Butcherblock Countertops

This post is to explain the step-by-step process I did for my counter tops.  It was really easy, but I won’t lie, it was very time consuming.  I got the countertops at Ikea.  We ended up paying about $700 for 5 different pieces.  We decided to go with the Numerar Oak butcher block.  They had a cheaper, thinner kind of butcher block, but from what I hear they generally sell out of those as soon as they come in, so if you can get your hands on them, your a lucky one!

First step is to measure and cut your countertops to the correct length.  Also measure and cut the hole for the kitchen sink. We had to actually rip one of the countertops to make it not as deep, for the breakfast bar.

We started by sanding all of the counter tops down.  I don’t remember exactly what grit, but start out rough, and work your way to a more fine grit.  After sanding, get a damp cloth and wipe off all the dust.  You will feel the wood become kind of rough.  The water pulls up the uneven grain allowing you to sand it down easier.  Repeat this step a few times, until you feel the butcher block is at its smoothest (wipe clean with a DRY cloth after the last sanding)

Now your read to stain!  But before watching your countertops transform into the perfect shade of color, you should condition the wood.  I applied one heavy coat of wood conditioner

Be sure to get an oil based conditioner and an oil based stain!  You will want to apply the stain within 20 minutes of applying the wood conditioner.  This will assure that the stain will lay evenly and not soak into drier spots.  I tried three different kinds of stain to see which one would look best on the oak, and also have the same kind of tones as the wood floors we were putting in.

I ended up using Minwax’s English Chesnut stain.  I was able to use the smallest “tester” can that is 8oz, and was able to do three coats on all of my countertops and still have some left over.  So the 32oz (pictured below) is overkill unless you plan on using the stain on other projects.

Just apply as many coats until your satisfied with the color.  I believe I did three coats of stain.  Be sure to allow plenty of drying time in between coats.

Next, and finally, comes the clear coat, the sealer.  A lot of people opt to go with a waxy, oily rub (not quite sure what the correct name is) that you have to apply to butcher block every three months.  I know how forgetful of a person I am, and wanted to go with a more permanent sealer.  I found something called Waterlox.  Its a like a polyurethane, clear coat.  It’s provides a hard protectant coat over the counter tops, and will never need be to reapplied again.  The problem with Waterlox, is a lot of states don’t sell it, so you may have to buy it online.  I lucked out and found a store here in Eugene that carried it.  The reason a lot of states don’t carry it is because of the very high VOCs.  I recommend applying coats in a well ventilated area, I even wore a respirator because the fumes were so strong.  You MUST allow it to dry and cure before preparing food on it.  Full cure time is about two weeks.  We went ahead and installed the counter tops after it had dried, and just prepared our food on a separate surface until the full 2 weeks had passed.  I got two different kinds of Waterlox, a gloss finish, and a satin finish.  You must start with a couple of coats of the glossy finish.  I didn’t want the countertops to be glossy, so after the two coats of glossy I finished up with 2-3 coats of a satin finish.  Be sure to lightly sand away any dried bumps or bubbles after every coat!  We used a 400 grit or higher for this, just enough to take the bumps away, but not take the layer off.  It is a long and time consuming process with all of the drying time, but it is definitely worth it!  I absolutely love the way they turned out!

Hope this helps!  Here are some extra photos of the process

9 Responses to “Butcherblock Countertops”
  1. Marla Betz says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU so much on the info about the countertops this helps a lot. I have a month to finish the countertops and a friend is going to let me use his show to do them in. I really appriciate your info on this. I love how they turned out.


    • roxygurl189 says:

      No problem! Let me know how it goes, and if you need any further information. A month should be plenty of time, even with all of the curing! Hope it goes well, and good luck!!!

      P.S. I added links to some things so its easy to find them online. Also, I forgot to mention that I bought the 8oz can of stain, and it was plenty, and also use 400 grit or higher when sanding in between coats of the sealer.

    • TJ Sybilrud says:

      Hi Marla,

      I told Lisa but wanted to tell you as well, when you buy the waterlox at Woodcraft of Eugene (lisa knows where it is) make sure you get the more expensive brush for the waterlox and clear coats, amanda got the cheaper one and it would shed a bit. The price difference is like $7 to $20 so it is not that bad. But with my background in painting the nicer brush is essential.

      Also with sanding I went a little crazy sanding because frankly I wanted it as smooth as possible. I went all the way to a 320 grit. Must have been 4 to 5 times sanding then wiping with a wet cloth.

      Make sure that you are not doing this in an area that there are bugs, because they will get stuck in the clear coat and waterlox, we learned this the hard way.

      I think that is it. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.


      • Lorrie says:

        É isso mesmo que é preciso Jesus, provavelmente ainda hoje o Fórum Tecn0logia irá estar aberto à comunidade e eu vou contar com vós para ajudar a dar continuidade ao FÃurrm.C³mpuimentos

  2. Bonnie says:

    Hi there!
    We are putting the same counters in at my sons house. We were wondering how you butted up the seams. Did you just put the factory edges together or did you router the edges to make them straight and then put them together. I bought Waterlox as well and can’t wait to get started!
    Any other tips would be great.
    Thanks for your time!

    • roxygurl189 says:

      Hey Bonnie! Well I will tell you your son is going to love them! I hope they turn out well for you!

      We just used the factory edge to butt up against other edges. We knew that would probably be the straightest edge. And because the factory edge is slightly rounded, once the counter tops were installed, we ran a sealer down wherever two countertops met. this keeps crumbs and gunk from getting down in there. Let me run out and grab it really quick!

      ok! so first you run a “premium waterproof silicone (clear…..it comes in a tube like caulking). and run it down the seams, then you take mineral spirits on your finger and run it over the silicon. We have yet to do this….we have the supplies, and just am doing what the woman at the home improvement store told us to do. We just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!
      Thanks for looking 🙂

      • Bonnie says:

        Thanks for the info. We were trying to decide if we should remove that edge but it is so nice and straight compared to what we could end up with if we shaved it off. I think your idea sounds perfect!
        I also have to tell you we got inspiration from your DIY episode. I called my son when it aired again and told him to turn it on. He called and said this was exactly what he wanted to do. We will now be painting his cabinets as well! He bought a beautiful white sink and oiled bronze faucets. We clad a half wall in beadboard and will doing the cabinet ends and the inside of the glass cabinets also.
        He is using Early American for the stain color and it should look really sharp once we get everything done.
        After I sent the first message to you I went to your blog and realized you were the couple from DIY. I told my husband that I had contacted the “electricity people” from the renovation show!!
        Thanks for your help. I may need to contact you again!

  3. Amanda Laird says:

    Thats too funny! I’m glad you liked the show 🙂 I tried early american as well, and that did look really nice…it just didn’t match up to our floors quite well.

    I think the beadboard inside the glass cabinets will look awesome!

    You will have to send me some photos when your kitchen is all done!

  4. WOW! I love the look! I would be SO happy if you would consider writing a special guest post about this project for my blog Remodelaholic. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will send you the details!


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