Wood countertops add warmth, texture, and charm to a kitchen or bath in a way that not many other materials can! Wood does require careful sealing and/or special treatment to keep it looking nice. Butcher block is meant to be cut on and needs to be treated differently, whereas non-butcherblock wood countertops can be sealed to be completely to lock out any moisture that might cause damage. See what these bloggers’ experiences tell you about whether or not wood countertops are right for you.
Wood and Butcher Block Countertop Reviews
Jill | The Rozy Home
Jill recently DIYed her herringbone wood countertops in her kitchen makeover — and they are stunning! See the full tutorial here.
“I created the countertops using 2″ white oak and cut them into small blocks. I placed the blocks into a herringbone pattern and finished them with a white wash pattern. I think that with wood counters, you have to really stay on top of them. I’m terrible about not following behind my kids with a sponge so sometimes it takes a bit to find messes. When I do find them, a simple scrub and they are good to go. Note: I put 3 coats of Watco on the back countertops and only 2 on the front. I honestly think the island could use about 4 or 5 because of its constant use.”
YES, Jill would do this again, and she rated her countertops as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Jill’s tips: If you are doing this on an island with a sink, start at the sink area first. The sink was the last section we did and there wasn’t enough wood to support it the first time, so we had to go back and redo the pattern in that area to give the sink support.
Andrea | Keeping It Cozy
Andrea made her own butcherblock countertops for her kitchen four years ago, using reclaimed wood, salad bowl finish, and plenty of hard work! She shared the tutorial with us here as well. And her country style kitchen is gorgeous — see more here.
“After using our butcher block countertops for the past four years, I can’t imagine having another type of countertop material. Our countertops have only become better with age. The regular use and cleaning has left them darker in appearance and extremely smooth. The best part about butcher block countertops is that if you ever have a ding or a burn mark, you can so easily sand it out and reapply a sealer.”
YES, Andrea says, “Absolutely I would recommend this to a friend, and have done so many times! The material is extremely durable, beautiful and natural. The only maintenance is sanding if needed and resealing every 3-6 months.”
Andrea rates the durability as a 5 (Amazing. I expect this to last for many years.)
Andrea’s tips: Here’s a post I wrote a couple years ago on sealing and maintaining butcher block countertops. Another great product if you’d like to go the more natural route, is citrus solvent and tung oil (like this). A good source for affordable butcher block is Ikea. Since our original post, we added some additional countertop and cabinet space and used a solid oak butcher block from Ikea, which we’ve been very happy with.
Vanessa | This and That
“We have had the countertop for 6 years now. I feel like it has held up pretty good. In the past 2 years they have gotten a lot more wear and in the past 6 months I can see the result of that. Around the built in soap dispenser there have been some places that soap has dripped out and sat overnight and it looks like it has eaten the water lox off. There is one other area of the counter that looks like this and it is where I unknowingly dripped some Dawn Ultra Concentrated and didn’t clean it up. I think it is the Dawn in a non diluted state because nothing else has done this to the counters. They are getting a little dull so I plan on applying a fresh coat of Waterlox in the winter.”
YES, Vanessa would (and has) done this again! “This is our 2nd time having these countertops. 9 years total and if we got new countertops tomorrow I would do the same thing.” She rates the durability is a 4 (Great) and “other than the Dawn spots I would rate as a 5.”
Vanessa’s tips: Read more in her blog post here — including great details about installing the undermount sink.
Ashley | Domestic Imperfection
Ashley made a new countertop for her upcycled dresser vanity nearly 3 years ago, using unfinished wood flooring (which was sealed with tung oil finish, and then later stained and sealed with polycrylic). Full details here.
“It has held up okay. We installed it about 2 1/2 years ago and it still looks good and does it’s job, but it needs to be sanded down and refinished. The sealer is getting kinda foggy and the countertop isn’t as smooth as it once was. Plus I accidentally burned it a bit with a flat iron.”
Ashley says YES, she would do this again. “This countertop is certainly budget friendly and I think it looks pretty great, and if the if the sealer did a better job I don’t think there would be any issues.”She rates the vanity top as a 3 (Good. It does its job.)
Ashley’s tips: Choose your sealer carefully. In our kitchen there we have butcher block countertops and sealed them with Waterlox, and they are holding up much much better. (You can read about those here and here).
Tanya | Dans Le Lakehouse
“The maple countertops were sealed with Campbell Krystal High-Solids Conversion Varnish (in Semi-Glass), which is an incredibly durable finish favored by my woodworker father-in-law. At first I was nervous about how it would hold up because it’s not what I saw other DIYers use for their wood counters, but more than a year later the counters still look so beautiful! They still have a great sheen and have held up to my compulsive cleaning.
There are a few very light scratches here and there but they’re in the varnish – not the wood, so the varnish is doing its job and protecting the wood! I’m to blame, as I have been pretty rough with the counters: messily baking, cooking, crafting, and using the kitchen as a mini photo studio for DIY projects – videos for a brand have even been filmed in my kitchen, using my counters as a backdrop for some props and styling. When I enter the house, my purse and anything in my hands normally gets dumped there. Plus we don’t use coasters or placemats. They see a lot of wear and I know I should be more careful with them but I can’t help but live in my house!
So far (knock on wood, haha), we’ve only had a couple of problems: first, a careless friend sliced into the counter with a knife and that left a small nick that went through the varnish into the wood. I was livid – we always use a huge cutting board to avoid this kind of tragedy. Second, we didn’t use the magic varnish for sealing around the hole we cut for the sink. Because that varnish is applied with a sprayer, the surface was finished at my father-in-law’s woodworking studio but we cut the sink hole in place and instead of hauling it back out to my father-in-law’s, we used a lesser quality brush-on varnish. Unfortunately, this laziness meant that there has been a tiny bit of water seepage, which has created a couple tiny areas of crazing. Once we noticed, we stopped slopping water around like horses at a trough and no more damage has accrued. Truly, the damage is teeny-tiny, but I notice it and it reminds me that we goofed up every day.”
Tanya rates the countertop durability as a 5 (Amazing!) says YES, she would recommend this — with an IF — “We were in a unique situation that we could make such gorgeous and unique solid maple counters, thanks to my father-in-law who helped Hubby build them and who applied the clear coat after I stained them white. The grain of the maple, wider wood planks and the pale, white-washed colour are so unique compared to traditional butcher-block.
But if someone is up for the challenge (or finishing store-bought wood counters), I would definitely recommend the Campbell varnish – even for furniture DIYs! It’s amazing! It didn’t cooperate very well with the water-based stain I used, though – the water base raised the grain too much during the staining process which was a headache, but not insurmountable. I liked the fast dry time of the Saman brand stain I used, so it was a fair trade off.”
Tanya’s tips: Don’t rush the process! I am results-driven and sometimes I rush things to just see the end result because I’m so excited and antsy. Had we taken the time to bring the counters back to have the sink hold treated with the same varnish, I’d be happily reporting NO flaws – save for the slice and dice, courtesy of a friend.