Can I use an IKEA countertop for a DIY "table"?
March 9, 2015 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to do something like this to make some counter space in my kitchen. Can I use an IKEA countertop instead of cut-to-measure wood?

I have a long, empty wall in my (rental apartment) kitchen, and I'd like to maximize the counter space I can create. IKEA countertops are generally around 98" long, which is perfect size for the space I have -- is there any reason I couldn't use the countertop in place of the wood planks in the DIY link? Would it make a different if we choose a particle-board countertop with a layer of solid wood on top versus the solid wood options?

Just haven't found a lot of 98" long tables that would go for what appears to be roughly $250, while looking nice and lasting.
posted by undercoverhuwaaah to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
No reason at all. The pipe leg configuration is smart because it allows for some movement in the solid wood top. You could but anything you want on those legs but for a long table, I would revise the plans to add an extra set of legs in the middle. Otherwise, you're going to have a very bouncy table top.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:16 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

"looking nice and lasting" may be a concern with particleboard -- I have a 3-year-old Ikea table that's veneer-over-particle-board, and the veneer is starting to rub through. Granted, I use that as a work surface for my keyboard/mouse/etc and have used more than my share of glasses-without-coasters. I'm sure the kitchen countertop version is engineered to be somewhat more robust, but I'm not sure how much more robust.
posted by Alterscape at 8:20 AM on March 9, 2015

I built a huge standing table/desk exactly like what you're proposing, Ikea countertop and all. It was just fine. The only difference is that I made a cross-beam between the legs rather high up, with a support that dropped from the center of the countertop down to the beam.

Wish I had a picture, but I don't.
posted by BrandonW at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2015

This Apartment Therapy post, about DIYs with IKEA countertops, should be instructive, though IKEA's product line has since changed a bit.

I have a 48" table made of IKEA butcher-block countertop, and it's awesome, though perhaps starting to warp along the grain a tiny bit. I would definitely add a set of legs to the middle of your much-longer table, and make sure to oil the countertop (I didn't oil mine). Just so you know when you go to buy it, it's very heavy!
posted by the_blizz at 8:41 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would pay the little extra for something like a butcher-block top instead of that horrible particle board. If you're going to spend the time and energy to make such a table, treat yourself, don't cheat yourself.
posted by exogenous at 8:41 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'd avoid the particleboard; it just isn't very durable especially around water.
I think Ikea or maybe Home Depot offers true-wood countertops--butcherblock type things.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did exactly this for my rental kitchen, with the solid wood countertop. I would NOT use the particle board.

I also used a circular saw to take 4" or so of width off and Gorilla-glued/screwed it perpendicular to make a backsplash. This is what it looks like in context. The shelves underneath are these; I just screwed it to the top shelf with fender washers.. I love it to death.
posted by supercres at 8:52 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's also attached to the wall, which makes it almost exactly as stable as my built-in countertops. It was definitely a little wobbly for chopping/food-processoring before we did that.
posted by supercres at 8:56 AM on March 9, 2015

Just adding to the no-particle-board-in-the-kitchen, we just replaced a kitchen counter that the previous owner had added. It was particle composite overlain with a thick fiberboard. The fiberboard was fine, but water had migrated under it through seams, completely bloating the particle composite's glue and humping it up in a million places.

I definitely would advise against particle board or any glued-together composites in a kitchen, bathroom, or other steamy/splashy place. Whatever you save on the initial construction will be lost when you have to replace it as it crumbles apart.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:26 AM on March 9, 2015

Yes, DO NOT USE PARTICLE BOARD (ever), but especially around water. Ask me how I know, a few short years in and the bathroom vanity a la IKEA is all bubbled out and the pieces of particle board starting to dislodge. Ugly, and needs to be replaced.
posted by nanook at 9:30 AM on March 9, 2015

Ikea particle board countertops are hollow-core, which may be problematic in a few different ways:
(1) there won't be anything sturdy enough to anchor the legs to in the positions where you need to anchor the legs;
(2) a 45" unsupported span is almost twice the unsupported span of a regular countertop application (a countertop is supported on all sides and hence the maximum effective unsupported span is the 24" depth of a base cabinet). I'm not sure if either the hollow-core or solid countertops will perform ideally under those circumstances.
(3) A table top made out of 3 glued-and-braced 10" wide x 2" thick planks would be much less likely to warp than a single 25" wide x 1 1/4" thick solid wood countertop.

Another consideration is whether you want a "table" or a "counter" in your kitchen. A standard table height is 30", while standard counter height is 36".

Unless you're totally in love with the pipe thing, why not just get a couple of 48" long IKEA desk tables and put them side by side? On a $250 budget there's a lot of combinations you could explore, including some that would give you a little extra storage. It'd be much easier to repurpose two 48" desk tables than one 98" long monster table.
posted by drlith at 9:36 AM on March 9, 2015

My old desk was Ikea butcherblock on pipe legs and I absolutely loved it. I didn't bother sealing the wood and it gradually accumulated coffee stains and pen marks and glue drips and wear, but I like how it looks and figure I can always sand it clean (it's currently on loan to a friend, haven't tried to sand it yet but I see no reason why it won't work).

By comparison, my current desk is a vintage teak beauty and it looks much more high-end, but damn, I hate taking care of the surface and using coasters. It's annoying to feel precious about a work surface.

Also wood is nice and warm on the elbows and forearms- many other materials, including Ikea melamine, feel cold and clammy in my opinion.

Also, make sure to check for butcher block pieces in the as-is section, you might find a deal.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:45 AM on March 9, 2015

I'm planning to make a very long table for my daughter soon, and will use solid wood butcher-block style for it, probably with some store-bought legs. I'm also going to fasten it to the wall.
Even though it isn't for kitchen use, I'm thinking teenagers will spill drinks, food and other stuff on the table-top and it will be much easier and nicer to maintain.
posted by mumimor at 9:51 AM on March 9, 2015

And I'm going for oak, if I can. For nice color and good aging.
posted by mumimor at 9:51 AM on March 9, 2015

We built a kitchen island out of IKEA's wood countertop (and the part I cut off is a nice cutting board for elsewhere!). The stuff is just perfect if you keep it sanded and oiled. Understand that the countertops are very heavy so you'll need horizontal bars on the sides and across the middle like in the design you've linked--no aspect of that structure is optional or you could have catastrophic ratcheting. Don't skimp on the support.
posted by resurrexit at 10:03 AM on March 9, 2015

These folding legs are inexpensive, just make sure they are tall enough.
posted by H21 at 10:17 AM on March 9, 2015

The folding legs are great, but there's more that you need to do to make that work especially with Ikea composite board counters. Counters are typically supported all along the length so they don't collapse in the middle. Long event tables (solid, ply, or composite), usually have a skirt on the underside to keep the table top from buckling in the middle.
posted by plinth at 11:19 AM on March 9, 2015

My suggestion is to make two half-length tables, instead of one full-length table. That will be considerably easier to construct, and you won't have to add extra legs or any reinforcement to keep it stable and sturdy. Two lighter tables are easier to move and clean behind. And it's a more versatile solution too; you can temporarily move one out from the wall to use as a bar for a party, and if you ever move you'd be much more likely to find a use for them in whatever your new kitchen looks like.

I completely agree with everyone advocating solid wood over particleboard. It's a bit more expensive but wood is better in pretty much every way. It looks better, feels better, is stronger, wears better, is better with water and vibration, and when it gets too beat up it can be sanded and refinished.

Finally, a tangential suggestion: if your wall is really empty and not full of windows or something, I heartily recommend putting a pegboard on it. You can use it for ladles, whisks, measuring cups, spatulas, pizza cutters, eggbeaters, and a lot of other stuff that otherwise winds up tangled in a "miscellaneous" drawer. Bonus: if you paint the pegboard, (which you should do anyway so it doesn't look terrible), you'll be able to skip the drying rack and just put things away immediately after washing them.
posted by aubilenon at 11:23 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Would it make a different if we choose a particle-board countertop with a layer of solid wood on top

...don't do that because solid wood needs some freedom to expand and contract along it's width as humidity changes. (called seasonal movement). Particle board, plywood and MDF are pretty much stable, so trying to combine the two would lead to warping or buckling.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:57 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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