Stain grade wood recommendation for bathroom vanity top...

Looking for suggestion for a durable stain grade wood for bathroom vanity top. The bathroom is shared by 4 kids so it gets a fair bit of use and abuse, including all the usual soap scum, toothpaste, water puddles, etc.
For durability, I plan to clear-coat the top (after staining) with several thin layers of West System Epoxy resin & 207 special coating hardening.
Since I need to stain the top quite dark to match the existing vanity, I imagine that the character of the wood is less important than durability and suitability for the bathroom environment.
My initial thought was to use either cherry or white oak -- and was leaning towards white oak since it is harder and a little less expensive though perhaps cherry will be prettier(?). My sense is that cheaper woods like pine or poplar even if I could get away with them due to the dark stain color, would be too soft.
I'm willing to get a reasonably priced wood since most of the true "cost" will be my labor, but since it is a kids bathroom and since the vanity itself is nothing special, I don't want to go crazy on fancy or exotic species.
Any thoughts?
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On the other hand, I am considering applying a half-round 3/4" rope molding as the profile for the vanity top. The style I am considering comes only in cherry, oak (presumably red) and poplar.
If I mixed red oak rope profile with white oak top, would that cause issues with matching the grain & color of the stained material? Or would red & white oak together be ok given the texture of the rope itself and the darkness of the stain?
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"blueman" wrote:

Trying to use wood for a vanity top is like trying to piss up a rope, IMHO.
Over the long haul, you can't get there from here.
Lew
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On Mon, 8 Mar 2010 02:14:54 -0800, "Lew Hodgett"

Which I'm sure accounts for the current popularity of stone vanities these days. They don't wear much, they don't stain easily and they last for many years. Can't ask for much more than that. Only downside is cost which is mitigated by all the years of use one gets.
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Ceramic tile is easy to install and looks good, wears reasonably well too,
If you are set on using wood, after you have done the stain to your liking, a finish of water clear polymer epoxy resin ("Bar Top") will make the top capable of surviving some pretty hard use. After a few years if it is getting all scratched up just sand and add a thin top coat of the resin and it is just like new. I noticed that even HD is carrying bar top resin packs now, but you can get it anywhere from ebay to your local hardware store. I havn't noticed much difference between brands. good luck, regards, joe. snipped-for-privacy@upwardaccess.com
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blueman wrote:

Guess what...that super thin layer of cherry or white oak is on top of (probably) poplar. The choice of face veneer won't amount to a hill of beans as far as hardness or durability goes.
--

dadiOH
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I am making the top myself so it will be solid wood glued-up...
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If you feel you have to stain the top so dark that it will obscure the character of the wood anyway, there's no reason to give up the durability of materials better suited to your needs. As another poster said, that soft wood you're trying to avoid is underneath the "show" veneer anyway.
regarding your 2nd question, if you are planning on using a dark stain, you won't be able to tell the difference between the white oak on the flat surfaces and the red oak rope. Combination of many factors: dark stain, flat v curved surfaces, light reflection and shadows, etc... ie, don't worry about this part.
hth & gl with your project,
jc
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Hey Joe,
It's understandable that what you're trying to create is a nice looking vanity with an all over coordinated look. After reading the other replies, I felt that I should reply simply because it makes me nuts when people tell me I CAN'T or SHOULDN'T do something because it isn't the accepted method or the "norm". I'm old, stubborn, female and Irish. I'd do it out of spite just to prove I could. Not that this particular way of thinking has not come back to bite me on the butt many times :D
First I have to admit that I don't have nearly as much knowledge about woods as many of the old timers in here do. That being said I have seen some striking wooden countertops. An example would be bar tops. It seems that they are generally a thick plank with a poured finish that wears incredibly well. Something like the epoxy finish that you are considering. I think if you have the wood well sealed and the rim of the sink well sealed without water puddling on it, you should be just fine. People told me not to put hardwood in my last kitchen. i did, and it was wonderful! We used several coats of poly to seal it and never had any issues even when we had spills.
Have you considered an accent wood rather than trying to match the vanity entirely? Perhaps you could find something with some true personality that will compliment the existing cabinet.
Google "wood bar top" You may find some good ideas and suggestions for finishes and materials there.
Best of luck to you, hope you get the results you're looking for.
Other options for materials to consider are: Granite tile. Beautiful end result, easy to do and inexpensive. Almost any natural stone tile like slate (great color selection) or travertine. Again, easy, inexpensive (in tile) and very durable. Because a vanity top is so small, you wouldn't need a lot of materials and putting a base for a tile top on a vanity is remarkably simple.
For one of our bathrooms we found some reclaimed black slate. It was in assorted sizes and thicknesses and we got a LOT more than we needed for a very cheap price. All we had to do was clean it up a bit and it made an amazing floor and vanity top.
Would love to see you post up some pics of your project no matter how you decide to go with it.
K.
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Thanks for the words of encouragement. My wife wants it to look like the old one did. Since the vanity is solid and only the top is pitted and beaten-up, my plan was to just glue up a couple of 5/4 boards of solid hardwood for the top.
The old top lasted a good 20-30 years despite the fact that it was a thin veneer on some type of chipboard and despite having just a lacquer finish.
The epoxy clearcoat from West that I plan on using has been used for decades in boats so I assume that this upgrade to solid wood and a multi-coat epoxy surface plus a little more TLC of the top should get me at least another 20-30 years which is plenty for me...
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Thanks for the words of encouragement. My wife wants it to look like the old one did. Since the vanity is solid and only the top is pitted and beaten-up, my plan was to just glue up a couple of 5/4 boards of solid hardwood for the top.
The old top lasted a good 20-30 years despite the fact that it was a thin veneer on some type of chipboard and despite having just a lacquer finish.
The epoxy clearcoat from West that I plan on using has been used for decades in boats so I assume that this upgrade to solid wood and a multi-coat epoxy surface plus a little more TLC of the top should get me at least another 20-30 years which is plenty for me...
--

Well, if momma ain't happy, ain't NObody happy!
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blueman wrote:

if you're going to go very dark, you could make it out of purpleheart. it turns very dark with a yellowish finish on it. i scored a lot of it a couple years ago when a hardwood store had some 6/4 premade decking boards they wanted to unload. $1bf. i just have to trim off the rounded edges before i glue it up.
if it were me, with 4 kids, i'd use tile or stone until they were gone. you can get ropework edge tiles.
regards, charlie cave creek, az
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Sorry, I replied to "Joe" on the previous post, got my headers scrambled.
K.
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Hard Maple is really durable, but it doesn't soak up much stain. Poplar is too soft, but have you checked out Birch, some grades look good and are better than the softer woods. Beyond that are some of the tropical woods, hard to work with, hard to destroy.
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I'm thinking for a best match you want more than matching color.
What kind of wood are you trying to match? Open pore, like Oak, or more closed, like Maple?
How is the existing grain? Straight, or not so much?
Cherry might be too soft. It does darken over time. You can get closer to the final effect by exposing it to sunlight.
What about Walnut? It starts out dark, so darkening the color won't obscure the grain so much.
Anyway, I'd suggest you get a collection of woods that might work, and a collection of stains that you can use to find the best match, and make up samples. Something like Transtint dyes will let you mix and match more easily than trying to find the right color off the shelf.
Stain your samples and put some type of film finish on any sample that seems like it might be the one. You could use something like blonde dewaxed shellac that will dry fast as you are going through various samples.
And by the way, you can color shellac with dye (as in Transtint) as one way to apply your stain; and again, you can build layers quickly since it dries so fast. Handy for testing. Your epoxy coating should stick to that just fine, I'd think.
You can also put on some shellac to the bare wood, then apply color in whatever form suits you as a "toner", then apply more shellac over that. Someone else said it is hard to get maple to take enough stain to be dark; this is one way to get it as dark as you need it.
The thing about dye; it can fade, especially if exposed to sunlight.
Another option is pigment stain that is oil based. You can add artist colors to adjust the color match.
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I don't suppose you have checked on high pressure laminate "premade" counter tops at Lowes or Home Depot ?
There are many variations with standard sizes.
blueman wrote:

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blueman wrote:

Lots of valid comments here. Assuming you can seal the top to make it impervious to moisture, I'd check on *soft* maple.
Here in Western PA, it's actually cheaper than poplar, the grains are similar and it's significantly harder.
We used a bunch for trim in our basement and it took the dark stain very well.
~Mark.
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