Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wood Countertops: Part 2

Hey!  So I'm back with an update on the kitchen.  We are slooowly chipping away on the counter tops. 

Here's how they look right now.  And for the love of that is good and holy in the world, please ignore all of the dirty dishes!  Usually I stack them down in the sink so that you can't see them, but there were too many this time haha

Last time I talked about the counters, I mentioned that we had cut and laid out wood pieces for the top.  Well, long story short, I ended up changing my mind about the layout of the planks on the peninsula...I decided that instead of having the wood planks run straight into the wall, I wanted to do the 90-degree interwoven pattern that the corner of the kitchen was already doing.  

What can I say?  I like to keep things interesting :)  At this point, we knew that we weren't going to have enough wood from our one box to change up the layout AND finish up the edges, so we went out and bought a 2nd box of wood from Lumber Liquidators.  They were running a sale, so the box came to like, $144 with tax (which was actually cheaper than the first box we bought).  

Gluing the top pieces down was pretty easy.  The husband transferred all of the pieces to the floor so that he could put down some liquid nails on the plywood base.  Then he transferred everything back up to the counter and tapped things tightly together with a rubber mallet.  

 He weighed everything down with some free weights (umm...those suckers are heavy!), and then we waited for everything to cure.

See how all of the edge pieces have 45 degree angles cut in preparation for the sides of the counter?  To do the edges of the counter, the husband took a plank of wood and split it in half the long way.  Then he put a 45 degree angle on one of the long edges and attached it using liquid nails and finishing nails (using our air compressor nail gun) to the counter tops.  

From 10 ft away,our counters look amazing.  Once you get up close and you can see some of the gaps (I've filled in with wood filler) and it doesn't look quiiiite as good.  As a result, the husband has dubbed these "the 10 ft counter tops", but insists that they will look better after we put the finishing touches on them.  Only time will tell!  

Since all of the pre-finished hardwood flooring planks have micro-beveled edges, we wanted to sand everything down to make sure that it looked like a legit wood counter, rather than wood flooring at a counter height.  This meant sanding off the clear coating.  I mistakenly thought that this would be easy peasy and could be accomplished using my small orbital sander.  HA!  Turns out we had to go out and buy a belt sander, and this where 5 sanding belts got us:

The darker areas are spots where the clear coating is still on.  We need to sand all that stuff off before we can actually start sanding the wood to get rid of the beveled edges.

See?  We didn't get very far!  The blotchiness is where the clear coating is still on the counter.  

That's right, we're not even done with this one stretch of counter!  That clear coating is tough stuff!  And now I know why flooring guys recommend pre-finished hardwood floors over ones that you finish in place.  I don't think that my newly refinished hardwood floors would stand up to a belt sander like that.

Once we get things sanded down all nice and smooth, the plan is do several coats of polyurethane, or maybe even the clear epoxy coating like the stuff they use on bar tops.  However, I think that it's going to take a while to get everything sanded.  The house is a dusty mess right now!

Things that I would have done differently (so far):
Yes, I can already tell that I should have done a few things differently, so I'll throw these out there while I'm thinking about it.  

I should have used unfinished wood from the start.  I should have used unfinished red oak, like the stuff that we have on our floors.  Why?  Well, for starters it would have been cheaper.  The unfinished wood doesn't have the rock-hard finish glaze on it already.  Oh, and it doesn't have beveled edges either!  To me, beveled edges are a dead giveaway that you're using hardwood flooring, which is why we're in the middle of a sanding war with our counters. 

I should have looked into the price of the bar-top epoxy before now.  Apparently, it's roughly $4/SF to coat something with this epoxy (aka, it must be made of gold!).  Now, we have roughly 75 SF of counter top to cover, so that's a cool $300 just like that.  Luckily, we're no where near being done sanding, so I don't have to make a decision right NOW, but it's definitely weighing on my mind.  We both like the idea of the epoxy, but the price gives me sticker shock!  


  1. There you are again. I've been wondering about you guys.
    I'm sure the counters will look great when they are done! Hang in there ;)
    I can't believe that the epoxy is THAT expensive though. WOW, seriously!

  2. wow this is a loooot of work. I give you so much credit. If I get into a project this big, I end up getting too impatient and doing a crap finishing job.
    (ps - new blog happening for me!):

  3. Great piece of work. Wooden countertops are always chic but they need a considerable amount of maintenance for them to last long. :)
    - GLumber.com

  4. Wooden countertops always make a rustic and country-living impression. However, you should pick aged slabs of wood so that it won’t quickly absorb the moist that’s usually there in the kitchen. But anyway, congrats on a job well done!

    Martin @GraniteBusters.com

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