2 strips out of each plank so I mitered both sides before I cut it to width)

 

How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop

 

  • The corner pieces had to be mitered at 45* angles for the corners as well as the top.  I used my miter saw for the end cuts.
  • Nail everything into place.  I just nailed right through the top since it was unfinished wood. Wood putty in all the nail holes, cracks and corners.  The whole thing had to have a good sanding anyway.
  • (Make sure you use the proper length nail!  I didn’t calculate for that and had to go back after I was finished and pound UP a few nails from the bottom.  Don’t want to snag your knees…!)
  • Finish!  I used (ebony tinted) Tung oil (which I LOVE but make sure you use a RESPIRATOR and the proper gloves if you go that route.)
How to Build a Wood Floor Countertop
I like how it turned out!  But……I went with different “wood countertop” in my craft room that I like almost as much and was a lot easier.  (The island countertop is MDF and painted)
How to Build  Countertop
I used a nice cabinet grade plywood that I found for a decent price that had a thick veneer.  Cut it to size, butt jointed a face on the front to make it look thick and finished it with tung oil.Much easier, and cheaper.  Not quite as dramatic but cool enough if the flooring method seems like it’s not “the dream” you thought it would be!There’s always a way to get the look you want…you just have to find the right way for you!

Comments

  1. So this is actually true – i was ripping out old hardwood floor tongue & groove real wood (not sure maybe oak?) from our old linen cupboard and keeping the nice pieces and then had an idea to make a countertop for the linen cupboard that I plan to build in the redone bathroom – with a thought that maybe I could re-use these boards to create a link between the old bathroom and the new. My first thought was to google that but I wonder if I should email Sawdust Girl about it… so I googled and yours was the first link. You are officially my new guru :)
    I’ll keep you posted if I get it to work!

  2. I love this idea! It’s helping me brainstorm for a tv cabinet idea I have in the works! Thanks, Sandra!

  3. Penny Wheeler says:

    We used a prefinished wood flooring and I LOVE the look – however in our case we have to deal with a small groove at each seam. NEVER doing that again. If I can figure out how to pour a clear top on it I am doing it – it is VERY difficult to keep grooves clean in a busy kitchen.

    Are your unfinished tops without the grooves?

    • Penny, I have the same problem as you. I used a pre-finished wood flooring as well with little grooves. I decided to fill in the seams with wood filler and sand the entire surface down and resurface. One problem, I have no idea what I am doing and boy, that finish is tough stuff!

  4. I love , love , love this look. My handyman refuses to even try this. I’m trying to find someone else to do my countertop. Thanks.

  5. Leroy Balliet says:

    When using this method for a kitchen countertop,would it be ok to use a water based stain and top it with several coats of poly such as Helms spar or a self leveling type like I see on tables or bar tops? Get back asap as I’m going to buy the lumber to start my new countertops today…. Thanks Sandra, your a doll.

    • Finishing wood is like creating art. You could do it 500 different ways and no matter what way you choose, you’ll probably always wish you would have done it differently.

  6. After a while, how are your countertops holding up? I’m considering doing a very small (66×18) top to cover an ugly buffet and serve as our TV stand. I think your project looks excellent, and I’m hoping it holds up well also.

    • We don’t live in that house any more Jen but I had them for 3 years (I think) and they held up great. I wouldn’t use them in a kitchen or anywhere they would get wet because the seams are not sealed well but for an office, they were great.

  7. Hey there. I don’t mean to be the only one with a negative comment but, I have to point out that expansion and contraction are big problems when using flooring for countertops. On your countertops, the problem will show up right at the bottom of the T. Specifically where the miter is. You can’t glue or nail a long grain board perpendicular to the grain of the countertop- it will slowly break itself apart. No amount of sealer or finish or paint can stop this movement and if it hasn’t happened yet, it eventually will. I’m only posting this to help out. As a carpenter, I see a lot of DIYers with broken hearts. Let me know if I posted this in error.
    PS Ripping long miters on a table saw is not an an operation that can be safely performed without proper training. At the very least, tell your readers to research which side of the blade the fence should be on when mitering.

    • Thanks for your input Dimitri. My goal in this tutorial is not to teach people how to use a table saw. If they have one and know how to use it, they can rip at 45. If not, I mentioned some alternatives to the mitered edge. It is just showing hoe I made my countertop because I got asked so many times.

  8. RayJan Ritchey says:

    We have installed 3/4″, tongue and groove, nail it to the foor utility oak, which has knot holes, saw marks, worm holes, fissures, cracks,etc in the wood to floor pretty much the whole house ( except the entry areas, bath and utility rooms, and in front of the fire place).

    My wife thought that the 27 y.o. kitchen counter tops would look awesome covered in the left over flooring. We are planning to paint the existing front trim of the counter top black, like the cabinets, and use oak bullnose, or stair nosing, to trim out the front edge of the counter surface. We will place temporary pieces of the bullnose as spacers and work from the front of the counter towards the wall.

    We noticed an earlier post where you responded about the tung oil being food safe after it cures. That was great information that we would have needed to investigate. Thanks. We will let you know how it turns out.

    RAY and JAN

    • RayJan Ritchey says:

      On the subject of using Tung Oil to finish our kitchen counter tops because of its food safe properties once cured; I have subsequently found out that, since the Tung Oil comes from the nut of the Tung Nut tree; the fumes, vapor, and even mild contact with the oil in liquid, and cured states, can cause severe reactions to those with even slight NUT ALLERGIES and Sensitivities. Therefore, we will not be able to use the Tung Oil. Our daughter has Tree Nut sensitivities. Any suggestions for another food safe finish for our kitchen counter project??? Your email reply asked about pictures. Do you have a link I can send some to or up load to? Thank you.
      Ray

    • I am interested if RayJan Ritchey ended up doing this project as discussed in this comment. This is exactly how I was thinking about doing ours, but wasn’t sure how it would turn out. If possible, I’d love to see some pictures and find out how it looks.

  9. I was thinking about using red oak flooring for a coutertop just last night. Quick dash to Home depot at 9pm to ponder, wander and desire. Would this hold up to kitchen use? What size plywood, I looked at 1/2 and 3/4″ What would you oil/stain with that would be appropriate.

    • Mona, I love the look of Tung oil which is food safe after it’s cured but here is an article from Fine Woodworking that lists some other options. http://www.finewoodworking.com/SkillsAndTechniques/SkillsAndTechniquesArticle.aspx?id=26893

      I used 3/4″ plywood for the craft room that had a very thick veneer. That is important so if you ever have to sand your countertop down, you won’t sand through your veneer into the “not so pretty” layer of wood underneath. For a kitchen, I would use solid wood so it can be sanded over and over if need be and still last for decades.

      • Can the tung oil be used for a countertop in a kitchen or island? We bought an old house and are having cabinets built and want it to look old.

  10. Bill Keiser says:

    ***If you do use flooring, you’ll have to use a table saw to rip 45* angles onto some of your wood because the bottom of the flooring is not flat (it usually has ridges) and you will not be able to do a butt joint!

    I don’t understand this point. I’m making a purple heart kitchen Ctop and my planks do have bottom ridges, but I don’t see why they matter.

    • It all depends on which direction your grooves/ridges lay and if they start on the outside edges of the plank bottom.

      The best thing to do is just hold a plank up and see if it works. If your ridges are going to cause a problem, you’ll see it. If not, Great! That’s one less step for you. I had to but I’d be happy to hear that you didn’t.

      Note to self: Look at the bottom of flooring next time before purchasing. :-)

      Good luck. I’d love to see the finished pics if you want to post on my Facebook Page!

      • Hey,

        I came across this when looking for advice on building a base for a countertop made from wood flooring. Glad to see how well it turned out and that I wasn’t the only one to attempt this :)

        I just wanted to add that we purchased “stair nose” with the rest of the wood and are using it for the edges of the counter that are exposed. It’s designed to give a nice finished edge and is much easier than having to create joints for that finished look.

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