I am so excited about our newly made over kitchen. And I am loving our DIY countertops!
Butcher Block has made a massive come back in the last couple years, especially when it comes to the ever so popular, farmhouse style. It is also the most affordable counter material there is. Depending on the type of butcher block you choose, it is a quarter of the price of quartz, marble, and even some man made materials like formica. On the other hand, like anything, it can have it’s set backs.
The Drawbacks of Butcher Block
Unlike stone, butcher block is wood–making it require regular maintenance when left unsealed. (Stone does require its own sealing as well). Natural butcher block requires oiling with a mineral based, food safe oil for the expanse of it’s lifetime. Otherwise, it will crack, splinter, and warp. For natural butcher block the oil process from install looks something like this:
Week One: Oil daily.
Month One, After First Week: Oil on the same day, every week.
After Month One: Oil on the same day every month. Continue for the lifetime of your counter top.
Every Few Years: You may need to sand and refinish your counter tops in order to keep them looking stain free, even, and fresh.
If you’re good at doing regular maintenance on time, every time natural butcher block might be right for you. I however chose a different path when it came to our install of the countertops. I chose to white wash and seal our butcher block. This method can be use for any water based stain color. I’m going to show you how and what I used, below.
How I Avoided the Drawbacks, a Tutorial
This process required a little more work upfront to avoid the monthly maintenance of oiling. I also wanted to avoid the yellowing natural butcher block experiences due to UV light. I simply didn’t want to deal with yellow countertops after a year or two. Additionally, I wanted something that would look clean and bright. Here is a step by step on how I accomplished what I did.
Step 1: Cut your butcher block for the specifications of the install.
Step 2: Sanding. While butcher block is typically “sanded,” by it’s manufacturer it doesn’t always have a smooth, silky finish. Additionally, it may have some wood glue or other chemical debris that need some extra care. I started with a medium grit, 100 sand paper to get any larger fibers off. Once the piece had been sanded effectively, I sanded again with a fine grit, 150 sand paper. This made the piece buttery smooth after a very thorough sanding. If you check out my INSTAGRAM HIGHLIGHTS you will be able to find my tutorial on how I went about sanding!
Step 3: Clean. It’s important to make sure your butcher block is extremely clean before the next few steps. I first wiped them down with a damp cloth. I followed this process with a small amount of mineral spirits I dabbed on a clean, smooth cotton cloth. I allowed this to dry overnight before the next step.
Step 4: Stain. I used a water based stain from Saman’s. Be careful to avoid any stain that is not water based, as it will not be safe to be in the area of any food preparation. For this job, I used a 1″ brush to help smooth out the stain before wiping down with a clean cotton cloth. Also be sure to use painters tape to tape off anything you don’t want stain on. We taped off our sink and cabinets.
We loved the above product. They have other stain colors available too that are safe to use!
[Click on image to be taken to item details.]
Step 5: Repeat until desired color is reached. Once you have one coat of stain, allow to dry at least 30 minutes before your next coat. Double check your stain’s instructions to ensure proper application.
Step 6: Seal. Once you have your desired color allow to dry over night, ensuring it’s completely dry. Once dried, you are ready to seal. I recommend using MinWax Polycrylic. Again, it’s water based. Easy for clean up and within 30 days will be completely safe for food contact.(I’ll be honest though… I always use a cutting board, recommending you do too just to keep your counters scratch free, so my counters don’t usually come into contact directly with food.)
Here’s a quick step by step on how to seal:
-Gently wipe off your surface to ensure no dust or particles are present.
-Pour on your Polycrylic to ensure no stain or debris transfer from your brush.
-In long, smooth motions, smooth out your sealer over your entire surface.
-Allow first coat to completely dry, about an hour.
-Repeat, two more times.
-Dry overnight before use.
So far, we love our countertops. They are so easy to maintain and the beautiful wood grain is highlighted throughout. Just wipe clean like you would any countertop. I recommend making sure you don’t have any sitting water on them for extended periods and like any countertop, always use a cutting board.
I hope this tutorial was helpful! If you have ever thought of butcher block but wanted to change things up, this is a wonderful alternative. We love how ours turned out and look forward to the classic white wash look for years to come. For more inspiration be sure to follow Midwest Southern Blog on Instagram and Pinterest!
Make your day beautiful,