Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DIY Wood door butcher block countertops - under $100!

Over the past few weeks, Joel and I took on the difficult, yet fun, yet exhausting task of building new wood countertops. We only really had two criteria when choosing what kind of counters we wanted: they needed to be inexpensive, and they needed to be something that we could make ourselves.

We looked at several different ideas for homemade DIY counters, and even debated trying to make cement counters. This idea went out the window when Joel told me that we'd have to wait until the summer to make them. I wanted counters now! I finally googled DIY wood countertops, and came across this blog post, where the author described making her counters from old oak doors. I was sold! I barely even had to convince Joel - cheap and homemade? Done.

What follows is how Joel and I turned this:

into this:
using under $100 in materials!

I'll start with the best part - the before and after pictures:

Beauty, right?

So the first part of the whole process was finding the doors. It was surprisingly simple - I searched kijiji for "solid doors" and had my pick of the litter. I ended up settling on someone who was selling 9 foot by 3.5 foot solid oak doors for $30 each. Two doors was more than what we needed for this project.

Here's a note that you may want to know if you're trying this - more often than not, solid doors are not actually solid wood the whole way through. They are wood veneer on top of particle board. This is a bit of an issue as you're finish them, but I'll show you how we got around it.

We began by removing the old counters. We didn't even know where to begin with this, so we just removed the drawers and tried to figure out how they were attached.

Joel realized they were being held in by TWO screws. So  he removed those, and we removed the counter.

Back in the garage, Joel had to cut the door in half before we could even work with it. They were easily 100 pounds each, and for the smaller pieces of counter, it was easier to cut the door in half before dealing with it.
Now that the doors were a more manageable size, we used the old counters as a template to trace onto the wood. We measured, and taped off where we needed to make the cuts.

We made some pretty slick cuts. We were particularly proud of this one:
Once the counters were cut to size, we brought them in and sanded them down.
After the initial sanding, I had to fix the problem of the visible particle board. You can see in the photo above, on the left side, where the particle board is visible. To remedy this, we bought iron on oak veneer, which we cut to size and ironed on. Joel sanded it down after it was applied, and you'd really never know the difference.

Without question, the most difficult part of the whole process was the counter with the sink. The sink was a new addition to begin with (one that I won't even attempt to blog about, because it was such a pain to install and the multiple tutorials online for how to install an apron front undercounter sink are going to do so much better at explaining it than I can.) We had to work with one full door for this part, which was heavy and confusing and frustrating, but we made it work. To cut out the sink, we measured carefully, and used a combination of a hole saw (for the corners) and a Skil saw (for the straight parts) to cut it out.

Next came staining! We used Minwax Dark Walnut for the countertops.

Don't I make it look really fun? It's only sort of fun.

We did two coats of stain, leaving the first left on for a minute or so and the second one on for fifteen minutes. This wasn't necessarily intentional, we just aren't very good at staining things. In hindsight, we would have left the first stain coat on much longer, to let it really soak in there. After the two coats of stain came the worst part of the entire process, sealing the wood. We read a lot about online about how to finish our counters, and taking everything into account, and after chatting with the fine people at Lowe's in Ogdensburg, we settled on Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.

The process is not very fun - apply evenly, let it sit for about 8 hours while it fills every inch of your house with it's terrible smell, then sand it off and reapply. We did three coats on each surface, then a few extra coats on the parts near the sink. Because it's the middle of winter, we couldn't do this process outside, and our garage is absolutely littered with sawdust and floating particles, so we knew it wouldn't be smart to do it in there. We finally opted for sealing them in the guest bedroom, with the door closed while it dried.

Once that was finally finished, we were on to the fun part - installing the counters! We are really, really happy with how they turned out.

We adore them. It remains to be seen how they'll hold up - we aren't using them to cut on, so our biggest enemy over time will be water. We will likely reseal them once a year, to keep them safe. But who knows, maybe by this time next year they'll be destroyed and we'll be onto the next thing. For $100, I'm not too worried.

This was a perfect first project to cross of the list for our kitchen.There's still so much left to do in our kitchen before it's done:
  • rebuild the cabinets under and beside the sink
  • paint all cabinets (eek!)
  • change out all hardware
  • install shelves where the open cabinets are
  • remove old backsplash and install hexagonal backsplash
  • paint walls
  • remove old floor and install new floor
  • remove the panel in front of sink window
  • new tiles in greenhouse window
  • some kind of window covering for the greenhouse window
  • put up some beautiful artwork
Aaaaand I think that's it? I think we want to try and have this all finished by the summer, so that we can get started on some other projects we have in mind!

Have any of you used any unusual items for something beyond their purpose? Doors as counters? Windows as a coffee table?


  1. Such a clever idea. What a talented gal!

    1. Thank you! You must know how much I appreciate your comments!

  2. Those turned out great! Going to look into wood counter tops now. I have terrible tile ones and have been wanting to replace for a while.

  3. Thank you for following my tutorial. We love our countertops! What a difference.

    1. It was a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing it!

  4. they look awesome. what a great idea!

  5. Thanks, we're so happy with them!

  6. This is amazing. I am totally inspired--thank you so much!!

  7. Replies
    1. Just beautifully!! They look as great as the day we installed. :)

  8. Your countertop was beautiful even then. But it really rocks with the transformation! Its smooth and glossy finish created a new aura to your kitchen. You truly did an awesome job!


  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. You guys present there are performing an excellent job.
    is bubblegum casting legitimate

  11. The counters look great!!! We're thinking of doing the is the finish holding up? Would you recommend the same Spar Urethane you used, or a different product? We're thinking of sealing ours with the finish they put on bars [that really thick, impervious glossy finish] but it does look a little tricky to apply, so I'm wondering if the spar is a better way to go...thanks!

    1. It's held up REALLY well! I'm so impressed with it. There's water on it a lot and you'd never know.

    2. And to answer your question, yes, the spar urethane did the trick. The bar stuff may take away from the rustic look of the counters.

  12. Brilliant ideas. Would like to ask whether it was an expensive affair or reasonable one. Because I had approached Loft Doors for the same and their prices were really reasonable.

  13. I’m influenced using the surpassing as well as preachy itemizing that you simply provide such small timing.
    Butcher Board

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. A small change and the effect is really great! I'm shocked that changing the countertop changes the interior of the kitchen so much.

  16. Nice Wooden Doors blog and i will share to my friends. Also i suggest Wood Doors.

  17. This Blog appears to receive a great deal of visitors or customer who is looking for natural stones such as granite countertops, Marble countertops and Quartz Countertops.? It offers a nice unique spin on things. I guess having something useful or substantial to give info on is the most important thing.

    Thank You!!!

  18. Like the furniture that you've shared here. So nice. Solid Wood Worktops UK

  19. oh wow Get 50% OFF for homeowners - work-tops this is an amazing blog. thanks for sharing to us.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...