Counter Support

Dear NH,
I removed an L-shaped counter out of my kitchen because it took up a lot of room. The wall in which the old counter was connected also has a pocket door I want to keep. Now, I want to put a flat 4 1/2' counter on the wall (no cabinet underneath it).

Though I need four studs to support the countertop, there are only two available. The missing two would be where the pocket door is located. How can I support the end where there are no studs?
WM from Middletown, CT

Ideally, having wall studs is the optimal support, but you can do with less in some situations.

First things first. You will need to support the front edge of the countertop, too. You can use either vertical posts or supports attached to the wall and beneath the countertop, angled upwards to near the outside edge of the countertop.

With that in mind, it may be wise to support the entire back edge of the countertop with a ledger board, a 1x2 board attached to the wall. In the area where you don't have studs, use 3/16" or 1/4" toggle bolts through the ledger board, spaced at least six inches apart and no more than twelve inches apart for maximum support. Toggle bolts are surprisingly strong and can easily hold the typical loads on a kitchen countertop. (If the bolt heads are visible, you can recess the holes slightly and fill the holes prior to painting.)

Be extra careful that there is enough clearance for the toggles and their bolts! You don't want the toggles rubbing on the doors and damaging the finish. If perchance the toggles are just too long, use molly bolts instead. Again, you will have to be careful with the length of the bolt, but since mollies are stationary when installed, you can always remove the bolts and cut them a little shorter. If you don't use a thread-type bolt cutter, which preserves the threads, screw an appropriately-sized nut onto the bolt prior to cutting it. Removing the nut will help straighten out the threads, which are always somewhat damaged during cutting.

I would recommend using construction adhesive behind the 1x2 if you are using mollies, since they are not nearly as strong as toggles. The combination of glue and fastener will give you plenty of strength. Just don't stand on it!

And though this may seem obvious, it's a mistake that gets made over and over again. Be sure the door is closed and "out of the pocket" before doing any of this work!

Finally, if desired (or necessary), the countertop can be glued to the supporting board with construction adhesive.
Take care,

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