$100 Wooden Countertops: The Tutorial

I know many of you have read my posts about how we re-purposed three solid oak doors from Habitat for Humanity, turning them into kitchen counter tops.

Since I posted the final reveal of our kitchen, I have had several emails to write a tutorial on how we did it.  Technically I have a couple posts on the how-to, but I thought I would take the time today to put it all in one place.

We took these…3 solid oak commercial grade doors and turned them into…


First, we ripped out the ancient 1950′s laminate counter tops, the old laminate top is what we used to create a template for the cuts.


It was as easy as laying the old counter top on top of the wooden door and tracing the shape.

 Sand, Tape…and cut


After making the cuts for the new counter tops, it is time for the fun part….installation.

The first part of installation is easy, simply lay the counter top on top of the cabinets.  We had to use one door + a couple of pieces from the second door to make the first counter top.  Above you can see where we had to add a couple pieces.

Next, simply screw the countertop in place.


Now it’s time to make these bad boy’s pretty :).

First step, we had to piece together the large portion of the counter top with the two extra pieces…easy

We simply used a wood filler and sanded.  I was a little concerned that the wood filler would not stain properly, but it worked beautifully.

Next, add the veneer edging.  When we first bought the doors we thought they were solid oak throughout.  Once we cut them we realized they were oak veneered with a heavy duty particle board filler.  Still a nice product for counter tops, but we had to add a veneered edge so the interior particle board would not show.

After inspecting the grain we decided to use a white oak 1 1/2″ iron on veneer for the edging.  I bought it on Amazon.

We bought the iron on edging.  I lined the top edge of the the veneer with the top edge of the counter top and started ironing.  The edging was a little wider than the width of the counter top.  To trim it down Alfred ran an exacto knife along the bottom edge, trimming it to size.

After we touched up the cracks and installed the edging.  We sanded the counter tops down a third time and wiped them to remove the sawdust. Then we applied wood conditioner, in preparation for the final steps…stain and polyurethane.

To stain the countertops we used Minwax color Special Walnut.


The stain was applied by brushing it on using even strokes.  We allowed it to penetrate through the wood a few minutes and then wiped the excess off with a soft rag (basically we followed the directions on the container).

After two coats of stain and 24 hours of drying time….it was time for the protective finish, polyurethane.

We used Minwax Wipe-On Poly in a satin finish.  It was applied with a lambs wool applicator (you can find these in Lowe’s in the wood floor re-finishing section).  The lambs wool applicator applied a nice, even finish to the countertops.  We applied one coat, let it dry, then sanded it down with a very fine steel wool.  This step we repeated approximately four times.  The Poly raises the grain in the wood, we continued to apply poly and sand until the counter tops were smooth and had a nice protective finish.


I cannot tell you how much I love our new countertops, they really add warmth to the kitchen and they are durable.  I had a question from one of my reader’s as we were going through the process.  She asked if we were going to cut on them, like butcher block.  We do not use them as a cutting surface, but I think as they get worn in they will still be beautiful.

Wow, this was a long post.  Thanks for sticking through to the end :).


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  1. says

    Elizabeth I love this post. I am pinning it and emailing it to my husband right now! I am fine with our counters but I think in the next couple years they will need to be replaced, and our habitat restore has a whole warehouse of doors. The look is great with the white subway tile and white cabinets. Good job your kitchen is so cute it will really help with the sale of your house.

  2. says

    Your counter tops are very beautiful, it makes me wish we had done that, two years ago when we redid our kitchen, it’s so nice looking. Thanks for taking the time to explain it in depth.
    Hugs, Cindy

  3. says

    I love these countertops! I was considering the IKEA butcher block ones, but never thought to look for doors.. Hooray for your ingenuity! Great Job and brilliant inspiration for us all.

  4. says

    That turned out beautiful! You both did a wonderful job! I am going to be on the lookout for some doors now, thanks for sharing how you turned the doors into countertops.

  5. says

    No, you did not! Oh my goodness you are a genius, that so amazing I would never have thought about that! This project would be PERFECT for our linky party featuring “Transformations” called Repurpose-Remodel-Reveal, I know our readers would love to see it too! (It starts tomorrow- Friday, March 16th 2012 at 7:00 am and reoccures every 1st and 3rd Friday)

    -Whitney @ TheRoosterAndTheHen

  6. says

    That is just too awesome, I love it. I’m actually doing a happy dance over here! I so want to change our countertops but didn’t want to spend $1000. This is such a great idea and your kitchen now looks amazing. I even love how you left the curvy wood piece over sink. Pinned it!!!

  7. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your oak door counters. I use 2 solid core birch doors for my loft craft table and love them. With a stained and polyurethane finish they withstand everything I throw at them, and look great doing it. I never even thought of using the same thing for the wood kitchen counters I had planned. I thought I’d be making a 6 hour road trip to the nearest Ikea to haul theirs home. Not now!

    Thank you!

  8. says

    You are my new hero! I’ve been wanting wood counters, but have the angled counters like yours. I couldn’t figure out how to get wood counters without having the custom made. Love this and will be haunting my Habitat store every chance I get now! Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I’m following via linky follower now. Have a fabulous weekend! Deborah

  9. says

    Fabulous idea! I hate the ugly plastic laminate counter tops in my kitchen and this would be a gorgeous way to replace them. Thanks so much for the detailed tutorial!

  10. eskmom says

    I doubt I will ever have them in my house, but I just had to tell you that your counter tops are FABULOUS and considering all the projects i have tackled, I know they weren’t easy. They are truly beautiful and look like you paid more than 100.00 for them. In fact, you whole redo is wonderful.

    Enjoy them and may your kitchen always be filled with the love and liveliness of friends and family.

  11. says

    I LOVE your countertops…genius that you guys repurposed doors for them. I’m obsessed with white kitchen cabinets paired with dark wood countertops, so I’m drooling over your kitchen. Great job!

  12. Debbi in Texas says

    I love your countertops and we shop our Habitat Restore all the time; guess what our next project will be, thanks to your great tutorial? Love your tile work. Your kitchen is just the cutest.

  13. vicki says

    I love the countertops! Your kitchen looks just like mine in the before state!! I’m just wondering if you put the counters in before the subway tile? Also, where is the tile from? Thanks so much for the inspiration! Vicki

  14. Tina B says

    Thank you for this post! I have been trying to find a solution for an inexpensive redo of our kitchen and did not want to go with laminate. I love the idea of reclaiming something rather than buying something new. I will be off the our Habitat store and various places to see what I can come up with. This is awesome. Beautiful kitchen!!

  15. says

    Your kitchen is a dream boat. I adore everything about it. I love the natural look of the wood counter tops. SO FAB. I shared this on my COM-FB page. winks, jen

  16. says

    Ok, they are totally fabulous! I have to say that if I had been the one doing this, when I realized the doors were particle board, I would have thought “this is a total bust and they are going to look horrible! What have I done.” I think it shows that if you stick it out and get through it, you will have an amazing result. Thanks for sharing the tutorial too! LOVE the finished product. M.

  17. Kelley says

    I bought doors at Restore today to do this project. I am so excited but a little nervous too.

  18. Aidens mom says

    I am excited…this is my next project. I have counter tops that were installed in 1975 and they are the ugliest shade of green. Every time I bring up getting new countertops my husband says the expense is to much because we have so many other projects to do. I showed him your counters and he said when do we start. I am sooo excited because we need to add more counter to one side of our kitchen to add a dishwasher and now we can without much added expense.

  19. Ashleen Moreen says

    The last time I did project like this was 2 years ago.
    Yours was like really genius-ly done! I love that countertops!

  20. Mortisha Brown says

    I love to see beautiful kitchen and your countertops are very impressive. I adore everything about it. I love the natural look of the wood counter tops. Nice job!


  21. Laura says

    I just loove loove this idea!!! I am always looking to do my house work on a budget!!! This is genius I already found some doors on craigslist! I can not wait!!! To put the icing on the cake my husband is even on board!

  22. Megan K says

    Wow, I absolutely love this! I have been trying to find an inexpensive way to replace the laminate countertops in the house we’re about to buy, and I am so impressed! Ahh, I am going to Habitat Restore this week! Do you have to do much to keep them up?

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  24. Kedje says

    This is pure GENIOUS! Thank you! My father has re-used old doors as far back as I can remember! Mostly for desks and work surfaces, but this definitely kicks it up a huge notch! Can’t afford to re-do my kitchen, but am going to look into, with a friends help, doing this! Awesome!

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  26. annie says

    What a great idea! I am replacing my countertops but keep vacillating between wood vs. a tasteful laminate. How has the finish held up on your countertops? Have you had to re-poly them at all?

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  31. Diane says

    I have been looking at laminates for two years and not found one to tie my kitchen together. I have a vinyl floor that is in strips and suppose to look like oak. It is yellowish-gold. I have a large brown cherry table with dark blackish brown legs and a copper like edging under the top piece. My cabinets are off white and need a repainting. I bought the floor to go with my laminate butcher block counter top that we still have. I also have a cherry veneer dinette cabinet I can repaint. I came across your counter top
    redo and wondered if I could use oak and maybe stain it to look like my table to tie the dark table on one side of the 12′x17′ kitchen to the floor and light cabinets that run on the other long 17′ wall and a short bit on one 12′ end. I don’t think I could find solid cherry doors, but maybe even leaving the oak doors oak and painting the cabinets a color instead of white would work. I appreciate your ingenuity with making your own counter top. Great job. Any advice would be welcome.


  1. [...] same thing with our wooden kitchen counter tops. I love the warmth wooden counter tops add to a kitchen, but new counter tops were out of the [...]