Friday, September 13, 2013

DIY Butcher Block Countertops

January 2016 Update: Visit our new blog www.brianandkaylor.com  


In yesterday's post I talked about how we came to the decision to have butcher block countertops. (Read about it here)  Today I am going to tell you how we did it.



This is a really long post but if you are considering doing butcher block countertops yourself, it is worth the time.



STEP 1:

Decide on which butcher block you want.  At Lumber Liquidators there are four choices in wood type: American Walnut (a little more expensive),  American Cherry,  Maple, and White Oak.  You can stain any of these to achieve the color you want.  I wanted something with natural tones so I went with the American Walnut.  It has natural variation in color and has a warm brown tone without stain that goes well with the rest of our home.  IKEA also has butcher block for purchase but they do not have as many options in types and the longest section they sell is 8 feet.

STEP 2:

Measure to calculate how much to order.  Think about how you are going to connect the different pieces.  If you do a 90 degree connection your lengths might be different than if you do a 45 degree connection.

90 Degree Connection - 2 rectangular pieces put together




45 Degree Connection



Blittle and I both thought the 45 degrees looked more professional and resembled a "normal" countertop the most.  For our kitchen, we ordered one 12 foot section and two 8 foot sections.  These are not carried in stock at Lumber Liquidators so you have to order online or call/visit the store to order.  They were delivered in a week or two so keep that in mind when you are scheduling.  We picked ours up from the store instead of paying for delivery to the house.  They are HEAVY but we moved them on our own so this can be a two person job but a third person would be helpful for extra muscle.

When you open the box and see that it looks rough and there are scratches DON'T FREAK OUT.  There is an obvious right side (top of countertop) and wrong side (bottom of countertop). The bottom is not sanded at all!  Here is what our bottom looked when we opened the box.


You can see some scratches and that it is not very smooth.


Here is the top side.


Definitely smooth!


SIDE NOTE:

Let's talk about prep and protection.  Usually butcher block is wiped down or coated with food friendly Tung oil or other food safe oil. When you use butcher block as a countertop that will be exposed to more water (around a sink and dishwasher) and heat (the oven and stove), it needs to be protected differently.  There is a company called Waterlox that makes products just for wood countertops and wood floors.

I followed these directions I found on the Waterlox website that are specifically for butcher block as a countertop.  These products are not cheap but a little goes a long way.  For our counters I ordered 1 gallon of the Sealer/Finish ($70) and 1 quart of the Original Satin Finish ($36).


STEP 3:

I put 3 coats of Sealer/Finish on the bottom side waiting 24 hours between coats.   Doing this helps protect the bottom from moisture from the dishwasher and under the sink as well as from heat released by the oven and stove.  This will inhance the color immediately.

Bare Wood.




First coat.




STEP 4:

Making cuts.  Obviously everyone's are going to be different but I can tell you what we did.  Our first cuts were for overall length.  Meaning wall to wall or wall to end of the cabinet.  We had three large rectangular pieces that fit in place but now we needed to make the 45 degree cuts.

Using a protractor we measured our 45 degree cuts.  Protractor?  Yes, a huge one.  You find them at Lowes or other hardware stores.  There are large protractors usually used to measure angles for crown moulding.  We measured, measured and re measured our angles.  It was absolutely nerve racking making those first cuts but we finally went for it.  I recommend a new saw blade for this.  Butcher block is thick, heavy and hard on your saw.  Go slow and let the blade do the work.  Sand your cuts smooth.

Why is there tape in the picture?  We put tape on the edges to protect the wood when we were cutting and testing our fit.  Not sure if it did anything but it made me feel better.



Put the pieces in place to check for fit.  Make any length adjustments now.


STEP 5:

Prep for the fasteners.  We used wood fasteners I ordered online and used a router to cut the grooves for them.  To be safe we tested our router depth and size.  We made a template out of plywood and tested it on scrap butcher block before we worked on the real countertops. We laid the counters on the floor next to each other, upside down, lining them up like they would be when they were installed.  We decided to do 3 fasteners at each joint.  We traced the template then used the router to make the grooves.  (I can't find pictures of this step for some reason.  Sorry.  I guess I forgot to take some.  DUH.)






STEP 6:

Now install and fasten.  Put your counters in place on the cabinets.  You might have to do something adjustments but things should fit well.  Be sure to look at the corners lining up and check to see if they are level.  Ours were pretty easy and we did not have to do much adjusting.

SIDE NOTE:

We had to install our sink BEFORE we could install the counters.  Due to the sink's size and location and our cabinet size and plumbing, our under mount sink could not be installed after the counters.  If you have a drop in this should not be a problem, but if you have an under mount please keep this in mind.








Here are the fasteners under the counter installed and tightened.  


STEP 7:

Filling cracks and evening out joints.  Since we had walnut counter tops I bought walnut filler and I mixed it with some saw dust that I saved (there will be plenty!  just put it in a ziploc until you are ready to use it).  This causes the seam to have color variation just like the rest of the counter and not just a single colored seam.  After it is filled, sand smooth.




Seam before its filled



Seam after its filled.



STEP 8:

Sealing with Waterlox.  If you would like to stain your countertops, do it BEFORE Waterlox.  I chose not to but it is an option.  Apply the stain like you would to any surface.  Wait at least 8 hours for it to dry then apply your coats of sealer.  I used a Wooster stain brush to apply the coats.  Be sure to clean it well after each use.  I put 4 coats of the sealer/finish  (5 around the sink and faucet) and 3 coats of the Satin finish.  Yes, I waited 24 hours after each coat and yes, I sanded between each with 400 grit paper.  I do recommend waiting the 7 days after your final coat for heavy usage.  Although the countertop will be dry, it is not be fully cured and can not handle everyday use yet.  BE PATIENT.
















STEP 9:

ENJOY!  It was a lot of work but we used less than half our countertop budget and were able to put the money saved towards splurges like a counter depth refrigerator and double ovens.  I am extremely happy with the butcher block and even though it wasn't my first choice, now I can't imagine any other countertop in the space.





Click here to see more pictures of the finished kitchen.




44 comments:

  1. Hi Kaylor, Thanks for sharing your process. It's very helpful to see pictures. I have a few questions. Did you use a palm sander for preparing for the waterlox? I know their site says to use 100 or 150 grit sand paper. Also, it looks like you left the front edge square which looks very nice, but wondering how it is holding up. We wondered if rounding it a bit with a router might be keep it from getting bumped or dented. Thank you! dkr

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    Replies
    1. Hi. I hand sanded with 220 then 320 in the direction of the grain. When you get your countertop, the pretty side is already is already smooth and doesn't need a lot of sanding. Palm/electric sanders can mark up the wood if you are not careful so I didn't even try it. I used 320 between each Waterlox coat.

      We thought about routering the edge to make it pretty and fancy but then decided against it. The square edge looks great and is holding up fine.

      Delete
  2. Thank you! That was very helpful. I was questioning the palm sander, so we are going to go with the hand sanding and leave the handsome square edge. I am so looking forward to the beautiful walnut counters. dkr

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  3. This is STUNNING!!!!!! And you did a fantastic job at explaining the whole process. Please come share this on DIY Sunday Showcase, a party I cohost. It's open now!!

    Shelly
    minettesmaze.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting! I just posted it.

      Delete
    2. YEAH!!! I'm deff posting this to our board!!!!!! Thanks for sharing and be sure to come back!!

      Shelly from MinettesMaze

      Delete
  4. Hi! Could you tell me approximately how many days the seal and installation process took? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Diana. Cutting the butcher block and installing it could be done in a weekend as long as your cabinets are already prepped for the new counter and you have everything you need. We tackled this project during the week so most of it was done after my husband got home from work. It took us 3 or 4 evenings, working a few hours each time to get everything cut and installed. Each coat of waterlox needs 24 hours to dry between coats. I did 4 coats of the sealer and 3 coats of satin finish so it took a week for that plus I didn't let anyone near it for 2 days after the final coat :) I was a little paranoid. I hope that helps you. Let me know if you have anymore questions. I am happy to help any way I can.

      I checked out your blog. Love it.

      Delete
  5. Could you tell me where you ordered the connectors? I'm trying to source them now.

    Thanks!

    -jennifer

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    Replies
    1. Hi. This is the link to the fasteners I used. http://www.wwhardware.com/deerwood-joint-fasteners-sc29

      Delete
  6. In some photos your counters (beautiful by the way) look lighter than in others. I am consider butcher block over cherry cabinets and was thinking lighter. Is there a wood or something specific I might need to do to keep it lighter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi. The color difference has to do with lighting in my pictures. My counters are darker but that is what I wanted. They are American Walnut which is a naturally darker wood. Lumber Liquidators offers several types of wood for butcher block with walnut being the darkest. You will want to go with one of the lighter woods. Probably maple or oak. All of the countertops are stainable so if you think the oak or maple is too light you can stain. Keep in mind that if you use Waterlox to seal your countertops, it will darken them slightly. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  7. Your counter are GORGEOUS! We just totally remodeled our kitchen and got rid of our butcher block counter and got new soap stone. Now I'm kicking myself for not refinishing and keeping them. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Paula. Thanks for visiting. I love the butcher block but soap stone is great too and very durable. We looked into getting it but now that I have the butcher block, I can't imagine anything else feeling right in that space.

      Delete
  8. Hi! I'm getting read to start my counters this weekend. We have a similar layout. As I'm trying to go over everything in my head, I'm wondering how I'm going to install these fasteners. Did you fasten the 3 pieces of block together and then install it as one piece? Or were you able to reach the fasteners underneath, through the cabinets? I don't know if we'd be able to lift these counter tops into place as one piece--they're so heavy! But it also seems like it'd be difficult to get the fasteners to tighten down in place if I were reaching through the cabinets. Any advice? Thanks for sharing this tutorial and I hope mine will come out looking as beautiful as yours have!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Allison. We used the router to make the insets before we installed but fastened afterwards. There was no way we could carry it as one huge piece. The way our cabinets are laid out, we were able to reach the fasteners from underneath reaching through a cabinet door after all three pieces were in place. It was awkward and not comfortable but it didn't take long and you only have to do it once. Good luck. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

      Delete
  9. We are considerring doing this. Thank you for the inspiration and making it look feasible! One question: Are these heat resistant?

    ReplyDelete
  10. We're about to embark on butcher block countertops as well. How are yours holding up? Any issues so far?

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    Replies
    1. Hi. They are holding up well. I cook almost every night so our kitchen is definitely a used space. You do have to be more careful with them than other countertops but it hasn't been a problem for us.

      Delete
  11. Your countertop looks amazing. We did something similar also using waterlox. We applied 3 coats of sealer and 2 top coat --just because it looked better--. we've had the piece in the garage for more than a month and I don't think the finish has cured --I can still scratch it using my finger nail--. How long it took your piece to cure before installing it?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi, we've stained our butcher block in the basement (not yet installed) and I'm have questions about once we get to sealing it. In sealing the underside first, would you flip the counters over or simply seal them while it's right side up? I'm afraid of marring the stain if we flip it over, but I'm not sure if it's possible to seal from the bottom. And as far as how toxic the fumes are, would we be ok doing it in the basment, or do we need to do it outside?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Hannah. If you have it up on a saw horse or something similar so you can get under it, I don't see why you couldn't seal it from underneath. If the stain is dry, flipping shouldn't be a problem either. Just put some blankets down to protect it. I used Waterlox to seal and the fumes are pretty strong. I did a few coats after the countertops were installed and had to put a fan in the window as well as open other windows and doors. As long as you have a way to ventilate and get fresh air in the basement, it shouldn't be too bad.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for your answer.

      My latest question is regarding the seams. Where we had to seam two pieces together, the wood glue apparently lightened the wood and is showing through after two coats of stain. We had them sanded down well, so I'm not sure what to do. Should we sand those spots down again and try to restain, or would the entire countertop need to be re-sanded?

      Thank you!

      Delete
    3. Thanks so much for your answer.

      My latest question is regarding the seams. Where we had to seam two pieces together, the wood glue apparently lightened the wood and is showing through after two coats of stain. We had them sanded down well, so I'm not sure what to do. Should we sand those spots down again and try to restain, or would the entire countertop need to be re-sanded?

      Thank you!

      Delete
  13. hii.
    I really appreciate your tips. It is a butcher block countertops are very interesting and beautiful are also decorative.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Kaylor,
    I just emailed you about featuring this on Remodelaholic -- but I thought I'd leave a comment, too, since sometimes my emails get caught up in spam filters. :) Drop me a line at hello@remodelaholic.com please!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your counters are beautiful! My husband & I are getting ready to install a butcher block countertop on our island. I have read & read, and read more blogs about this than I ever wanted to, lol! The one thing I cannot find is information on the actual installation of the countertop. Can you tell me how you did yours? My husband is talking about screwing it to the cabinets from the underside & using Liquid Nails in spots where a screw won't work. Any tips?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi. We just set our butcher block on top of the cabinets. There was discussion of trying to screw them in or use liquid nails but they are so heavy and when we put them in place, they were extremely sturdy as is. We decided to not bother with screwing them in or using any glue. We figured we could always add more support if needed. Two years later, they haven't moved. :)

      I hope that helps. Good luck!

      Delete
  16. I love your backsplash is that regular glass single subway tile? if so, care to share where you purchased them?

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    Replies
    1. Hi. Thanks. All product details are in the Kitchen Reveal post. http://fishermanswifefurniture.blogspot.com/2014/05/kitchen-reveal-update.html
      It is glass 4x12 subway tile and must be ordered from a distributor. The company name and tile color is in link above. Thanks.

      Delete
  17. Hi, they look beautiful!! Did you order the American grade versus the builder grade on the walnut butcher blocker from LL? I saw both online and they look similar. Thanks!!

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  18. Hey - what's the thickness of the counter top? Thanks!

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  19. Super Blog.
    I read your article, all the informations that you share are benificial for us.
    Your information is very nice about diy countertops

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have not had much luck with Waterlox. With the satin it streaks - I tried the Wooster brush. I also tried an old t-shirt, a t-shirt inside a nylon sock, a sponge brush. Once dried there are streaks. I have sanded and resanded and each and every time I try to redo it there are streaks. Did you have any streaks when you applied the Waterlox?

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have not had much luck with Waterlox. With the satin it streaks - I tried the Wooster brush. I also tried an old t-shirt, a t-shirt inside a nylon sock, a sponge brush. Once dried there are streaks. I have sanded and resanded and each and every time I try to redo it there are streaks. Did you have any streaks when you applied the Waterlox?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Beautiful! Question; do you have to do any maintenance after you seal the wood? We just used butcher block to make a desk and I'm going to stain and seal it, but then is that it? Or do I still need to oil it every so often? Thank you! And thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

    ReplyDelete
  23. لدينا مميزات في خدمات كشف تسربات التي تقدمها شركة ركن البيت التي تكون متخصصة فيها فتعاملك مع شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام لديها امكانيات جيدة يساعدك علي التخلص من مشاكل التسريب التي توجد لديك بسهولة دون التعرض للخطر حيث نمتلك في شركة كشف تسربات بالدمام الامكانيات والفنين المتميزين الذين يقدمون الخدمة بتميز فاذا كنت فى حيرة من امر التسريب الذي يوجد لديك فعليك ان تعلم ان خدماتنا منتشرة في جميع انحاء المملكة مثل خدمات شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض التي تحل لك المشاكل المتكررة المتعلقة بالتسربات فلا داعى للقلق من الان لانك سوف تملك فني جيد منزلك يحل لك كل مشاكل التسربات و كيفية القيام بهذه الخدمة وتذكر ان الحل الامثل فى شركة كشف تسربات بالرياض ان توفر كل الامكانيات التى تساعدك علي حل مشكلاتك

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  24. Your counter looks beautiful. I'm installing the same type next week. I'm nervous about the sink cut out, how did you do yours?

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  25. Amazing post.
    Your blog give best suggestion about countertop transformation.
    affordable diy countertops

    ReplyDelete
  26. They are beautiful! And walnut is my favorite wood.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  28. I love your counter tops. How did they compare in cost to other kitchen counter tops on the market.

    ReplyDelete