I absolutely love the richness butcher-block countertops bring to a space! They are not only beautiful but are extremely useful! And have been used for centuries! You can cut directly on the surface, stain it with food and liquid and they are easily brought back to the original beauty time and time again! That’s tough to beat!
With the popularity of Mid-Century Modern style thriving it’s no wonder butcher blocks are continuing the huge comeback! You can use them in numerous applications; kitchens, bars, office tables, laundry rooms, really wherever you need a countertop! The best material to use is maple due to its hardness and its clear grain. But nearly any wood can be used depending on your application. In an area with heavy use I recommend selecting a harder wood such as maple, oak, or bamboo. In an area that will not be utilized for direct cutting, walnut, zebrawood and alder are exquisite
I knew my husband could not be trusted with a soft wood! And I was leaning towards a lighter hue with minimal grain movement; therefore, maple was perfect for us! There are three different construction types: edge grain, face grain, and end grain. Edge grain is most commonly used due to its strength and affordability. Face grain has a more streamlined look but is susceptible to marking. And end grain is the strongest of the three but also the most expensive.
Caring for butcher block is simple and extremely important! I cannot stress this enough! If you are more of a maintenance free type of person butcher block might not be for you. I was under the impression that it required conditioning every six months but honestly to keep the wood looking healthy I condition about every three months, sometimes more depending on the season and use. Definitely keep this in mind before installing in large areas.
I absolutely love my maple butcher block! Incredibly simple to finish and install! Follow this five easy step-by-by guide and I know you will love yours too!
Step One: Select your wood species and construction type!
To help make this decision it is important to first ask yourself; Where are you installing the butcher block? How will you use? This will determine the hardness you will need.
Collect photos of the material finished to confirm it suite your space. Conditioned wood color can change dramatically so look for photos that show the material complete.
Step Two: Determine where to source your wood
Depending on where you live this can be an easy or difficult task! In Houston it was easy! Houston Hardwoods has great customer service and a vast variety of wood for order. Like granite, most lumber yards will not have butcher block in stock. It took about a week from order placement to pick-up.
Step Three: Sanding
I hand sanded my maple block using a hand sanding block with 150 grit sandpaper for my first run. Always sand in the direction on the grain! After the first pass I swept the surface with a soft bristle hand broom and cleaned all remaining dust with a tack cloth.
Run your hands over the wood to confirm everything is buttery smooth. If you missed any areas spot sand until surface is uniformly smooth. (Option: Go over entire slab with 320 grit sandpaper for silky smooth finish)
Step Four: Oil the wood
Do not seal the butcher block if installing in a kitchen or where food will be involved! Sealed countertops are not food or knife friendly.
I use Howard Oil and Conditioner. The company has been around for over 50 years and their products are great quality and affordable!
Step Five: Installation
Depending on the counter size installing the slab over your fastened cabinets or freestanding unit is quick. Place a bead of caulk around the perimeter of the base in all areas that connect to the butcher block top. (I used Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Adhesive because it has always been a dependable product. Another option is Gorilla Heavy Duty Ultimate Adhesive, I have not personally used this but have heard good things.)
If you are installing onto a free-standing base clamp the countertop to the base if possible. I was only able to clamp the front therefore I placed heavy items at the back and sides until the glue dried.
Note: If you do clamp, place a cloth between the clamps teeth and your wood surface. You do not want to deal with indentations on your band new top!
Full bonding time is dependent on the product you use, room temperature and how thick of a bead you deposit. I recommend leaving it no less then 24 hours before removing weight and clamps.
There you have it! The best butcher block countertop that will last for years! Happy hosting!
Erin Wallander, RID + NQIDQ I love interior design! My dog Ella and husband Chris. Yes, in that order. This blog is to share my personal opinion of design. I might get off track every now and then, but it keeps things interesting!