Countertop for kitchen island

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Forum topic by staf0048 posted 11-12-2018 06:16 PM 537 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 219 days

11-12-2018 06:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question dimensional lumber plywood countertop kitchen island

Hi all,

Looking for some advice or thoughts on wood countertops made from dimensional lumber or 3/4 in. Maple Plywood for a kitchen island.

Now, before you tell me this isn’t a great idea, I realize that, but I need something fairly cheap for now. My wife has been wanting this done since we bought our house 4 years ago, but between other projects and hospital stays our budget has been fairly tight. I’m trying to get the cabinets and countertops done for under $500. If needed, I’m willing to replace the countertops a year from now with something better if this doesn’t hold up.

I’ll be installing the island along a half wall that currently separates my kitchen from my dining room. Stock cabinets that match my current cabinetry will be used for the base. The countertop will go on top of these, in between two support posts that flank the wall, and overhang on the other side by appx 10 inches.

Overall dimensions will be roughly 61” x 41” and counters will be 1.5” deep. If I use plywood, the depth will be “faked” and edges veneered with Maple banding.

My concerns with the lumber:

Movement, of course, but I think I can work around most of that using angle brackets to attach the top to the cabinets. I’m also considering ripping the planks and constructing an edge grain top out of the lumber, but don’t own a table saw and only have hand plans, so not sure if that’s a better solution.

My concerns with the plywood:

The Maple veneer is very thin and not sure it will last even for a year, plus the it will look like plywood. I will probably finish with several coats of polyurethane, so not sure if my concern with the veneer is legitimate and I’m considering ripping the plywood into 6 inch planks and reconfiguring them to make them look more like real Maple planks.

All that said, I’d appreciate any thoughts or other solutions I should consider.

9 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5399 posts in 2740 days

#1 posted 11-12-2018 06:23 PM

One word of advice, “plastic laminate”.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pottz's profile


5267 posts in 1373 days

#2 posted 11-12-2018 07:04 PM

One word of advice, “plastic laminate”.

- bondogaposis


-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View edapp's profile


274 posts in 1818 days

#3 posted 11-12-2018 07:27 PM

I would absolutely not use a maple veneer plywood. One gouge and it will be ruined.

I made counter tops for my kitchen last year using Sapele. I posted a blog here about the process. They still look great, no issues with water or other stains and the wood movement has been fine (but I accounted for it in the installation and joinery process). Only evidence is a little caulk pulling away at the wall and the breadboard ends being 1/8” proud of the edge when the panel shrunk.

If you are using lumber, make sure it is dry and make sure you are installing it in a way that will let it move. I used threaded inserts in the bottom of my counter tops and put the bolts/washers into elongated holes.

View bilyo's profile


694 posts in 1491 days

#4 posted 11-12-2018 11:32 PM

I agree with the above. If you want something serviceable at minimal cost, go with MDF or particle board and plastic laminate. You can get it with a wood look if that is what you want.

View staf0048's profile


8 posts in 219 days

#5 posted 11-13-2018 12:40 AM

Thanks everyone!

I hadn’t really considered laminate before, but after seeing your replies and doing some research, that does seem to be a better option for our needs.

View diverlloyd's profile


3504 posts in 2246 days

#6 posted 11-13-2018 01:15 AM

Where are you located and what are you wanting to spend on just the top?

View staf0048's profile


8 posts in 219 days

#7 posted 11-13-2018 03:32 PM

Where are you located and what are you wanting to spend on just the top?

Colorado. I think I could get the bases done for $300, so would be looking at $200 range for the top.

If I go the laminate route, I’m looking at a cost of appx.$120 to get the top done.

View Toolbuilder's profile


7 posts in 250 days

#8 posted 11-13-2018 06:31 PM

I had a need for some weird shape and size counter-tops and looked into laminate and wasn’t too impressed.
Expensive for “specialty work” and couldn’t get the look I wanted at the edges.
Granite and other solid stuff out of my price too.

Went with tile. Doubled up plywood and triple coated with poly over the dishwasher.
They make corners, curved bull-nose and cove. Got creative. Nicest part was not working on knees. Did a back splash too. Use epoxy grout.


View Kazooman's profile


1317 posts in 2341 days

#9 posted 11-13-2018 06:51 PM

A band of hardwood makes a great edge for a laminate top. Use good quality plywood for the substrate, apply the laminate, wrap with the wood, and finish by chamfering the edge.

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