In a nutshell, we bought the highest quality plywood we could find and chose pieces that had a nice grain to them. Then they were cut to size, given a hardwood border, stained, and sealed.
The stain we used was Minwax's "Jacobean." We sealed them with a polyurethane...leave me a comment if you want to know the exact kind and I'll ask my husband. I've already forgotten what kind we used.
Now for anyone who is concerned about food on a polyurethane topcoat, please don't worry, we don't plan to prep our food directly on our countertops. In fact, most people don't, right? So there won't be a lot of food-to-countertop contact. So, no, 'not worried about it as long as the topcoat doesn't show any chipping.
Soooo, now for the fun part! I did a little stenciling, and it's a bit of an oops-gone-great experiment, because it didn't turn out like I expected and I liked the unexpected results even better!
How about an explanation in photos??
Here's the plywood cut to size and that border I was talking about. It's actually thicker than the plywood to make the countertops appear thicker, and the corners are sanded smooth so no one gets hurt.
Then I printed out some wording to the exact size that I wanted the letters to be on my countertop, and with contact paper and spray adhesive, I glued the printed paper (face-up) to the non-sticky side of the contact paper.
And while watching a movie one night, I meticulously cut out each letter with an exacto knife. Not hard, just time-consuming.
Then I taped the edge of my countertop with "Frog Tape" as a guideline so that my phrase wouldn't look like letters diving off the side of a hill...
Carefully arranged my letters...
(I measured each side to make sure it was centered)
And then I peeled the backing off of the contact paper so I could start sticking my letters to the countertop.
(this is a side note just to say: don't waste your tape - recycle!)
Then I took a used up gift card and pressed all the edges down on each letter.
And I was ready for the stain!
I'm no expert, so I won't pretend like I know any great tips about staining. I just followed the instructions on the can.
But I may have fooled you with this picture! Professional Stainer at work...
Then the oops happened. I peeled off my letters and whaddaya know, porous surfaces allow stain to seep under the contact paper.
But I went ahead and peeled them all off and decided that I really didn't mind the bleeding...
In fact, I liked it! It wound up giving it a nice rustic/aged look.
So this is our "bar" countertop that sits happily in the kitchen, which I will show you as soon as we get it cleaned up this weekend ;) We are making huge progress at the Queen this month. We will soon move back in again (after leaving a while for lead dust abatement), and I can't wait to show you all of the new fun changes that have been made!