This website uses affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission from your purchase - at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more details.

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

When I shared an Instagram story sneak peek of the IKEA KARLBY walnut counters Hubby and I were installing in the turquoise and copper powder room makeover, I received a TON of messages asking about cutting/installing/quality.  It turns out that lots of you consider IKEA when you’re shopping for counters!  It makes sense, because IKEA has a variety of countertop options ranging from quartz, laminate and wood.  I’m going to share my thoughts on using the IKEA KARLBY walnut counter in the bathroom.  Full disclosure: IKEA generously provided the counter (along with some other pieces) for my One Room Challenge makeover, but I already had my heart set on this gorgeous walnut counter. 

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut CounterCutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Shipping the IKEA KARLBY Counter

The counter was shipped in one large piece (comes in two sizes: 74″ L or 98″ L), and it was packed really well.  Even though it clearly said “do not step” on the package, there were dirty footprints all over it.  Honestly, the shipping companies around here are the BANE of my existence.  I live so far flung in the boons, I have to order so much online and I’d love for the shipping people to at least not actively try to ruin things.  Despite the footsteps, the counter was perfectly intact!  Whew.  If you have the right size island or counter for one of the two sizes – it comes ready to install!

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut CounterIKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter ReviewIKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

The Quality of the IKEA KARLBY Counter

The quality was excellent: no flaws, dents, weird spots.  It was just a perfect hunk of walnut veneer.  You might have guessed from the price that this massive slab is NOT solid walnut.  With this counter, you get the look of walnut butcher block for a lot less, without sacrificing the ability to sand.  The KARLBY wood countertop offers the best of solid wood and veneer.  With efficient use of natural resources, it offers the look and feel of walnut with a durable surface that can be sanded.  I was actually surprised by the incredibly generous veneer – it’s thick.  You can easily sand this surface down and refinish it, if it sees a lot of wear and tear. 

Inside the IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter - What is it Made of?

If you need to cut or shorten it, it comes with two edge pieces to affix to the cut edge:

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Measuring/Cutting the Counter to Fit Between Three Walls:

This installation was a tiny bit tricky because we had to snugly fit the counter in between three walls and there was no room for error!  And the walls aren’t straight; the room isn’t square.  After removing the old counter (and I had wallpapered already too), we started by measuring the space and figuring out how not-square the walls are with a framing square.  When we took measurements, we measured the front and back widths.

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Then we made a template!  We wrote down all of the measurements and used a scrap piece of plywood to double check the fit.  The right hand side angles in toward the back, so I just wanted to check and see how it would look. 

Installing DIY Counter in Bathroom Against Three Walls

When we knew the fit was as good as we could get it, we marked out the measurements on the counter.  We used a table saw for one cut (it was a straighter wall) – I don’t have photos because we both needed to manhandle this giant counter.  We also used the table saw to cut it narrower – the depth was a bit much for our tiny bathroom. 

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Because the other side angled in a little, we marked the line (using our template and double checking measurement!) and then used a skill saw to cut the second end.  Cutting it was a DREAM!  Like cutting through butter.  Without any knots or irregularities (problems with solid wood), the table saw blade and skill saw blade just slid right through – nothing to catch the blade on.  And we only had one teeny tiny spot of tear out (our fault).  I was nervous about cutting the counter because we only had one shot, but it was the easiest part of the makeover. 

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut CounterCutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Because we also cut off some of the depth, we used that leftover piece to make a little backsplash.  That wall was the wonkiest, so this helps disguise it.  We carefully slid it in and then installed it from underneath with screws. 

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter





Bathroom Counter Side Splash or No Side Splash

I had extra counter for two side splashes, but opted against them.  I put a poll on Instagram and you were all just as divided as I was!  It was nearly 50/50…  I prefer the look of no side splashes, but I thought it might help protect the wallpaper?  But the wallpaper is so smooth and feels so durable, I doubt water will be a problem.

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Installing the Sink and Faucet

It took me forever to decided on sink and faucet placement and when I finally did, Hubby used a post it to mark the hole.  I think he worried I’d change my mind at the last minute, haha.

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

To reduce tear out, first we used a drill to start a pilot hole:

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counter

Then our trusty hole saw to cut the holes for the faucet and sink.

We test fit the sink and used a file to slightly bevel the hole opening to reduce chipping possibility and improve the sink seating area.  The we repeated this process for the faucet.  Following the instructions from IKEA, we used a thin layer of silicon to seal the exposed particle board in the hole.  This will reduce swelling issues, if there is any moisture present next to the drain.  We then put a small ring of silicon around the hole where the sink sits and installed it with the sink drain holding it in place, following the drain installation instructions.  Once the sink was in place, we confirmed the faucet orientation and installed that as per the instructions and tightened it down.  New supply hoses and PEX shut off valves were installed below the sink and connected.  Hubby likes to install new ball valves because almost every time we have to turn off one of the original valves – it leaks.  Once a sufficient amount of time had passed for all silicon to dry, we turned the water back on and tested it.  No leaks!! 

Pfister Contempra Vessel Sink Bathroom FaucetHow to Cut and Install IKEA KARLBY Walnut Counters

I still have to apply some clear caulk between the walls and the counter – I just wanted to wait a few days and make sure I didn’t want to add the side splashes.  Nope, I love it this way!  I’ll keep you posted on how this IKEA KARLBY counter wears, although I suspect I’ll be able to go a long time without having to oil or refinish it.  Especially because this bathroom is so pretty, guests are required to pee outside and wash their hands in the laundry room – I’M KIDDING!

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut CounterCutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut CounterDIY Install Walnut Counter in Bathroom

Verdict: I’d buy this counter – it’s great quality and easy to work with.  Aesthetically (and purely subjectively), I love the warm walnut wood against the turquoise.  Plus it ties in all of the walnut from the rest of the house (like my DIY waterfall walnut desk, walnut bathroom cabinetry, DIY walnut bed, and more!).  My main objective with decorating the house has been to create a nice flow and cohesion and this room now fits in with my decor – but still shines.

Cutting and Installing IKEA KARLBY Walnut CounterHow to Install IKEA Counters



  1. Jill Russell
    June 24, 2020 / 8:33 pm

    How heavy is it? Also the width from the front to the back? Ikea website doesn’t say and I want to install it into an RV and have a thicker kitchen counter than the norm.

    • June 26, 2020 / 10:25 pm

      Hi Jill, I’m sorry I don’t know the weight but it was substantial – MDF is deceptively heavy. It’s a thick wood veneer as well. For depth, I have to somewhat estimate because I cut it to depth but I kept the discarded piece and used it as a backsplash, so measuring those two sections and accounting for blade width it’s approx. 26″.

  2. Marie
    August 3, 2020 / 4:27 pm

    We just bought the birch version of this to put in our pantry. We need to cut a strip off the lo g edge like you did because we are using the shallow depth cupboards. What kind of table saw did you use? Was it a big professional one? I’m worried about cutting this ourselves….

    • August 5, 2020 / 11:06 am

      We have a Delta 10″ contractor saw – it’s an older one we scored secondhand for a few hundred bucks. It’s not a big professional one, but it does have a slightly bigger/extended table built onto it which makes cutting something bigger easier because it helps steady it. But with sawhorses or a second set of hands, it’s doable on any table. For the blade, we used a finer tooth blade (80 tooth ultra smooth cross cutting blade), which means less chance of tearing out the veneer. It’s designed for plywood and melamine. I wouldn’t recommend this as the very first thing a person cuts on a table saw, because of the size, but if you have a table saw and have used it before, you can manage this just fine. I hope this helps answer your question?

  3. John Gardner
    August 11, 2020 / 5:26 pm

    IKEA is pretty clear that they provide a wood strip to put on the cut ends, but did the 25″ wide countertop come finished on both the front and back edges? We were looking to use the product for an open table, but can’t fully tell from your photos.

    • August 14, 2020 / 2:07 pm

      The IKEA counter comes finished on all sides, with wood strips to add if you need to cut the ends shorter. So yes, you could use this for a tabletop or island for sure.

      • Meg
        March 20, 2021 / 3:51 pm

        Can you use the Karl by for an under mount apron sink? I’m afraid you will see the cut portions.

        • March 22, 2021 / 9:10 am

          You can’t use the KARLBY for an undermount sink because it isn’t solid walnut. It has a thick layer of veneer, but inside is some sort of pressed material.

  4. Eric
    August 24, 2020 / 2:38 pm

    Did you install it out of the box or did you use some sort of finish or sealer(other than the silicone)?

  5. Cara
    September 11, 2020 / 12:03 am

    Just curious, is there a bevel/bullnose on both of the long edges of the counter? I am looking to join two lengths together for an island.

    • September 15, 2020 / 1:16 pm

      There is a slightly rounded edge. I wouldn’t put two together as-is. If it were me, I’d cut off the edges both ends and affix the cut edges for a more seamless installation. If you’d like, I can email you a detailed close up photo of the edge so you can decide for yourself.

  6. Dominic Hill
    January 13, 2021 / 6:40 pm

    Have just bought this worktop for my kitchen and must say mine looks a bit dull and lifeless compared to yours. Did you treat or put anything on it to bring it to life. Your’s look so much better haha! I’m thinking I might sand it down and get a polisher in to treat it and give a bit more life

  7. Cole
    March 29, 2021 / 5:14 pm

    I am looking to get the island size, but rip it down lengthwise. Do they provide a length wise strip as well?

    • March 30, 2021 / 11:50 pm

      I believe it only came with the end strips… I don’t remember seeing a longer piece. But things change so I recommend calling your local IKEA to confirm.

  8. Cathy
    June 24, 2021 / 12:59 pm

    Are you happy with how the Karlby counter has held up so far? Any issues with water spots or staining or scratching or anything else that’s negative? I’m going to be installing the Karlby as the main counter in my lake house kitchen. It won’t get a whole lot of use as we only use the house on weekends in the summer but the counter will get used nonetheless and I’m rather paranoid about how durable this will be. Thank you 🙂

    • June 24, 2021 / 3:33 pm

      It’s in my powder room which sees daily use, for sure, but not the kind a kitchen sees. So far it looks perfect – no water spots or problems – and the nice thing is that it is thick enough veneer to gently sand down and re-seal if it does get super worn. You’d probably only be able to do that once though, given that it is a veneer and not solid walnut. This counter top, as I understand it, has an oil finish. That type of finish needs to be re-applied to protect the wood. I have a wood counter in my kitchen Hubby built and we applied a Krystal high-solids conversion varnish in semi-gloss – so it’s more of like what a piece of furniture would have. I do find that is more durable than a wood oil. For my own kitchen, I was worried about the maintenance of an oiled wood. However, it’s easy to maintain in a space you don’t use as often – you might want to re-oil this walnut counter when you close up the house for the season, or maybe when you open it up for the summer. Oiling the wood would need to become part of your maintenance routine to maintain the finish. I know this answer is long but it’s always difficult to answer this sort of thing. Overall, I’m happy with the quality and wear. It’s been a few years and it’s a wet space. It’s a good buy, but ultimately having wood counters comes down to a personal preference – you can’t set hot things on it, shouldn’t cut directly on it, shouldn’t leave a wet bag of ice on it. There’s more care involved. I always use cutting boards on my wood kitchen counter and keep it dry. For the IKEA counter specifically I make sure to wipe it down so water doesn’t sit. But this is a solid surface – nice, thick veneer. It feels nice quality. I think you’ll like it for your lake house kitchen, as long as you don’t mind caring for the wood veneer a little bit. I hope this helps? The look in real life is super beautiful, I can see it looking just perfect in a lake house.

  9. candy
    August 1, 2022 / 2:00 pm

    a helpful tutorial, thank you for sharing

Dans le Lakehouse is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. If you click on a link that leads to Amazon, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!