Installing Butcher Block Countertops

(Update: to read how it holding up after two years, go HERE)
When reading this post you might be under the impression that we  installed our counters in one really long day. Oh, how wrong you would be. This post covers an almost two week time frame…starting with removing the sink on day two, and replacing it with a new one on day twelve. What did we do for eleven days without a kitchen sink? Well, you will just have to read on to find out.
How to install your own butcher block countertop
(FYI, this is a really old post and the pictures suck. I am sorry.)
So why did we choose butcher block?
First, we really like the look…it feels warm and inviting (unlike a lot of other countertop options). Second (and most important), they were affordable. We got quotes for all the other types of countertops…granite, marble, corian, laminate…everything was over $2,000. We bought our counters (12ft and 8ft) from Lumber Liquidators for $750 in cherry (plus $14 cash back from Ebates…love Ebates!). You can also buy them from Ikea, they are slightly cheaper but come in lesser quality woods. Both come completely raw, so it’s your job to cut them to fit your kitchen, router the edges, add a hole for the sink, and seal.
For this job we had a couple of Adams brothers come over to help, and the first think they did was measure and cut the counters, making them come together a 45 degree angle in the corner.
cutting angles for a wooden counter
If this sounds a little intimidating to you, it’s fine to just cut them straight and have them butt up against each other.
While Keith and Adam were cutting outside, Taylor (the younger brother) and I started demo. While removing the backsplash we noticed some pretty funky stuff happening behind them.funk behind the backsplash
I know, ick …I bleached the crud out of them.
And here we go, with the removal of the sink (gosh I hated that sink) and the rest of the old countertop.
laminate countertop demo
The next step was the cutting the hole for the new undermount sink.
 I was told that this was a huge pain because we didn’t have the correct tools. What the boys ended up doing was taping the sink template to a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood and cutting that out first.
butcher block sink hole
Then they used that template to cut out the hole using what tools we had.
Cutting a sink hole in butcher block
After much cutting, routing, and sanding…we had a sink hole!
On the underside of our 45 degree joint they added these brackets (called a draw bolt)…cause we like our stuff sturdy.
brackets on a 45 degree angle
Here are the countertops installed without any sealant.
unsealed butcher block countertop
So sealant, I bet that’s why most of you are here. We did quite a bit of research before picking one, but we ended up buying Waterlox.
Waterlox for countertops
It worked great, went on easy, and made the cherry really pop. (UPDATE- it’s been nearly two years and it is holding up flawlessly.)
Everything has a downside though, the downside of Waterlox is that it smells HORRID. So strong that I would apply a coat..then me, my giant baby belly, and my toddler would leave the house for a while.
 We ended up doing five coats of Waterlox (three on the bottom). We applied it with a foam brush and let each coat dry for 24 hours before adding the next. Before the final coat we sanded with 400 grit sandpaper and its smooth as silk!
While this was happening, I was doing dishes (and all other kitchen sink activities) in….the bathtub.
You know what really fun at 34 weeks pregnant? Leaning over a bathtub doing dishes. Bathtub dishes are the best.
After our final coat of Waterlox dried it was really REALLY time for the sink. I only have one picture of the process because I was at a bible study for the rest. Usually you would install the sink before the counter is installed, but because of the size and angle of ours, we installed the counters first. I was told this made for a very difficult sink installation. Sometimes its nice to be a girl :)
I do, however, have pictures of the finished product!
As for the countertop on the bar area, we aren’t quite sure what to do. We’ve though about having it wrapped in stainless steel or seeing if we can get some scrap granite (since Adam works for a construction company). We are up for something a little funky as well, if anyone has a suggestion!
And now, ladies and gentleman – the price breakdown. Since I forgot this part in the last kitchen post, we’ll start there.
Blue/gray Duration form Sherwin Williams – $35 on sale (only used about 1/4 of the gallon)
Quart white Duration paint, also from SW – $15
New hinges – $50
Plywood for shelves in lower cabinets – $20
Butcher block countertops (including shipping and tax) – $750
Stainless sink – $145
Delta Leland faucet in stainless – $190
Quart of Waterlox – $30
Extras such as foam brushes, caulk, brackets, shelf clips, sandpaper, etc – $45
Total so far – $ 1,280
Not bad, if I may say so myself. The backsplash shouldn’t be very expensive and I’m sure we can finish the whole thing for under $2000 (including lighting, shelving, new trim, everything). I think that would make for a successful budget kitchen remodel!

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  1. I love your countertops!

  2. here's a fun and different idea for your other counter:

  3. those countertops look GREAT!!!!! good choice with the butcher block!

  4. It's looking awesome so far!! The guys did a great job with the countertops!!

  5. it's looking amazing!!!!! how cool =)

  6. Wow. It looks so beautiful and I'm green with envy! I want wood countertops SO BADLY!! But I'm a little scared (okay maybe a lot) of staining…how has it held up for you?? I'd love to hear!

    evie @ brown paper packages

  7. The countertops are amazing. I absolutely love the cherry. It really pops against the blue!

  8. Your new kitchen must make you smile every time you go in there…really lovely re-do…
    Deborah (happily visiting from…hope you can stop by too…)

  9. I love the colors. I can't wait to see what it looks like all complete!

  10. I looove your counter tops!! I have been thinking about butcher block for a while. Your kitchen transformation is going to be amazing!!!

  11. Oh my gosh, I absolutely adore this. Fantastic job!

  12. Beautiful!

  13. Your counters are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Oh my goodness, I love to see your butcher block counters, they're great!!…we had them in our other house and we loved them,in this new one we have granite and our breakfast nook table is butcher block, so to work in it too when I need to prepare more food! Congrats, they're the best! Hugs,

  15. How very happy seeing the transformation of your kitchen must be making you and your family.. I went through the same thing months ago and I still walk into the space with a big smile.. (especially my new sink)…. It looks so good! Great Job!

  16. Totally LOVE your countertops.

    I redid my kitchen a few years ago, and had REALLY cheap wood put in, and no extra bolts, etc, :( So mine are looking pretty sad at the joints, but I STILL love them so much. Waterlox is the best, totally love that sealer!

    Your hubby and his brothers did s SUPER great job, I wish I got a drop in sink too, it looks great!!

    I would LOVE to invite you to check out my weekly parties. I would be so happy if you linked up, this and any other fabulous project you are working on. MAYBE even add me to your party LIST (yikes). That would be RAD!!!
    Stop by anytime to say hello!!!
    Hugs, Bella :)
    **AMAZE ME AUGUST** @ Bella Before and After Any projects, recipes, diy welcome.
    Euro Style Cakes. My cake blog :)

  17. Looks fantabulous. I think I will invite myself over for dinner and a cocktail. :) Thanks so much for linking up your inspiring kitchen to Becolorful. I know everyone will love it.

  18. This looks very pretty! Super impressed with your work, great color and design choices!

  19. Oh, I'm so jealous. Your counter tops are beautiful!

  20. Everything looks great! I love the colors you chose and the butcher block counters are so warm looking. You'll have to keep us updated on how well they hold up! It seems like you applied plenty of sealer to insure that they do though.:)

  21. Super awesome.. Love it..Hello there.. I'm following ya officially from the inspiration board hop..Lovely blog you have here.Can't wait to read more.. Hope you can stop by & visit me sometime / follow back.. TY So much.. Have a great week.Marilyn from ps: Would love for you to participate in a pinterest linky :)) TY

  22. Simply gorgeous!

  23. I am so impressed! I can't believe you made your own counter tops! Awesome job! And now you have these beautiful counters! I would love for you to share this @ Show & Share-

  24. Another important and ubiquitous tool is a putty knife. When you are doing your kitchen remodeling, you’ll need one if you’re going to replace kitchen countertops or your kitchen floor.

  25. Lovely! Just lovely! Thanks for linking to Wicked Awesome Wednesday!

  26. Husband is a custom cabinetmaker and he installed butcher block countertops in a custom home 2 years ago. Seems the trend in higher end homes ($750-1.1M and up) seems to be BACK to the butcher block. Seems that all the granite & stainless etc makes kitchens cold…there has to be more wood in them. We rent and I would LOVE to replace ours with butcher block…am seriously considering painting them….yours are stunning.

  27. Looks GREAT!! I would die for these countertops!

  28. BEEEEEEAUTIFUL!! We are planning on changing our counter tops to butcher block- I can't wait to show my hubbie our post. It turned out absolutely gorgeous!

  29. Your countertops look gorgeous! Found you from the Serenity Now party today.

  30. They are beautiful!

  31. They are beautiful!

  32. These countertops are gorgeous!! nice job!!

  33. I totally want to have your countertops! We have pink tile, yeah gross but I'm dealing with it for now. I was also told by my dad to never stain or paint cherry….you guys did a great job and I really like the blue on the bottom cabinets!

  34. I love the butcher block countertops paired with the grey! looks fabulous!

  35. Thanks for the information on your new countertops. They look fabulous! I've been wanting to try this in my kitchen and it's always nice to have posts for reference. Great job!

  36. Your pictures of doing the dishes in the tub made me laugh…and reminded me of our own kitchen renovations. (I was sooo happy to get that over with).

    It looks great!

  37. Wow! These countertops were certainly worth those weeks. They are beautiful! Thank you so much for linking up at Savvy HomeMade Monday and I hope you will party again tomorrow!

  38. Your kitchen transformation is going to be amazing. Thanks for the information on your new countertops. They look fabulous!

  39. I LOVE it! What a gorgeous look, that wood is divine! I'm featuring this on Topsy Turvy Tuesday's! Thanks for linking up.

  40. My gosh that is wonderful!! I love it! And so jealous of all your space!!
    Thanks for linking up to Southern Lovely's Show & Share!! We hope to see you tomorrow!!

  41. Amazing!! I looove the one giant sink and I just pinned the crap out of this post. Hah. Great job!

  42. They look great! I am looking for ideas on my counters. WIll send this to my hubby asking if he can make these for me LOL

  43. I found your post from TDC's linky party and I am over the moon with this project. First of all, your second inspiration pic is my most inspiring kitchen inspiration pick of all time, and I, too, had decided to do slate blue on the bottom and white on the top. Second, I also have a kitchen with short cabinets and a lot of ceiling height to take up. Mine are way too HIGH on the wall, and I was thinking I would replace them with some used cabinets (hoping to find some that are solid wood – mine are not) but you've given me a lot to think about with the open-shelving-under-the-cabinets idea. Finally, I am also planning to do butcher block countertops for the most part, and I've been toying with the idea of another material for a little bit of my counter. I'm thinking of using a soapstone remnant from this source: Right now it doesn't have much that's helpful, but that link changes regularly and they often have a large assortment of different sizes of soapstone slab remnants, at great prices. (Plus, soapstone is not hard like granite, so you can do the finish work yourself without stone-cutting tools.)

    So…in case my link is helpful, I'd like to propose a little trade…I don't suppose you'd share the paint colors you used for the slate and white?

    Awesome job on the kitchen!

  44. I have a butcher block right now but want to increase the size. I'll be anxiously waiting to see how your project turns out as I've been looking for idea of butcher block too. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  45. Great post! We are looking to put granite countertops in my New Jersey home-I would like butcher block though! We'll see who wins this one, me or the husband! Great job-looks beautiful!

  46. wow. It's stunning! Gooood work!

  47. That's looks awesome. Great work

  48. I love the natural look of the butcher block, especially in cherry. The kitchen looks great!

  49. I just did a similar project too! We used REALLY cheap butcher block, our material was 40.00 each at IKEA, we needed two pieces. So less then 100.00! yours looks just fantastic! For anyone who has an ikea near them, check it out!

  50. What tools did you use to do the miter? Right now I’m looking at making a jig and using a skill saw. I’m from a small town so I’ve not been very successful in finding anyone in the professional field with the right sliding miter saw.
    They look beautiful, can’t wait to do mine.

  51. I LOVE butcher block countertops! I sooo want to do this in my home! It looks great!

  52. Oh my gosh, i want to lick those countertops!! I LOVE butcher block and have been really thinking about using that when ever i get around to re-doing my kitchen!!
    It looks absolutely beautiful in y’alls home!
    Amy recently posted..Frankly Friday…v24My Profile

  53. I LOVE the look of butcher block counter tops, but am curious how they have held up? Water stains, or marks from cutting, hot pots, etc? Just found you via Pinterest and am having so much fun looking at your house.

    • They still look pretty much new and don’t have any of the stuff you mentioned. That being said, I’m really careful with them…always use cutting boards and hot pads. I like the butcher block a lot, but next time I think I would like counter tops that I can abuse.

  54. Jessica says:

    We just bought our butcher block countertops from IKEA today. Can’t wait for them to be done acclimating so we can get started! I stumbled upon your blog while drooling over all the other butcher block counters that I can find. I love the cherry!! Gorgeous! We went with oak for ours and we will be using a dark walnut stain. We are also painting our cabinets–Dove White by Benjamin Moore. Kitchen projects are quite an undertaking, but well worth it in the end. :) I just want to know, where on earth can you find travertine for under $2/sq ft?! Do tell! We have wood laminate in our kitchen (& whole house) and initially planned to do ceramic tile but decided that since we want to do hardwood down the road, we won’t want to rip up the ceramic tile, so we’re going to wait on flooring…but we drooled over all the gorgeous travertine we’ve seen, nothing less than $5/sq ft around here though. :(

    • We are still waiting to buy our flooring…I’m just not sure I’m ready to destroy the kitchen again. I’m so enjoying having it finished (or at least fully functional). The best travertine tile prices I have found are on this website, they are right around the $2 range (some are a little more and some are a little less). You can order free samples too!

  55. This site has a lot of very useful stuff on it. Thank you for informing me!

  56. Your kitchen looks great. I’m getting great ideas and inspiration from it. One question: I didn’t know that you can do an undermount sink with butcher block counters. No problems there?

  57. Did you stain the butcher block before you applied Waterlox? Thanks! JM

    • Nope, no stain. The waterlox brings out the natural color and it looks great. I was leery when my husband said we weren’t going to use stain, but he was right!

  58. Thanks for all the info and for the 2 year follow up post! I laughed while reading it because I am also 34 weeks pregnant, we also have been without a kitchen sink for a week, and I have been enjoying some bath tub dishes myself. At least I know I’m not the only crazy one to do a DIY kitchen remodel while super pregnant :)

  59. Have you thought of concrete counter tops or bar

  60. Scott Thomas says:

    How did you join the 2 portions together after you made the 45 degree cuts? Was it just those brackets or was something else done as well?

  61. You did a really good job on your countertops. I have been thinking about getting new countertops for a while now. I think that the ones I have right now look too run down. New countertops will really improve the look of my kitchen. I guess that I had better get my wife and go shopping for countertops.

  62. I swear that you have our kitchen!!! We are finishing up ours … white on top, gray-blue on the bottom, stainless appliances … same layout! I’m begging hubby to do the butcher block countertops :D

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

  63. Hi! We are in process of installing ours…can I ask how you mounted the countertops to your cabinets?

  64. Hi Ashley,
    Great story on your countertop. They look great! I’m doing the same thing and I found that my 45 degree joint won’t seat completely with the miter bolts. Did you have trouble with that part too? Any guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


    • Hi there,
      From recent experience, we found that we needed to router the edge guided by a straight edge e.g a length of factory cut MDF to assure it was as precise as possible. We didn’t get it right first time, but had to have another try taking literally only about a thirty second of an inch with the router using a 1 1/2 inch fluted bit. After the second attempt, we found it much improved.

  65. I am so impressed with how your countertops turned out! I actually really love how the wood looks, and after the sealant, it definitely feels more put together. I don’t know if I could do this on my own, though, so I’ll have to enlist a professional to help me.
    Kayla Rogers recently posted..Stainless Steel Specialist – Balustrades and HandrailsMy Profile

  66. I’m planning to renovate the entire home but thinking from where should I start. I thought to place edge grain butcher block tops which have parallel wood rails that run the length of the piece. End grain butcher block tops are created by fusing together the end pieces of wood rails into a checkerboard pattern. It is considered the stronger and more durable style. But after seeing this one, I have made up my mind for this butcher block countertop.

    Thanks for this amazing stuff! Keep sharing!

  67. Great

  68. Your willingness to try something a little of of the box or “funky” with the counter top bar area is an adventurous one. Your comments about being 34 weeks pregnant and leaning over to do dishes were amusing.

Thank you for your comments!

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