Update On My Butcherblock Countertops (it’s not pretty!)

Almost exactly seventeen months ago, I refinished my butcherblock countertops. The reason I refinished them was because something (I suspect it was lemon juice) left a bleached ring on them. Plus, I was never really pleased with the original color that I chose.  But after they were refinished, they looked beautiful.

stained and sealed butcher block countertop with undermount sink

Now, seventeen months later, they look like this…

Finish wearing off of butcher block countertop around the sink

Isn’t that awful?!  It’s not like that everywhere…just mainly around the sink.  I take most of the blame for this.  And let this be a lesson in doing things right the first time (or even the second time)

Before I finished my brand new Ikea butcherblock countertops the first time, I did my research.  I searched and searched for the best option for staining and sealing butcherblock countertops in a way that would be food safe.  After my extensive research, I finally decided to use regular stain, followed by Waterlox to seal them.  After a phone call to the Waterlox company, I learned that their product is food safe after it is fully cured, even if used over regular stain.

I used the Waterlox according to the instructions (I did several thin coats, allowing each coat to dry the appropriate amount of time).  It really worked well…until the lemon juice incident.  That was my fault.  I left a plate sitting on the countertop for probably 48 hours that had lemon juice on the bottom.  Most normal people wouldn’t leave a dirty plate sitting on their countertop for 48 hours.  I’ve never claimed to be normal.  😀

So on to round two…

In November 2010, I sanded the countertops down completely.  This time, I decided to mix the stain in with the first coat of Waterlox (which can be done, according to the Waterlox instructions).  I loved the color, and the finish.  The problem?  I never followed up with the required number of coats of Waterlox.  Sure, I meant to.  It was on my list of things to do.  But life got busy, and I never got around to it.  So now, seventeen months later, I’m left with this…

Finish wearing off of butcher block countertop around sink area

The sealer has worn off, along with the stain.  The wood is incredibly dry, and desperately needs a protective finish.

Yep.  My fault.  I should have taken the time to do things right the first time, because now I have to do it again…for the third time.  I should know better.

And the sad thing is that even though I have a million other projects to do in my condo, I really need to push this to the top of the list before my countertops get ruined beyond repair.  If they get too dried out, they could crack, and then my only option would be replacing them completely.

So now I’m back to deciding how I want to refinish them.  I’ve used Waterlox twice now.  The first time, I used it according to the instructions, and even then, I still had trouble with the finish wearing off in places.  If something ever got stuck on the countertop, and I used the green scrubby side of a sponge to get it off (never, ever using much pressure at all), the color would come off and leave spots like this…

Waterlox finish comes off of butcher block countertops with scratchy side of dish sponge

And again, that happened even when I used the Waterlox according to the directions, and used more than the required number of coats.

And another thing…I keep wondering if I really do need a food-safe finish.  I never, ever, EVER put food on my countertops.  I always use a plate or cutting board, so the issue of a food-safe finish seems unimportant.

I’m just not sure, but I need to make a decision soon.  If you’ve had great success in getting a perfect, durable finish on your butcherblock countertops, please share your secret!


I ended up refinishing these countertops two more times. The final time was the clear winner! Here’s what I tried:

Click here if you’d like to see all posts about this kitchen remodel, including the final pictures of the finished kitchen.

tiny condo kitchen remodel - teal cabinets, butcherblock countertop, white subway tile backsplash, yellow walls



Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Thank you immensely for sharing your experience with your butcher block countertops. I have yet to upgrade to them in my kitchen, but I want to. I’m with you on the does it really have to be food safe. I think I’ll be coating mine with several coats of oil based poly to hold up to the abuse our boys will inevitably give them.

    1. Unbeknownst to most consumers as well as many contractors, most oil based wood finishes are considered food safe once fully cured. Where you can get into trouble is with some epoxies, lacquers, and a few of the oils but not most. Additionally, a “food safe” finish is only truly necessary if you are going to be preparing foods DIRECTLY on the surface. Unless you are oiling the wood and using a true end grain wood, for gosh sake use a cutting board. Get a nice one with the liquid channel routed around it. Don’t cut directly on your counters, unless you have steel. Bacteria DOES build up more quickly in the other types of grain, which makes them less “food safe,” regardless of the coating. End grain also catches the edge of your knife blades, so it will damage them less, and the end grain snaps back better than face or edge grains, resulting in less scarring of the surface. As far as a coating goes, Litex makes a pour-on epoxy that is a super-high build like you’ll see on bar tops. It is food safe once cured, according to the FDA. You wouldn’t see it in bars and restaurants otherwise. Also, gloss polyurethanes are almost all food safe once cured, but I don’t recommend cutting on them.
      It comes down to this – use whatever finish you want to achieve whatever look you want: it’s YOUR kitchen. And food prep is like any job: use the right tools to get a professional finish. The same goes for wood finishing. But don’t take it from me, I was only a chef for years and changed careers to work for the largest coatings manufacturer in North America several years ago. Not that I know my way around a kitchen or coating. 😁

      1. I’ve used waterlox twice. Once 7yrs ago. 1 coat of semigloss sealer and 3 coats satin. Never came off. Did stain a couple spots from kids with markers. Just refinished for the second time fir the new homeowner. No issues here. I would sand and stain first…then put the waterlox on. Definitely use the sealer/semigloss first after the stain.

      2. I would absolutely do epoxy! You want something you never have to mess with again and not worry about ruining. I’m planning on going with either a butcherblock counter or making a concrete countertop, either way it will have an epoxy coating. I think any porous surface looks bad over time (unless you are super careful), and if it’s porous it’s going to soak up bacteria etc anyhow. At least with epoxy you can make sure the surface is completely clean. Do it once and never have to screw with it again. Paintchef is 100% right

  2. This is good to know! My husband and I are planning to install butcherblock countertops this summer (also from Ikea) so I’m not much help, but I’ll definitely be watching to see how you do it!

  3. I have a butcher block kitchen island over fifteen years old still looks great we cut on it all the time it gets knife marks ,water circles abuse like you would not believe. But every few weeks I coat it with mineral oil and in 30 mins. later it soaks it in and look new again, we love our wood top and would not give it up for anything, better than granite great work surface. You must keep it oiled. Clean it first with a steel pot scrubber pad not brillo but the curly springy type let the wood dry it will look worst but then apply the oil for great results.

    1. Thanks for the info, Carmen! Do you know if you can stain the wood before putting the mineral oil on? That’s one of the issues I’m having when trying to decide how to finish my butcherblock. I really don’t like how light the wood is without stain. But I have been thinking about using either an oil or a wax this next go round.

      1. We just installed butcherblock countertops, even around the sink and we used Waterlox original sealer 3 coats per the directions. In addition, we used the Waterlox High gloss finish on the countertops. They’re beautiful and water beads up on all the countertops. I don’t know what they will look like years into the future, but the company suggested using lemon juice and water or vinegar in water to clean them. I bought the Waterlox Daily cleaner to maintain them. They say not to use ammonia or bleach on the countertops. If I were you, I would contact the company and show them what the problem is. They may have an answer for you.

    1. My countertops look just like some of the pictures on the link. I can assure you that it is butcherblock. There’s no “so called” about it. End grain butcherblock isn’t the only kind of butcherblock there is. I didn’t want end grain butcherblock. To me, end grain butcherblock looks like something out of the 70s, not to mention that it’s expensive.

      1. Whether you want true end grain butcher block is besides the point. What you have is face grain wood. It’s like saying you want your chevy to perform like a Ferrari and the two are the same. No they are not. You made a lot of mistakes on this project, primarily from pure ignorance of how wood works. Not your fault, but if someone comes along and provides a suggestion on what to do the next time, don’t claim your “chevy” is the same as a “ferrari”. End grain is expensive for a reason. You can stick to your Walmart quality counters, but don’t claim they perform the same or are the same.

        1. John Boos disagrees with you. This face grain countertop is called BUTCHERBLOCK on the John Boos website. Who am I going to believe? John Boos, or some random internet troll? If you search “what is butcherblock” on Google, you’ll find article after article that says there are three different types of BUTCHERBLOCK — face grain, edge grain, and end grain.

          So you can have your hideously ugly, straight-from-the-70’s, end grain butcherblock and claim it’s the best and the only one, but the entirety of the internet (including the John Boos comapany) disagrees with you. Search Houzz.com for “butcherblock countertop” and you’ll find room after room after room with face grain and edge grain countertops, with only the random end grain countertop sprinkled in. It’s plainly obvious to anyone who looks that the edge grain and face grain BUTCHERBLOCK countertops are the most popular, and the end grain appeals to far fewer people.

          1. John Boos Company is a factory, they aren’t craftsmen, they are the “McDonald’s” of butcherblock.

            I didn’t say what you have isn’t butcherblock, I said it was very poor butcherblock because its face grain. I’m not sure you’ve been exposed to beautiful end grain wood before because you claim it looks dated. Here are several examples: http://tinyurl.com/hnhxvef

            Face grain is also very poor for your knives and will harbor more bacteria. Don’t use Waterlox on a kitchen countertop, you should use a high quality oil followed by a high quality paste wax.

            Face grain lamination is good for hardwood floors, but not good for kitchen counter tops.

            1. Yes, I know what end grain butcherblock looks like. The examples you linked are hideously ugly and look like something that was popular in the 70’s. I wouldn’t have that in my house as a cutting board, much less an entire countertop.

            2. I don’t know if it truly makes a difference here, but Ikea butcher block is not solid wood. It is a thin veneer of wood only. So in any case be careful sanding these counters too much.

            3. The Numerar countertops that I used were solid wood. I cut and installed them myself, and used an undermount sink, so there’s no question that they were solid. Unfortunately, IKEA doesn’t carry the Numerar anymore. They do have Hammarp, which is solid wood. The Karlby countertops are the ones that are veneer over particleboard.

          2. I, for one, think the photos of the end-grain counter tops/boards are simply GORGEOUS and would LOVE to have them in my kitchen! Alas, for cost-effectiveness, we installed the IKEA Hammarp counter top in our kitchen last summer. While I love their look, I do not cut on them and won’t ever on purpose. I DID purchase a large end-grain cutting board for food prep and cutting on it is like slicing into a dream!

  4. Check out this link (anyone who’s considering butcher block counters) for a dynamite kitchen that used IKEA butcher block, stained with India Ink and finished with 6 coats of Waterlox. I’m not a fan of dark countertops, but this kitchen almost makes me want to try this in my kitchen. The kitchen was posted in 2010, and I see someone asked in Nov 2011 how the counters were holding up, but no reply yet. You might try to contact him and ask him directly.
    Farmhouse kitchen: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0801465812705.html

  5. Sorry, did not mean to insult your counters but the flat grain is not the same, although it my look better to you the edge and end grains absorb stain and oil better and cuts do not effect the finish to much that is why for 100 years butchers used this type.To answer your question on staining the answer is you can stain before oiling just wait a couple of days in between. I just wanted to to share my experience of my top with you. your oak top is really no different that an oak table top made of glued pieces of lumber. My end grain top is not sealed with varnish of any kind and was only stained once 15 years ago the mineral oil brings out a natural deep rich color with age.

    1. Kristi, you are right as far as butcher block. Carmen is just refering to her end grain as the only Butcherblock. There is endgrain, face grain and edge grain. THey all do take stain differently. You can mix 4 to one ration of mineral oil and shaved wax. Melt and apply. This can also be cooled before applying. This will be food safe. I have heard that if you want real dark you can do the steel wool and vinegar trick and this will react to the tannins in wood. It will be virtualy black I am told. If you want at this step you can snad some of the darkness away and then seal with the wax. I think there is more info in the finish section of http://www.woodcraft.com I hope this helps. There is more than one type of “Butcher Counter” though. End grain is labor intensive and for something the size of and entire kitchen is also cost prohibitive. Often butchers had a smaller area.

  6. Have you looked into tung oil? It is just the most amazing *natural* liquid repellent (if applied correctly, of course) and it adds a soft glow without looking high gloss. My parents raised four kids at a table finished only with tung oil, which was reapplied every year or so, and my sister’s family now uses it. The table my father built looks just as beautiful 40 years later as the day he first brought it into the kitchen from his workshop.

  7. Hi Kristi, let me first start by saying that I don’t have butcher block countertops, nor have I ever used them. With that said, I’m not sure how helpful I can be, but I will share this with you. My husband and I created our own floating vanity in both our bathrooms with a piece of wood that I sealed with a waterbased sealer from a company called Target Coatings, which I came across on professional woodworkers’ forums.. I’ve had the vanities in use for a year now and they’re still in great condition, but I did allow them to cure for a long time before using and we are very conscious about wiping them down frequently. The sealer is on the expensive side but I found it to be worth it so that I don’t have to redo them. The company has a variety of products which, I’m guessing, has something meant for countertops in kitchens. I provided their website below for you to look into further if you’re interested. Hope it helps. Good luck!


  8. I’m pretty good at leaving stuff on the counter, so you’re not alone on that one. 😉

    The thing about butcher block countertops is that they aren’t really intended to be stained and finished with a polyurithane type finish. Most people want butcher block for the natural look and the ability to use/abuse them (even cut on them) and then just sand them down when they get bad and apply a coat of oil or wax a few times a year. Also, wood just tends to not hold-up so well near water (unless you’re really on top of those wax coatings like monthly). You’ll often see that people use a hard surface on the “wet wall” or around the sink or even have one of those sinks with the built-in drainage boards (Ikea even sells these to go with their butcher block countertops).

    That said, it seems you’re more about the wood “look” than the functionality of the wood and that’s okay too. it’s just going to be more of a challenge. If it were me, I think I’d try a couple of things. First of all, I’d get one of those spongy draining mats for next to your sink. If you need to put-down wet bowls or cups, put them on the mat instead of the counter. Since you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could probably even rig something prettier out of fabric with a plastic backing. That should help with the water rings. You might even consider cutting a section out where the sink goes and replacing it with a hard surface or custom cutting a square of straight formica and gluing it down on either side of the sink (you’re better at design than me…think creative). That’ll give you a permanent spot for wet things to land.

    Also, instead of straight mineral oil, I swear by several products that are a mineral oil and beeswax mix (check amazon..there are several brands made for cutting boards and wood cookware). You apply it thinly and then burnish it in with a towel or paper towel. It’s a little more work to apply, but I find it keeps the finish longer and is slightly more water proof than just oil. I use it on my expensive Boos cutting board.

    If you’re really looking for a glossy finished look, you may just have to go with a non-food-safe product that’s plastic or epoxy based. I know they make the stuff for commercial use–I’ve had to chip it off of refinishing projects. They must have something like it out there for the DYI’er.

    I’m very interested to see what you decide because I’d like to do wood counters in my home and I’d like to be able to use reclaimed wood instead of buying butcher block (only the Ikea stuff would be in my budget anyhow). I like the glossy finished look in that case but I also like to roll pie dough out and whatnot directly on it, so the food safe thing has always been a concern of mine.

    1. Sue, thank you for this great link! I am a Southern girl with family roots in the Midwest, so listening to a “Mr Fix It” from Chicagoland sounds both intriguing and fun ~ even if just to hear that familiar accent! Lou Manfredini’s website is vast in content. His podcast selection alone will keep me interested for hours. Your comment is appreciated!

  9. Yes, I go with the person who talked about Tung Oil. It is the same product that is put in varnish to make it hard. It looks natural and it is easy to apply. I put it on my dining room table as well.

  10. I’ve learned ~no stain and mineral oil. This was for a commercial application (restaurant) so you know it had to stand up to much abuse. The wood is so hard and dense that the stain never really seeps in. Hope this helps!

  11. Hi Kristi, this is what I have heard. Food safe – hemp oil followed by bees wax ( wax is the waterproofing and I believe initially multiple coats of wax are needed) on any stained or unstained wood and followed up with additional waxing when needed. This is a link (in Canada) that has info on product and application. On re-reading the product info I think that I would investigate the waxing further as a viable countertop waterproofing method. Just the oiling may do the trick. Good luck!

  12. i had seen some wooden plank counters years ago on HGTV that i wanted SOooooo bad. They sealed them for kitchen use with some heavy duty MARINE type sealer….the kind used on those fancy, schamcy old skool wooden boats the Kennedy’s had back in the day. Not sure if this is a viable option….but your post made me think of it. Good luck girl…..seems as if you may be more confused now than ever since there is no ONE solution. Can’t wait to see the final product 🙂

  13. My husband left PAINT THINNER on our granite countertop in a round plastic bowl. When I picked the bowl up not 3 hours later, it had all ready etched the granite. He refuses to accept responsibility that HE did it. However the bowl he used perfectly matches up to the ring on the counter. I’m no Sherlock, but come on!

  14. We had wood counter tops. We had a hand rubbed Danish Finish. To clean, I wiped down like regular and always dried after. To keep supple, I rubbed them down with olive oil about once a week. That was it. They stayed perfect. (and food safe)

    Much luck to you =)

    1. Do not use any food type oil on wood counters, it will go rancid very quickly. I guarantee your counter reeks, and you are just used to the smell. The preferred oil is food safe mineral oil. Most mineral oil found at the big box stores is considered food safe for this use, so it is not some special product.

  15. Also on tung oil, a few coats give a protective matte finish but you can build it up to a high gloss finish similar to a varnish if you want to.

  16. You might want to try the finish they put on boats, it might work. Alternatively, have you considered linseed oil? I asked at a bread store I was at recently what was on their bread-making counter (butcherblock wood) they said they periodically put a heavy coat of the linseed on and wipe it off. I don’t know how it would work on a counter with a lot of water on it. I have an Ikea cabinet w/butcherblock top I haven’t sealed yet and I am dithering myself…so I will be watching with great interest to see what you do:)

  17. For what it is worth one of the prettiest kitchens with butcher block counters also had one of those industrial steel sinks that had the drain board built directly into the sink. Actually the sink, drain board and apron was one piece of metal. I thought it was the coolest thing. Anyway, any sink (porcelain, steel whatever) with a built in drain board and an apron would help keep water off the wood. I am sure you don’t feel like cutting up your counters, but I thought it was just worth mentioning for people who love butcher block but think that it won’t hold up based on these picture. I am sure you will figure it out though. Justin sounded like he had good advice.

  18. Personally i wouldnt even choose to have a wooden counter top, for those problems you spoke about, sure they look good at the start, but you do have to maintain them fairly regularly. ://
    Thats why i have spent that bit more for granite, and im a carpenter!!!

    1. Yes, I know granite is much more practical. 🙂 I just personally don’t like the way it looks, and it’s way out of my price range anyway.

  19. My first thought, and still my final thought…is TUNG OIL! I would restain parts needing it and finish with tung oil. I had a huge trestle table while raising my SIX kids and it was from This End Up. Super sturdy table and it was recommended to use tung oil and to recoat every six months. ( I didn’t, was more likely every other year,lol) All I know is that table took a beating. I had very little counter space so I used this table for food prep, eating and everything else. It was highly used and abused to the max! That tung oil is great protection. My table was washed with dish soap and water MANY MANY times a day and still held up. TUNG OIL is your answer!

  20. hi kristy,
    we purchased ikea numerar butcherblock countertops in december 2009 for our kitchen reno. i research extensively for natural finishes and found citrus oil mixed with natural tung oil from realmilkpaint.com it is easy to use and apply. it is suggested to re-apply every year but i have not. it is on my to do list for this summer. the website and staff are extremely helpful with any application questions. i think you’ll be pleased with using this.

  21. I have a very long island that is covered in Butcher Block. My solution was two fold. I didn’t want to cut directly on the butcher block, because even with regular oiling, it doesn’t maintain that almost flawless finish I desired. I purchased (not cheap, but WELL worth the cost), a large butcher block cutting board from the John Boos Company. Then I added little rubber legs to the bottom of it so if would not move around on my counter while I used it. I oil this piece regularly, the oil is food safe, and the block remains my faithful workhorse.

    For the rest of the countertops, I use a miracle product that I purchased from a very reputable Hard Wood store in Berkeley, CA called “Good Stuff”. This product is like no other I have seen. It is a sealer, you rub it into the butcher block, like you would a wax. It is thick and not brushable, but the end result is gorgeous. I have a prep sink in my butcher block island, and there has been minimal water damage around it. My children are really hard on the counters, so they will need to be redone this summer. I have had them for almost 9 years now, and have only had to redo them once since then. This product can now be purchased online. I will only use this product as it has given me years of a beautiful countertop.

    If you want to see how mine has held up, here is a link:

  22. Yikes… I just wrote a huge reply about my Ikea wood counters, then I did something and it’s gone… Oh well, we have the Birch counters and use Behandla (the Ikea sealer) every 12 months. I am hard on mine too. The sink area gets the most wear but after applying that sealer its fine. I like the way they have aged. If you do sand it down, try the Behandla. It renews all the scrubbed spots.

  23. I have the butcher block countertop from Ikea as well. At first we were using the natural stuff because my hubby was told by the people there what to use which was butcher block mineral oil and I told him I didn’t want that because I knew what was going to happen and it happened and I wasn’t pleased. I finally convinced him that we could put varnish on it. It kept splintering every time it got wet with the oil. I also did not want to deal with the maintenance of the oil. I was not going to be chopping on it without a cutting board so I could have the varnish. I wanted it sealed permanently. We went down to our local Benjamin Moore and told the man our dilemma and he recommended what they use to seal boats with. Old Masters Exterior Oil Based Spar-Marine Varnish. It was a Godsend! You could leave water on it for days and it stays puddled and will not penetrate through. I love it and am so happy we went there because I don’t believe we would have got the same recommendation somewhere else and I also believe that regular polyurethane would not be as durable. We only did two coats, it recommended 3. I would do the three just for the extra. I used Satin because I don’t like very glossy. We stained it first then used this. My husband also caulked around the sink with clear silicone for kitchen and baths. If you use this, you will not be sorry. I would sand down what you have right now on it before you do this so that you have a nice clean slate. Good luck!

  24. Wow! Lots of great information here. Just installing a Ikea Numerar Oak Butcher Block counter on my new cabinets and I’ve sanded and oiled (using Behandla) about 6 times already and Im not getting the beeding that everyone keeps talking about. Furthermore, every time I “oil” it (sand with palm sander, wipe with dry then damp cloth, oil) I end up with a ‘roughish’ finish again. HELP! Based on the plethora of feedback here I’m leaning towards just going out and buying some Tung oil and going on from here with that. Can that be done at this point? Also, I bought the Behandla Beeswax as some other forums recommended finishing the block with that, is it necessary/good idea? and is it still necessary when you use the Tung oil?

    I will be using this everyday for absolutely anything life throws at it.

  25. Kristy, I love your blog and am sorry to see your hard work going down the drain (pardon the pun!). I just recently installed IKEA Numerar butcher block on my island (oak) and I LOVE it!! I also debated leaving it natural to use as a functional cutting surface, but thought about how easily they could stain with my frequent usage (leafy, green herbs, I smite you!). I didn’t relish the idea of scrubbing or sanding them over and over again. Plus, I didn’t think I would ever feel they were clean enough…. For mainly that reason, I sealed them. I followed the very thorough instructions from a couple of DIY blogs and had great success using their recommended products and methods, as follows. I lightly sanded the store finish off, applied one coat of Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner and then stained within 2 hours, per the conditioner’s instruction. I applied three coats of Minwax Walnut stain (I wanted it dark to contrast with my light cabinets) and lightly sanded after the last coat of stain with 400 grit sandpaper. I finished with 6 (SIX!) coats of Waterlox (original in the round can) and allowed it to dry completely in between (a full day per coat in my 110 degree garage). So far, so good! I get a great bead on the finish (applied Waterlox coats it until I did!), but I still try to wipe up any puddles as they happen (expected in a kitchen) and don’t let liquid sit on it for prolonged periods. I’ve had no stains or discoloration like you’ve experienced around your sink – a tough spot indeed! The only issue so far is that my hubby bounced a bottle with ridging along the bottom on the counter and it left tiny “divots” behind in the built up Waterlox coating – which should be easy enough to sand and reseal, if I really wanted to. I tell myself that it adds character… I still love my results, though and would recommend doing it in a heartbeat! Good luck!

    1. Thanks so much for the info, Michele! I just sanded one countertop today, and then went to Home Depot for Minwax Wood Conditioner. I’ve never used it before, and wondered if I needed it. So glad you mentioned it specifically! I’m still unsure about the sealer I want to use. I do have plenty of Waterlox left…both the original and the satin. Just not sure if I want to use it again. Decisions, decisions! 🙂

  26. Use Waterlox again as the manufacturer indicates (at least three coats, full drying between coats). The first time you’re tempted to use the “green scrubby side of a sponge” to clean a sticky area, stop and pretend that you’re using sandpaper rather than a sponge. Because that’s what you’re doing. You can even reinforce this image by going to a raw, rough piece of scrap wood and actually smoothing it with the green side of a Scotch Brite pad. It will, in fact, smooth the wood like sandpaper. It is _not_ a benign abrasive. There’s a reason they sell nylon pads next to the sandpaper in the Home Depot.
    It’s ironic that we put in an Ikea countertop and finished it using your earlier posts as inspiration ;). And it’s going great after 8 months–I mean, like bulletproof! If you get a stubborn sticky spot on it after Waterlox, try a paper towel with rubbing alcohol, WD40, or Goo Gone first.

  27. Hey, don’t know if you’re still looking for suggestions, but I just wanted to add that we put in Ikea Lagan beech countertops last year, and we used 100% pure tung oil – no toxic additives/drying agents/metal salts, whatsoever, you have to search to find it. I can’t remember how many coats we did, but something like 4 or 5. The stuff is great! The countertops still look fantastic, water doesn’t even bother it, and we don’t even worry about water being left on it any more, really. I don’t cut on the countertops, because that would look terrible and mess up the finish. I DO have a few stains, from a metal canister that I left on it, and light spots from lemon juice trying to get the stains off, lol. I’m going to sand the stains and reapply a coat or two of tung oil now, as we have a big party coming up. But so far, really, this has been a nearly problem free and totally non-toxic solution. I am uber-sensitive to chemicals, and the pure tung oil doesn’t bother me in the slightest, even as I apply it!

  28. Hi Kristi, I make and install wood counter tops made from large slabs of our local urban forest trees. I also make butcher blocks for local customers from our walnut, elm, maple, ash, and olive wood. I have found there are things that you can, and cannot do with wood or butcher block counter tops. IKEA butcher block counter tops can be made from either birch, or beech wood. Beech wood is much, much denser than birch, which can keep the stain coat right up on the surface. As counter tops are a heavily used surface, it is normal for coatings on the wood to wear through over time. When the coating is a darker color than the under lying wood, that can be a problem. If you want the stain coat to continue looking good for many years, be sure to keep a good coat of waterlox over it. Waterlox is a great product, which I use in many of my own installations. It is easy to reapply every 4-6 months by wiping on a new coat. This will keep the wear limited to the waterlox layer, and prevent it from digging down into the stain and wood layers. At the end of the day, however, in an application expected to wear, such as a counter top, if you want your wood to be a different color, it is best to choose a different color of wood, rather than stain it.

  29. We are about to install these and I’ve heard the best product to use to seal is Rubio Monocoat. That’s what we’re going to use.

  30. Hi, I use a Ronseal worktop oil on mine. It has anti bacterial silver in it. It keeps the worktops looking great, and you just re-oil annually.

  31. That is the only problem with oak countertops, they wear down. I mean kitchen worktops are meant for you to leave things on there lets be honest so the fact it damages the material is what put me off having them installed in my kitchen. Don’t get me wrong I like the look of them, I think they look brilliant but for consistency and longevity then I would personally got for a laminate or granite worktop.

  32. Hmm. Always intrigued by the choice to put in wood counter tops. It’s not the right application for wood. Perhaps for an island or workstation, but around the sink? Not recommended, unless you’re willing to live with a lot of “patina” in the form of water stains, dings and rings–or if you don’t use your kitchen much. Regular maintenance can help, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.

  33. I half agree with Skeet, at least for use around the sink area. Otherwise I think bb countertops are great for kitchen islands or areas that won’t get constantly wet. I installed Ikea bb 7 months ago and tried curing with straight mineral oil first. Nah, took too much maintenance around the sink. Then Tung Oil — nope, same thing. I suspect I’ll have the same results with any other oil/wax-based treatment. Tried to purchase Waterlox…can’t buy it in California because of the high VOCs. Sooo, now I’m trying out Rubio Monocoat “Oil Plus 2C Clear” (it also comes in different stains) as an alternative. After applying it I suspect I’m facing the same predicament as the first two types of oil-based solutions. I really just want something like they use on boats so I’ll have less maintenance throughout the years moving forward, but good old CA has strict environmental laws. Oh well, next kitchen remodel I’m installing stone or something else that doesn’t need all the maintenance. Hope this helps!

    1. We are trying to decide between using Waterlox and Monocoat plus 2c. From what we’ve read It seems like monocoat is much easier to apply because of the drying time and easier to repair if there is a problem. Did you find that to be correct? How did it hold up?

      1. I’ve never heard of Monocoat, but I’m a big fan of Waterlox. If used correctly (with the recommended number of coats), it awesome. I used it on my hardwood floors, and haven’t regretted it for a day. It’s very easy to touch up.

  34. Have you considered crystal clear epoxy (self-leveling stuff)? This place sells it http://www.bestbartopepoxy.com/epoxy/ and it seems like it will provide a guaranteed thick coating that you can’t even come close to with anything else, and once it cures it’s food safe. I even saw a lady post a DIY countertop where she used FABRIC on top of plywood and covered it with this stuff and it was amazing!

  35. The research I have done says that the FDA considers all modern finishes to be food safe once cured. Which is why there are no warnings on paint cans etc. It just never comes up. Just like any industry, there is a lot of money being made on selling people more expensive “food safe” finishes that are chemically identical to those not marked that way.

    I’m looking at Ikea butcher block for my counters, and I plan on undermounting my sink as you did yours. I have no qualms about using a low voc urethane finish to reduce maintenance. You can eat off these finishes, but you cannot cut on them if you want the finish to not look awful. That’s the only (real) caveat I know of.

  36. I’m using Waterlox now, I’ll be forewarned not to leave stuff sitting on it. That said, it mentions that you can just use soap and water and paint another coat over it if it scratches anywhere. What people are telling you, tung oil, is Waterlox without the sealer in it. I’d use tung oil for a table, but I’m not sure I would use it for a countertop.

  37. Consider hardwax oil. It IS food grade, and literally can be touched up periodically by wiping it on and off. Water beads beautifully and when it doesn’t anymore, wipe a coat on. Rubio monocoat is one brand, Osmo is another.

  38. Waterlox is an (tung) oil based finish with urethane added for durability and protection. Regular tung oil, boiled linseed oil, walnut oil, mineral oil with or without beeswax etc will provide zero protection for your countertop. Waterlox also contains flatteners and driers in it to aid in dry time and even sheen. An oil based finish will take about a month to fully cure no matter what product you’re using. During that first months time it can be scratched and dented pretty easily.

    In the past ive used general finishes arm r seal for walnut countertops that I had built for my home. Waterlox was my other option and for what its worth, theyre very very similar. I like to lay down at least 2 heavy brushed on coats on the top and the bottom (the bottom because you don’t want wood to accept moisture differently). From there ill wipe on 4-5 thin coats scuffing in between with 320 grit. Then you’ve got to baby them for a month. After that, youll have a great finish that will hold up to most kitchen duties and spills.

    If you need to refinish a countertop like that I would suggest sanding or scraping it down then cleaning it thoroughly with mineral spirits or naptha. Id do it 2 or 3 times to make sure ive got it all off. Then start to reapply by brushing a coat on and wiping a few more thin coats.

  39. Before our kitchen remodel, we had butcher block counter tops in the sink area. I sanded them down and I applied two coats of SPAR Varnish. Worked out well. Since I always use a cutting board, I wasn’t worried about food sanitation. Since the remodel, the butcher is now sitting in the garage and it still looks amazing.

  40. I’ve had my maple butcherblock countertops since 1980, and i love them. All I do is put mineral oil on them a few times a year. They are full service countertops, i do everything on them. Birch, which is likely what you have, is not as water resistant as maple and therefore likely won’t hold up for decades in the same way. However, my maple countertops are not as dark as yours. I would be reluctant to place a stain on countertops for the very reason you mention, too much elbow grease and you wear the stain down. I’ve had my countertops completely sanded down twice, then i just rub the mineral oil in them. For a darker color butcher block I’d advise starting out with a dark hardwood possibly walnut or mahogany but they are more expensive. I sort of agree with chevy vs ferrari analogy. even though I waited around for months looking for a sale and got my maple countertops on sale at a very reasonable price, you generally have to pay more for higher quality wood. mine are not dark wood and i’ve never seen inexpensive dark hardwood butcherblock options. I’m curious how yours are holding up a few years later. For a person who wants a permanent fixed looking surface the doesn’t change over time and use, i wouldn’t recommend butcherblock. like the name implies, butcherblocks are supposed to be fully functional, you are supposed to be able to cut right on them and if you don’t like the look of beautiful old worn and used wood with the markings of time included, they are (in my opinion) an unwise choice.

  41. Ive never been too impressed with Waterloks, the hands down best clear water sealer on the market, is a Marine Spar Varnish called Epifanes, its kind of expensive but I ve done two wood counters with it so far and no problems. It’s made for sail boats in the sun and on the ocean, the best product you can buy.

  42. Use half citrus solvent and half tung oil from The Milk Piant COmpany. Mine turned out beautiful and with no issues a year later. There is water on them all the time.

  43. I have a kitchen island with a maple top. I dont like the natural finish, so i stained it with 2 coats of minwax( after using a wood conditioner) and then applied 5 coats of mineral oil…well, this sucker is thirsty….i went back to get more mineral oil and they were sold out. So, i bought Watco butcher block oil. One coat on and it seems to be near the end of what the wood can take. Another coat or 2 and i think ill have what i want. Question is, is this “food safe”? I know it would be had i not stained it, just curious if we could still prep food.