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I recently created a little counter / desk thing in my garage, and a shelf above it mounted to the wall. It was never meant to be pretty, but I do have electronics on it (my laptop on the desk often times). I realize there is going to be wood dust in my garage fairly often, and I think I can deal with that, but I feel like much of it is coming from the desk itself. It's also difficult to wipe off with a sponge or rag.

I've thought about doing a clear finish or some sort of laminate. I'm not familiar with laminates, much. I also considered a sheet or some fabric, but since my laptop (which gets quite hot) will be sitting on it, I want the vents under it to be as open as possible.

  • What would you recommend I cover it with? Laminate, clear finish, something else?
  • Are there different types of laminates? If so, what should I consider when purchasing one?
  • Appearance is NOT important to me at all. This is a garage counter top and my garage isn't particularly pretty to begin with

I basically just want to be able to wipe it off and prevent splintering / sawdust.

Thank you much!

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    You could use ply rather than particle board; less splintery.. For that matter, if splinters are your only concern, self-adhesive "shelf paper" might do the job. – keshlam Nov 14 '15 at 15:51
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    Cheap and cheery would be a sheet of thin plexiglass. DIY countertop lamination is completely do-able, but complicated. – Aloysius Defenestrate Nov 14 '15 at 16:02
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I suppose a professional approach would be to laminate or veneer the particle board (True veneer might not be a good idea if this is a rough use shelf. There are many peel and stick ones. Need to have a good clean surface). If you look that is what most selves, like bookshelves are essentially. That would make for an easy to clean surface. You can buy sheets of it and cut it too size. I am not sure of what the cost of this would run your and you would need to be precise when doing two edges that meet. Redoing veneer/laminate is no fun.

That does seem like a lot of work though so it depends what you want the finished product to look like. Given your end goal of

I basically just want to be able to wipe it off and prevent splintering / sawdust.

then I would think there are some more realistic/simple options for you

On the side of budget and efficiency you have a slew of simple, albeit not necessarily aesthetically pleasing solutions.

  • Peel and stick tiles and linoleum.
  • Loose linoleum like that left over from a kitchen project (Not necessarily yours)
  • If you get lucky on size you could come across left over counter tops. Where I live we have places called Habitat for Humanity that sell miscellaneous pieces of kitchen hardware/furniture. They have left overs all the time.
  • Cabinet drawer liner ( most of those are meant to be non slip. depending on your needs this might not be ideal. I have shelves in my pantry covered with this. Mine are not super anti-slip material and are very easy to clean.)
  • Plexiglas or acrylic would be an easy choice as well. Creates a perfectly flat surface that is easy to clean.
  • Just paint it. Particle board paints easy (you would have to use wood putty or drywall compound on the edges first to create a smooth surface. )

The only thing I would recommend against, depending what you hand in mind, is fabric of almost any kind. It will collect dust, fumes and debris and would not be easy to clean. Depending on what you are doing in your garage of course.


You can get away with almost anything here.

  • Thank you very much, this was exactly what I was looking for! These options are all great and gives me a few things to ponder... Surprisingly I don't seem to have anything you mentioned laying around (except some very non-slip tool-chest liner). I swore I had some linoleum somewhere but can't find it. Wouldn't make for the prettiest desk, but would definitely make it easy to clean which is what I want. – Adam Plocher Nov 15 '15 at 5:43
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    Let me add that using contact cement and Formica is not that hard of job to apply to a surface. It can then be routed to a very nice edge. (This is the way counter tops used to be made back in the days before pre-formed counter top assemblies. – Michael Karas Nov 18 '15 at 13:26

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