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I have been living with my butcher block countertops for a few years now. Do you remember this awesome kitchen makeover?  This kitchen update is one of my favorites of all!

Today I am sharing my thoughts on how we like our butcher blocks,  what we have learned, and how we sealed the surface of our butcher block countertops.  Maybe this info will come handy for you if you decide to go that route one day or if you already have butcher blocks, but you haven’t sealed them. If you perhaps still thinking and leaning more towards marble countertops, check out THIS post.

Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!Butcher Block Countertops are good countertops?

I think they are! I love the warmth, look, and feel of it and, I would install them over and over again.

But we learned along the way that just the oil that penetrates the wood won’t make it for us. I wanted to seal the counter with something that would make the surface waterproof.

Living with my counters for a while definitely made me want to waterproof it for a few reasons:

  1. We had areas, the hard working areas, and around the sink – where the wood started to darken in patches.   All you need is water for mold to appear and grow and I think that’s what happened in our case.
  2. It’s much easier to keep the surface clean when it’s waterproof. No worries about wine spills!! Heck yeah!

What is the best finish for butcher block countertops?

Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!

There are many options out there. We treated our counters with wood oil for months – we used the retailer suggested wood oil, and we used the method they recommended. After installation, we applied oil every two days (YES!), then every week, then every two weeks, then every month and then six months after. It needed lots of attention, and it’s was a heck of a lot of work!

While the oil would bring out the color and luster of the wood and allow you direct contact with the warmth and distinctive texture of the wood – I could not love it!

Anytime I placed a can on the counter, it left a significant mark, and I hated it.

No fun!

Butcher Block Countertops stain.

So we finally followed one of my friend’s suggestion – the method he used for sealing his butcher block countertop in his bathroom.

I want to claim that this is the way we made our counter waterproof, and this is not the only way to do it!

I know there are SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS out there, so be sure to do your research first! This process worked for us, and I would love to know how it’s working for you if you are going to try this method.


Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!

So the first thing we did was that we sanded the counters well until it was clean! We used a Ryobi sander.

After an hour of sending and four numb hands(!), we had the counter smoothened and cleaned out.

We vacuumed the dirt off the surface and applied one coat of natural stain. The one below.

One coat of stain would make the surface waterproof itself, and it gave our counter a beautiful finish, but based on my friend’s suggestion, the stain wasn’t going to be enough.

We then used Polyurethane and applied a thick coat on the top of the stain.

Polyurethane for butcher block countertops.

Polyurethane is a liquid coating that dries into a plastic film and is excellent for sealing the countertop, but then there’s a layer of plastic between you and your pretty new wood.

We chose the fast-drying product, so shortly after the first coat was dry, we were able to apply the second coat as well.

Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!

The smell in the room was strong, so we left the house for a few hours.

The outcome was great. I love that I can spill anything on my counter without worrying about it now. It was a straightforward, few steps that we should have done for a long time.

Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!

What do you think? Will you try this method?

Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!

Beautiful two toned kitchen with butcher block countertops!


Upper cabinets: BEHR-Ultra white

Lower Cabinets: BEHR-Night Club

If you want to get on some organizing projects, be sure to check out the OPEN PANTRY that I tackled not too long ago, or if you are feeling to DIY something easy this weekend, be sure to check out this EASY DIY PICTURE FRAME or this IKEA TV STAND HACK tutorial.

Open pantry shelves!

Do you love the style of my kitchen? Here are a few things you can grab to mimic this style and look! ( affiliate links- read my disclosure here!)

Thanks for visiting today!

I hope you will stick around for more awesomeness!



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  1. Hi! I have butchers block I purchased with is already pre-stained. Can I just give mine a good sanding and apply this Poly on? Also did you sand in between coats of the poly? How many coats total? How long did you wait until you put things back on the counter top? It looks wonderful and thanks for this article!

    1. Abby, I probably would give it a good sanding, would apply one coat of stain ( your choice – we used natural color), and then I would apply the Polu. Two coats. After you apply the first coat of Poly, wait until it’s dried completely and apply the second. This is just what I would do but please do your research on what to do with the already stained butcher.

      1. How is it continuing to hold up? Is it shiny? I want a natural, light…shine…not dull, but not semigloss looking like I expect from poly.
        Yours looks like a soft shine from photos. How is it holding up around the sink?

  2. Thank you for the wonderful ideas, and your counters look amazing. My husband made me an island with a butcher block top. He has since passed, and now I need to refinish the butcher block top. I know that he did the top with polyurethane, but I don’t know if he did a clear stain underneath the poly. Do I need to do a clear pre-stain prior to the polyurethane? I don’t want to change the color of the butcher block top, since the island means a lot to me. Thank you for any suggestions or recommendations.

      1. Hi. I noticed in one of your photos, a significant crack where two countertops meet. Did your application of polyurethane fill this space? I’ve built my own countertops, and I have this same significant crack.

  3. How is the polyuerathane coating holding up now? Could you cook near it? Or even set a glass of water or spill something? What do you clean it with?

      1. How does it hold up to scratches and dings? 4 kids = I need something durable!! But I REALLY want butcher block counters!

  4. you can use a water-based polyurethane, which is much less toxic than the oil-based polys. I used this for the oak floors in my house it is fabulous. the water-based polys are just as hard and don’t out-gas more than a few days, whereas the oil-based polys will stink up your house for months with toxic fumes.

  5. Hello! I have recently refinished a butcher block table for my craft room with this same method. It came out lovely! That said, after the last coat of poly I could still see a lot of brush strokes. I wound up lightly sanding with fine grit. Looks waaay better. My question is, do i need to do anything else assuming i didnt sand off all the finish? Thank you!

      1. I have 32′ of butcher block counters in my remodeled ranch house. I polyurethaned the main counters by the sink 10 times. The eat-at counter 15 X, and both counters on each side of stove are just oiled regularly. LOVE them!!! But after 5 years, I will sand the sink counters lightly with 220 grit and poly them 10 more times!

  6. I really want to use by the sink. Will the dirty dishes and wet plates from prewash stain or penetrate the poly, as you did mention mold where water goes and lots of water around a set in sink. have an island for food prep so thats not a problem , just not sure around sink with wood top.

  7. How are they holding up? We have butcher block counters and I HATE the oil and want to switch to poly. Did you have to sand down a significant amount before applying the sealer?

  8. Thanks for this post!! I have had butcher block for a year and a half and the upkeep is just too much – clearing off the counters to oil it every month is just not manageable! I plan on trying this method this weekend 🙂

    How long did you wait before applying the poly after you applied the stain?


  9. Hello! I also have butcher block countertops and am SOOOO over the oiling process. Maybe I do it wrong but they just don’t keep their luster very long after each application and yes! water rings and dish marks are basically unavoidable unless you never set anything on them which is obviously unreasonable, lol. With that being said, what did you do beside sanding to prepare your previously oiled countertops for poly? Did you use mineral spirits to remove the oil or did you just let them dry out naturally on their own for a while? I’m seriously considering poly for my own counters but am afraid the poly won’t bond if they’re not properly prepared. Please let me know anything special you did in preparation. Thanks so much!

    Taylor W.

    1. Taylor: What did you end up doing? I find myself in your same position now… unsure if it’s too late to apply polycrylic or polyurethane over a well mineral-oiled butcher block countertop. I’d love your advice!

  10. Looks great! We recently just remodeled our kitchen and used a polyeurthane finish on our butcher block countertop but it still rough to the touch on some spots and especially along the edge. Any recommendations?

  11. Loving your countertops! I’ve struggled getting mine to stay waterproof so this was super helpful.

  12. Love this! Recently got a butcher block counter and DON’T like the wood oil finish, wanted to put on polyurethane and everyone told me it was a bad idea…but after seeing this I’m going to do it. I also wanted it to be waterproof and feel “finished.” And now people keep telling me I can’t put on polyurethane once oil has been used. So thank you for showing me that it can, with beautiful results. Question-did you have to do something to clean out the leftover oil residue, or did the sanding take care of that? Thank you!

  13. Hey, I love your countertops! I recently just upgraded to butcher block but have had the hardest time finishing it. I’ve applied a few coats of mineral oil because I absolutely love the grain/color that comes out of the wood. I then applied a few coats of spar urethane in hopes that it protects it from water. I recently just installed it with the under mounted sink attached but have been noticing soft/white spots everywhere water has been sitting for a long period of time ????.

  14. I had a good visit. Thank you. We are in the process of installing a butcher counter top in our bathroom. I will be doing the same process as you have suggested. Thanks again.

  15. Looks beautiful! I have a fake? butcher block table with those country legs – we bought at a garage sale years ago. Has some marks on top I just am unable to remove despite the numerous internet searches done/tried. Based on what you’ve done, and looks to me, so are you removing the top surface layer? and then applying the stain application? In hindsight, is it best to do this project in the summer where the windows would be opened to avoid the smell? I shutter to think how long the smell would last inside the house in the winter. Anything else to share, please do as I’m thinking of tackling the top of this table. Already painted legs black. Have quartz countertops, white subway backsplash tile and oak cabinets my hubby won’t let me paint………he’s a purist……… =) thank you again!

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