DIY Wood Counter for Desk Area - Build or Buy?

jenswrensMarch 29, 2013

I'm creating a desk in my home office using cabinetry. It's a budget DIY affair. I'm after a look like this:

Originally, I had planned to use Ikea butcherblock (like my kitchen counters) as the desktop. I want a darker, cherry-type look so I planned to route the edge, stain it all and then Waterlox.

There seems to be some kind of supply issue with the Numerar and Gerton, and I've been waiting for them to come back in stock for weeks now. Today they finally have 3 pieces (return items?).

Now I'm pondering building a desktop out of flooring. I did a search and read about others who have done this, so I know it's doable, and we're very DIY-handy with all the proper tools.

Please help me choose which route to go. Here are my options with the pros/cons listed.

1) Ikea Numerar beech: 2 slabs for total of $298. Plus finishing materials (Waterlox, stain ~ $40-60) and the time involved in finishing (several days). Total ~$340-360.

2) Pre-finished engineered or laminate floor over a thin plywood top.

(I'm generally not a fan of engineered flooring but for an easy, relatively inexpensive desktop with hopefully no messy finish work involved, maybe it'll do.) $170 for a case (30sf). Problem is the finished edge. They sell finished edge strips for stair nosing, etc., but this adds another $120-140 for the amount I would need. Total $310. No finishing needed (I hope). How sturdy would this be? How much work involved?

3) Finally, build a counter as above but use leftover boards of T&G yellow pine that we have from our kitchen floor. Cost $0. But these too will need to be finished ($40-60) plus days of sanding/drying/recoating, etc. Also what to use as edging and will it look "finished"?

I want wood. Don't want stone or formica or anything else. Don't want to spend a fortune on a custom walnut or Boos or whatever top. Around $300 is really all I want to spend, and the custom wood tops I've researched start at $600 or more for the size I need and only go up from there.

I found a $30 pine shelving board at the big box store but when I measured, it was only 23" wide, so that won't work for my 26" desktop. I could buy 3 ($90) and DH could rip it, I guess, but then that involves joining and gluing and sanding and finishing and bleck bleck too much work!

What makes the most sense? Please help me decide!


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Hi, with your option 2, you could just use crown molding on the edges, that you stain or paint to match the top color. Depending on the profile you use, it should work out a lot cheaper than buying pre-finished edge strips, and there would also be fewer seams than you would have if you used stair noses.

There's a blog that did a great how-to on exactly this topic. They basically did your option 3, but also suggest some ways to use flooring as edging per your option 2. Worth checking out:

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 3:28PM
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