DIY Wood Herringbone Counters

6 Materials
2 Days

I want to start by saying THANK YOU to all of you for your amazing comments and compliments after revealing the kitchen. You guys are the reason I love sharing on Hometalk. A few of you asked what my island countertop was made of and when I responded, I was asked for a tutorial. So... here it is! While working on my kitchen island I knew I wanted to do something I haven't seen before. Something different. Something unique. Then it hit me. I walked into the garage, grabbed a few scraps of wood and started playing around. What I came up with was a herringbone pattern!

I began by laying a piece of plywood over the area. I opted for 1/2" because it gave more structure. I screwed it into the cabinet base - checking for level along the way (and adding shims as needed).

Next, I did a rough layout of how I wanted the counters to look.

I used wood glue and clamps to attach the side/edge pieces.

Next I added the interior pieces. Since there wasn't a good way to clamp them down, I used 20 pound kettle bells and other weights from around the house to hold the pieces down. You could also nail the wood blocks into the plywood if desired.

After everything was set (around 2 hours later), I added 1" x 3" trim along the sides, filled the gaps with wood filler and sanded.

To achieve the final color, I began by staining the wood black walnut....

Then I sanded it off. This step, for me, was vital because it allowed the stain to soak into the grain - giving the wood depth (If it were up to me, I would have probably just stopped here but the hubs hated it).

Next I created a white/gray wash. I mixed 1 part Snowbound (SW) with 1 part Classic French Gray (SW) and 2 parts water. I brushed the mixture on with a foam brush.

Next I brushed on a coat of ebony stain.

I immediately wiped it off with mineral spirits. It took a couple of pours of mineral spirits to get to the final color, but we loved it in the end. And yes, I actually poured the mineral spirits on the counters and wiped it off.

After getting the finish the way I wanted it, I added Watco Lacquer. I won't say this was an easy project - but only because my island has a lot of angles. If you are lucky enough to have a straight island, you could do this project in a weekend.

The final product. The cost for this project has a lot of variables. I went with 2 inch thick wood so it cost a lot more than using standard 1 inch thick wood. I also used white oak instead of red oak (which is a bit more expensive). I had the mill plane and joint the wood so allI had to do was cut it to length. The entire kitchen was around $1200. The island was roughly half of that.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

9 questions
  • Edward McGill
    on Dec 3, 2016

    were the stains used oil based and what gloss type was the paint?

  • LBaum
    on Mar 23, 2017

    Where did you get the wood?

  • Natalie Ziemba
    on Jun 22, 2017

    what did you do for the under mount sink? That is what we want to do as well.
  • David McIntosh
    on Mar 30, 2018

    What type of wood is it? Looks like a hardwood...

    Is it a 2x4... Did the edges come square like that already or did you square them up?

    • Ellen
      on Mar 30, 2018

      She says that she used white oak and had the mill plane and square off the wood.

    • Jeanne Martin
      on Mar 30, 2018

      Read her post, she clearly explains everything.

  • Marcia
    on Mar 30, 2018

    Why did you put a seam in the corner rather than continue with your pattern and cut the outer edge pieces to accommodate?

  • Maryanne Bennett Layton
    on Mar 30, 2018

    what type of sander did you use and what grit sand paper?

  • Wayne Mendenhall
    on Apr 3, 2018

    How did you integrate the under mount sink?

  • Linda Abernathy
    on Dec 3, 2019

    That was absolutely awesome! Thank you for sharing. I do have a question, I have cherry cabinets but my counter tops are getting blahhhh and want a change, what colors of paint(s) would I use that would somehow match the cabinets?

  • Donna
    on Dec 3, 2019

    It’s beautiful but my question is the finish safe for food prep.

    • User
      on Dec 10, 2019

      I don't know but it could be floated with table top and bar top epoxy and would be BEAUTIFUL AND so easy to keep clean! I will copy this for my new laundry room folding counter. I love the coloration of the end product (I have to say I'm with the Mr. - though I don't hate it, it's just too orangy-brown at that step.) Home Depot has kits for epoxy resin countertops; Amazon has product too. However, in my research I found that epoxy resin cannot be poured over oil-based paint or stain. So, epoxy resin will not work over the clear lacquer listed in the materials list but the clear lacquer wouldn't be necessary as the epoxy resin more than takes its place. The tinted product listed states it is water-based so would work great under the epoxy resin. WoOt! I'm excited!!!

Join the conversation

2 of 63 comments
  • Ida9464
    on Dec 6, 2019

    Beautiful when done, but I loved the point after you sanded it (and your hubby hated it), so you plowed through to the end. I would have stopped there as well. You guys did a lovely job !

  • Diana Martinez
    on Dec 11, 2019

    This looks awesome what would u recommend for the area of the sink?

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