When I first started this project, I planned to hire it out. It seemed too hard, too complicated. But, at the encouragement of my uncle (big shout-out to Uncle Mike) and with a tutorial from my brother (big shout-out to Trevor), I decided to take my best swing. If I swung and missed, it was barn board. It could always be sanded down again – right?
First, I located some nice, thick boards. A friend cut them to size, and I stacked them on our pool ladder and hosed off the worst of the debris.
Then, I scrubbed them clean and set them in the sun to dry. I finally had a reason to be grateful for the CRAZY heatwave that hit Ontario!
I arranged the boards the way I envisioned them on our island. At this point, I stopped and admired them for quite awhile.
I sanded them smooth with a belt sander lent from a kind neighbour (thanks, John!) and stained them walnut (to compliment our floors). I hauled them in one by one and placed them on the top of the MDF currently serving as a temporary island top. (It’s been ‘temporary’ for over a year now)
The boards were not all the same thickness, so I flipped them over and built up the lower boards with wood. I used metal bars to attach the boards to one another for increased support.
I CAREFULLY flipped the now-connected boards back over. I used my hubby’s air nailer and added trim around the raw board edges and MDF to create a finished edge. I sanded the trim, so it matched the curves of the barn board, leaving a “living edge” of raw wood at the front. I used 1 inch trim underneath the living edge to cover the MDF. I sanded down any high spots and stained one more time.
At this point, I LOVED how it looked. I scoured the WEB looking for ANYONE who would tell me it was okay to keep untreated barn board as a countertop. I didn’t want to add a protective coat and sacrifice the raw look. However, after reading pages and pages of online advice, I decided the ability to clean the island trumped beauty. And, I wanted to seal up that wood in case there was anything terrible hiding inside. I also feared the raw wood would absorb stains. With three kids, spills are bound to happen!
I used Epoxy for the first time and was terrified that I would mess it up. It ended up being relatively easy to use (just like my brother promised). One coat of epoxy is like 50 coats of a regular top coat. I figured, if I had to coat this thing, it was getting coated GOOD. I always use a cutting board, a matt, or parchment paper, so I wasn’t concerned about the Epoxy as a final top layer.
Now the island top was complete, but it clashed with the cabinet. The almost-black cabinets looked quite nice with the white top and quite ugly with the walnut. Sigh. Out came the paintbrush.
In the end, it was about two weeks of hard work. The worst was sanding outside in the midst of a heatwave. I really love our new island top.