So far in this little durability review series, we’ve talked about updating cabinets by painting them and going industrial with concrete countertops — now we’re going a little more rustic with about butcher block and wood countertop reviews!
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.
This post contains affiliate links. Learn more and read our full disclosure policy here.
Wood and Butcher Block Countertop Reviews
Jill’s Herringbone Wood Countertops
Jill recently DIYed her herringbone wood countertops in her kitchen makeover — and they are stunning! See the full tutorial here at The Rozy Home.
“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’s DIY Butcherblock Countertops
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 at Keeping It Cozy.
“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’s IKEA Butcherblock Countertops
Vanessa installed IKEA beech butcherblock countertops with an undermount sink in her kitchen over 6 years ago. She sealed it with Waterlox, and they still look great! See the full tutorial here at 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’s Wood Countertops from Wood Flooring
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 at Domestic Imperfection.
“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 DIY White-Washed Maple Countertops
Tanya from Dans Le Lakehouse built and stained her own white-washed maple kitchen countertops (with some help from her woodworker father-in-law) nearly 2 years ago — aren’t the gorgeous in her kitchen?
“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.
Peggy’s Wood Flooring Countertops
Peggy from PJH Designs shared her wood countertops with us over 3 years ago — she made her own countertops using wood flooring! “I replaced my laminate countertops with oak flooring laying it out in the same pattern I would have used when installing them on the floor, and then finishing them out with oak trim. I then used a hand sander and gave them a super smooth finish. Finally, I applied a thick epoxy finish to the entire top making sure to cover all the side trim. When I finished it had beautiful, glossy, oak countertops!”
“The shiny finish has held up extremely well, as a matter of fact on a scale from one to five with one being terrible and five being excellent I would give them a four! These countertops have been extremely durable. The only problem I had was sliding my coffee pot back and forth everyday to make coffee was leaving scratches. So I simply set the coffee maker on a piece of dark cabinet liner, or you could simply be sure to lift it up each time instead of sliding.”
YES, Peggy would “definitely build more countertops like these in the future” and she rates them as a 5: “I expect the ones I have to last for many years to come.”
Peggy’s tips: I would recommend also that you watch for wear from water around the sink and keep it sealed well with silicone sealer to prevent the finish from wearing away.
Amanda’s DIY Wide Plank Wood Countertops
Amanda made her own wide plank butcherblock countertops for her kitchen nearly 3 years ago. She used 8″ and 6″ red oak boards to build the countertop, which was then installed, stained, and polyed (plus cut-out for an undermount sink). Full details here at Simply Maggie.
“The counter tops have help up perfectly! I haven’t bothered to shop for any specific cleaning products for wood, I tend to just buy whatever multi-surface cleaner is on sale. And I should add that I am not that easy on them. They have endured some spills, hot pans and dropping of kitchen items with no damage after about 3 years.”
YES, Amanda says, “I would use this technique again and actually plan to use it for the bathroom counter when we remodel our second bathroom. Almost everyone who has entered my home has commented on my counter tops and I always recommend them if you are looking for something durable, budget friendly, and unique!” She rates the countertops as a 5 (Amazing! I expect them to last for many more years).
Crumbs may be an issue for some, but I just use the brush attachment on my Dyson to vacuum up any that get left behind in the cracks.
I haven’t had any water issues around the sink, but if you are worried than simply use a clear silicone to fill in any gaps that may concern you.
I haven’t had to yet, but after another few years of use I may lightly sand and re-polyurethane the counters to keep them looking vibrant.
Erica’s $200 Wood Countertops
Erica created her own wood countertops nearly a year ago, using sheet lumber which was stained and then polyed. Full details here at On Bliss Street.
“Our countertops have held up amazingly! To clean, I use a homemade cleanser, here is the link to my post with the recipe, that never fails and is very gentle on the finish. Since I was very careful when applying the polyurethane finish, it’s as smooth as can be and easy to clean. The polyurethane is still in the exact condition now as it was the day I installed almost a year ago and we do NOT baby our counters! The only problem is that I have a ten year old who puts away dishes, so there are a few little divots in the wood where he has dropped a dish here and there, but the finish is perfect even on those.”
Erica says, YES, she would use this method again, “Absolutely! In fact, I already have helped a friend to install their own counters in the same exact manner. She also has a ton of kids always messing up the kitchen and the counters still look perfect!”
She rates the counters as a 5 (Amazing), “definitely a 5. I couldn’t be happier with them. I think the multiple coats of polyurethane/sanding/polyurethane really made all the difference.”
Erica’s tips: Read more in her updated post about how her countertops are holding up.
Kaylor’s Butcherblock Kitchen Countertops
We featured Kaylor’s small cute kitchen here awhile back, and the butcherblock looks wonderful! Kaylor DIYed her countertops using pre-made butcher block that just needed to be stained/sealed (she used Waterlox), cut, and installed. Get all the details here at Fisherman’s Wife Furniture.
“Putting butcher block in as our main countertop made me extremely nervous. I only knew of butcher block being used on islands or as a cutting surface. There were many questions and concerns I had to address before making the final decision; I follow a clean eating, healthy diet and cook most meals from scratch. Also, I work from home so most days I cook/prep breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks. Knowing that my countertops would have to endure lots of daily use and Sunday meal preps, I was nervous about the butcher block handling the wear and tear.
Another fear was watermarks. Lots of research went into my decision and one of the most mentioned problems was the countertop being sensitive to water and other liquids. Especially, citrus and other juices. It has been almost two years since we finished the makeover and I am very impressed with the butcher block. It has held up beautifully. No major damage or liquid/watermarks. There are a few “dents” around my sink where my heavy cast irons sometimes bump. They are only noticeable when the light hits the countertop just right. Other than that, it looks just as good as it did day one.
I will confess that butcher block has forced us to be super clean in the kitchen. Its only fair to say that one of the reasons our butcher block has stayed nice is because we have taken very good care of it. I do take extra care to make sure the counter is always clean and dry. Nothing hot, cold, wet or dirty is allowed to sit on the counter for an extended period of time. After we wash our hands, there is always a dry, clean rag next to the sink that is used to wipe up any water droplets that land on the counter. For clean up after cooking, I use Lysol or Clorox wipes to kill germs and pick up any food and dirt. Then I go back over with a dry, clean rag so there is no moisture sitting on the countertop. Once or twice a week I wipe it down with Pledge multi surface cleaner. Again, my last step is to always wipe with a dry, clean cloth. These simple steps have kept the countertops looking like new after two years of heavy use. For some, the necessity to be this particular is a negative but it works for us.
Overall, I could not be happier with the countertops and I can’t imagine any other countertop surface in the kitchen.”
YES, Kaylor would use this technique again “definitely. Especially for DIYers on a budget. We saved thousands of dollars going with butcher block and installing ourselves. It has proven to be durable even with heavy daily use.” She rates the sealed butcher block countertop as a 4 (Great) for durability. “Only reason I am not rating as a 5 is because of the extra care needed to keep it looking new.”
Kaylor’s tips: Read more in her tutorial here.
More DIY Project Reviews
Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.