Thanks for popping in today. Since it has been six months since we finished staining my butcher block counters, I thought I’d share what we stained them with, how easy it was, and how they are holding up. Spoiler Alert: We still love the butcher block!
A little backstory first. The butcher block was part of our kitchen refresh project for the One Room Challenge. We were looking to replace our 17-year-old Formica countertops. They were worn and in dire need of replacement; you can see them here. From the moment we bought this house, I knew that I wanted to add butcher block counters to the kitchen. I love the warmth that wood brings to a room, and they are a very affordable countertop option. It was a bonus that we could easily DIY them ourselves, and I wasn’t worried about the upkeep as we are empty nesters, which means our kitchen doesn’t receive nearly the daily wear and tear it once did. Plus, you can easily sand and restain butcher block if you do encounter a serious problem!
Installation of the countertops went fairly well (says she that did not have to cut for the sink twice). The problem was I procrastinated (remember we were on a deadline for the challenge), and I didn’t realize it would take over two weeks to have the countertops shipped to our Lake House. So our only options were to look at the big box stores to meet the challenge deadline. Luckily we ended up finding the sizes we needed at Menards. They were only available in birch (solid wood but lighter than I wanted), But I thought, hey, okay, I’m flexible. Insert laughter here if you don’t know me well.
–A side note if you are buying from a big box store, lay them on the ground to make sure they are not warped. We had to return two of ours that was horribly warped when we went to cut them. We learned to pull them off the shelf on the final visit and lay them flat on the floor to check for warpage.
Once installed, I was SOOO excited! I had the beautiful wood I wanted (YAY), but the color of the birch wood was off. The natural light birch color, which I usually like, was driving me crazy in the space. I kept trying to talk myself into loving them in their natural state, but I just didn’t. NOTE: Plenty of people simply seal their countertops with mineral oil and keep them natural. If you’d like to keep yours in their natural state, I have found the Boos Mineral Oil to be my favorite way to keep them looking gorgeous.
I knew I had to prep the countertops before going any further, so I conditioned them with Howard’s butcher block conditioner. I simply applied with inexpensive sponge brushes and let it set.
My next step was to fill in all the cracks where the countertops have seams. For this, I used the wood shavings from where we had cut the countertops and added wood glue. I just mixed it in a plastic bag and applied it using my finger. I then used the edge of a butter knife to scrape off any excess. This mixture, once stained, blends into the same color as the top. It works like a charm. The seams are a little darker, but they have the same wood tones.
After several days of google research, I decided to try Dark Tung Oil to darken the wood. I applied it right over the wiped-off wood conditioner. I was trying to keep the counter’s food safe which is a concern for me. It seemed like a great solution. And I have to say….they were darker. But they also pulled a bit orange (which I think is from the birch). this is after I applied 4 coats here.
Pretty but still not what I was looking for. I went back to researching more options. Just when I was about to give up, I must have typed a new combination into google, and this AMAZING product popped up Rubio Monocoat. Now I am the first to admit it’s not cheap, but it works! And once dried is foodsafe. Win, Win!
What is sooo amazing about Monocoat, you ask? Well, for one, it’s food-safe once dry, comes in over twenty colors, and only takes ONE COAT! I ordered two samples, the Black and the Walnut. I ended up mixing the Walnut with just a touch of Black added (I tend to mix stains to get the results I want), and here is the final color. (Excuse me for a second as I am still happy dancing). The photo below makes them look a little more orange than the photo above it is the lighting. They are slightly but not that off. 🙂
After six months of use, we are delighted with how they are holding up. I have touched them up (I don’t bother to mix the two colors; I simply used the Walnut) a time or two for nicks but mostly use boos mineral oil every few months when they start to look a bit dry. I put the mineral oil on and let it sit overnight, and wipe off the excess in the am. It doesn’t feel like a lot of upkeep. I do make sure we have a cutting board handy at all times 🙂
We are so happy with them we will add them to our rentals when we need to replace them.
Updated June 12, 2021: We loved how these turned out so much we added them to the recent Airbnb renovation we did. I went a tiny bit lighter in color on these (not as much black) because the entire space is light and bright, but I love them also! Both of the countertops are holding up very well!
Until next time,
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A bonus pic for the cuteness factor!