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SEALING BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERTOPS

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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.

HOW TO SEAL BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERTOPS

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!

KITCHEN CABINET COLORS:

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!

Cheers,

Aniko

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66 Comments

  1. I am curious if you have had any issues with hot plates or dishes causing bubbling? We have a beautiful butcher block island at our vacation rental house and every time someone rents the house we end up with the bubbles on the finish and need to sand the area and reapply with poly.

  2. Came upon this when I googled best ways to finish butcher block. Thanks for sparing me what sounds like a bit of a headache when it comes to maintenance. I have 6 kids and these countertops are going to take a beating so I need to protect them! We are going this weekend to buy our huge slabs of walnut butcher block. My question is, should we poly it before we actually install it? Or wait until after? Thanks for the post and the comments!

  3. So now that you have had your sealed countertops for about a year and a half, how are they holding up? I absolutely LOVE the look of butcher block, but have avoided it because I want virtually no maintenance at all.

    Do they still look as good? Have you had to resand and reseal? Are there any stains? I have boys and they are pretty rough on everything, so I need something boy proof!

  4. Hi there.
    What a blessing to find you at this point in time. After YEARS of debating about whether or not to install a butcher block counter….I”M READY!
    However, I’m concerned about water damage around the sink area AND leaving a drainboard on the counter all the time. My kids are out of the house and there are no “little ones” bouncing around anymore so there’s no worry about anyone not wiping up after themselves.
    What do you think? Help!!!

  5. Hey! New to your blog, absolutely love the butcher block, what color and brand did you use for the lower cabinets? They look great.

  6. Hi! Wondering if you just did one coat of stain and how long you let the stain dry before applying the poly? Also does the poly cure right away or did you have to be careful for several weeks?
    Thanks!

  7. Hello there!
    I know this post is a little older but I hope you can still answer some questions for me.
    How is the coating holding up and what did you use to apply the poly? Did you sand between the poly coats?
    I want to use a butcher block as a bathroom vanity top. Do you know how it’s holding up for your friend who did it in his bathroom?
    Thank you

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I am so glad I found your story!! I’ve had my butcher block counters for 3.5 years and although they are still beautiful, I just can’t relax with them, always worried about the water. I haven’t oiled like I should either. So I am ready to sand and do the the poly method!! I’ve even missed my laminate tops where I could just wipe up water spills….lol

    Did you remove your kitchen sink or just stain and poly around it? Hoping you left it. I upgraded to a cast iron white, and I don’t even want to go there. I’ve noticed little gaps in my block too. Did you have any and if so, did they fill with the staining and poly treatment?

    Thank you again and your kitchen is beautiful!!

  9. Love this! We are finishing our basement now. We plan on painting the cabinets navy, and love this counter top! Can I ask, what color/brand is the cabinet color? I absolutely love these!
    Thanks!
    Leslie

  10. Im so glad we sealed ours after reading this. We used poly over a water based sealer and couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t take the constant cleaning and sanding after rings left from beers or anything wet being set on them. It looks great and is extremely easy to wipe up spills. I wouldn’t do more than 2 coats because we don’t want the shiny plastic feel, but if you’re trying to decide how to finish your counter tops, do this. Thanks for the article and making me pull the trigger on doing this method. Peace!

    1. We are having maple countertops and island top installed in our kitchen redo. The maple is coming untreated from Home Depot. I was going to just treat it with oil before having them installed, but now I’m thinking differently. I don’t want the shiny plastic look either. Can you tell me exactly how and what you used. I think this is way I want to go.

  11. We’re about to get butcher block in our kitchen. I’m wondering does it need to be stained first before the polyurethane? Or can I just apply the polyurethane and that be enough? Thanks!

  12. Hi. I noticed in one of your photos, a significant crack where two countertops meet. Did your application of polyurethane fill this space? Thanks

  13. Hi. I noticed in one of your photos, a significant crack where two countertops meet. Did your application of polyurethane fill this space?

  14. Hello Aniko, I love this method and can’t wait to try it! thanks for sharing!!
    We recently moved to an apartment that has butchers block countertops in the kitchen and even though I love the look of it I hate how high maintenance it is and was looking to either replace or just put some sort of contact paper! But I will definitely give this method a go!
    Does the mold disappear when you sand it town?

  15. Hi,
    how does the PUR behave if you put a hot pot or pan on it? What about cup of hot tea? What about cutting on it?

    Are you not worry about its healthy properties. Ok, its hardened but still cyanide is in it…

    Thank you.
    Jan

  16. This is perfect timing as I’m going to be re-sealing our butcher block countertops in a few days. Just like you we’ve been tired of the constant re-oiling and defending the countertops against any hot plates or water drips (especially around the sink). With two kiddos running around its definitely not something we think we need to be spending energy towards.

    Since you had been oiling yours prior to staining and sealing with polyurethane, did the sanding process take care of any residual oil or wax left over from the previous maintenance or did you use any acetone prior to staining to ensure there was no oil residue left over? It’s been months since we’ve oiled, but I just want to prevent any top coat from peeling off down the line. Thanks so much!

  17. Do you have to reseal this again after you do it once? I know the mineral oil is something you are supposed to do regularly

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