Studio Progress & Countertop Decision

Yesterday, I shared three ideas that I had for creating an extra-long countertop to span my 19.5-foot wall in the studio, and y’all had some super creative ideas for me! My mind has been reeling with all of the different ideas, and in the end, I’ve decided to use hardwood flooring to create the countertop.

There were a few reasons that I decided to go with this option. First, I’ve done it before, so I know it will work. I used 3/4-inch red oak hardwood flooring to make the countertop in our walk-in pantry.

So there will be no guesswork or trial and error with this. I’ve already done it, and it turned out great, and I have my old blog posts to refer back to so that I can refresh my memory on the process. You can see how I made these countertops here.

The second reason I decided to go with hardwood flooring as a countertop is because the result is a durable solid wood surface at a fraction of the cost of butcherblock. I’ll probably go with unfinished maple for the studio countertops, and that runs about $6.30/square foot. That’s about $283.50 for the long 19.5-foot countertop, and then I’ll need to buy plywood for the substrate. But even with that, I’m still looking at less than $500 for a 19.5-foot wood countertop.

The third reason is obvious — no straight seams or joints. This was my main concern with using butcherblock or sheet laminate. Whether I have one seam or joint in the middle, or two offset seams or joints, they would bother me either way. I just wanted something to appear as a solid, uninterrupted surface.

And the final reason is that it can be built in place. There are several countertop options that require being built elsewhere and then being put into place. And example would be the butcherblock-style countertop that I made for our hallway bathroom.

That countertop is made of solid pine 2 x 3’s glued and screwed to each other, and then cut down to size. I had to build it upside down (using my front porch as a work bench), and then once it was assembled, I turned it over, cut it to size, and then brought it inside and set it in place.

Now imagine doing that with a 20-foot-long countertop. 😀 Yeah, that would be impossible.

So DIYing my own butcherblock countertop using this method was never an option for the studio. I needed something that could be built in place, and never needed to be picked up and carried and set in place.

The winning idea, and the one I felt the most confident and peaceful about, is building a countertop using hardwood flooring over a plywood substrate. And now that I’ve decided on it, I’m actually quite excited about it. I just need to decide on the specific wood species that I want to use. I know for sure that I don’t want to use red oak. I’ve had my fill of red oak since that’s what our hardwood flooring is throughout the house, and that’s what I used on the pantry countertop. In order to get that countertop the color it is, I had to bleach the wood to remove the red/pink undertones. I’d like to be able to skip that step by selecting a wood that doesn’t have that red/pink undertone. I think I’ve narrowed it down to white oak and maple.

In other news, I’m finally going to start painting the checkerboard design on the floor today. I’ve got everything prepped, taped, and ready to go. So by Monday, I should actually have this portion of the floor finished and ready to show you!

I’m so excited to see actual progress in this room! It’s been a long time coming, and it’s so fun to finally see my vision come to life.

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    1. Is oak or maple softer?

      Maple is among the harder wood species, with a 1450 rating on the Janka wood hardness chart. As one of the densest wood species, Maple is ideal for high-traffic areas. Oak is slightly less hard – White Oak has a 1360 rating and Red Oak a 1290 rating. › blog
      Oak vs. Maple Floors: Find out Which

    2. maple is actually a hardwood (harder than oak) and i found it very difficult to stain evenly…

    3. Maple is very hard. My stair treads are maple – and they show little wear for 23 years and counting.

  1. So glad to hear you decided on the hardwood flooring for the countertop. After reading the first post and then today, I have decided to go with the unfinished flooring for my island to add some warmth to the kitchen. I’m torn between Koa and white oak and hickory. I love the more busy designs in wood. Would love to do Rosewood but doubt my pocketbook could stand it! LOL I just know that countertop is going to be fabulous when you’re done.

  2. I’m sure you already know, but if you go with maple and are staining it, you need to use a stain prep/conditioner first. Maple can be challenging about taking stain evenly, so stain prep is key to getting a good result.

    (a prior builder of ours had to pay to have every cabinet in our house refinished when his paint crew didn’t do this on our maple cabinets. You could see every hand print and even a butt print on the cabinet doors of our kitchen and family room after the paint/stain crew was done. Even the builder said it looked like a deer camp, not a home kitchen.)

  3. Ohhhhh, so why didn’t you tell us about this option before??? Ha! The pantry countertops are beautiful and I’m sure the ones you build for the workshop will be too’

  4. Oh, sounds like a perfect solution for you…in all ways…no seams, built right there in place, and you have done it before…I LOVE that. Now, I’m watching for the floor which will be amazing. Now it is getting more fun…a few more decisions made!

  5. Sounds like a reasonable compromise since you didn’t have to build the cabinetry. I’m always amazed at your progress; taping the floor design would land me in the hospital needing 2 new hips!😬

    1. Yes, I was going to simply say ‘amazing’ ! I love the way you just take things on … and do it so well! I’m also in awe of your carpentry skills! Next level! You’re amazing Kristy :)!!

  6. I think that’s a wonderful idea for the countertop – can’t wait to see more progress of the space!

    Also loving the surprise website redesign! Looks great!!!!

  7. How will you do the counters using hardwood flooring- meaning, how will you finish the front edge without the plywood showing? Don’t the Ikea cabinet doors and drawers go all the way to the top of the cabinet– so there’s not frame showing? If you put a 1 x 2 it will hang too low. Will you build the plywood up some or just put a really narrow strip on the front? We have the need of 16′ counter in my husband’s office and once you reminded me of how you did your pantry I knew I wanted to do the same. We’re also using Ikea cabinets so I’m not sure how to finish the front of the counter. Thanks!

    1. The thickness of the hardwood flooring plus the plywood substrate will be 1.5 inches. To cover the front edge, simply rip down a piece of the wood flooring to 1.5 inches, and nail it to the front edge. You can check the blog posts that I did on my pantry countertop and see how I did it.

  8. I think you’ve made a great choice. I can’t wait to see the end result! I’m definitely going to try this some day too!