There are many different materials that can be used to build kitchen countertops. Plywood is quite popular and is often used as a support underneath many other materials. Plywood is very durable even when wet, which makes it very common in the kitchen. Plywood is an inexpensive option for countertops as they can take a lot of use and still look great when properly maintained.
Step 1 - The Wood
The best type of plywood is veneer plywood. The thickness for a countertop should be ¼ of an inch. This is usually available for $1 a square foot. Maple and birch can be found sold in large boxes for under $50. It may be possible to find some dark brown walnut or red cherry depending on what is available at your local lumberyard. It is a good idea to purchase some two-inch strips of the same wood in order to hide the cut sides of the countertop.
Step 2 - Remove the Sink
Depending on where your countertop is going it may be necessary to remove the sink and cooktop. This is only for installation. Ensure that the water supply lines and drain stem will accommodate the plywood height.
Step 3 - Place Seams
As you begin cutting, place the seams well. Seams are best found at turns, breaks, or narrow areas behind the cooktop. Decide the best place for seams as you measure the different areas of the countertop.
Step 4 - Cutting
Use a jigsaw or circular saw to cut all of the wood to the correct lengths based on your measurements. When cutting, flip the wood so that you are cutting through the reverse side. This will minimize any chips to the veneer and produce a great finished surface.
Step 5 - Glue
Clean off the current countertop well. Apply a layer of high grab construction adhesive to the existing countertop and lay down the new one. Weigh down the panel with heavy objects such as stacks of books. To get everything flat, rolling the plywood using something as basic as a rolling pin will help. If there are any tricky spots that are not adhering well then use 4-penny finishing nails to secure the new countertop. Once the main panel is secure, glue on the two-inch strips to any area that is showing a cut side.
WARNING: If you use contact cement for your adhesive, check to see which kind you use. Solvent-based contact cement is highly flammable while it dries, which needless to say means you'll have to be extra-cautious.
Step 6 - Seal & Stain
It is important to seal any edges of the cutouts for the sink and cooktop. For the sink, a bead of silicone sealant around the edge will do when reinstalling the item. For additional protection, a satin stain can help to avoid any possible yellowing over time. Beeswax polish will also help protect the countertop.
Step 7 - A Base
Besides being a lovely countertop on its own, plywood countertops will function as the base for tiled countertops and other material. veneer plywood is not necessary if you plan to use it as a base. This is because the plywood will be covered up. Once the plywood is installed, additional prep will be needed depending on what is going on top of the plywood.