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Step-by-step instructions on how to take care of butcher block countertops added in our kitchen renovation, including sanding and oiling.

Butcher Block countertop

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 Countertop 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!
how to take care of buter block countertop
Butcher Block counter
Butcher Block countertop

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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31 Comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    If you don’t prep food on them or do dishes around them, what do you do on them?

  2. Donna Schlotzhauer says:

    Do you sand every time you oil? If so, why?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Only if there’s a stain I’m trying to get out.

  3. Mar Burk says:

    Where can I find Those stainless steel shelves?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      They are from IKEA about 10 years ago but they are now discontinued.

  4. Rachel Sailer says:

    The product link goes to a the wrong thing. Can you post an updated link?

  5. Rachel Sailer says:

    Hi! We just moved into a house with butcher block counters. We love them so much! Around the sink it looks lighter in color and feels drier to the touch. The island on the other hand feels greasy. If I leave a piece of paper on the island it will show grease spots. The house was unoccupied for about 9 months before we moved in so I have a feeling it hasn’t been oiled in a while. What do you suggest to lessen the greasiness?

    I wonder if sanding and waxing is the best place to start?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      That’s weird that’s it’s so greasy after sitting for a long time! I’d definitely sand it down and try the wax. Usually ours is greasy for about 30 minutes and then we wipe again and have no further issues with greasiness. Good luck!

  6. Lara says:

    Love that you use something other than mineral oil! I wonder if you have any advice for me. We just bought a house and the sink is set in a butcher block counter….how do I keep from killing the wood? (Replacing isn’t an option right now)Thanks!

    1. Alex says:

      Hi! Just keep the wood as dry as possible — there’s no reason for damage as long as there isn’t sitting water.

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