How Do I Make a Counter Bar From Wood Flooring?
Counter bars are frequently made from wood flooring because of its durability and low maintenance requirements. A countertop made from maple or oak flooring creates a very hard surface that can easily resist the constant abuse of spilled drinks and repeated contact with glasses and bottles. Wood flooring is also ideal because it is 3/4-inch thick and can support any weight likely to be placed on it. This includes wine racks and even small refrigerators. To add to this inherent strength, some counter bars are coated with a poured epoxy that adds an extra layer of protection.
Frame the counter top with the 1 by 4 inch trim, installing it all around the outside edge. Make sure to seat it 3/4 of an inch higher than the top of your flat install surface. When you install the flooring, it will end up flush with your border. You can use a piece of flooring as a guide by placing it on the bar top, then bringing the trim up to the same height before nailing. Glue and nail the frame into place with the finish gun.
Cut all of the flooring into random sizes with a maximum length of 24 inches. Most wood flooring comes in various lengths, with some as long as 72 inches. Since you will be using glue for the install, the pieces must be shorter than 24 inches to seat in the adhesive properly. These short pieces will also make the installation go quickly and efficiently, as you won't have to struggle with longer twisted material.
Spread the adhesive and install the first row of flooring by placing it tightly against the wood framework. Shoot a couple of finish nails into the starter row so the rest of the install process doesn't dislodge the border trim. Using a rubber mallet, install the flooring on the bar top making sure that the tongues and grooves lock together and the flooring is firmly seated in the adhesive.
Clean up the area and allow the bar top to sit for for a week before beginning sanding. The wood will expand as it absorbs moisture from the environment and the adhesive. It is important to let it acclimate fully before sanding so the finished product doesn't develop any cracks or cupping.
Sanding and Finishing
Use a belt sander with rough grit paper to do an initial leveling sanding. Always go with the grain when working with the sander, because cutting across the grain creates marks that are very difficult to remove. Once the wood is flat and all joints are level, vacuum up the dust.
Thin the wood filler if necessary to make it more pliant and then trowel it over the entire surface to fill any cracks or knot holes. Pull the trowel tightly so that it doesn't leave any lumps. Let the filler dry for an hour and then re-fill any areas where the filler didn't stick or sank into cracks.
Sand the bar top a second time using the belt sander with medium grit paper. This sanding will remove any excess filler and marks left from the initial sanding. Vacuum the bar top, then pass over it one more time with an orbital sander using a fine grit paper to take care of any lingering marks.
Vacuum the bar top to clean up any dust, then apply the first coat of finish. Once it's dry, lightly hand-sand the top using fine grit paper. Apply two more coats using the same preparation method each time. Be sure to lightly sand and vacuum between each coat. Three coats of finish, or 1 coat of epoxy, will give you the protection you need for extended use.
- If you are applying an epoxy surface, make your frame 1/8 of an inch higher than your flooring surface so you can pour the epoxy up to that level.
- You can periodically apply another coat of finish to freshen up the appearance. It should only be necessary every few years depending on how heavily the bar top is used.
- Turn off any ceiling fans or close any windows when the coats are applied. Air movement can cause dust to settle into the finish and lead to imperfections.
Gregg Miller has been a professional educator, writer and language tutor since 1996 and contributes to various websites. He specializes in education, fitness and language articles. He has a Master of Education in teaching English as a second language from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of Arts in Asian studies from the University of Florida.
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