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How To Build DIY Wood Countertops In A Day

July 30, 2019

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Want a show stopping focal point in your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room makeover? Well you can make a beautiful solid wood countertops from plywood in one afternoon.

It's easier and cheaper than you think. With a few supplies and basic tools, you can complete the entire project in no time.

Here's the simple tutorial for this DIY project, all the easy steps and an update of how it's held up.

The corner of a stained wooden countertop in a bathroom

I've always had a thing for wooden countertops.

Long before I knew what a blog was and years before the farmhouse trend came roaring back into style, I was smitten.

When we added a kitchen in our first cottage, I fleetingly considered the idea, but in a house that we knew we weren't going to stay in, it wasn't a practical expense, so I didn't push.

When we moved here, however, I repeatedly mentioned them anyone who would listen to me during our second kitchen addition. The contractor, my husband, the kitchen designer and most of my friends had the same reaction.

I believe their exact words were, Are you crazy??

Well, when it comes to design, possibly, but I like what I like and honestly what's so crazy about wooden countertops?

Every countertop material out there requires some kind of care and has issues. Marble stains, granite and laminate counters chip and formica peels. Plus none of them are cheap.

Wood seemed sensible to me, a good choice, plus it was warm and elegant. Dining tables are made of wood. Boats are made of wood. Why not a countertop?

And what made it different from a butcher block countertop?

No one really had a good answer for me, but I lost out.

So, when developing bathroom renovation plans, I thought, now is my chance.

It took a little bit of wrangling, begging and badgering, but eventually my sweet husband gave in and whipped up a beautiful DIY wooden countertop from plywood in a day.

It seriously took longer to talk about it, than it did to do it.

Ok, so the sealing did take about a week to complete, due to the drying time necessary between coats, but the construction itself was quick, easy to do and very inexpensive.

All in all, it was a giant success.

Keep in mind that there are lots of free plans out there for plywood countertops, that use all sorts of different ways and materials, including hardwood flooring and picket fence slats, to construct them, but we're all about easy, so here's how we did it.

How To Build A DIY Wooden Countertop With Plywood

The process was relatively simple.


Plywood sheet - we used maple
Wood moulding/ trim
Straight edge
Grit sandpaper
Finish nails
Wood glue
Wood filler
Permanent marker


We knew we didn't want the seams you get with planks, we wanted a smooth surface, so we went with plywood.

But we didn't want to use regular plywood, so we opted for a 3/4 inch maple topped sheet of plywood that we grabbed right off the shelf at Home Depot.

Text overlay Solid 3/4 inch plywood with a maple veneer top on plywood photo

1. Choose Your Wood

Maple is a hard, clear wood, with a simple grain. It was perfect for our needs since it came in giant sheets so there wouldn't be any seams on our DIY countertops.

Keep in mind we put our countertop in the bathroom, but this same technique could be used in a kitchen, pantry or laundry room, as well.

On a very large span you would have to have seams, but they'd be minimal and easy to hide.

2. Cut It To Size

Choosing a piece was simple, we borrowed a straight edge from the hardware aisle to make sure that our sheet was perfectly square and then we asked the nice man at the store to cut it on their saw.

My husband could've done it at home, but why bother when they'll do it there for free!? Plus, their saw is larger and can make very straight cuts. 

I use this service all the time when I make my DIY wooden signs

Making Sure Plywood Is Square with a metal square

3. Choose Trim Moulding

Next, we wandered over to the trim aisle where we picked out a wood moulding to cover the raw edges of the plywood.

Our plywood sheet was 3/4" thick, so we chose a 1 and 1/2" moulding and headed home.

4. Cut And Attach Trim 

Since the piece was already cut to the proper size, the only real construction was adding the moulding to the front and one side. The other side and back wall were bordered by tile. They didn't require trim.

My husband just measured, cut the corners with a circular saw and used wood glue to secure the strips in place. He also used very small finishing nails, countersunk them, and covered the holes with a drop of wood filler.

5. Add Wood Filler In Gaps And Sand

As I said, we made sure the wood was square before we left the store, so the moulding fit tight against the maple.

Since there was barely a discernible gap, no wood filler was necessary. Lastly, he gave the entire piece a quick sanding to give the sides and top surface a smooth finish.

Unfinished wooden countertop with moulding added

Update: This picture is a little out of order, since it's already been stained, but it is relevant to the construction.

It's a view of the underside of the countertop, so you can see that the trim does overhang the plywood top a bit.

Wooden Countertop Construction view from underneath

6. Stain It

Once complete, he brought it inside and plopped it on the vanity, or sink base, to check the fit.

DIY Wooden Countertop in bathroom

Then it was back outside to stain it. This is what we used: Varathane Classic Stain in Red Oak.

There's a variety of colors, so you can choose one that suits your style and it provides a very durable surface.

Varathane Red Oak Stain Can on table

He applied several coats of wood stain, one coat at a time, until we were happy with the color.

Staining A Wooden Countertop on two sawhorses

Phase one completed on a Sunday...idea conceived, items purchased, built and stained all in one afternoon. Of course, the next step, adding several coats of polyurethane, took several more days.

7. Seal It

For that part of the project, we used Varathane Ultimate Oil Based Clear Polyurethane in Clear Satin

Varathane Clear Oil Based Polyurethane Can On Table

He applied one coat each day for four days and gave each coat a light sanding in between to ensure a very perfect finish.

The corner of a stained wooden countertop in a bathroom

Now. I know a lot of people are going to ask, and have already asked, why we didn't use a marine grade poly. Here's the thing.

My husband has built wooden boats and he's used those products. They smell horrible, take forever to dry and he felt that a basic polyurethane would be sufficient for our needs.

It's wood, so we expect a little wear and we've used this technique before on our kitchen tables when they've been refinished and so far, so good. No water stains, rings or damage.

Water beads up and rolls away. So we went with it and I have no reason to believe it'll be any different.

And if you keep reading you'll see that years later, it's still looking great!

Pssst- If you do have them, here's a great trick to remove water stains from wood.

8. Cut The Sink Hole

The last part of this process involved cutting in the sink, which I also picked up off the shelf at Home Depot.

We were a bit nervous after our last sink install, but it worked out well. This sink came with complete instructions and a template that my husband used to set its location.

Pattern For Cutting A Countertop Sink Hole on countertop

We wanted to change things up a bit and center it over the cabinet. Once we were happy with the placement, he taped the template in place and removed the center of the paper.

He then traced the oval onto the countertop with a black permanent marker.

Countertop Sink Template taped to wooden countertop

9. Silicone It And Fixture In Place

Next, he carried the entire top back outside and cut the hole out.

He brought it back inside to check the placement and then siliconed the sink in place.

When the sink and fixture were set and dry, it was finally time to glue the wooden countertop onto our updated bathroom vanity.

DIY Wooden Countertop without a sink and off white vanity in bathroom

In less than a week, I had an absolutely beautiful, brand new, custom, plywood wooden countertop for my bathroom.

Cottage style sophistication, just as charming as I thought it would be and totally fitting for my 1920's beach bungalow.

And I didn't have to wait for a delivery or need a temporary countertop in the meantime. It was quick.

Romantic Country Farmhouse Bathroom Vanity

While we had to buy the entire sheet of maple plywood, we only used a quarter of it.

So if we break down the cost by what we actually used, minus the sink and fixture, this project cost us less than $30.

How To Make A Wooden Countertop From A Solid Piece Of Wood Text and photo collage
Best of all, I still have a very large piece of that maple plywood leftover.


I mean, I really do love my laminate kitchen countertops, but hey, since we already have the supplies....

I'll keep you posted.


Update! Since someone asked I took a picture of the countertop this weekend to show how it's holding up- April of 2020. Totally perfect.

In May of 2021 it still looks the same!

Since everyone always asks, how well do wooden countertops hold up, I thought I'd share that, as well.

Maple Plywood Countertop with white sink and beige vanity

Heavily used by a family with teens and their friends.

It's used for makeup and brushing teeth, hair washing (and coloring!) and they don't always wipe up that water. 

Kim Signature

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  1. Hi Kim,
    Wow how fabulous is this counter top. Your hubby did a great job. I love the wood counter with the painted vanity. So pretty.
    The bathroom is coming together nicely.

    1. Thanks Kris! He fought me on it, but in the end, it really wasn’t that much work. And I am smiling ear to ear and so is he. Happy wife…well, you know… πŸ˜‰

  2. Yay you got your wood. Same process my husband used to make a folding table in our laundry room. He does the same at Home Depot. It's worth it especially when it's free.

    Great tutorial.



    1. Thank you! It really is pretty in person, Cindy...and don't you love that Home Depot service? I use it often, whenever I make a wooden sign or do something with a board I need to buy, I have them cut it. And my husband is thrilled when he doesn't have to lug out the big saw...and like you said, it's free!! Woo hoo!

  3. Looks fabulous, Kim! Love it. Is that pretty vanity new? I think I missed that post. Now I have to backtrack and find out what escaped me! Hugs, Nancy

    1. Thank you, Nancy!! And that's our old vanity with a fresh face. And a new top!! So glad you like the look. Hugs!!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Cecilia!! I hope it’s a wonderful afternoon in your neck of the woods!!

  5. It is beautiful Kim! What a fabulous project!

    1. Thank you so much, Maria Elena! My husband really outdid himself on this one…and I am smiling.

  6. Glad you won out! You hit the nail on the head when you said it took longer to talk about it than actually do it. That’s so often the case with us too 🀣.

    1. I have an uncle who used to say that to us all the time, Sara. As a child, I didn't realize how true his words were- as an adult, I totally get it and quote him often to my own kids! They love that. 😜

  7. I have to admit, I would never have thought to have a wood countertop, but it turned out beautiful! And what a bargain!

    1. Thank you so much, Mari...and yes, much less expensive than buying a quartz, marble or stone top. It was definitely a plus.

  8. wood just gives something nothing else does! very beautiful darling bean. xo

    1. Thank you so much, Tammy!! And I totally agree...wood is warm...❤️

  9. I love it. Hubby made two tables with wood like that about 5 years ago. They are in the living room and looking still nice.

    1. There's nothing like wood, Betty...or a handy husband! πŸ˜‰

  10. This is fabulous Kim! It is perfect in your bathroom, and I love the rich wood tones against the white, amazing! You have such an eye for design! I agree, many times a difficult chore takes more time to talk about then to actually do it. Glad that this process went so well for you, and it is wonderful that you can get wood cut to size at HD for free!

    1. Thank you so much, Marilyn! I'm glad that I stuck to what I wanted this time around and that it ended up being easy to make and inexpensive. And don't you love that about HD?? That is a great service and I use it all the time.

  11. Brilliant Kim. I love the contrast between the warm, dark top and the clean, white bottom on your vanity. So classy. Your bathroom is looking soooooo good.

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! I have to say, I love the drama of the contrast. Hats off to my husband...

  12. Love it! I love the cottage look. We just did a wood sink top in our powder room and love the look. I want to build something similar for our backyard. I'll most likely have to use marine grade poly!

    1. I bet it's beautiful, Debbie, and yes, if it's outside, exposed to the elements, I'd probably opt for the marine poly, too. I hope you share that project with us when you're done!

  13. Kim, this is a great how to project and you and hubby did a wonderful job on it. It looks so rich and high end in your room. Just perfect and I don't think you will ever be disappointed that you took the plunge. Many years ago my dad cut down his own black walnut tree, milled the wood in his own saw mill and built the kitchen counters for my mom out of it. It was beautiful and stood for many years in the home I grew up in. Years later, we took an antique oak washstand, inserted a sink and put it in our bathroom. It went through kids use for many years and now, Tami, still has it in her guest bathroom and Jake used it for 20+ years. It is surprising how wood holds up..Happy Wednesday..xxoJudy

    1. Those walnut countertops sound wonderful, Judy. I think my husband would enjoy that process. He loves woodworking. And I love your washstand sink...sounds like you have always been ahead of your time when it comes to decor, since that's all the rage right now! I love that look and looked for a piece to do that with, but this is as close to that look as I'm going to get. xoxo

  14. WOW, I love how nice the vanity came out and the wood top looks great. You are so lucky to have a handy husband who made a beautiful bathroom for you Kim! Enjoy it.

    1. Thanks so much, Julie! He really is a gem and never seems to get sick of my crazy design ideas!

  15. I like the idea. I am a wood girl. When I was growing up we had friends who had a cabin that had pine cabinets and counters in the kitchen. I LOVED IT!
    This really looks fantastic Kim!

    1. There's something about wood that adds an undeniable warmth to a home. We have pine walls in the living room (someone painted them years ago, but the texture is still there) and in the basement (not painted!) and I love the feel and the look. It's nice that we've been able to extend a bit of it into the bathroom. And thank you!! I'll pass your kind words on to my master craftsman! 😊

  16. I love how the wooden countertop looks on your bathroom vanity and I think it would look absolutely beautiful in your kitchen! It is never a crazy thing to save money and look good! :-) Can't wait to see how it looks in the kitchen if/when you guys decide about it! Love and hugs!

    1. Thanks Benita!! I'll keep you posted...I've got a little work to do on that man. Ha!! Hugs!!

  17. This is impressive, Kim, and looks so beautiful. Good for you! We are having a very hot and humid spell just now and at home with the AC is the nicest place to be. I'm getting a lot of little projects done, trying to figure out how so much stuff made its way in when I've only Marie Konded a few months ago. Darn that love of shopping.

    1. Amalia, I’m right there with you. The creativity bug has bitten me this summer, and while I’ve been mostly making over things I already own, there have a been a few new additions. That shopping pull is strong!! Enjoy your AC…it’s hot here, too!!

  18. Wow! What a fantastic job, Kim. It is very professional looking and what a great update! Love it! xo Diana

    1. Thanks Diana! He's more of a perfectionist than I am, so I knew I was in good hands. xoxo

  19. Hi Kim, I popped in from Marilyn's blog, Mountain Top Spice.
    What I enjoyed about your post, is that you have large pictures and go step-by-step with your projects!
    Plus, you have a great style in writing,(love the humor).

    I'll be back!

    1. Christine, you just totally made my day, thank you so much!! As a former teacher I strive for clear tutorials that people can easily follow and as a writer, your words made me smile from ear to ear. Humor and a well told tale are always the goal. Thank you for the visit and I’m excited to see you in the comments more often! 😊

  20. Hello! Beautiful work! Just checking..,I too am eyeing plywood for the benefit of budget. Can you tell me if you’ve had any issues with the maple veneer? Water and plywood veneer are mortal enemies, I’m afraid to risk it! How is it holding up? Any bubbling or lifting, cracks in the veneer? Thank you so much!

    1. Thanks so much! I have to say it's held up great. No damage, not even a tiny water spot. Nothing. The kids use the bathroom every day, it's their main bathroom. They use that sink and counter for teeth brushing, hair washing, make up removal, etc. I think the key is a lot of polyurethane. I believe my husband used four coats. I hope that helps!

  21. Do you prefer a certain brand for polyurethane? And what stain color did you use?

    1. Hi Sam, I will check the garage tomorrow morning for the name of the stain and the brand of poly we used and post it here in the comments and update the post. Thanks for asking.

    2. Sam! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to answer you. We lost power, internet etc, from a storm. We used Varathane Classic Wood Stain In Red Oak and we used Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane - Clear - Oil Based. We got both products at Home Depot. Hope that helps!

  22. Kim - What kind of trim did you use to match the maple? Poplar?

    1. Hi Paul,

      Yes, I believe so, it’s actually a door stop moulding, because it has a nice square edge. It’s smooth. I’m trying to look on the Home Depot website to see if I can find it exactly. If I do, I will update the post and the comment. Hope that helps!

    2. Thanks! Let me know if you find it. I want to try to match the maple plywood.

  23. Is there any additional support under the 3/4" plywood just curious(may have missed something) as most countertops are around 1.5 thick. Love this idea and wondering how it would work in a kitchen.

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks for the question. We did not add any additional support under the plywood.

      I asked my husband about the process and your inquiry and here's his response: No we didn’t add additional support as the sink was very light and the span across where it rested on the cabinet frame isn’t very far. We didn’t feel it needed additional support. You could easily add wood strips as support directly to the underside of the wooden countertop or as additional framing attached to the cabinet frame going across in two places if needed.

      I hope that information helps!

  24. You mentioned that the trim you bought is 1.5" wide. The plywood is 3/4". Forgive a stupid question, but does the trim just hang down an extra 3/4" below the plywood? I can't tell from the photos. -Michael

    1. Great question, Michael, thanks for asking and you prompted me to add a photo of it to clarify. It's up above and labeled with "update"...but the simple answer is yes, it does hang down. Hope that helps!

  25. I'm a few years late but hoping you can answer my question! I'm wanting to do this for the countertops in my living room but one side is almost 10 foot long. Longest I'm finding in length for purchase is 8ft. You mentioned in the article that there is a simple solution for larger scale counters to still get that seamless appearance. Can you explain that or direct me to where I can find that answer? My fiancΓ© thought I was bonkers when I mentioned plywood but he is on board now after seeing what you've done! Great work!

    1. Hi there! Oh I'm so glad you found this post useful. They do make 10ft pieces of plywood. We've purchased them. They're used for furniture or cabinetry, but you can only get them at a lumber yard. I would start there.They usually have a finished top. If you can't find that the best way to hide the seams is to make sure the pieces are joined well, so they are flush, tight. You may have to bolster the joint underneath with a small piece of wood, with glue and short screws, so there's strength where they meet and they don't move. You'll still see the seam, but that's the best way to minimize it. Hope that helps!