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How to Care for Butcher Block Countertops

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If there’s one question we get asked again and again about our kitchen renovation, it’s “how do you like your butcher block countertops?”. It’s an easy answer for us: we love them! They’re affordable, they’re beautiful, and they add a nice warmth to an otherwise bright kitchen. We have the beech counters from IKEA and left them completely unfinished, aside from monthly oiling (details below!). We’ve found the butcher block countertops to hold up quite well to our usual messy selves in the kitchen!

Our Butcher Block: A Few Notes

Two important notes regarding our butcher block counters:

  • Our main sink is in a quartz-countertop island, so we do not wash dishes near the butcher block counters. We are always careful to dry off any standing water the butcher block to avoid stains.
  • Although we’ve been careful to only use food-safe oils on our otherwise unfinished counters, we do not cut or chop directly on the counters, since we’d like them to stay in great shape as long as possible.

Otherwise, we’re not too timid around the counters. They’ve been stained, burned, and used quite thoroughly for two years, and they look better than ever!

How to Take Care of Butcher Block Counters

Taking care of the counters is fairly simple. Every four to six weeks when the counters start to look and feel dry, we treat them with a butcher block wax/oil combo. We use a food safe butcher block oil / wax combo and we’ve been pleased with the results; I’ve also read that you can simply use mineral oil.

Butcher Block Maintenance 101

Here are the steps we use to treat our butcher block countertops:

  1. Clear the counters of all items and lightly sand them with a medium sandpaper block. If you have any stains, you might need to sand more heavily. Don’t worry if it looks a bit lighter in the stained area after sanding; it will blend in after a month or two. Also, don’t be too fussy about getting every last stain out, since a little patina looks good!
  2. Wipe off all of the dust with a barely-damp rag.
  3. Warm the wax bottle under hot water for a few seconds, then squirt a line of wax around the counters. You don’t need to use too much.
  4. Using a paper towel, spread out the wax evenly on the counters. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until the wood absorbs the wax. If you’ve missed a month or two, you may want to repeat this step.
  5. Using a fresh paper towel, remove any excess wax. Allow the counters to sit for about another 15 minutes — the wood will continue to absorb the remaining wax.
  6. That’s it! Your counters should be waterproofed and ready to go. Remember, water is the enemy, so make sure to keep them dry!

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  • Reply
    February 24, 2016 at 7:28 am

    We’re just about to do a kitchen renovation (our first one!) and I love the look of the wooden countertops, but was worried how they would hold up, so this is so good to know!

  • Reply
    Debbie from MountainMama
    February 25, 2016 at 11:31 am

    This couldn’t have come at a better time – I bought a house with a butcher block countertop on the center island and the previous owners unfortunately cut directly on it. I’ve treated it with mineral oil, that was ok. Then I tried Tung Oil, which is a bit better. But I’m still not thrilled with the look of them with all the cutting damage. A good sanding and some of the product you recommended might be the answer!

    • Reply
      February 25, 2016 at 11:38 am

      I hope it works for you! For one of our tougher stains, I actually used a handheld power sander. Good luck!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Hey guys! We’re considering butcher block counters for our upcoming kitchen reno and were wondering why you chose the waxing/oiling regimen over sealing them?

    • Reply
      February 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      First, we really like the look of the hand-rubbed oi finish over compared to finished wood. But also, I read some concerns about the whether standard wood finishes were food safe and we decided to play it safe. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Puja Darshan
    February 26, 2016 at 1:03 am

    We are planning to buy a house in this year with a butcher block countertop and these tips are gonna help us. :)

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