Learn how to make cheap counters by building DIY plywood countertops.
Making a beautiful wood countertop from birch plywood is easier and cheaper than you think.
Painted or stained, they look beautiful with white cabinets.
In January of this year, we started the process of remodeling our kitchen.
We tore the entire kitchen out, added more windows, put shiplap on the walls and installed new kitchen cabinets.
As we head for the finish line, we needed to make a choice for budget-friendly countertops.
When we installed the cabinets, we chose to use a temporary piece of plywood for our countertops.
We took 3/4 plywood, ripped it in half and attached it to the cabinets.
Then, I used black chalk paint, and wax to paint the countertop.
I was very surprised at how well they held up to the daily use of six people, lots of cooking from scratch and daily use.
Our longest section of countertops is just over 13 feet long. I did some research and realized that my dream countertops, black soapstone, was out of the cash only budget.
I thought about using butcher block but ultimately decided to go with a nicer grade of plywood.
Together, my husband and I, were able to build all of our countertops for around $250.00.
Building DIY Plywood Countertops Video
While I don’t go into a ton of detail in this video, I hope that by watching it plus reading the step by step instructions, you will understand how we built our countertops.
I generally take a lot of photos for these tutorials, however, I found myself busy with this project.
In doing so, I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked.
Supplies Needed for Building DIY Plywood Countertops
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My husband and I used these supplies for building DIY plywood countertops.
Our counters are 1 1/2 inch thick, and the amount of plywood that you will need will depend on how long your counters need to be.
All the supplies added together were around 250.00, with several remaining supplies for future projects.
In my opinion, that is a good price for a budget friendly countertop solution.
- 2 sheets of plywood for the bottom layer of the countertops
- 2 sheets of plywood for the top layer of the countertops – we used birch
- contact cement
- cheap brush for applying the contact cement
- Impact Driver
- Wood Screws
- Table Saw
- Circular Saw
- Minwax Wood Effects
- Matte Polycrylic
- Sandpaper 320 grit
- Wood Filler
- Sandpaper 80 grit
- Stain brush for stain
- Brush for polycrylic
How to Build a DIY Countertop from Plywood
Step 1: Remove the Old Countertop
In our situation, the old countertop was easy to remove. My husband removed the drawers from the cabinets and unscrewed the countertop.
Step 2: Measure and Cut
Timothy, my husband, measured how long our countertops would need to be.
A sheet of plywood is only 8 feet long, so we had to use two pieces to make the longest countertop, just over 13 feet.
The cheaper plywood pieces were measured, cut, and placed on top of the cabinets.
Then, cut the birch plywood that is being used as the tops of the countertops to the exact same size as the bottom plywood.
Step 3: Add Layer of Contact Cement
We used a thick layer of contact cement between the two layers of plywood.
Doing this created a tight bond between the two pieces, sealing them together.
Step 4: Assemble
Once the contact cement is painted on, place the birch plywood on top.
Be sure that the top and bottom plywood pieces line up so that you have a straight edge across the front.
Step 5: Install Sink
The next step was to install the sink base.
We used the template that came with our sink to trace the correct dimensions, then Timothy cut the hole for the sink and attached it.
Step 6: Screw the Countertops Down
Once the sink was in place, Timothy screwed the countertops to the cabinets.
It is important to use a wood screw that is long enough to get through both layers of plywood but not too long so that it does not come through the top plywood layer.
Step 7: Fill the Seam
Since our countertops are so long, there is a small seam where the two sections of countertops meet.
Before applying stain, I used a wood filler to fill the gap, then lightly sanded with 320 grit sandpaper to get a smooth finish.
Step 8: Apply Stain
The birch plywood was already very smooth. Therefore, I didn’t have to sand before I began applying the Minwax Wood Effect stain.
I followed the directions on the back of the can to allow for proper drying time between each coat.
To achieve the dark look of our countertops, I applied 4 layers of stain.
Now, I can get quite impatient and have a tendency to jump ahead in a project. This is one of those times that I did that.
So, if you follow this tutorial, I suggest you do the next step first and then stain.
Step 8: Finish the Edge of the Countertops
Originally, I had planned to purchase a nice trim piece to finish the edge of the countertops.
Then, I came up with the idea to sand down the edge using 80 grit sandpaper. I then used wood filler to fill in any gaps, allowed it to dry, and sanded it again.
I continued doing this until the edges were smooth and all the gaps or small holes were filled in.
I then used 320 grit sandpaper to get a smooth finish before applying the stain.
Step 9: Apply the Polycrylic
There are multiple products to choose from in order to apply a long lasting finish to the countertops.
My main concern was that I needed a finish that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting water on.
I wasn’t concerned about the finish being food grade because I use cutting boards and will not be cutting on the counters.
I did not want a very shiny finish, so I opted to use a flat polycrylic and followed the directions on the back of the product.
This process took the longest amount of time due to the hours of dry time.
Thoughts on Building DIY Pywood Countertops
Building DIY plywood countertops was a simple process. We did not have any odd angles to cut; therefore, the cuts were all simple.
The longest part of the process was waiting for the stain and polycrylic to dry.
I love the result of our counters. The countertops are wood, so I expect some wear, and hopefully, in time, they will have an aged look to them.
However, so far, they are holding up incredibly well. When water is on the counter, it beads up, and I wipe it away.
In our home, we use cutting boards to cut food and potholders to sit on hot pans.
I believe that no matter what kind of countertops we would have chosen, there would still be some care and caution to take.
So, I treat these with care just as I would any other countertop.
I hope that this tutorial inspires you and shows you that you can create beautiful DIY plywood countertops on a budget.
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by today. If you love what you have seen, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on all the happenings here at Rocky Hedge Farm.
To see how we covered our ceilings with Armstrong Wood Planks, see this POST!
39 thoughts on “Building DIY Plywood Countertops”
These are gorgeous! Thank you! Leah
The countertops are fantastic, such a well done project. I think you chose the best project for your budget and made it look outstanding. Thanks for showing people you don’t need to spend a fortune to have beautiful countertops.
Thank you! Yes, I hope others are inspired!
Gorgeous, they truly look gorgeous, you did a great job. I may have to try this, i have always wanted wooden countertops but, at my age decided i shouldn’t spend the money. It is tempting, thanks.
You corps definitely do it!
Holy moly..truly amazing you did a fantastic job.
Could you please tell me where you got those awesome lights over your table?
Thank you so much! Yes, the lights are from Amazon. I will be doing a final reveal where I link all my sources here soon.
Oh great! I’m a follower so I will be on lookout. Love your blog and istagram❤️
These look amazing! Love your style! Question…I’m interested in trying this but want white countertops. Would you recommend a whitewash/pickling stain or paint the countertops white before sealing? I’m not too concerned with food grade either as we use cutting boards. Blessings to you!
You can use a pickling stain or paint on the countertops. For my temporary ones, I used black chalk paint and wax. I would recommend using something stronger than that but mine actually held up quite well considering the use they get on a daily basis.
It turned out so pretty! You have such a great eye, and you accomplished something Very artistically pleasing without compromising your budget limitations.
These are really, really wonderful!!!
Thank you so much!
Can you link the br keys for the wood shelves? You all have done an amazing job! It looks lovely. I’m sure you are enjoying it.
I will be doing a full post soon with all the sources for the kitchen. 🙂
Your counters look wonderful, we just finished ours, we used 1×6 and 1×8 poplar appearance boards from Lowes. But I saw the birch plywood you used for yours and thought of cutting it into planks, and using it on the floors…what do you think of that? Do you think it would look good/hold up, we are a farm family with 4 kids, so they’ll get wear and tear for sure!
Thanks for all your great posts!!
I am not quite sure how well it would hold up for flooring. It has a thin birch layer on the top and if it gets cut to where that comes up, it could cause an issue. However, I have had plywood floors before, but we used the cheaper option, and they held up for a long time. Another suggestion would be to contact a local hardwood flooring center and get real hardwood floors. If you like the rustic look (what I have in my home) go with a #3 grade hardwood that is unfinished. It’s amazing at much cheaper it is than the #1 grade. Just another idea for you. 🙂 Best wishes.
Thanks for the idea!
WHere did you find the kitchen rug?
It is from Target
Love the budget friendly counter tops and color. Doing this budget friendly certainly frees up the budget to do other projects.
Hi! Just came across this. Thank you for sharing your process! Could you tell us about the backsplash? Thank you!
Our backsplash is what we put on the wall, which is shiplap boards.
Your countertop looks amazing! I just came across your post about your countertop as we were doing the same thing but not happy with outcome. We had used plywood and then added an extra wood piece all the way around as this is more of an island piece for a trim. Also had to piece the plywood so there is a seam. We used Bondo and wood filler, sanded and primed but when we went to paint every line (even though the wood was smooth) every line showed through. Do you think using mini wax wood effects filled in all of your flaws or lines in the wood to create a smooth surface? I appreciate your input. Thanks!
I am curious to know what kind of plywood you used. Maybe that is what made the difference? Feel free to contact me through email – [email protected] and I will talk with you more about this.
What is the best plywood and what thickness of both did you use?
We used the really good plywood that has a smooth surface and they were the 3/4″
Did you water base poly acrylic
Do you feel like these countertops are sturdy enough to hold up a cast iron sink?
I have a very heavy sink in mine so I would imagine so.
Would this theoretically work if you wanted to keep wood grain? Not concerned with food safety. Just have a very tight budget, but kitchen could desperately use new countertops.
I would imagine that it would work. I think you would still need to find a way to seal the wood to avoid water damage.
I’d love to know how these are holding up! Have you had any issues with your seal getting worn away or water seeping into the wood?
They are holding so well! I just recently re-sealed them and I have had no issues with the water seeping into the wood. I would definitely do this process again!
very well done .
I was wondering what if anything you used to seal the wood for the sink installation? we want to do an undermount but our only concern was how you cut through the cheaper plywood and how the center would be exposed to water? Or did you just cover with the same sealer and that’s good enough – hope that makes sense
I sanded it smooth and then covered it with multiple coats of sealant. It has held up well!