This weekend included re-sealing our existing butcher block countertops and prepping new butcher block for our new open shelving (I want to put about a thousand exclamation points here)! I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you a little about my personal experience living with wood countertops.
I'm not sure there is another material I would use for countertops... I love butcher block. One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was about the reclaimed wood butcher block countertops my husband and father-in-law built for our kitchen. They are made out of 100 year old oak wood and have held up better than I would have ever imagined after over two years of heavy use.
It seems strange, since you wouldn't think wood would be a practical material for the kitchen, but they are easy to maintain, durable, natural, and beautiful.
Now, occasionally a mishap will happen... something gets accidentally set down that leaves a ring, or like me a couple weeks ago, you accidentally set your knife down in the countertop while cutting an apple in a hurry. Yikes! But it just happens! If this had occurred after we first installed them, I most likely would have panicked... nowadays, I just thought to myself, Well, I guess it's time to re-oil the countertops anyway.
In the case of a knife mark or a ring mark, all that is required to fix the mishap is some light sanding with a fine grit sandpaper and some oil, which I apply at least twice a year anyway. This is what the countertop looked like after I sanded the knife mark and re-sealed. The small knife gouge is gone and nobody would ever guess.
As the butcher block wears, it only becomes more beautiful. The grain in the wood seems a little more pronounced, the wood darkens and it becomes smoother.
This is our new oak countertop, which came from Ikea. After Justus cut the countertop, I sanded with a fine grit sandpaper. The countertop was already really smooth, so I just had to sand the edge well and do one pass through the rest.
Once I sanded, I applied two coats of butcher block oil (allowing for dry time in between). After the countertop was installed, I used 400 grit sandpaper lightly and applied two more coats of oil.
I've only ever used two products for our countertops: Behlen Salad Bowl Finish and Rust-Oleum Butcher Block oil. I've been very pleased with both products, as they are quick to dry, food safe and leave a very natural finish. It's a cinch to re-oil your countertops a few times a year.
(My mom recently used tung oil on their butcher block and loved it... she wrote a post on it here.)
The purpose of sealing the countertops is so that the wood doesn't absorb any water, thus warping and causing other damage to the wood. If the oil is applied properly, drops of water will actually sit on top of the wood without absorbing. Obviously I'm careful not to leave pools of water on the countertop, but I will admit that it has happened a time or two and hasn't caused any permanent damage.
This is our new countertop installed. It's a bit lighter than our existing, but after time it should darken and hopefully will complement our reclaimed wood well.
As far as cleaning, on a day-to-day basis I use a little warm water and mild dish soap. If I feel like I need deeper cleaning, I use some vinegar.
Of course I can't help but give you a quick peek of our new countertop space in the kitchen. I'm not sure I have been this excited about anything in our house! If you live with minimal countertop space, I'm sure you can imagine how I feel having about 6' of additional space now... it is wonderful! Now I need to get to painting the shelving, but I don't think I'll mind (smile).
P.S. There is still time to enter the giveaway for the Creatively Made Home e-course! Check it out here and simply leave a comment.