How Do I Make a Counter Bar From Wood Flooring?

Gregg Miller

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.


Wood flooring makes an excellent counter bar.
    Nail and glue the framework for added strength
  1. 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.

  2. Standard wood flooring is very long, and it needs to be cut into shorts that don't exceed 24 inches.
  3. 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.

  4. Use a rubber mallet to install the bar top.
  5. 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.

  6. Allow the wood to acclimate before sanding.
  7. 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

    Sand the flooring flat before using the filler.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Sand the bar top three times with progressively finer grit paper.
  4. 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.

  5. Brush on three coats of finish.
  6. 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.