...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I showed you how I sealed my granite countertops recently.  Surprisingly, many people commented asking about the care of the kitchen island’s butcher block countertop.  So, today while I was giving the island its routine rub down, I documented it all for you to see.  Before we get started, please know that there are many different recommendations on the care of wood countertops.  This is just how I take care of mine if you’re curious.  It works well for me.  You should do whatever is most comfortable for you.

Okay, so our kitchen island is topped with IKEA’s NUMERÄR oak countertop.  It is not sealed with polyurethane or any other permanent sealer.  I simply used the method I’m about to show you 2-3 times per week for the first month after installation to get a good moisture/stain barrier in place. Since then, I just re-oil the butcher block when needed.  Which is usually every 1-3 months depending on its usage and the humidity in the house.  Typically, I can go longer between oilings in the summer when the wood doesn’t dry out as easily.  Here are the only products I use:

A – A clean, damp rag.

B – A fine sanding block.  Fine as in not so coarse.  Not as in NKOTB fine.  You could easily substitute the block with fine sandpaper.

C – Mineral oil.  Home improvement stores sell versions specifically marketed towards wood countertops but I buy my mineral oil in the laxative aisle of the grocery store.  It’s a lot cheaper, works great and is safe.  Plus, we eat directly off the countertop to keep our family regular, if you know what I mean.  Just kidding.  Not really.

D – Oiling rags.  These are just old rags that I’ve dedicated to the sole purpose of oiling the butcher block.  I don’t wash them for fear of messing up my washer {they get very saturated!} but instead keep them in a plastic Ziploc bag under the sink just for this purpose.  No, they don’t stink. Mineral oil has no odor.

To routinely oil the countertops I…

1 – Wipe all dirt, dust, crumbs and stickiness from the butcher block with my damp rag.  I let it air dry for a few minutes.

2  – Drizzle some mineral oil on the butcher block.  I don’t measure it but if I had to guess I’d say I use about 1/3 cup.

3 – Rub oil into the countertop with my oiling rag, following the wood grain.  Don’t forget the vertical edges!

4 – Let the oil penetrate and soak in for 24-48 hours.  I try to remind my kids that the island is greasy to keep them from getting into it, but they sometimes forget.  No biggie.  The oil won’t hurt them.  If I’m impatient, I’ll wipe away excess oil with a dry cloth but I really like to let it sit for a day or two to really soak in.  The wood drinks it up and loves it.  I’m always amazed by how revitalized it looks after each oiling.  Like new!

With two little kids in the house, the wood countertop frequently gets stained.  I’ve had juice, markers, crayons and wet colored tissue paper stains so far but they are easily removed.  Let me demonstrate.  A la Billy Mays style.  Minus the alleged cocaine use.

Say I find a Sharpie mark.  {For demonstrative purposes, yes, I made a mark with a Sharpie onto the countertop.  That’s how much I love you guys.}

I take my handy dandy, fine sanding block and sand away the mark.

I’m left with a slightly lighter area where the mark once was.

Nothing my trusty mineral oil can’t handle.

Cue the ‘APPLAUSE’, ‘CHEESY SMILING’ and ‘DISBELIEF HEAD SHAKING’ cards.  The once marked, now slightly lighter area will continue to fade away as time and more routine oiling go on.

Sound like too much maintenance for you?  Then don’t get butcher block countertops.  Like the idea of saving money with inexpensive butcher block even if it means a little more elbow grease? Then I’ll see you in the laxative aisle.  Happy weekend!

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

103 Comments

24.June.2011

Dana, this is awesome, we’ve been thinking about getting butcher block countertops and I’ve been wondering about their care.

Also?

NKOTB forever. :)

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24.June.2011

I had cherry butcher block in my last home and LOVED it. I honestly bought them based on price – they were less expensive than a decent laminate… and was amazed how much I loved them. They warmed up the space and were so easy to care for. I would do butcher block again in a heartbeat, regardless of cost! And I used laxative too… although I occasionally used a butcher block intended beeswax oil because it made my kitchen smell delicious!

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replied on November 14th, 2012

I would not use ‘mineral oil’ in food areas as it is distilled from crude oil! I use it on tools, but nothing else. Also, I would not use oak as it is open pored and likely to develop bacterial deposits. Beech or hard maple is the wood of choice. If oak is used it should be thoroughly sealed with numerous coats of varnish or a plastic sealer.

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Mark
replied on January 19th, 2013

Mineral is very safe as it is met for human consumption. Just because it is distilled from crude oil does not make it unsafe. There are many products from crude oil used for human and animal use and have been for many years.

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We also have the oak Nuremar counters from Ikea and are amazed at how much easier they are to care for than we originally feared. Plus, they always look like new! We do much the same thing as you’re demonstrating here, only we use those little foam sponge brush thingys.

-Teresa

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24.June.2011

You sure are the “crafty queen” I love your post. You give us ideas and money saving tips, thanx and keep the ideas coming!

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Love butcher block countertops. It’s what I’ve wanted all along for our kitchen redo, but I’m stumped as to what to do for a backsplash. I love what Ashley at Under the Sycamore did (yard sticks mounted on hardboard), but don’t know that I want my kitchen to look exactly like hers. Who am I kidding, I’d love my whole house to look like hers. But I’m still not sold on the yard sticks. Maybe just a bead of caulk. Hmmm… Do you have any ideas?

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replied on November 23rd, 2012

We are installing bucherblock today and i bought subway tile from lowes as my backsplash :)

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replied on January 11th, 2013

I used some 1 by 5 lumber, oak, oiled to match. Looks great.

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replied on June 19th, 2013

We used Dal Tile’s Egyptian Glass sapphire collage for backsplash – it’s stunning!!!
Counter top is Ikea oak butcherblock; the rest of the kitchen is white with black appliances.
And we use (at the recommendation of a handcrafter of butcher block cutting boards) Clapham’s Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish (it contains mineral oil as well). Available at Lee Valley.

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replied on March 23rd, 2014

I know it’s late in the game, but were using natural slate border laid in a pattern…

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replied on August 21st, 2014

Someone mentioned slate and that was my first thought….to do chalkboard. Handy, easy to maintain and looks really clean. Perfect for family notes, eco friendly and perhaps a designated area with cork-board for handy tack-on notes in the kitchen?

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24.June.2011

It’s beautiful! I think I’m sold. I just love the look of the warm wood countertop in a painted-cabinet kitchen. Mmmmm. The maintenance sounded scary to me before, but your demonstration makes it seem easy! One question: Do you cut right on your countertop, as in built in cutting board? Does it get scratched easily? I worry about the look of cuts and scratches all the time (though I recognize how easy-peasy it is to sand them out – I just don’t want to be sanding every day)!

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replied on June 25th, 2011

Angie – We have a small cutting board that we place on top of the countertop to cut on. So, no, we don’t cut directly on top of the butcher block. It’s totally a personal preference thing. We find it much easier to wash just a little cutting board each time than to have to worry about scratches…but I think I would enjoy the patina of some scratches.

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replied on January 20th, 2014

THE PIECE THAT WE CUT OUT FOR THE SINK IS OUR SEPERATE CUTTING BOARD THAT SITS ON THE ISLAND. PERFECT!

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replied on March 23rd, 2014

It’s funny how natural wood cabinets have been the rage for so many years…In my life, I’ve had formica, the best quality wood,and now solid plank painted… All three have benefits. However, the worst performing ( for finish) were the “quality” wood. The finish, on the very bottom of the inset panel, started to peel (very minimally at first).

Now, I live in a 100 year old house. I am in the process of replacing the 50 year old, true formica countertops (bulletproof!) with butcherblock. Why? Well, for one, the type of formica has lots of texture (bacterial hazard) and is worn looking in places.

The kitchen cabinets are 1/2 ” plank lumber. built to last forever. Painted. Well now, a modern professional might think that to be unattractive, but I think it’s awesome. Why? Because the day I decide that I want a blue, green, pink, purple, or ANY color kitchen, all I have to do is spend about 30 bucks and I can have a whole new look… Are the drawers on gliders and self shutting? No. It takes a little muscle to open and close things. Would I change them? Not on your life!

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24.June.2011

Awww you’re soooo awesome!!!!! :)

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24.June.2011

you. complete me. :)

These were such great tips and photographs! And your humor is a breath of fresh air. I’m officially sold now for the countertop on our kitchen island. Thank you!

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25.June.2011

after this demonstration I think we can buy my favourite kitchen table of not sealed wood! thank you! Chiara

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25.June.2011

laxatives and kitchen care. why didn’t i think to put those two things together before?

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25.June.2011

This just made my day! Thanks for posting this!

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25.June.2011

I have an Ikea Numerar butcher block island, too. After lots of online research, I used mineral oil to seal it and it became all blotchy, where the oil penetrated some spots more than others. I tried a second coat and it made it even blotchier, so I switched to whatever product is that Ikea sells for countertops.

Now I’m wondering if I just quit too soon? Was your countertop blotchy at first when you started using the mineral oil? Would the blotchiness have gone away if I had continued to apply it?

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replied on June 28th, 2011

Caro – Do you mean after all the oil soaked in after ~48 hours, the wood was still blotchy? My butcher block has never become blotchy with plain mineral oil use. I’m not sure why yours did. Maybe it wasn’t thoroughly dry when the oil was applied? So the oil wasn’t penetrating the ‘wet’ parts? I couldn’t really tell you. I’ve never had a problem with the mineral oil.

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replied on January 11th, 2013

I made a cutting board from the square of counter that i cut out to fit a sink. On the counter i use the Ikea oil, and on the cutting board i use mineral oil. The cutting board did look uneven at first, but now dried it looks fine. The colour, though, is a bit different. I find the Ikea oil leaves the counter a bit redder, and the mineral oil on the board makes the same wood look a bit browner.

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replied on February 13th, 2013

Just as a follow up, a couple of months on, and i know now the reason for the different coloration: the Ikea stuff leaves a residue. The cutting board is squeaky clean, the counter a bit …. I don’t know how to describe it….a bit gummy?

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25.June.2011

hah, it took me about 3 trips to the store and an internet search before i realized to look in the laxative pharmacy section to find mineral oil.

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27.June.2011

Great post, thanks!

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27.June.2011

OMG! You sharpied your beautiful butcher block!! I had a mini-heartattack on your behalf.

You really DO love us! :D

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27.June.2011

Hi Dana! This comment is regarding an older post you did about Edgecomb gray. I painted my basement Edgecomb gray and ABSOLUTLY love it. My question is I have some cement floors in my basement that need I need to paint also in a room where the walls are EG. Do you have a paint color you could recommend that would jive with EG for floors?

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replied on June 28th, 2011

Lisa – Oooh, I always liked the idea of using Edgecomb Gray in a basement to brighten things up! Glad you like it, too. I think floors in a color that contrast with the EG would be fab. What about a taupe-y gray like Benjamin Moore’s Squirrel Tail? Since it’s a basement room, I’m not sure that there is natural light in the room you’re considering. I would steer clear of too-dark floors in a basement room that doesn’t get a lot of good light.

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Wow! I’ve been leaning toward butcher block counters but was unsure about care and upkeep….but yours looks beautiful, and I’m totally convinced by your infomercial-ish Sharpie demo! (Do you secretly work for HSN? :))

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replied on June 28th, 2011

Erin – I think I’d be a horrible HSN salesperson!

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28.June.2011

Thanks a ton for the tips. Now I”m even more excited to get my kitchen reno started (right after we start and finish two bathrooms and one floor of hardwood, he he he)

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04.July.2011

I have an island butcher block which is about 10 years old. The finish appears to be wearing off. How do I go about making the butcher block top look like new again? What finish do I use on the top that is low maintenance, long lasting and durable?

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09.August.2011

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I just want you to know, that just for kicks, when we were at Home Depot, I checked out their “Butcher block and cutting board oil” and its almost 9 DOLLARS! Our second stop today was to Walmart, where I got the mineral oil for less than 2 dollars, thank you. I don’t even have to WAIT for the savings to add up. Geez.

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21.August.2011

Hello! Loved your article. We are getting a butcher block top for the island we plan on
Putting in our kitchen. I clicked on the link that was up for the butcher blocks at ikea,
However the only depth seems to be up to 26 inches, but yours looks so much bigger than that! The 73 inch length top would work great, but not only being 26 inches
Wide. Did you somehow custom order your size? Thanks!

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replied on August 21st, 2011

Vanessa – Here’s a link to the IKEA Numerar countertop in oak that we used for our island. It’s 39 5/8″ deep. Hope it helps!

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40057853#/90057394/

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03.September.2011

Hello! I was wondering if you stained the butcher block? If so, can I get more info on that? Thanks!

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replied on September 4th, 2011

Helen – We did not stain the butcher block just sealed it with mineral oil. I’ve seen IKEA butcher block countertops stained darker and they look fab! I’d just be sure to use a food safe stain/sealer.

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replied on March 2nd, 2013

Hi there,

What steps did you take from the moment you took the wood home? did you have to condition the wood first? when did you do all your cutting–is that the fist thing you did? If you could give a quick step by step that would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

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replied on March 4th, 2013

We cut and installed the countertop prior to sealing with mineral oil. We sanded the areas that were cut for a nice smooth finish then treated the entire piece {don’t forget the sides!} with mineral oil.

27.September.2011

You know I love the Ikea butcher blocks! We have one of the tables and I hate to admit I’ve remiss in its treatment recently. It has stains, slight burn marks, oil stains from cooling cookies, and even a smidgeon of paint… all that to say that I LOVE it! For years I’ve looked for an old bakers butcher block table, something truly authentic but to no avail (at least one we could afford!) so our solution. Age on naturally ourselves… Its not chunky like the old work surfaces but I love it more each passing week. Not only is aging but with it come memories… baking cookies with my teenage sons, homemade pasta, crazy crafting, and homemade bread (i con’t use a cutting block so….) Thank you for reminding to care for our table a little more carefully using the mineral oil! :)

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24.November.2011

Hi..my butcher block has gotten a stain from a pineapple juice can…we sanded it out and now i put a cast iron skillit (wasnt hot) on it and this morning there was another black stain?? Do you know why the stain happens from metal? and is sandpaper the only way to remove it? thanks!!! happy thanksgiving!

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10.February.2012

Thank you for the great “how to”. Your counter top looks terrific! We just installed an oak Numerär countertop on a kitchen island and used the product sold at Ikea (mixture of linseed and tung oil) according to enclosed directions. After several applications and a lot of rubbing with Scotchbrite pads (also according to enclosed directions) and an assortment of steel wool pads, we got the surface pretty smooth and were happy with our purchase. And here comes the bad news: the slightest bit of moisture (like when I wipe it with a damp cloth), raises the grain of the wood and my countertop becomes as rough as aligator skin. Not happy about this and looking for a solution, which brought me to your article. Any thoughts?

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26.February.2012

@ Mady, I too bought the Ikea recommended product and felt that it not only “raised the grain” but felt sticky even after sanding. I sanded it all off and used the trusty mineral oil that I had planned to use. LOVE the color and richness it leaves and the water just beads up on it. Had my first party and was a little nervous about spilled dips and drinks, but after everyone left, it just wiped up beautifully! I put in a black/white/gray glass backspash and painted the cabinets gray……LOVE IT!

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18.May.2012

I also have the IKEA butcher block counter tops and for the backsplash had the carpenter rip a 2.5 inch piece lengthwise and mounted along the back edge which gives a nice ledge for displaying cookbooks. Subway tile above that to bottom of cabinets. Looks great and we mounted directly on top of old formica and did the apron edge with 1×2 oak. Currently hating myself for deciding to use BB oil…going back to mineral oil too…the brush/sand/re-coat is way too much trouble!

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25.June.2012

LOVE this “how to”!! I am debating installing butcher block as a countertop in our bathroom. I have heard that butcher block can separate easily. Have you found this in your case? Are you still happy that you didn’t use a sealer?

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replied on June 25th, 2012

Never regretted not sealing that butcher block and it never separated. However, we don’t live in that home anymore. On our current walnut-topped island we sealed it with Waterlox. We did this because this huge island in our current home is the main place where the entire family eats mosts meals on a daily basis. We wanted it to function and look more like a dining table. The island in our previous home was just for snacks so it didn’t take as much of a beating.

I guess my opinion is to use the mineral oil method for less used tops and seal for more frequently used tops. OR if you’re just not into maintenance at all, then seal it.

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08.August.2012

We just had the IKEA Oak countertops installed about a week ago. I am noticing the oil is bleeding into the white caulking around the sink and into the white wainscoting backsplash. :( Did he do something “wrong” and what can we do to “repair/prevent” this, if anything? Thank you.
Lois

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replied on August 8th, 2012

We didn’t install the butcher block around a sink, caulk or backsplash…just on the island. Maybe someone else has experience with it near these elements?? Please comment! I think if we were to have installed the wood around a sink, we would have Waterloxed it instead of using mineral oil.

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replied on September 15th, 2013

For the benefit of new searchers:
I have the Ikea Numerar Oak counter around our main kitchen sink for 6 months now. I used the Behandla oil sold by IKEA. I also stained the wood dark brown to pull out the darkest stripe of our zebra wood cabinet doors, so I don’t know how much that may have altered the results of the oil finish. My treatment of Behandla went fine, but I was disappointed that it didn’t leave a sheen.. the counter was very flat looking after three coats and wiping off excess after 15 minutes [per instructions] and allowing to dry between coats [about 1 hour for each coat]. I don’t remember the counter feeling sticky after this but I wasn’t happy with the look. So… I did two additional coats the next day, leaving the coat thicker and allowing to dry an hour between coats – but NOT wiping off excess. I got the shiny look I wanted, and the counter has absolutely been protected – even around the sink area, However- the counter has been somewhat sticky for all these months. Not the kind of sticky that paper or other items will stick to – but more of a tactile sense of being gummy as one other reader mentioned. I found this blog looking for a solution for that. We don’t cut on the counter, so I’m thinking of sealing it, but not sure I can properly prep for sealer since I’ve stained it and don’t want to risk a blotchy sanding/ re-staining effort.

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30.August.2012

We moved into an older home with a wonderful kitchen, but the butcher block side counter had been sharpie markered by the previous family’s tiny budding artists.

Yesterday I went to the home supply store, bought a sanding block… then to Walmart for the “laxative” mineral oil, and with just a little elbow grease my butcher block is simply glowing today. Warm and beautiful. It was so dry (probably had never been oiled) it is now on it’s second coat of oil.

Thanks for the easy instructions. Before finding them, I was frozen into inaction because of all the selections of “oils” on the home improvement store shelf. The simple laxative mineral oil was my solution.

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replied on September 6th, 2012

Thank you all for confirming that I did the right thing. I have a huge butcher block center island in a new (older) house that we just purchased. I called the hardwood floor guys to sand the whole thing and just tonight I put 2 coats of mineral oil on it and then rubbed in a few coats of bee’s wax to protect and seal it all in. It looks awesome.

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31.December.2012

Debating whether I should put in a butcher block kitchen island to go with my granite counters, or use another contrasting granite top for the island. I have a very rough little boy who loves to tap and smash his toys on EVERYTHING, especially the kitchen island. He also likes to use the island as a race track for his cars. I am very worried about scratches from basic everyday use by active (ok wild) children!!! And what about water rings from condensation on glasses, and milk rings from spilled cereal bowls that dry up during the day. Oh, and what about cats running on top of the table??? Whoever has any answers, please help me and let me know your opinions. Will Waterlox prevent these things? Or is mineral oil a better choice for our crazy home?

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replied on December 31st, 2012

We don’t use coasters or treat the island extra special at all. There are a few scratches in the Waterlox {not the wood} from especially rough abuse due to my oldest pressing really hard when he writes with a pencil. But they are only visible at certain angles and are nothing that bother me. The Waterlox provides a finish that is similar to what you would find on the bar top at a pub or something – very durable!

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05.January.2013

Have been thinking about getting a butcher block countertop, this post may have just made me decide to go for it.
I’m just curious if I should seal mine with a marine grade poly – especially around the sink area I am concerned about the possibility of staining and water damage. Anyone have any insight on that?
Thanks for the great post!!

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replied on January 20th, 2014

I have butcher block as my entire countertop and I just keep a cloth with mineral oil on it under my sink and rub around the taps extra and they are fine… I don’t have children and I take good care of it… but it is durable and beads with the mineral oil. I am so happy I went with the butcher block…

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19.January.2013

Another couple of tips. I use a silicon basting brush to push and paint the mineral oil. Just through it in the dishwasher or hand clean with dawn. Also monitor the countertop after putting on the oil for any dry spots that develop. The wood will not absorb the oil evenly. It you have dry spots either add more oil or use your brush to paint some back into that area.
I use paper towel to clean off the excess oil.
Someone mentioned using poly to seal your counter tops. This is unnecessary and if any “pinholes” develop and water can intrude it can’t escape and can cause damage. If you really must seal them then do as boat builders do and seal them with epoxy. A lot of work and expense for little gained.

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18.February.2013

We just installed an Ikea butcher block over our washer and dryer in the laundry room. Before I had time to sand and use mineral oil. Laundry detergent spilled onto the butcher block. I tried sanding out but the discoloration did not disappear. I went ahead applied mineral oil hoping that would make the stain less obvious, I think it may it more obvious. Ideas? Thank you!!!

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20.February.2013

We also have the Ikea countertops and we used a product called Water Lox. We found it at Woodcraft store. It’s pretty pricey, but wow what a brilliant finish and water from the sink just beads up.
It’s the same product used on marine wooden boats. The finish is stunning and my counter is worry free. I highly recommend it for your countertops.
On a side note, I do not cut on my countertops. I have a center aisle with a beech wood top that I do my cutting on. I have not treated it yet, so I may try the mineral oil on that.

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02.March.2013

I have a very similar kitchen island and have been searching posts for month trying to figure out how to treat it. In the meantime it has been drying out and getting stained. I did not want to commit to a permanent finish that would be too much work and afraid I would mess it up. I also didn’t like the idea of wax building up and having to re-do that all of the time. This worked perfectly! It looks better than new and all the stains easily sanded out. THANK YOU!!!

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[…] Dr Google.  Who recommended a read on House*Tweaking.   Turns out, proper care and maintenance of butcher block is important, but makes the wood look […]

15.April.2013

Hi! Hoping you could answer a question for me. First, I love your kitchen and your post, so thanks for sharing how you take care of you butcher block counter top. I want to buy the same counter top from IKEA, and I was wondering if you could tell me if you bought just one block of wood? Was it big enough for the center island, or did you have to buy two and piece them together?
Thanks so much!
Lori

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replied on April 15th, 2013

The butcher block was actually part of our previous home. We bought one piece. IKEA sells regular counter depth pieces but also a larger, deeper piece which is what we used and cut down length-wise. Hope that helps!

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16.April.2013

Thank you so much for this article. I love the butcher block but after seeing the massive staining and sealing process most people talked about, I was worried. Growing up we had them, and I never remember any special process for the countertops except for the occasional rub with mineral oil. You confirmed my thoughts on this! Thank you again for a clear, thoughtful post!

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17.April.2013

Thanks so much for this post, we just brought an Ikea butcher blog island and were wondering how best to approach treating it..

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17.May.2013

What kind of island is it underneath? Thx!

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replied on May 17th, 2013

Just builder grade oak floor cabinets. We painted them white and added open shelving to one side for a more custom look.

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20.May.2013

Thank you so much for your helpful post. We received a big maple butcher block countertop for an island. We sanded it and have been treating it with mineral oil for the last week (every couple days). It looks great! Just wondering if you can share from your experience when it won’t be oily feeling? Also how do you know when you can stop and just do maintenance every few months? There is no standing oil that can be wiped up, but it’s definitely oily if you set your arm or hand on it. We plan to use it for snacks, breakfast, homework, etc. It is maple, not oak, but your experience would still be helpful. Thanks much!

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replied on May 20th, 2013

When water beads up on it, that’s when we switched to maintenance mode. The oily feeling will eventually go away but I never could make a grocery list without oil spots showing up on my paper. You probably wouldn’t want to lay important papers/pictures on the oiled wood.

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replied on May 20th, 2013

That helps – thanks! Do you have ideas (even if you don’t do it) on what to do to make it not get oil on papers? Would a layer of beeswax work? Or would we need to go a completely different route than what you’ve done here for care/maintenance? I would like the island to be a work surface for kids’ homework, playing games, crafts and such. But I can’t do that if it leaves oil spots… Thanks so very much for your insight and thoughts!

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replied on May 21st, 2013

Maybe a large laminated placemat for each kiddo solely for homework purposes?

22.May.2013

I recently had a huge maple butcher block installed in my kitchen after reading your wonderful blog. I have been oiling it with mineral oil and it looks beautiful but even after sanding the top it is still rough and I can’t stand the oily feeling and worrying about getting oil stains on important papers. I am considering using Waterlox. Did you apply the Waterlox yourself , or did you have a professional do it. I read the Waterlox application instructions on their website and it seems very involved. I have read that there is a very strong odor with the Waterlox and you need to do several applications and need approx 30 days to cure it. Were you able to use the island right after the Waterlox application, or did you have to wait until it cured. Thanks for taking the time to answer all of our questions. My home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and I recently moved back in so any advice would help me! Thanks again!

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22.May.2013

Correction from above-it’s a cherry butcher block, NOT maple! So sorry! Thanks again for all your great advice!

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30.May.2013

Thanks for a great post. It has sold me on using the mineral oil for the butcher block island I am currently building. One question, though: Did you finish/seal/stain the bottom of the butcher block? Or was the mineral oil on the top sufficient for keeping the block in good shape? Thanks!

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replied on May 30th, 2013

We didn’t seal the bottom. Using oil on the top and sides was good enough for us.

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02.June.2013

Any advice for LBHome regarding the Waterlox? I would really appreciate it!

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08.June.2013

Hi! I’m a new fan of your blog. Thanks for all the inspiration! :) I know this is an old post and you’re no longer at this home, but I’m hoping you might be able to provide input based on your experience with the wood Numerar countertop from your previous house. We are installing a long desk in our home office using white cabinets as a base and the Numerar as the desktop. We bought everything last night from our nearby Ikea, including the white laminate Numerar. Of course, I’ve since been googling Numerar photos and have fallen hard for the look of the wood top (like you had)! Now I’m debating whether to keep the white or exchange it for the oak (or beech/birch).

So, my question to you is, would you recommend the Numerar wood for a desk? I know you loved it for the kitchen island which almost has me convinced to make the exchange, but then I saw in a comment you mentioned oily papers from the mineral oil. I’d LOVE to hear from someone like you (with great taste and experience with this material) whether you think it’d be worth having for an office desk or if it just wouldn’t make as much sense for a desk (versus a kitchen island). Basically, I prefer the look of the wood, but I’m concerned about the functionality for a desk.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate any input you can provide.

Summer

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replied on June 9th, 2013

If you’re using it for an office, I wouldn’t suggest sealing the butcher block with mineral oil. Personally, for a desk I think it would be fine unsealed. In a kitchen where food and splatters are par for the course, it needs sealed and mineral oil is food-safe, cheap and non-toxic so that’s what we used.

Even unsealed, the wood can be sanded to remove ink/pencil/marker marks. I guess it all depends on what sort of office “work” you would be doing. Crafts? Then probably go for laminate. But paper and computer work? Then I would go for wood. It really is beautiful!

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replied on June 10th, 2013

Hi Dana,

Thanks very much for your reply! The work we plan to do on the desks is just computer work–nothing messy. We did go back to Ikea and exchanged the laminate for the oak. We are so thrilled with the look of the oak. I’ve been going into our home office regularly just to admire/pet it. :)

Thanks again! I look forward to continuing to visit your blog.

Summer

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11.July.2013

Thanks for your tips. We are considering a butcher block island. We have cats who love to jump on things. Would it be feasible to use the island as a chopping board? I imagine cleaners would cleaners be too harsh on the wood. Thanks.

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replied on July 11th, 2013

We never used the wood topped island as a chopping block. You could and it would get a nice patina over time. I try not to use harsh cleaners.

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replied on January 20th, 2014

I have gone ahead and bleached my chopping block that was left over from cutting out the sink. Even after bleaching and rinsing it well I just mineral oil it with a couple of coats and its like new. My father was a baker and prepared all his baking on a large wood bench back in the 70’s and that bench was over 25 years old and he bleached it every week. It’s amazing what that wood took over the years and it was a like a piece of art. what I would do for that bench now….!

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16.July.2013

Would the mineral oiling maintenance be necessary on wood countertops that are sealed? If a sealed wood countertop gets marked with a sharpie, can/should the same sanding and mineral oiling repair process above be used?

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replied on July 16th, 2013

The island in our current home is topped with walnut. We sealed it with Waterlox. Permanent marker is a no-no…that stuff isn’t coming off unless we sand off the finish and reseal. Trust me, it’s much easier to remove Sharpie from mineral-oiled butcher block than Waterloxed walnut.

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Zack
replied on July 17th, 2013

If I purchased Numerär Oak, is it possible to stain it Walnut, NOT seal it, and then use the mineral oil maintenance every few months? Also, would the sanding and mineral oiling repair for marks like sharpie work on this countertop if it’s stained Walnut and NOT sealed if I: sand, mineral oil and then re-stain?

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26.August.2013

I recently bought a Numerar Beech countertop. I left it in my car overnight before taking it out to work on it and the next morning my car had an awful smell that smelled like rancid oil. Is this just the smell of whatever the countertop was treated with in the factory? Did yours have any odor when you took it out of the box or should I exchange mine? Should I just air it out?

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replied on August 26th, 2013

I think ours did have an odor right out of the box. We prepped it outside and by the time we installed it, the smell was pretty much gone. I think it will dissipate over time.

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replied on August 29th, 2013

Thanks! One quick clarification, when you say “prepped it outside,” what do you mean? Did you just unwrap it and apply mineral oil immediately or did you take it out of the box, sand it, and then apply the mineral oil? Really appreciate it!

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

We cut the butcher block to size outside. Then we sanded it outside. After it was installed, I applied the mineral oil.

06.September.2013

Love the mineral oil – seems to be working great!

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08.October.2013

Discovered butcher block counter tops Comes in (8 and 12 feet X 25 inches blocks) at LUMBER LIQUIDATORS here in Phillly. Not sure if they are nationwide. They come in walnut, cherry, maple and oak.
The price is so right. And will try the mineral oil treatment when I install them Thanks.

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07.November.2013

Just installed a John Boos maple countertop for my primary work area. Looks great and provides a nice contrast to the charcoal colored concrete countertops in the rest of the kitchen.

Thanks for your awesome maintenance demo. My anxiety level just went to zero – I was worried that I would have to be super careful to keep it looking great. It looks like with the treatment and maintenance you’ve described, it should actually look better and better as the years go by.

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29.December.2013

Someone had used some sort of varnish on my wife’s grandmothers counter ( brother in law )and anytime you put something warm on it it would stick. Even a paper towel would stick if you put toast on it, leaving paper towel stuck to the counter. 10 years she put up with it until I noticed how sad it made her. So after reading this I got to sanding. 6 hours with a power sander later I had a clean block counter top. Using the same mineral oil I saw in your what to use photo I oiled it.
It’s the next morning and it looks like a brand new counter!!
She is going to cry when she gets a look at how beautiful her kitchen looks.
Everything went just as you said, thanks!!!

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replied on January 2nd, 2014

What a wonderful gift to a deserving grandmother!

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02.January.2014

What about for the area around the sink, will mineral oil be enough to protect the butcher block or do we need a different type of sealant there?

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06.January.2014

Hello, did you cut the Ikea butcherblock to fit your island? If so, how does the cut side look? I would need to cut ours for the island and my contractor is concerned it will look bad on that edge. I’m hoping it will work! It’s so expensive from other stores! Thank you!

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replied on January 6th, 2014

We did have to cut the butcher block to fit. We just sanded the cut end and sealed it the same as the rest with mineral oil. It really didn’t look that different from the original un-cut end but for good measure we placed the cut end toward the stove / oven so it wouldn’t be that noticeable if it did happen to turn out badly.

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replied on March 7th, 2014

Greetings, All
I am planning a kitchen renovation for a small lake house. I am VERY tempted to use butcher block counters. Love the richness of black walnut. I have also seen that available from LL. Has anyone sourced their countertop from LL. What was your experience? Also, I understand that walnut is softer than maple or beech. Anyone with long term use of walnut using the mineral oil finish? Does the grain of walnut raise more significantly than other woods when exposed to moisture? Will install undermount sink. Thanks for all of the input. This is the most helpful thread of info, BY FAR on this subject. And I have spent a lot of time online doing research. Grazie

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21.March.2014

So it seems ikea doesn’t offer the oak in that width anymore :( as I been looking and looking and come up with nothing, only beech and birch…I bought the beech which is the darker and applied a couple of coat of their product and made it rough and didn’t darken it up much like the sample at the store :/ I’m kind of worried because I wanted a darker tone and it seems pretty light still…much lighter than my floors and it’s definitely not what I want :( do I need to sand it before trying the mineral oil or can I just do it over their product?

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02.April.2014

The laxative aisle! thanks you–now I won’t have to drive across town to get my mineral oil. I looked all over Kroger, but I never thought to look there (I have the birch version and love it!).

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[…] just me?) It wasn’t pretty. Then I remembered a little tutorial I saw on House*Tweaking on caring for wood counters. Dana made it sound easy. All I needed was an old rag and some mineral […]

22.July.2014

I’m seriously considering butcher block countertops and am in love after reading these posts. Does anyone have any experience with a dishwasher. Perhaps I should seal the underside with Waterlox but mineral oil only on the top and bottom…..??????

Help :)

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