Butcher block in the kitchen

May 19, 2014

We’ve had our butcher block counter on the island for nearly four years now and it’s held up GREAT. I don’t know if I’ve shared this process before, but it never hurts to show it again since I know there are a lot of questions about butcher in the kitchen.

First up, I have to say I LOVE having the wood on the island. It did worry me a bit at first – the first few weeks I was extra careful with it. Now? I put anything on it. I’m finding I love it more with the little cuts and dings. It’s incredibly easy to keep up. I rarely have any stains or issues – I think there’s only two times that I’ve had a mark on it and both times were from paint cans: sanding down butcher block

I left a small can on there for a few days and it left that mark. But I’ve had juice, wine…anything else you can think of on there and it wipes right off. I’ll share why in a minute, but first my process for dealing with any marks.

This only takes me a few minutes because it’s just the island and the wood is not stained. I used a 220 grit sandpaper:

sanding butcher block

And my favorite sander:

best handheld sander

I love this sander for two reasons – it keeps most of the dust in the little container (last time I did this with another sander the kitchen was covered in a layer of dust). And it doesn’t leave the little swirl sanding marks that others I’ve tried did. If I don’t sand properly it still does it occasionally, but nothing like I’ve had in the past! If I take my time and do it right I never get them. :)

Again, this just took me a few minutes -- I wiped it down after with a wet towel after sanding and then let it dry well.

I use Formby’s Tung Oil to seal up the wood (on recommendation from my Dad): tung oil for butcher block

It has worked incredibly well! I usually reoil about once a year – if that. And I don’t always sand it down first (I only did this time because of that paint can mark). Usually I just clean the top and then apply one or two more coats.

It takes a couple minutes to apply – just use a clean white rag (with gloves on) and wipe it in:

 sealing wood countertopssealing butcher block 

It needs to dry 12 hours and they say to buff with fine steel wool and then do another coat. I kind of cheat – I don’t sand it down again, I just put another coat on. :)

I did the first yesterday evening before we left for a movie, I’ll do another coat tonight before bed:

sealing wood countertopsI wasn’t sure I’d like the more natural finish all those years ago, but now I LOVE it. It helps to lighten things up with our dark cabinets.

Butcher block for a kitchen island can get really pricey! I got mine from IKEA for less than $200 but I’ve heard they don’t sell this size anymore? That would be a major bummer because I’m always thrilled with their butcher and this is a fantastic option.

I had a local woodworking place router the pretty edge on there for an added detail:

butcher block on island

I have zero complaints when it comes to this countertop – there is a little bit of maintenance but it’s maybe once a year that you need to oil it up again. It’s probably been longer than that since I last did it.

If you have them stained then the care will be different. I’ve seen Waterlox used a lot on stained counters but Tung oil may be fine over stain as well. I used a poly over my stained butcher block in the dining room and mud room but those get very little wear and tear. If you like the natural look this oil is great option to seal up counters from stains and liquids and it’s incredibly easy to apply.

Do you love the look of butcher block counters? Could you have them throughout your whole kitchen? I’m considering it!

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  1. Loved this post! My husband and I have been debating on doing butcher block for all our counters but have been weary since we know no one that has tried it. Your positive review on it has got me even more excited to do it!

  2. For some reason I cant see pictures on your posts

  3. LUV the look of the natural wood. Beautiful and if that is all the maintenance there is, I have I not done this?!
    I am inspired!
    Glad you had fun on the mud race. :D

  4. I was looking at buying Ikea butcher block for our island, but when I looked online I couldn't find any pieces wide enough for an island (maybe ours is just extra wide?). So I assume they don't sell that size anymore, which makes me so sad!

    1. I think they've done away with it Amanda. :( I don't know why, I'm sure it was a popular choice!

    2. We have all butcher block c-tops in our kitchen. Ikea originally sold us what they swore was solid oak....when we went to cut in for the sink, we discovered it was veneer over laminate. We finally went to lumber liquidators and bought bowling alley grade maple and finished it with Epifanes.The price was slightly more expensive than Ikea, but very comparable. I pretty much live in our kitchen and the c-tops are holding up great!!!

    3. Yes they do have a version that has a veneer and you can't stain it well either -- at least I don't think. The numerar is great though! We have a lumber liquidators but it's about 30 minutes away -- I'll have to check it out.

  5. I used Ikea's Numerar butcher block counter top on my island and the largest size (Length: 73 1/4 " Depth: 39 3/8 ") at $195 fit perfectly without having to cut it at all! I believe it's standard countertop depth, so if you have an extra wide island, it definitely won't work. That size is still available, but only in beech or birch (no oak). I chose beech for the multiple shade variations, stained it with 2 coats of Minwax in walnut and finished with 6-7 coats of Waterlox (satin finish but it dries clear) and LOVE the result. I've heard Poly will yellow over time... Love your natural butcher block look too!

  6. wow I really like this! I wish i had the woodworking skills to ad an island to our kitchen.
    on another note, how on earth do you get your fridge to shine like that!! lol

    1. Ha! Honestly I think it's the brand -- it's a Kenmore and I hear they have a coating or something that helps? But we use water or Shaklee to clean it with a microfiber cloth.

  7. Hey Sarah! Long time reader, first time commenting...but I've got to ask...How on earth to you clean you fridge so it looks brand new?! I've noticed it everytime and I have to ask. It always looks amazing!!
    -Sarah from Canada!

    1. Actually it's just water or sometimes Shaklee with a microfiber cloth! I have been told the Kenmore fridges are easier to keep clean, maybe it's true! :)

  8. We had a kitchen table for years from the 70s with a solid butcher block top. In 2000 I used it as part of a new counter top. Loved using it and sanded as you did about once a year. Even set a hot pan on it and caused a burn that sanded out. I always used mineral oil from the drug store, the wood loved soaking it up. An old standard for a conditioner identical to branded butcher block oil. Both this and tung oil have naysayers for a coating. There really is something gratifying about working/using wood in the kitchen. Enjoy for years to come.

  9. Hi Sarah. Would also love to know how you keep your fridge looking so glass-like shiny! Do you have a specific cleaner? Thanks!

  10. Hi, Sarah! Looks great! I have a question -- do you think the tung oil would work on sealing untreated trim around a window? We had a bay window installed two years ago, and we still haven't finished the wood! (I can't decide on the color.) I love the color it is right now, and would love to protect the wood without having to change the color

  11. We have butcher block in our tiny kitchen, one giant 2 inch thick slab that is 8 feet long. It's been installed going on 3 years. We love it. It puts up with a lot of abuse as it is the only counter in our kitchen: hot pans are put on it, drinks and food is spilled on it, water from the sink is splashed on it constantly, dough is rolled out on it each week, etc.. Still looks great. We use 'Howard Butcher Block Conditioner' on ours: it conditions and seals all in one, and is food safe.
    What a good idea to have someone edge the wood! That is something I would like for our counter someday.

  12. Formby's Tung Oil Finish is my ALL TIME favorite...and yes, you can use it over stain. It provides an amazing finish and very durable. But yes, you should hit it with steel wool and tack cloth and put another coat of finish on once a year...it will look brand new! I use it ALL the time on my various projects beckwithstreasures.com Just "search" Formby's! It will not yellow like poly, and unlike poly it is incredibly easy to "repair" scratchs! LOVE that you used it on this top! Beautiful!

  13. BTW, not a spokesman for Formby's...just a fellow DIYer who has found an awesome product after many years of trial and error!


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