asking for help with counter support

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Forum topic by Carol posted 01-29-2017 05:58 PM 1435 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Carol's profile


62 posts in 713 days

01-29-2017 05:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

i’m finishing up my laundry room redo; i’ve mounted RTA cabinets (bought before i knew how to build a cabinet!), and built the base cabinet with pull out drawers that fits between the washer and dryer. before i bolt the base cabinet to the wall, i’m trying to figure out how to build the countertop.

what size ledger boards do you think i need? would 1×2s, attached to studs with 3” screws along each of the 3 walls be enough to support the weight of 2 layers of 3/4” plywood? 2 layers would prob weigh somewhere around 80 pounds.

do i really NEED 2 layers? with an unsupported span of approx 30”, would a single layer of 3/4” bow with little to no weight on top?

to cover the plywood edge, i’ll attach a 1×2 across the front, probably with biscuits and glue.

i’ll store the most commonly used laundry supplies in the drawers now that i have them, so about the only thing i’d do with the counter is stack clothes out of the dryer for folding.

-- Carol

21 replies so far

View EugdOT's profile


245 posts in 756 days

#1 posted 01-29-2017 06:29 PM

What I would do is rip a 2×4 in half and get my ledgers /cleats from there, you don’t need to go more that 1.5 inches for a counter that big, just make sure you put it on both sides and the full length of the back,
For the top I would use 1 pieces of 3/4 then build it up with another strip of 3/4 for the front to give it the appearance of 2 layers. That way you can screw up from the cleats bottoms so on screws on top later would be seen,
Iastly add your front to cover the plywood, and it will give you the appearance of a 1.5 top with less weight

The extra strip in front and the solid wood face frame should help decrease Bowing, if you still concerned about Bowing you can always add another strip to the middle.
Hope it helps

View ocean's profile


121 posts in 1034 days

#2 posted 01-29-2017 06:40 PM

I would agree with EugOT. I helped a cabinet maker for many years install cabinets and your only using it to fold clothes on, so 3/4 is plenty, just don’t sit on it. As he said the front plywood cover piece will add plenty of support to the ply and hide the cleats.

-- Bob, FL Keys

View MrStyle's profile


87 posts in 1931 days

#3 posted 01-29-2017 06:47 PM

For laundry room you might consider using a Melamine White Panel. These would stand up to moisture and are easier to wipe up.

I used melamine board 16×37 in a pantry with 1.5 plywood strips as the ledgers. I did run the ledger along both sides and entire back wall with 3 inch screws into the studs as well as washers on the screws. Ahh yes, the over engineered solution of the amateur…...I doubt that these shelves are taking more weight than what you are projecting and I have no sag at all. These have been in place for 3 years now.

I would say two layers isnt required.

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

333 posts in 2249 days

#4 posted 01-29-2017 07:06 PM

It looks like you have a structure in the middle between the washer and dryer. Between the support that can provide, if you take advantage of it, and the ledger and edge treatments you have sufficiently overdesigned it. I think the advice you collected above you could span the full 6 feet.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5124 posts in 4161 days

#5 posted 01-29-2017 07:33 PM

Why not just use a post-formed laminate top? Stupid simple and less expensive.


View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1642 days

#6 posted 01-29-2017 07:44 PM

Good advice above. 1×2 ledger is fine, as is single 3/4 top with lip in front.

How do you plan to hook up the dryer vent? Have you seen these? We used them on a recent project and loved them!

How about the water shut-off valves? I hope you are keeping them accessible—- not behind the washer under the countertop. I wouldn’t want to have to pull out a full washer to turn the valve off in case of a plumbing issue!

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1120 days

#7 posted 01-29-2017 08:40 PM


1” x 2” ledgers should provide adequate support of the countertop if firmly attached to the walls and the back wall ledger runs the full width of the back wall. However, attaching the countertop to the ledger could be difficult with on ¾” of ledger material available to catch the fasters. But if the countertop is attached from below with some figure 8 or zip clip fasteners into a narrower groove in the ledgers, this problem would be overcome. Unfortunately, using the figure 8 or z clips would require moving the washer and dryer out of the way if the countertop ever had to be removed. The alternative would be a wider ledger like EugdOT suggests.

I do not believe that two layers of plywood are necessary. The continuous back and side ledgers will support the plywood well. The front edge banding installed on-edge along would support the front of the plywood and reduce sagging. The wider the front edging, the greater the resistance imparted to the plywood against sagging, but a 1” x 2” is likely sufficient. My preference for installing the front edge banding would be to mill a rabbet in the edging that is deep enough to conceal the plywood’s raw edge. It would be glued in place with no biscuits or fasteners.

There is another option that provides support to a single layer of plywood and covers the raw edge; ¾” aluminum U channel. I found this product at the home center, painted it white, and attached it to the plywood with bugle head screws in countersunk holes in the aluminum from underneath. It has done a good job of supporting our pantry shelves (shorter than your counter top). However the aluminum U channel creates about a 1/16” – 1/8” lip on the upper surface. An advantage of the U channel is that it makes trimming the countertop to fit between the two walls during installation much easier. The countertop can be trimmed and fitted as a flat surface and then the U channel installed.

Even though you did not ask, I thought I would offer some gratuitous comments concerning the overall project. The countertop depth is 28-1/2”, the depth of the washer and dryer. Unless there is provision to recess the water and dryer connections into the wall, the front of the dryer will likely set between 34-1/2” to 37-1/12” out from the back wall. If this is the case, then the countertop will not extend out to the front edge of the washer and dryer unless the countertop depth is increased.

If the front of the washer and dryer ends up about 37” from the wall, accessing the upper cabinets could be difficult. Some additional framing to stand the upper cabinets further off the back wall would provide greater accessibility to the upper cabinets.

Another thought concerns accessibility to the back of the washer and dryer for maintenance. It may be necessary to access the back of the washer or dryer at some time in the future, for example, when it is time to replace the old washer hoses or clean the dryer lint pipe. If the countertop cannot be removed easily, getting to the hookups would require pulling the washer and dryer quite a distance out from the wall.

My last comments relates to cutting and installing the countertop. In my home, the walls rarely form ninety degree corners and the walls are not flat. As a result, a rectangular countertop almost never sides into place without presenting gaps. Making a template that conforms to the walls could be beneficial when it comes time to cut the countertop to fit. Cutting the ends of the countertop at a slight bevel can sometimes help the countertop drop in place while minimizing damage to the side walls and make scribing it to the walls easier.

View Carol's profile


62 posts in 713 days

#8 posted 01-29-2017 10:05 PM

great advice, all, thank you.

as far as accessing the water and electric for both appliances, the counter wouldn’t have a permanent install. i’ve thought a lot about how to make sure it’s stable but still moveable. what i finally came up with was drilling a hole in the ledger boards on each end, about 4” from the front. then installing a steel dowel under the countertop. the dowel only needs to be long enough to keep the counter from moving by accident. if i keep it to a single piece of 3/4, i can lift up the front of the installed top by myself and move it to the center of the room, allowing quick emergency access.

if i need to actually move the washer or dryer out, it should be easy enough to lift the countertop off the dowels, and slide it totally off the ledgers and remove it from the room.

jbrow , i hadn’t even thought about the corners of the walls not being square! what a great idea to come up with a template to i can scribe and bevel the new counter to fit!

both the washer and dryer sit about 5” away from the wall, unfortunately. both will be proud of the counter about 4”, which i think will look ok since that’s the depth of the control panels.

as it stands, as nice as the wall cabinets look, i can only reach the first shelf. i need a step stool to reach any higher, but the stuff i store there i rarely need.

wasted space, i know, but i like the way it looks :-)

if i had a router table i’d be making rabbets and dadoes…but alas…

on the learning curve side, however, i found out what can happen if i don’t clamp down a piece of wood well before i cut slots for biscuits. luckily, my chop saw was between the flying wood projectile and my window :)

-- Carol

View ArtMann's profile


1142 posts in 1016 days

#9 posted 01-29-2017 10:12 PM

This is a project just begging for a torsion box type shelf. The span would be no problem and the shelf could be a lot lighter.

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1120 days

#10 posted 01-30-2017 01:15 AM


One way to get some extra room behind the dryer is to install a Dryer Box. This box fits inside the wall cavity and gives the flex pipe somewhere to go when the dryer is shoved against the wall. If the back of the dryer sets against an outside 2×4 wall, it is probably not a good idea. But if the dryer backs to an inside wall about 4” less depth would be needed for the dryer.

View clin's profile


956 posts in 1196 days

#11 posted 01-30-2017 03:20 AM

1×2 supports boards are plenty. 80 lbs is trivial given you’ll catch at least 4 studs allong the back, and some on the sides. Keep in mind a typical upper cabinet is held on 4 screws and loaded with dishes etch is much heavier.

A standard counter top construction will be fine to span the two 30” openings. That’s pretty similar to a kitchen counter top over a dishwasher. It will have a bit more tendency to sag because it won’t be screwed down at the sides.

My biggest concern is whether you’ll catch studs on the sides towards the front. At 28” deep you are only assured of catching one stud. There will be one in the back corners. If the studs were placed relative to that wall, you’ll have one ~16” out, but the next is 32” and past the front of the counter top.

You could extend the ledger boards past the front. Or use a much wider ledger board like a 1×4 that would still support out to the front, even though it is only screwed at the back, and at 16”.

Of course, if the studs are referenced from another wall, you might get lucky and have one closer to the front edge.

-- Clin

View Carol's profile


62 posts in 713 days

#12 posted 01-31-2017 04:51 PM

ok, here’s the carcass between the washer and dryer. i have a problem screwing it to the wall – there’s no stud. since this is a pretty heavy, solid cabinet that will have a counter on top of it, can i just use drywall anchors?

i’ve already removed the shoe and baseboard behind the cabinet so it’s flush against the wall. it’s perfectly level front to back and side to side (yay!).
if i had known (face palm) there was no stud, i would have made the cabinet less deep, put a long cleat attached to studs, then screwed the cabinet to the cleat. moving it out from the wall isn’t an option.

maybe run a cleat on either side? then use pocket screws to connect the cabinet to the cleats? if i choose this route, i’ve got to pull the washer and dryer out by myself…not my first choice :/

-- Carol

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2207 days

#13 posted 01-31-2017 09:07 PM

I’d use an icepick to make 3 holes in the back of that cabinet. 2 high and wide and one about 12” down from the top. Pull cabinet out and use this type anchors where the icepick has marked the wall. Slide cabinet back in and install screws. The weight of the counter top and the anchors will keep that little cabinet from moving. These anchors come in metal or plastic, I prefer the metal.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1642 days

#14 posted 01-31-2017 10:13 PM


Any of the suggestions above will work. I’ve been building and installing cabinets professionally for about 40 years.

With a narrow cabinet like that, I would suggest getting it anchored to the floor as well as the wall (or at the least, anchored to the wall at both top and bottom). Something as simple as a 2×4 screwed to the floor behind the toe kick with a couple of screws through the toe kick and into the 2×4 would go a long way toward keeping everything stable.

At the wall, drywall anchors would work, as would a ledger on either side of the cabinet screwed to studs as they occur. An angled screw through the side of the box into the ledger will lock in the cabinet (as would a small angle bracket if that’s easier). Once the top is on and attached, everything will be locked into place.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1120 days

#15 posted 01-31-2017 10:13 PM


I would think using wall anchors to attach the cabinet would not be the best choice. If the drawer(s) are loaded with heavy stuff, repetitive opening and closing of the drawer(s) could cause the cabinet to try to rotate downward toward the floor or otherwise cause the wall anchors to work loose from the wall.

Three alternative options come to mind for attaching the cabinet. The first is to attach the cabinet to the floor. This would involve attaching one or more 2” x 4” length of lumber face down and stacked one on the other up to the underside of the cabinet bottom. These 2” x 4”s would be attached to the floor. The cabinet can then be attached to the floor via the 2” x 4”s through the bottom into the floor cleats. This assumes a cabinet bottom that is ¾” thick (1/2” may be thick enough) and the bottom is well attached to the cabinet sides and back.

The second option is to attach a piece of 2” x to each side of the cabinet flush with the back and on the outside of the cabinet at the back. If each of these wings is wide enough to overlap a stud, then once the cabinet is positioned, the 2” x wings can be screwed to the wall.

The last option, which would be my preference, is to install low and high furring strips running from wall to wall on the back wall, securing the furring strips to back wall. The cabinet would be then attached to the furring strips. Since furring strips are ¾” wide, your cabinet would set an additional ¾” out from the back wall than in your original plan. But it looks to me like there is enough space at the front of the cabinet to accommodate this ¾” offset.

Unfortunately, the second and third options would require pulling the washer and dryer away from the wall.

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