Butcher Block Counters

Marian ParsonsKitchen, Miscellaneus, My House

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Butcher Block Counters

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