Step-by-step instructions on how to take care of butcher block countertops added in our kitchen renovation, including sanding and oiling.
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!
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:
- 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!
- Wipe off all of the dust with a barely-damp rag.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- That’s it! Your counters should be waterproofed and ready to go. Remember, water is the enemy, so make sure to keep them dry!
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.