Butcher Block Counters

Marian ParsonsKitchen, Miscellaneus, My House47 Comments

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about my dream for our kitchen.  I wanted to do a little something like this…

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Now, I fully acknowledged then (and now) that there wasn’t a darn thing wrong with that kitchen.  The cabinets were a pretty hickory and the laminate counters were in great condition, the layout is awesome and even the linoleum floors were very nice.  It just wasn’t my taste.  I like cool colors…blues and whites.  And everything about this kitchen was earth-toned and beige and just didn’t feel like me.

So, one day I got the paint and the hardware and started to transform the space.



I got the paint and hardware through my partnership with True Value (it was my first year on their Blog Squad).  The floor was provided by Home Depot to promote the Dal-Tile line.  I was so happy with how dramatic the transformation was with just the paint, hardware and floor.  I was even okay with the green laminate counter.  It seemed to work with the new color scheme and almost looked like stone.


Then I was asked to pitch some DIY ideas for kitchens to one of my editors at HGTV.com.  Mmmm…well, butcher block counters would be nice.  I asked Jeff if he would be on board if I pitched that project and he was.  Oh, and a custom range hood would look great, too.  Let’s throw that idea in as well!  And while we’re doing all of that, we might as well put in the marble backsplash.

So, through the freelance projects, we were able to put the icing on the cake, so to speak.  The counters, backsplash and range hood took the kitchen to a new level and I wouldn’t change a thing.  And that’s saying a lot for me!


This post is about the counters, though.

We bought the Walnut Butcher Block counters from Lumber Liquidators.  It was about $1500 for the butcher block for all of our counters and we have a lot of counter!  We needed three 8′ lengths and one 12′ length.  Each piece come in one large, unfinished slab.  We routed the exposed edges with an ogee bit, cut out the hole for the under-mount sink, cut the pieces to size, applied a finish and installed the counters ourselves.  It’s a very doable DIY project , but there were some tense moments when we were trying to install the “L” shaped counter with peninsula.   You can read a full tutorial on those steps HERE.

I don’t mention the specific finish we used, because I’m not supposed to promote brands in the articles.  I used a finish called Waterlox and it is one reason the counters look so amazing.  I did not stain them, but applied the Original Waterlox finish directly to the counter.  I just followed the instructions that came with the product.  It’s about an eleven day process to apply four coats (and you need all four coats) and allow it to cure.  This is a stinky product with a 24 hour dry time, so it’s really best done in a workshop space.

I chose that product, because it’s the best of an oil and a polyurethane all in one.  It penetrates like an oil, but gives a nice, hard finish like a poly.


When we first installed them, I babied them.  I put felt pads on the bottom of all of the accessories and wiped up every drop of water as soon as possible.  As the months have gone by, though, I’ve learned these counters can take the same abuse my laminate ones could.  They handle oatmeal splatters, dried yogurt, craft projects, hot leftovers directly from the microwave, puddles from enthusiastic dish washing…all of it.  There are some dings and dents here and there, but I know I can always give them a light sanding and apply another coat of Waterlox to make them like new if ever that’s needed.  I do always use a cutting board, but I did that anyway.


I clean them with the cleaner made by Waterlox.  I ordered a bottle last summer when we started on the counters and I have only used about half of it, so it goes a long way and works well.


So, if you’re needing new counters and considering butcher block and you want my opinion…I give them two enthusiastic thumbs up.  I love how they look and how they function and they were a fraction of the cost of stone.


 I couldn’t help but sneak my ironstone cake plate into the shoot.  🙂

Butcher Block Counters

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47 Comments on “Butcher Block Counters”

  1. The counters are really beautiful. Does the shine seem quite resistant to scratches? I just know we’d be really hard on them, and I wonder how they’d hold up.
    I was the one that mentioned the brightness of the photos, I wonder if it is just my, not as good as they used to be, nearing sixty year old eyes. I find your third picture in today’s post, just perfect, the white looks nice and white, but is not as blinding as the next picture where you show the new counters. In the third picture I can see more details, in the fourth, a lot of them are washed out. Okay, I’ve done enough complaining about it…moving on!:)

    1. Hi Karen,

      I’ve had the same issues with the brightness of some of the photos and 60 year old eyes until I, just now, moved my laptop screen down a bit…what a difference…amazing! The whites are great and the colours pop! The limes made my mouth water and the grain of the counter really shows up.

  2. I never get tired of looking at pictures of your kitchen – it’s absolutely my dream kitchen! I’m completely enamored by your counter tops, I even commented on them in your post with updated kitchen pictures. We have a “nothing wrong with it” kitchen that functions well and would suit someone else perfectly fine, but I long for a bright white kitchen that oozes farmhouse appeal. Thank you for letting me daydream in yours!

  3. I have butcher block countertops and I love them! I was nervous about the water by the sink because my in-laws have wrecked theirs around their sink, but we went with a vintage drain board sink and that took care of it. They are much more hardwearing than I thought they would be.

  4. I love you kitchen! We’re are getting ready to install wood counter tops too so, your timing is perfect! I have a question, do you think I can apply the waterlox in our basement or is it too stinky

  5. Alright, Marian, rub it in just a little more! LOL I LOVE LOVE LOVE your counter tops! Really, I, we made the biggest mistake when we had our kitchen redone, we put in quartz. We had wood counter tops for years and we loved them so much. It makes me want to cry when I walk in my kitchen now knowing I could and would love it if I was seeing wood tops instead of quartz! When I see yours it makes me happy and sad. Then to know that you only spent $1500.00 on them just makes me nauseous! Ours was close to $7000.00. Have a beautiful day.

  6. I have noticed since you changed the person who does your postings that there have been mistakes. I never saw a typo when you did this. Don’t mean to criticize, just saying I have noticed this.

    1. I actually still do all of the writing, photography, posting and everything for my blog. I was just tired last night and missed something, but I fixed it this morning.

  7. Marian, your kitchen is so pretty. Like others, I come to your blog often, not only to read all that you have to offer, but simply to take in all of the photos of your beautiful home. It’s funny because I was looking at the befores and afters of your kitchen, and my current kitchen (that I am dying to change up) looks EXACTLY like your before kitchen. Our hickory is on the floor, but we have maple cabinets (that have yellowed badly – ugh!), and I do believe our laminate countertop is the same countertop you had in the befores. White appliances too! I have been thinking about putting butcher block on at least one counter, but would like to actually use the counter as a cutting surface. Do you ever slice and dice directly on the surface? I’m guessing I would need “end-cut” butcher block, as that would probably hold up to knives a little better, but I don’t know. If you or any of your readers have butcher block counters that they use as a cutting surface, I’d love to get some feedback! Have a great weekend 🙂

  8. Love!! I’m sure you’ve answered this before but, where did you get the hardware for your cabinets? That is exactly what I’m looking for. Also, your pot rack? Thank you!! Love your decorating style!

  9. These are beautiful!! We used your tutorial for help deciding what to do for our island. We went with two pieces of butcher block from Lumber Liquidators and it’s seriously what we get the most compliments on when we have company!

  10. Marian, Did you have to piece any of the countertops and if you do what is the correct way to do this? Carla

    1. Yes, we did. We joined the “L” shaped piece that makes our bar. Jeff used pocket hole screws. You can see all of the details in the link to the HGTV tutorial… 🙂 I hope that helps!

  11. How wonderful to see something besides the ubiquitous granite on a countertop.

    Your kitchen is SO beautiful! Hopefully you will inspire others to think outside the box.

  12. simply gorgeous! I always look to your blog for inspiration 🙂 we are literally in the midst of a remodel now (my guys are ripping off old white tile while I blog hop and supervise!). thanks for sharing your gorgeous home!

  13. OMG the counter looks so beautiful!!It takes awhile to finish it but it is worth it. I never thought about this type of counter. What I usually see is marble everywhere. I like the wood. It gives really a warm feeling in the kitchen.

  14. Marian- how many years is my question have u had these. We are building a house and I’m so excited consider these counters for my giant island. PS. Scored 6 chairs like yours before I moved from napa and they are awaiting transformations

  15. Thanks for the link to your HGTV tute! I’ve been wanting to do BB counters but didn’t know where to get the besides the Swedish store! Also, you make it seem doable for me.
    Oh, and you paired it with marble! I was worried how it would look together, looks great!

  16. Ps. Could you show a more close-up shot of the edge of the counter? I can see it a bit in two of the pics but want to get a closer look if possible. Thanks again.

  17. I also have butcher block counters from IKEA – they were SUPER cheap – less than $200 for my kitchen. I stained them dark walnut and I have their white cabinets but I added my own hardware and put in subway tiles and it looks like a million bucks! My husband added crown molding and it is very high end looking. I added some chippy paint shutters to my doorway…hmmmmm….. where did i get that idea? ha ha I also added a french looking chandelier for $125 and hung some ironstone platters on the walls…. now where did I get that idea as well? Ha ha! I am about to make white burlap curtains to finishe it off. I don’t think I will ever get sick of it! Thanks Marian! You are very inspiring!

      1. I don’t have a pinterest board, but when I get the curtains made I will reply to your email with a photo, will that work?

  18. It looks great Marion! We will be redoing our kitchen floor and I’ve always hated our laminate counter and backsplash. The way it was installed makes it almost impossible to redo unless you tear out all the custom made cabinets. 🙁

    1. Are you sure? It should be possible to unscrew the countertop or pry it up carefully off the cabinets from underneath. I would consult with a reputable handyman/countertop installer. A lot of shows on TV show people ripping everything out with a sledgehammer, but you can demo a lot of things using a power screwdriver or a small prybar.
      My own countertops appear to be glued down, I am just going to pry them up or hit them from the bottom up (after detaching everything like the dishwasher, sink, etc. and I expect them to come right off. Get a pro to help if you aren’t sure what to do;)

  19. We’re doing butcher block in our kitchen renovation. I’m so excited! I think we’re going with the lighter more variegated/rustic and cheapest butcher block option from Lumber Liquidators. It was my favorite and just happens to be cheaper because of the variation in wood tones!! Score! We plan on just sealing them too and have saved your post on Waterlox. I’ll be sure to shoot you an email if I have any questions. Your counters turned out so beautiful!

  20. Glad you still love your counters, I ordered the LL cherry butcher block a few days ago for the kitchenette in my daylight basement.

  21. Love the kitchen too I have the same blue and white canisters were my grandmother’s the counters are beautiful

  22. Your kitchen is lovely as is your entire house. What color are your walls in thekitchen? I love the tile and would like it in bathroom as well as kitchen. You, my dear, are awesome in what you have accomplished!

  23. LOVE! I have a galley type kitchen that hasn’t been touched in 27 years. Can we say, way over due for a fashionable functioning kitchen? Yes please! I’ve been leaning toward butcher block counters but my fear of going from tile to butcher block scared me. Not any more. I’ll be at Lumber Liquidators Monday morning. Thanks for the inspiration as well as practical advice for sealing the counter tops. BTW…I’m totaling going to paint my end wall with chalkboard paint. Our youngest is 15 but I still think it would be an awesome addition. Thank you!

  24. I have these same countertops from Lumber Liquidators and also used Waterlox to seal them–several coats of original and then one with a more matte finish for the final coat or two (forgot the name of their matte finish). We have had them almost SIX years now! I still love them and they have held up well. The only big oops area happened when I left a bottle of dishwasher detergent upside-down on the counter overnight, trying to get enough detergent for one more load of dishes. The detergent leaked and overflowed onto the counter, sat on the surface for hours and bleached out a conspicuous circle about 2″ across. I’m sure I could sand/reseal with waterlox, but it is so stinky I worry about using it indoors (we did the initial sealing on our porch). Thankfully, the bottle had been propped up against the backsplash near the sink, so I moved the paper towels over to hide it for now. So–word to the wise–if you use these counters leave your detergent in the sink to get that last little bit out!!

  25. Hello!! Wanted to let you know I met your Aunt Susie today!! She came into SuzAnna’s Antiques and we chatted for a few minutes!! Very nice lady! Hope you have a chance to come down soon and see some of the changes we have done.

  26. I could look at your kitchen photos everyday and enjoy the tour! You, Jeff and your Dad did a fabulous job! I love hearing about the butcher block counters and their durability. Might consider that in our next home.
    Just last week I was showing my husband your house tour and he remarked on your kitchen and how great it looked.
    Thanks for sharing all of your ideas and tips!

  27. Marian, I love your kitchen. Those countertops add so much character and warmth to the white loveliness of the space. And isn’t it such a satisfaction knowing you did almost all the work on that kitchen yourselves?! That’s what I remind myself of when it takes us so long to get things finished on our house – we are doing it ourselves and that is very rewarding!

  28. Love seeing butcher block counters in a real kitchen! We just renovated our kitchen and put butcher block in, but we’re still definitely in the babying stage. I read A TON about finishing and opted to go with Rockler’s Salad Bowl FInisher instead of Waterlox, but I love knowing that if it’s not working as well as we want it to, I can just sand them and refinish them.

  29. Love your updated kitchen and how you ‘keep it real’ by only doing what you can accomplish within your budget. Question: Noticed your beautiful pots and pans…how do you keep them so shiney especially the copper?

  30. Hi Marian! I’m sure you are extraordinarily busy with shipping out your lookbooks (which I cannot WAIT to receive, by the way!). But I had a quick question about the butcher block countertops. I recently installed them and followed all of your instructions to the letter. But I’m finding that they get scratched and “dented” very easily. All of these scratches and indentations are bugging me, but I’m not sure what to do? Have you experienced this, and if so—any brilliant quick-fixes or tips? Would love to know your experience since you’ve had them longer…thanks! ~Tania

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