Some of the biggest expenses in a kitchen remodel are countertops and cabinets. So what's a budget-savvy Remodelaholic to do? Paint the cabinets and DIY the countertops, of course! Today's guest has a fabulous tutorial to show you how to create beautiful *faux* reclaimed wood countertops, using new wood. Don't they look great in her farmhouse style kitchen?
If farmhouse or reclaimed wood aren't your style, there are lots of other DIY kitchen counter options, too:
And now, buckle up and take a ride with Alyson (remember her camping tent bed tutorial?) to learn how to create your own faux reclaimed wood countertops:
How to Create Faux Reclaimed Wood Countertops
by Alyson of The Ragged Wren
Hi all, I'm Alyson. I am so excited to be a guest on Remodelaholic! When I originally found this blog, I knew I had found my place. I am definitely a remodel-aholic, decor-aholic, and paint-aholic…which you can read all about, over at my blog The Ragged Wren. I have been a faux painter for almost 14 years now (gosh that makes me feel old). I love my job….as style, and design changes, I keep changing right along along with it. Not so much conforming, but creating new, and better ideas. It's an addiction really, which can get expensive…really expensive (just ask my husband). So to keep things budget friendly, we do the work ourselves. Luckily my husband is quite handy, so we make a really good team!
We bought our current home almost 2 years ago (it's still not finished of course…my work is never done). The kitchen was the space I was most excited about. I paint so many people kitchens, and cabinets on a day-to-day basis, that I knew exactly what I wanted in my kitchen. I knew I could turn this ugly, builder-grade kitchen into my dream kitchen.
With pressing schedules at work for both of us, it wasn't even addressed for 8 months after we moved in. It's a terrible feeling walking into a ugly kitchen, knowing you have the ability to fix it, and no time.
So we finally made time to start our remodel just after Christmas in 2012, when we both had off.
I had this big plan, for black leathered granite counter tops for the island, and a beautiful white and grey granite for the other counters. After getting my first quote, we realized it was way out of our budget…and I wan't going to give in on quality for cost!
So I decide we would have to make them ourselves. First we looked at using real reclaimed wood. I found some gorgeous planks, that had been torn off of an old barn. They were wide and had such great character. Then, I found out you had to “plane” them 1-2 times to get them to a usable state…which would take all the character away. So we decided it wasn't worth the money.
We realized our only option was to start with “new” wood, and make it look “old”.
I didn't want it to look like butcher block, so we played around with several sizes, and types of woods. We finally decided on Poplar.
To do a trial run, we focused on the island counter, and vent hood. They seemed like things that would still go, if we decided to scrap the other counters, and go with granite.
Here is where the kitchen started….
I know…blahh! For the record…not my faux painting job on the walls 🙂
Here is the kitchen after the remodel…..
The counters here, really make the kitchen. They play such a big part in the farmhouse feel of the kitchen, that we couldn't have gotten from granite.
Here's how we did it…
You can see the whole kitchen remodel over at my blog.
To start, we took off the laminate counters. Only a couple of screws hold it on from the underneath, so no biggie there.
Next we installed a plywood base. This is the spot to make changes to your existing layout/footprint, if you have the room. We extended the island out an additional 4″ from it's starting point. We also added decorative molding, and legs, to give it more of a furniture feel, and add to the stability.
The plywood was screwed directly into the cabinet base, and 4 “L” brackets were used underneath the overhang. Adding several nails, helped hold it in place, for installation.
For the the top layer of wood, we used Poplar. Pine is already a yellow colored wood, so stain takes even yellower. Poplar tends to have a green tint to it, but a stain with a red tint to it, can counteract this. This is also considered a soft wood, but one of the harder ones. Pine would have shown to many dents. The poplar will show a little bit over time, but that just adds to the character.
We chose 2 widths of planks (so it didn't take on a perfect, butcher block look), 6″ and 8″. We took the easy way out, by having the guys at Lowes cut our wood for us…cheating I know, but a major time savor. Mapping out the sizes, and placements was key here.
The first thing we attached was a 1 1/4″ thick piece of Pine trim. This, when finished, will give the appearance of the wood being ticker than it really is. We mitered the edges, leveled it with the top of the plywood, and screwed it directly into the sides of the plywood. The holes were filled with wood putty. Its alot harder to get a good seam here if the top pieces are already on. So doing this first is important.
Next each piece of poplar was screwed on, starting from one side working to the other. This is a two person job. My husband screwed from underneath the plywood, into the poplar, while I held pressure on the top of the board (sometimes having to lay on it to give it pressure, like in the center). Make sure the screws your using aren't to long, you don't want them poking through. They just need to be long enough to catch a bit of the poplar, and don't counter sink them. Don't worry if the boards aren't perfectly level, it's meant to look like reclaimed wood, so it shouldn't be perfect!
Here it is after all the piece are put on.
The corners ended up being pretty sharp, and with little ones that run laps around our kitchen, we had to take those down a bit. I just used a palm sander, and wore down anything that had a hard edge.
Since the counters are supposed to look old, I ran the sander down the center of the seams as well, between each board. Making a deeper grove in some areas, by alternating pressure.
To rough up the tops of the counters, and give them an aged look….I used some top secret tools and objects from around the house.
A large garage hook…This will get damaged, so don't plan on using it again. A large screw, with a heavy thread, would work here too. I held it down, and whacked the threaded end, sometimes dragging the marks close together like scratches. Other times, making rows.
I also used the pointed end of the hook to make grouping of holes. Use a hammer to get a deeper hole.
I'd love to give you some secret formula, but as with most of the stuff in my house, there was alot of make it up as you go. I made lot of samples, using the scrap woods…this is about half of them 🙂 My husband is very picky visual, and needed to see the final product, to commit.
I mixed a tiny bit of the colors together, and added a good amount of paint thinner. About 1 cup of thinner, to half a cup of stain. This really thins out the stain, making it a build-able color. I used a foam brush and started off with a light coat. Raw poplar takes stain very quickly. The paint thinner will allow the dark stain the penetrate down to each pore of the grain…which gives it that aged look, unlike straight stain.
While the layer was damp, and not dry all the way through the wood…I took a darker version of the stain (still thinned out), and with the edge of the foam brush I started to highlight areas of the grain. You don't want the wood to be completely dry, because the stain would be harsh, and stay right were you touched the wood. When the wood is wet, and the stain is thin, they bleed together, giving a softer aged appearance.
The best (and only in my opinion) product for this is Waterlox. Just like the name says, it “locks” out the water by sealing the pores. The can runs about $40, and covered all my counters, with left overs. I used what they call a “medium sheen” here. I purchased this at a specialty wood store here in town, it's not carried at the local hardware store.
I applied this with a foam brush, going in the direction of the grain. Coat the surface with one thick coat. Once you have a full coat on, don't touch it again. The sealer will start to pool together as it dries, so don't worry about brush strokes. Some areas will dry faster than others, almost immediately. These are areas that are really porous, and this is the sealer going down as far as it can get.
When dried completely, the “medium sheen” looks more like a gloss, kind-of wet.
And finished off the rest of the counters…. a month later.
Its been a year now, and they have held up so well. I am 110% satisfied with the end result. I wouldn't even trade them for granite at a really cheap price!
We don't really use them as a cutting board but I guess you could, we get that question alot.
From there it's just a screw driver, a sander, and a paint brush!
Amazing work, Alyson! I love the finished kitchen, every last bit of it!