My Butcher Block Countertops, Two Years Later

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from a reader asking me to write a post about how our butcher block countertops are holding up. I have to admit, I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of this myself….of course I should write a follow-up post. My main concern when we choose them was how they would hold up over time and I’m sure many of you are wondering the same thing. So here it is, a completely honest update on our wood counters.

Review of butcher blocks counters after two years of use

Two years ago, in September 2011, I wrote a post about how we installed our own butcher block countertops.  We had looked at a lot of countertops options and ended up choosing butcher block, mainly because we liked the price and the look of wood. Here they are right after installing and sealing…

Butcher block countertop

And here they are today…

Butcher block counters

(Okay, so they actually look better in that second photo, but that’s just because we finished the kitchen, I bought a real camera, and wood darkens with age.)

Generally speaking, they are holding up really well. The Waterlox that we used to seal them does a fantastic job and they are still shiny and smooth. Since installing them I haven’t added more sealer, I don’t use expensive cleaners, I haven’t done anything special at all.

They aren’t scratched, or dented, and they don’t have any marks from hot pots. But I am very careful to always use cutting boards and hot pads, I rarely do anything directly on the countertops beyond kneading bread and whipping up a delicious PB&J.

We haven’t gotten out scott free though. See all these little circles?

Rubber rings on butcher block

Those are from the rubber feet in our knife block. They will not come off. (We have since replaced the knife block with a magnetic knife holder – best purchase ever). The odd thing is that other things with rubber feet, like my mixer, don’t leave marks. Weird.

Next up we have a crack near the sink. I think it was a normal hairline crack that became exposed when we cut out the sink…just a bit of bad luck, really. Here it is from the side…

reviwe of butcher block counters after two years of use

and from the top.

butcher block counter review

It’s not noticeable unless you know it’s there, though it is slightly raised/swollen.

Last up we have this spot…

Water stain on butcher block

That spot is from standing water…it is just to the right of the faucet, under the handle. We wondered what it was for a long time, then one day Adam cracked the code…its from turning on and off the faucet with wet hands. The water transfers from our hands to the faucet, then drips from the handle to the counter…where it sits, burning a hole in my wood.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that everything can be fixed by sanding down and resealing the counter. And besides those three flaws the counter still looks great, even around the sink.

butcher block counter with undermount sink

butcher block countertop

So now for what I’m sure is everyones burning question –

“Ashley, if you had to do it all over again, would you still choose butcher block for your kitchen counters?”

And my answer is…maybe. Hear me out.

I’m leaning toward saying yes because I love the look. They are warm and natural and I like that. Besides my counters the kitchen doesn’t have any wooden elements in it, and I love wooden elements. Also, the price. Butcher block (that you install yourself) is SO much more affordable than other options (besides DIYing your own concrete counters or something). We spent $750 for butcher block and all the other options were in the thousands…multiple thousands. They are also getting prettier (darker) with age, and imperfections can be fixed. Being able to make your countertops good as new with a little elbow grease is a cool trait that’s unique to butcher block.

Here is why I want to answer no to that question. I hate that I have to think about them. It seems like I’m always wiping up water, washing cutting boards, searching for hot pads, and generally worrying about not causing harm to my counters. Countertops are not something I want to think about…I want to abuse the crud out of them and never think twice about it. I know you can sand them down reseal them, but doing a ton of dusty sanding inside does not sound like fun to me.  And even though the wood around the sink is holding up great it still feels like a ticking time bomb.

So would I use butcher block again in this house? Yes, probably. Will I put them in our future homes? No, I won’t… unless it’s on an island without a sink.

So there you have it, hopefully that helps someone make a hard decision!

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Comments

  1. They look beautiful, and even better with time. We remodeled a few years ago and used 12×12″ porcelain tiles on our counters and I have never looked back. I cut on them and they have no issues with heat damage, so they have won me over with their durability. But they certainly lack the beauty of wood! In my dream kitchen, I think I would vote for some sort of butcher block on an island or something. It is so pretty and timeless.
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    • Looks great! I would like to make you a concrete farmers sink for free if you’ll blog about it.

      I think it would add a lot of character!

      ~C

  2. I love the way they have darkened! And I think everyone has something wrong with their counters one way or another. Don’t sweat the minor things. They look amazing.

  3. Great post-I love how they have gotten so much darker, and I love that you gave an honest opinion of everything, pros and cons!
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  4. Thank you for sharing this! I didn’t even consider wood countertops, although that would have been much more budget friendly than the our black quartz. I love black with specks of sparkly mirror like chips inside and my husband wouldn’t want it any other way, so we’re finding other ways to layer in the wood look that we love (as well)! :) Your countertops surely have gotten better with age, and it’s awesome that they’ll last a lifetime because they can be refinished! Nothing can beat that. :)
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  5. LOVE them. We had the same counter tops in our first home so i’m extra fond of them and could see myself having them again. for me, i don’t mind the stains or scratches or water rings or whatever else gets done to them. call it character and call it a day :) …p.s. i’m now on the hunt for a magnetic knife holder :)

  6. I like that they have turned a nice warm color. I’d say that’s darn good mileage for everything that happens in a kitchen!

    • I love the warm color too. Funny thing is that I didn’t even realize they had changed until writing this post. It just happened to subtly and slowly that I never noticed!

  7. we put them in in the spring and i eel the same that i have to think about them BUT we just oil them on occasion, and i love that i can FIX anything that goes wrong so far. we’ve gotten some spots from random things and i have been able to sand out and re-oil and you’d never know. make a mark on marble and it’s not going anywhere! :)
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    • So true. I do love that you can fix anything and we will end up doing that at some point. I’m really just dreading the week long super stinky experience of applying waterlox again. The stuff works awesome, but applying it kinda sucks.

      • how often do you have to apply waterlox?

      • Ashley, you did a beautiful job on this! You don’t have to refinish the whole counter! It’s inside the wood so you never refinish, like polycoats. Just use steel wool to rub out the offending spots and then use a dab of WL on those spots. Sort of like a micro-refinish. It will seal to the other coats if given curing time. Same thing for refreshing it. Just clean well and use 000 steel wool to skim coat WL. Easy Peasey.
        And many thanks. I found your blog by searching for Waterloxed projects to show my husband how beautiful it can look. He isn’t sure about this stuff! HAH!

  8. Ashley, thank you so much for sharing how your counters have held up. We are planning a kitchen renovation next year, and I was thinking about doing butcher block on a few of the counters that are not our primary work surface. I love how they look in your kitchen – but I was worried about how they would stand up over time. You’ve convinced me – I can handle them away from the sink! Many thanks :)
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  9. I’m so glad to see your post! I love the butcher block countertops and was curious. I currently have corian tops and I hate them for exactly the same reason you mentioned- I should not have to worry about every single thing I do on them. I have to always use cutting boards (can you imagine how annoying it is to make cinnamon rolls!), I litter my kitchen with trivets for hot things, and goodness forbid anything sit on them for too long. I miss my ceramic tile in my old house so much!
    Ashley recently posted..Thrifty ThursdayMy Profile

    • That’s too bad about corian. Why can’t there just be a clear cut, super superior countertop choice? I have heard great things about tile countertops (plus they are cheap!) but I don’t think I could bet over having grout on my counters. All the grout in my house currently looks disgusting because I never think/want/have time to clean it.

      • We just put in a tile counter top with 48 x 8in wood looking porcelain tile and there is a new type of epoxy grout that is completely stain proof and never needs to be sealed. We love it and it looks like barn wood. We also love the look of butcher block it was a hard choice but we chose the tile for durability, thanks for the post.

        • That sounds amazing, actually. I’ve seen the wood tiles and wouldn’t of thought of putting them on a countertop. The beauty of wood with the durability of tile… now you have me wheels turning…

  10. I don’t want to be thinking about counter-tops and worrying about every little thing damaging them either. There are days dishes pile up, my husband decides to cook, my girls spill all over the counter-tops. Not to mention the staining. I really wasn’t considering replacing my laminate counter-tops with wood but now I can give advice to my clients based on your experience. Your kitchen still looks very nice! Thank you again for your honesty!
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  11. Thanks for the update! We really like the idea of butcher block counter tops too. I really like the way they have darkened with age too, very neat!
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  12. I have been thinking for a long time about what to replace my counters with and I pinned your kitchen awhile ago because I love the look so much (I have also stolen your Grays Harbor paint color and I’m using it all over my house). I was JUST thinking I should email you to ask how they were holding up, so this is such perfect timing! I’m thinking about a kitchen update with my next tax refund and I feel confident now that butcher block would work well for me. Thank you!

    • Glad I could help you with your decision! It’s funny, because after this post some people have told me they are going to steep clear of butcher block and others said they are sold on it. And isn’t Grays Harbor great? I use it everywhere too :)

  13. I had a butcher block counter installed to cut on in my last house, and I did abuse the crud out of it. Then we just sanded, oiled and it was as good as new! I would say don’t worry too much, you know you’ll be sanding it down at some point anyway. And your kitchen is about 800% more amazing than it was – it seriously looks like a designer kitchen now :)
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  14. I had Silestone Quartz counters in my last house, and i constantly worried about them…chipping them with glass ( like putting a jar down hard) ..heat…never chopping on them…the top actually looked like glass when i entered the kitchen and i could see EVERY smudge and finger print.( you couldnt even use windex on them) Nothing …counter wise is perfect and the kitchen is a hard working room. We always think the grass is greener on other counters, lol. Yours look great, it fits your kitchen style perfectly.

    • You are totally right about the grass always being greener. Quartz is actually what I had my eye on for any future home, so I’m kinda bummed to hear that you aren’t over the moon in love with them. That makes me love my butcher block more, actually :)

    • You’re so right. We have corian counter tops and there are three huge cracks around the stove top.

  15. I love the look of butcher block! But I am waaaay too messy in the kitchen to have them. But, boy, that wood look is beautiful! We have a dark quartz countertop, and let me say, it takes tons of abuse with no wear. I drop things, I use any cleaner, I don’t clean up messy spills right away, I don’t use hot pads, and no damage! But that butcher block still calls to me!

  16. How do you feel the BB has held up around the rim of the sink? I’ve been hesitant to go with an undermount sink with our BB for fear that the abundance of water use would lead to the end-grain swelling over time. Any indication of this? Did you have to do a lot of extra sealing there?

    You are right though, it definitely looks better with some age on it. Love the way wood does this.

  17. If your concerned about water marks and stains then try a beeswax/mineral oil mix when treating your wood. You can buy the mix or make your own. Your counter will be waterproof and only require a quick buff to bring out that shine. Just make sure you do a full treatment with just oil first and only use a very thin layer of the oil/wax mix. Also for your stains try putting some regular salt on the stain and rub it in with a lemon. Leave it as long as you need and wipe off with a sponge, You won’t have to retreat he wood tafter and this will get rid of any odors too.

  18. Thank you for telling us how your butcher block counters are holding up. I am considering butcher block counters also. I am thinking that mounting the sink above the counter height rather than below may be helpful. The cross cut of the wood grain is more porous and so it would likely absorb water more easily than the lengthwise cut following the grain of the wood on top of the counter. We found this out when we put our home address on a cross cut of pine and set it out by the road. Over time it rotted and split and we had to throw it out even though we put many coats of polyurethane on it. I still love the way your counters turned out. I feel like there are pros and cons to any type of countertop.

    • So true about there being pros and cons to every type of counter. I agree that if you put in a drop in sink there would be no issues…the undermount sink was kind of a risk.

  19. Hi I was just wondering you said you wouldnt put them in a new house mainly becouse of the sink area, have you though of doing some sort of stone around the sink then butcher block for the rest?

  20. We’re still making a decision about countertops and I researched the bejeesus out of it.

    In another post (painting tile), you mentioned the smell of Waterlox. I sent away for samples from a couple different companies that make countertops using WL as the finish (though after hearing the quote – and my husband reviving me from the dead faint that resulted – we never were going to go that route) and here’s the thing: the smell of WL never fully left the samples.

    They were kept in the plastic bags the companies shipped them in, so yes, it was concentrated more than usual BUT
    1. that just highlighted the problem, it didn’t create it
    2. if it is still outgassing a year later (yup, still can smell it) that means it isn’t fully cured…and I didn’t want food near it (or me standing above it for an hour, prepping dinner)
    3. the sample we took out of the plastic bag and left outside (didn’t want the fumes in the house) still smelled after a full year (I thought maybe the plastic didn’t allow oxygen/air for curing?)
    4. after some research, it turns out that varnish takes years to fully cure which is why woodworkers never use it inside drawers: the smell will be there literally a decade later

    Granted, I have a pretty sensitive nose, but that doesn’t mean Waterlox (and all varnishes) don’t have a problem curing. I know most people say their counters don’t smell but I can go in a house and know the kitchen will have wood counters…finished with WL. That just can’t be good. Think of a piece of cantaloupe falling on that finish. Do you still eat it?

    Try this: tape a (ceramic, not plastic) bowl upsidedown to your counter. Leave it for a week. It will concentrate a pocket of anything that might still be coming off your counters. If you aren’t a super-smeller (it’s a curse), get your nose right near it when you dislodge it a week later. I hope it smells like nothing, but…

    (Maybe since yours are two years old it will be totally fine.)

    The little black spots will blend as the counter darkens, btw. Or embrace them as “beauty spots” like Marilyn Monroe. A couple spots are stains, a ton of them are patina. (Like copper: the first smutch of green is awful and later it is “verdigris.”)

    For us, I still want wood but we’re probably going to go for thin slab tile (diy) in a dark wood color. Not as awesome but will drive my husband a little less nuts – especially given the added complication of needing a finish I can deal with (both applying and living). No grout (they come in sheets 10′ long), and tile-tastic stain and water rejection.

    Love your debt-free house. And your description of newborn-vs-toddler diaper smell.

  21. We love our butcher block counter tops! Not sure they look as good as yours do two years down the line (we’ve been kind of lazy, though), but we do love them :-)
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  22. We installed Ikea butcher block counters a year ago. I also love the look and affordability. We sealed with Waterlox and had no issues until recently. Last week I noticed that the counters look slightly raised or swollen in two places. One is where the counter meets the backsplash and the other is by the undermount sink. We do have a seam right where the sink is because the butcher block pieces were not long enough and we had to seam two pieces together. The raised part is where the two pieces meet in a seam. Do you think that this is something that could be repaired? I hope it does not indicate the beginning of a worse damage. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • My countertop has some swollen areas to, mostly around that crack near the sink. My plan is to sand it down smooth (to the wood) and add a few more layers of waterlox. I’m not sure what else we can do, really. I have never gone back and added more waterlox, but I think we need to start doing that. Every six months or so I think I’m going to add another layer around the sink, that may help ward off the swelling.
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  23. Thanks for posting this. I have recommended wood to a friend who was going to chose laminate because of cost and have been worrying ever since. She is getting those sit on wooden chopping boards to go on top so her teenagers won’t forget to use a chopping board. And her will be sealed with Osmo, a non toxic Danish oil type product which doesn’t dry shiny (so therefore cannot be scratched in the same way). I know there are now companies whose existance is for the sole purpose of repairing the wood by the sink. Because of this I have advised her to get a sit on sink rather than an undermounted one, not quite as good looking but avoids the problem of water on the end grain of the wood.
    Love your makeovers!

  24. love your countertops!! i wanted butcher block when we moved in but opted for granite since that is what “everyone” likes and we were looking at resale value. well, we can’t afford the good stuff either and being diy’ers we went with 12×12 tiles with thin, thin grout lines. does everyone have after thoughts? i’m not crazy about mine now either and just love the looks of yours. i think we spent $1100 for roughly the same size kitchen as yours, 2 years later than you did- if that matters, and i would do butcher block if i had to do it over. your kitchen looks amazing! i have resealed it twice already and tho i don’t have to think about burns and such i do worry about all the little drips and oil spots on this black surface. i think you did the right thing considering all you saved- and how beautiful it looks! thanks for sharing your views.

  25. AJ Chambers says:

    Hi Ashley, love your countertops and the work you guys did. My wife and I are getting prepared to install our own butcher block tops here in the next few days. I’m curious, did you guys use any special insulation over your dishwasher? I saw in one of your pictures you have the insulation that comes with the dishwasher. But other sites I’ve visited say to place a piece of sheet metal over the top of the washer to help protect it from heat and steam. Did you guys go to that extent or use something else as a barrier?
    Thank you in advance. I hope this message finds you well.
    AJ

    • I remember reading that when we were doing research, but we never did any of it. We haven’t had any issues (and hopefully it stays that way!).

  26. I am so excited to see this post!! My butcher block counter top is being built as we speak by my dad (who is a cabinet maker). I was looking for stain colors when I came across this. I’ve been working on redoing my kitchen (by myself) all winter. My cabinets were painted early winter, and are the same grey as yours. With the same steel colored hardware. I have waiting in my living room an under mount stainless steal sink, with a pull out house faucet (similar to yours). My back splash will remain white, because I’ve run out of money (but will eventually change.) It’s pretty exciting to me to “see” what my kitchen will look like when I am completely done. It has been one long, exhausting journey, but it will be SO worth it! :) Thanks for sharing your kitchen with us!
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  27. Very interesting to read about your butcher block. This is what I intended to put in my kitchen when we remodeled about 6 years ago, but they guys who were doing the cabinets and installing counters talked me out of it. I ended up doing soapstone which looks good and has no issues with heat or water but the scratches! You could literally take a fingernail or ring and scratch a mark in it. I guess the marks kind of blend in eventually but honestly I was very surprised and disappointed to see how easily they are damaged. Wish I had stuck to my original plan of using wood!

  28. Such good information! Thank you so much for all of this. I am pinning for future reference.
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  29. Most cutting boards are butcherblock, so why are you using butcherblock cutting boards on a butcherblock counter instead of just using the counter? Why the extra work? Is there a reason I need to know before I build my butcherblock island?

    • You’re right about the cutting boards, but my cutting boards look horrid after a few months of use and I don’t want to have to redo my countertops that often. If I had a small island with butcher block I would cut directly on it.

    • I would not cut directly on my butcher block counter and leave knife marks and food stains. In addition, wood can turn rancid from certain juices. I use antimicrobrial plastic cutting boards — separate ones for different foods — and only use wood cutting boards to serve cheese. I wash my boards in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry, but also leave them out to air dry thoroughly. Every few months I rub them down with mineral oil. They are years old and still look gorgeous.

      In addition, if your wood countertop has been sealed on the top with a plastic product instead of the permeating oil method, you will have potentially toxic leakage that you don’t want to leech into your food. Use them to roll out a piecrust or other baking, but don’t cut, pound or soak them in food liquids.

  30. Thanks for this update. I am going to be house-hunting again sometime in the next year, and if I encounter any homes with this, I now know more about what to expect.

  31. Hi Im not too sure how long ago this was posted, I’m sure it says somewhere but I’m just writing down a quick idea. Have you ever thought of possibly putting a glass top ontop of the wood counters that way the look stays almost exact but no more worries as far as damage to the wood. Just an idea!

  32. Anonymous says:

    you can solve the “i want to be able to abuse the crud out of it” problem by picking a wood that’s tougher than cherry… there are PLENTY of woods that are able to withstand lots of abuse. jatoba (brazilian cherry) is just one of them, but it is the closest thing visually to cherry…

    • Anonymous says:

      ….also, you could do end grain, and REALLY not worry…

    • Speaking of being eco friendly, Brazilian Cherry is an endangered tree according to many environmenal organizations, as is just about everything in the Earth’s rainforests. Those in the furniture industry will disagree because their concern is quarterly profits, not rainforest sustainability. But environmental organizations have been working for years to halt the ravaging of the rainforests, which can be gone in less than half a century if we don’t stop the demand for exotic woods, like Brazilian Cherry, Mahogany, and other woods from South American, African and Asian rainforests. Better to use maple, oak and other North American species, which are plentiful and not endangered. Moreover, the trend in decorating is to be eco friendly. It’s one thing to have an exotic wood floor that is 100 years old and another to have floors or countertops made of exotic woods that you just installed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mesquite wood…..hardest wood other one other and its the most stable. Sustainable also so green.

  33. I love the look of your countertop. We are giving our kitchen a facelift and have chosen to install a butcher block countertop. For one thing, we had one in our co-op in the city for a decade before we moved and it looked the same when we left as the day we installed it. And, no, we are not careful. But, neither do we mind cleaning up and being careful. For another, wood is more eco friendly than stone. There’s been a lot written lately about granite emitting radon, which is unhealthy for young children and pets and in enclosed spaces, and it is not a renewable resource. No stone is renewable. In addition it takes tons of water and an enormous amount of energy to produce granite and other stone. Some quartz companies have taken steps to reduce the environmental impact, but there is still one and when that’s multiplied by millions of homes it indeed has a massive environmental impact. There is the trend toward recycled glass counter tops but they are still quite expensive to purchase and have installed; but they are stunning. So for an economical, beautiful and earth friendly alternative, butcher block is the way to go. The small amount of care and upkeep are worth it to save a little money and a lot of the environment.

  34. We have had maple 1 1/2″ counters in our house since 1977. For years we used Watco Danish oil and touched up with mineral oil. I would sand them every couple of years and redo the Watco product. About 4 years ago we really sanded them to the raw wood and used the Waterlox product. The counters looked amazing. They do not require the additional oil every few weeks. However, two things we learned. One, never get bleach or even Oxiclean type products near the counter because it will mar the finish. We have sanded lightly and reapplied the Waterlox, but the mar is still slightly there. I always use a towel behind the faucets to make sure water does not collect there. We also have a stainless drop in sink with a drainboard. I think this type of sink works best with wood. I would use butcher block again. When we put them in back in the 70’s, wood, Corian (in one color) and Formica were the only choices. I am very happy that the counters and the white cabinets we chose have stayed looking nice for so many years. I like Waterlox, but not the problem of how to do touch ups. I might try the beeswax/mineral oil next time, if there is a next time.

  35. Caroline C says:

    Thank you for this post. Your counter tops look beautiful, well done. I have purchased the butcher block counter top from IKEA 6 years ago and installed it on the dry side of the kitchen (I have a laboratory kitchen with a counter top on each side). I still love it and it’s holding up very well. I’ve been maintaining it with the IKEA product, but I think next time, I’ll use yours, when I can leave the windows open. I have been postponing installing the butcher block on the sink side because for whatever reasons (let’s call it husband), that side is always wet, and I’ve always wondered about warping around the sink. Our sink is heavily used and with beer making experiments in the kitchen, and all that it entails (5-6 gallons containers, disinfecting, transferring), there is a lot of splashing around. I’m still on the fence for the sink side, I probably need commercial grade stainless steel to sustain all the abuses going around that kitchen, although I’d rather have the butcher block. Thanks again for your post.

  36. Thanks for sharing this follow up post. I have dallied with the idea of wood counter-tops in an island with a sink. Your article has encouraged me and I think we will give it a try.
    One thing i would like to do is to router some drains leading to the sink like an old fashioned drain board.
    Fingers crossed.

  37. I must say I have always loved granite, but I really like the look of the butcher block style countertops. Definitely a great idea especially for an outdoor kitchen.

  38. richard vacha says:

    Two problems–
    One, you used the wrong type of finish. A standard oil-base polyurethane (such as Minwax) will hold up better. Mine were excellent after 10 years. I have refinished them once. A light sanding and a new coat. Perfecto. Easy.
    Two–you should have used a top-mount sink so the end-grain around the wet area is not exposed.
    couple of small details that make a big difference.
    I don’t find it difficult at all to work on cutting boards and keep the counters wiped off.
    But–it is wood, after all. Stone will definitely be less affected by water and wear.

  39. just a quick ‘be careful’ I love these countertops and will be putting them in my home, but I made the mistake of putting them in an executive rental apt that I have.
    wood and water are not friends and although I love the imperfections and minor blemishes they may have _ I actually love those imperfections… I bought Ikea butcher block counters and they have split. again, I would take better care of them but if you have kids or college students or anyone who doesn’t remember: water and butcher blocks are friends’ you could be in trouble. I have to replace them this year. DARN.

  40. judith Loebel says:

    For those of you concerned (rightly!) about the eco friendliness of stone and metal counters–the rock maple (actually sugar maple!) wood butcher block counters are actually a great choice. Sugar maple trees can have a long life BUT they tend to rot from the inside out leaving a vulnerable shell that can fall and damage other trees or structures. So sugar maple bush owners–the people who tend and tap the trees for their sap to make syrup–tend to keep a close eye on the age of their trees and condition. The ones that are getting to that soon-to-rot phase are jobbed out to lumber jacks–harvested–and used for furniture; flooring; and counters. This leaves open areas for NEW trees to grow. There are sugar maples that are a few hundred years old; but a lot of them make it to about 50 to 75 years and start to die off. I know Boos Co makes gorgeous but very spendy maple items; I know Manchester Wood (Manchester Vermont) also makes beautiful items from the local wood and are more reasonable. Google is your friend here! Not sure what IKEA makes theirs out of but I have seen them and they don’t look like sugar maple. We built an island from a Harbor Freight Wooden Workbench with a “Butcher block look” top===this is solid wood but have no idea what kind; we sanded it down well and added dowels to the openings (these are for woodworking tools that we are unlikely to use in our kitchen!) and poly’ed it several times worth and after 2 years it looks GREAT. Four drawers; bottom re-inforced shelf for storage baskets etc; added IKEA wood spice racks on ends for misc stuff–love it! For under $150 for EVERYTHING–you cannot beat it.

    LOVE that penny counter!

  41. What trim did you use along the counter? It’s great!

  42. I officially love your blog. I’ve been perusing for hours. Thank you for all the helpful insight for counter tops!

  43. My walnut countertops are being installed as we speak. I do have an island, and for it I did not use Waterlox, but just butcherblock countertop finish since I will use it for food prep. I totally intend to chop on it, and set hot pots on it and use it up! Now, for the rest of the countertops we did use Waterlox. I was very worried about the wood around the faucets rotting – like yours is trying to do – thats a tough spot to keep dry. But then I found the farmhouse sink from Ikea and knew this would solve that issue. Plus it’s a beautiful and affordable but the best part is the back of the sink goes clear to the backsplash, with drain grooves. It’s perfect. It’s just me and hubs and I do all the cooking and clean up and I can be pretty anal about cleanup, so I’m hoping I will love these for years!

  44. Great Helpful Ideas for those of us who love natural wood in the kitchen- good insight to care for our wood counters. Thanks a lot!

    • George Trail says:

      I read all of the responses for one that sounded like it came from folks who used their kitchen to prepare food in. Didn’t find one. What do y’all do, put a cutting board on of your counter? This surface is called “butcher block.” It is, not, “really”—butcher block which is designed for your working knives the grain up– is end grain, which a moment’s thought will tell you is the easiest on your knife edge. That, however is so expensive that it would never be considerable for an extended surface—so we go to the next easiest on you knife edge (usually) maple on edge in parallel glued together planks. If they are used according to their “purpose,” (a functional surface for carrying out kitchen work—not storage [appliance or whatever]) they are not “finished” at all, but treated to prevent staining and cracking—they are covered with (gasp) mineral oil whenever they start to bleach from cleaning. If your butcher block is not scarred it has not yet been used.

  45. George Trail says:

    I read all of the responses for one that sounded like it came from folks who used their kitchen to prepare food in. Didn’t find one. What do y’all do, put a cutting board on of your counter? This surface is called “butcher block.” It is, not, “really”—butcher block which is designed for your working knives the grain up– is end grain, which a moment’s thought will tell you is the easiest on your knife edge. That, however is so expensive that it would never be considerable for an extended surface—so we go to the next easiest on you knife edge (usually) maple on edge in parallel glued together planks. If they are used according to their “purpose,” (a functional surface for carrying out kitchen work—not storage [appliance or whatever]) they are not “finished” at all, but treated to prevent staining and cracking—they are covered with (gasp) mineral oil whenever they start to bleach from cleaning. If your butcher block is not scarred it has not yet been used.

  46. Rhoni Ann says:

    I too have Ikea butcher block countertops sealed with waterlox; mine are over a year and half old. I have a huge U shape kitchen and a huge bar. The bar doubles as a desk most days, so I have marks from writing on a single piece of paper, and a couple areas with marks from my water jug that has nubs on the bottom. And I too have a raised area near my top mount sink. I had a cloth dish mate, that was dumb on my account. And I have one knot that is raised. I clean up with soap and water only. I also put hot pans on them, not for long periods but I’m not afraid to use them. I actually only worry about lemon juice getting on the counter all else is up for use on the counters. We actually installed them in our baths as well. I have no Issues in either bath and the hubs doesn’t clean up to well, so often water stands on his side until it drys. I love the character of the wood and even though I’m never moving again, I would do the wood over again and again.

    • GEORGE TRAIL says:

      Soap and water never–use mineral oil.
      Apply, let soak in, scrape off. Reapply if first application left any boiled surfaces. Remember that “real” cutting boards present the end (and thus end grain) of the board as the surface. Don’t “seal” it, coat in with oil and scrape and re oil after every session
      GYTrail

      .

  47. At another post, you resurfaced the bar area with penny coins and epoxy. So why don’t you seal the whole Butcher Block countertop with plain epoxy, without coins? The epoxy coating won’t hide the wood texture. I visited a restaurant. They got all dinning table covered with epoxy. The epoxy surface seems to tough enough for hot plate, abrasion from porcelain dishes, resistant to oil and water.

  48. Thank you for this post.

    I knew that I wanted BB on the island, but after looking at the estimates for the other options, I’m seriously considering BB for the rest of the kitchen as well.

    I love how yours have darkened over time. That’s what I’m hoping for.

    As I’m going for more of a ‘farmhouse’ kitchen look, I don’t mind the imperfections. As a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to them. As a child, the best kitchens had ancient BB counters and tables. Some worn down a half an inch from cutting. The entire nature of the wood changed over time with stains. Even coffee rings. It’s a *work* surface.

    So I think that the satisfaction level with a BB counter top has a lot to do with a person’s expectations.

    I was thinking about concrete for the main areas and that ages, too. At least with wood, I have the option of sanding them out if I don’t like the look.

    Your article actually gave me some good tips to speed the process up! lol! Thanks. :)

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