How to Build Wood Countertops

Learning how to build wood countertops is an excellent alternative to stone or solid surface countertops. Wood countertops add warmth to a kitchen and are perfect for creating a rustic or country look. Wood countertops are also ideal as an accent of for island work areas.

How To Build Wood Countertops That Last

  • Types of wood. Wood countertops require a wood that has a tight grain and resists water stains. Maple is a popular choice, but exotic woods like teak, mahogany and even mesquite are currently popular as well. Avoid soft woods like pine, which will dent and scar easily. Woods with open grain, like oak, will absorb water and warp or crack.
  • Block and tackle. Butcher block is the most popular type of wood counter. To create a butcher block countertop, long strips of wood (called blanks) are glued together to form the width and length of the countertop. The laminated strips are then sanded smooth and cut to fit. Butcher block can be purchased in countertop widths at some lumberyards or larger home centers.
  • On the slab. Another popular option for wood countertops is a single slab of wood. Working with single slabs can be expensive and the slabs are heavy and hard to handle, but the results are impressive.
  • Create a template. The first step in building a wood countertop is measuring the area to be covered. To create an accurate set of measurements, make a cardboard mock-up of the countertop called a template. With a template in hand, you can more accurately make or order your wood countertop.
  • Cutting and smoothing. If you are using a rough slab or butcher block that you've create yourself, you'll need to smooth and finish the wood before it can be installed. A belt sander will quickly work through this task. Start with a medium grade of sandpaper and work your way up to a finish grade. Remove all dust before sealing your wood countertop. Edges can be finished with a router to create a smooth, rounded appearance.
  • Room to breathe. While traditional countertops are often installed with construction adhesive, wood countertops need special consideration. Most professional installers will use screws drilled into slotted or elliptical holes. These special holes allow the wood countertop to expand and contract as the moisture content of the wood changes.
  • A side salad. In order to make your wood countertop water repellent, finish it with a food grade sealer. Wood sealers designed for wooden salad bowls are perfect for finishing your wood countertop. Behlen and General Finishes are two companies that manufacture salad bowl sealer.
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