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Basement Crafty (& Handy) Laundry Room Projects The Victorian House

Making DIY Plywood Countertops

Plywood for Countertops in the Laundry Room

There are a few options when it comes to wooden counters. Let me just say right now that I’m not sure I picked the best one (given a do-over I would make the counter with solid wood), but it was among the least expensive and not a bad choice. This was my reasoning…

Butcher Block

Butcher block is a great choice in a kitchen, but it does say “kitchen” to me and felt like an odd choice for a laundry room. (I’m sure that is my own weird reaction.) I didn’t want the striated effect, and I don’t always care for the way it looks when stained as opposed to oiled. Of course now that I have plywood counters that I also don’t love the look of stained, this was a foolish reason to rule out butcher block, but at least I saved a lot of money in comparison?

Faux-Wood Laminate

I’m not a laminate snob — it can be a great choice and was something I had considered — but I’m not into the fake wood options.

Reclaimed Wood

Ideal! Lovely and with history and character! It felt beyond my woodworking abilities though, for pretty much the same reasons I avoided wooden boards.

Wooden Boards/Planks

Turning boards into counters seemed daunting. I don’t regret using plywood because I haven’t done a whole lot of woodworking projects and I learned a lot, but I wish I had the confidence I’ve now gained because this would have been prettier.

I would have needed a biscuit joiner, biscuits, and plenty of 36” long clamps. Maybe a planer, too? Lowe’s is sponsoring the laundry room reveal and they would have provided any tools and materials I needed, but I approached this project as I would have on my own, keeping in mind a budget and a level of appropriate finishes for a 125-year-old basement laundry room. It’s way nicer than before, but I can’t make the room into something it isn’t architecturally and I didn’t want to hoard a bunch of specialized tools I might never use again just because I could. Still, I have minor regrets. This would have been far nicer.


Winner, winner! I figured it would be easy to work with since it’s already a large, flat pane, and plywood is inexpensive. I don’t love the end result, but I don’t hate it either. If you’re considering this option, I hope it’s helpful to read a positive but not glowing experience with it.

Plywood comes in a variety of wood species, thicknesses, and grades. I chose pine over oak or maple because while it is softer (and susceptible to gouges and scratches), it takes a mid-tone stain nicely and doesn’t blacken with water exposure. I was planning to stain and seal my counters, but with wet laundry and a big sink both having the potential to ruin them, I’d rather see wear with age than black spots.

Two of my cabinets end against uneven stone foundation walls. I used a compass to scribe the edges onto a piece of cardboard, then cut the edge with a razor and tested the fit. Once I was happy with that step, I used the cardboard as a template, traced it onto my plywood, and then cut those edges with a jigsaw.

I used two sheets of plywood (a nice 3/4″ thick pine for the top and a lower grade 1/2″ for the bottom) to make a strong counter for the sink cabinet. After cutting the top sheet to size, I dry fit it into place before centering and tracing the sink template.

Cutting Plywood for DIY Wooden Countertops

I don’t use our table saw very often (and whoops, I didn’t clear the cobwebs on the base), but the blade we had in it would have chewed up the plywood. I picked up an inexpensive new 10” blade with 60 teeth that cuts plywood cleanly. I picked up a jigsaw blade with more teeth (12) for the same reason and it left fairly smooth edges.

Cutting the Sink Opening in the Plywood Countertop

Cutting out the opening for a sink in the counter

I used a different technique for the other two counters. I didn’t need a full second sheet of plywood for more strength, I just wanted to raise the counters up a little to make room for trim pieces while leaving clearance for drawers to open. I added 1/2″ thick pine boards around the perimeter of each counter. Each piece was glued, clamped, and then screwed into place.

How to Make DIY Plywood Countertops

Glue and clamp wooden boards to raise the plywood counters

Plywood edges are ugly, so I added simple 1-1/2″ pine trim around each counter. They were glued, clamped, and held in place with finish nails. I used a nail set to countersink the nails and then fill them with stainable wood filler, but here’s another lesson learned: get pine wood filler if you’re working with pine because I didn’t and the filled holes took stain differently.

I filled nail holes and any imperfections, then sanded the counters with 200-grit sandpaper. I wiped the surface clean with tack cloth and applied wood conditioner, followed by two coats of Ipswich Pine stain. I finished with three coats of polyurethane applied with a natural bristle brush, lightly roughed up with 320-grit sandpaper between coats, and buffed with 0000 steel wool after fully drying.

The photo below on the left is from when I applied the second coat of poly (still wet), and on the right is the finished counter. I chose a satin finish, which I’m happy with.

Making DIY Plywood Countertops | Making it Lovely

They were dry to the touch after sitting overnight, but I left them alone for three days before putting anything on top. They’re attached to the counters with simple metal L brackets and wood screws.

Plywood Countertop with Sink Opening

The pine trim took stain differently than the pine plywood. You can see the filled-in nail holes. The counters are smooth, but not a perfectly glassy finish, and the wood grain is nothing special. I don’t want to seem so down on them, but I don’t want to encourage anyone to do this and think it’s going to be the most! amazing! project! ever! They’re good, utilitarian counters for a good, utilitarian space, and they’re cheap. I give them a B+.

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