I am about to apply a varnish/lacquer[1] to a fairly non-small countertop (200x50cm). Because it'll be in the bathroom I want to apply it on all sides. I also want to minimize the amount of times I have to turn it around and want to minimize the amount of stains on the visible edges.

One solution seems to be to paint while keeping the countertop vertically, so that any stains from drips will form on the small side that'll be invisible in my case. But how do I hold the countertop while working and how do I rest it while it dries?

And if the better option is to apply it while it's laying flat, how can I avoid stains on the underside?

[1] - I don't really understand what's the difference, they both translate to the same word in Polish.

  • Lacquer and varnish are close enough for our purposes here. There's a minor semantic difference in how they dry – Machavity May 14 '20 at 12:32

What I would do is set the top vertical and varnish it as much as you can without varnishing the floor. You'll get about 90% of it done.

The simple path

Let it dry, flip it over and varnish it on the side you couldn't get. Requires nothing special, only time

The complex path

If it has to be done all at once (or you ever want to do this again), you'll need 1x4 boards (scrap boards if possible) or something similar in size. You could also use some old plywood, provided it's at least as large as the countertop. I find a couple of 1x4s would be cheap, but I have no idea what they run in Poland. You'll also need some 2 inch (50mm) nails. Lay the boards down across a sawhorse or some other support and drive the nail heads flush (the nails should be sticking out the other side). Put one nail every 2-3 inches (5-8cm).

Now, varnish the inside and bottom edges of your counter. Set the nail-boards so the nails are facing up. Now, take your counter and carefully set it on the nail boards so the bottom edges are resting on the nails. It would be a good idea if you secured the boards somehow (say screw a cross-brace between then), but it's not hard to set it on them just resting on the sawhorses. The nails will support the counter while you finish the top. It's unlikely anyone will scrutinize the bottom edges.

This setup also has the advantage that you have easy access to use a sprayer if you want

  • I decided to go with the complex path! I have a lot of scrap wood so I used just that. Thankfully the bottom is almost entirely hidden so I don't have to worry about any nail marks there. But, I also have a bunch of "legs" which are also made from the same wood, but this time 60x50 and those I am planning to cover while holding them vertically. I'll lean them against nails too, since on each leg I have a side which will be invisible. Thanks! – Maurycy May 14 '20 at 13:04

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