Here’s how our DIY Ikea wood butcher block counters have held up, why we like them, and the simple care tips we take to maintain them.
In the fall of 2012 we installed Ikea wood butcher block countertops to top off our budget farmhouse kitchen remodel. We used the oak counters, specifically, although I see they don’t sell the oak anymore – but that’s okay since they were more expensive and haven’t worn as well as the beech counters we have in our bathroom.
We’ve both been super happy with them in the years since – I love wood counters and had them in our previous kitchen, so I knew I would – and have gotten a lot of questions and comments about them, asking how they wear and how we finished them.
Whenever we get questions on DIY projects like this, we immediately think: video! It’s visual and we can cram a LOT of information in a video that would just be one loooong blog post otherwise.
In this video we not only show what our counters look like after 2+ years of daily, normal, scratch-cooking use (this isn’t a counter in a kitchen that’s just for looks, that’s for sure!), we also give installation tips and the care tips we’ve used that help keep the counters looking almost like the day we installed them.
You can watch the 5 minute video below, plus a few notes and the main points after (for those of you who just aren’t into videos, or are reading on devices it’s hard to see):
Two video notes:
- Yes, I said two reasons and then proceeded to clearly list three…sigh. Have I mentioned making videos is not my favorite thing? Let’s just say I’m not a natural, ha!
- When I mention purposely not blogging about how I finished the counters because I wasn’t happy with them – and then go on about how happy I am with the polyurethane coating…confusing, right? Sorry, another example of watching it later and going, “shoot, that doesn’t make sense!” Here’s what I was trying to say: I wasn’t happy with the wood stain I used on the counters – I used a water-based stain for the first time after years of using oil-based stains. I’ve always topped everything with a water-based polyurethane, but since these counters were expensive and I didn’t want to wreak them (ugh, lesson 1: go with what you know for sure…), I actually read the directions on the water-based poly for the first time and saw they said you had to use a water-based stain (lesson 2: you do NOT – see these counters and this table, both perfect many years later) so I did. Horrible. It goes on thick like paint, doesn’t soak in so it covers the wood grain, and dries super fast so that it’s hard to wipe it off in time. I’d NEVER use water-based wood stain again and will not recommend it. But the water-based polyurethane top coat? LOVE it for all the reasons I listed (yes, three reasons!).
Main points after living with wood counters:
- We love them!
- We do not have to do any monthly upkeep or reapplying top coats since we used a water-based polyurethane coating.
- It’s not “food-grade,” but we don’t put food on our counters for any amount of time, or eat off of them.
- We use dish mats to dry dishes, fruits & vegetables, lots of different sized cutting boards, and a microfiber/foam type of dish cloth to wipe up water. We keep up on water to make sure it doesn’t sit forgotten but…
- If water does sit and you see a white film when you wipe it up, don’t worry, it just goes away soon (actually sooner than the 90 minutes in the video – that’s just when Brian got back to the spot!).
- There are two areas of buckling/warping (around the stove) – not a lot and we think it adds character.
- Brian mentions some installation tips, including the need to leave more room at the front when cutting the hole for the sink, since butcher block is small pieces of wood sandwiched together and leaving a narrow strip weakens the joints – like ours did, since I wanted the sink as close as possible to the edge.
- We’ve had one knife mark and it was quick and easy to repair/hide with more stain and poly – try that with laminate!
So – do any of you have wood counters? Do you like them? What did you use to finish them?
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