Considering Butcher Block for your kitchen? This tutorial on How to Install a Butcher Block Countertop takes you through the process!
I have talked about my kitchen for months now, probably because it has consumed my life this summer. I laugh at the fact that I thought I would have this done in 3 weeks tops! Let’s talk about my FAVORITE part of the kitchen – My Butcher Block Countertop. They make me all warm and fuzzy inside and I just 110% love them. At the end of the post I will give you my take on what it’s like having them, but for now… let’s see how I installed them! Try to ignore the space I forgot to caulk above the dishwasher ;) Still working on all those last little touch-ups!
Let’s talk supplies. Here is what you will need.
Supplies for Installing Butcher Block Countertops
Full Disclosure: I am NOT a proffessional. I am a DIYer whose not afraid to take some risks. If you are uncomfortable with doing this on your own, please hire someone. I cannot replace or be held responsible any of your pieces because you followed this tutorial. This is a GUIDE and some knowledge of tools is required. If you don’t agree with me, don’t do it!
MORE disclosures: Please read this post ENTIRELY if you plan on using this as a guide. There is a lot of information in here and I share tips along the way. I’m only human and it is possible I could forget something, feel free to ask questions in the comments below.
How to Install a Butcher Block Countertop
Before we jump straight into the tutorial, I want to talk about my countertop first. I ended up ordering mine from Lumber Liquidators after much much research. They offer several different types of wood and I ended up going with the Builder’s Maple butcher block countertop. I have to say I LOVE it! It is exactly the style I was looking for without having to stain it. While I don’t plan on cutting food on my countertop they are food safe, which was important to me.
Ok, now we can get to business. When you first open your box one side will not be as pretty as the other and you will see some wood filler. Don’t panic, this is the bottom!!!
Measure and Prepare Butcher Block
Pull the countertops out and we are going to measure for the cuts. If possible, put them in place while measuring. You only get one cut and well… this is an expensive piece of lumber ;).
**TIP: it’s better to make it too long than too short, just keep that in mind when pushing that saw through your wood!
After you have measured 14 times at least, take it back outside and prepare for your cut. I should probably mention, you will be carrying these back and forth quite a bit, unless you are the world’s most confident measure-er and you don’t think this step is necessary… for us, totally worth it!
Cutting the Butcher Block
When cutting, I put the bottom of the counter facing up since this side is more likely to splinter. You can also add some masking tape where you will be making your cut to help reduce this.
Create a fence of sorts to MAKE SURE you are going as straight as humanly possible. Go slow and make sure you are cutting on the right side of your line. Support the piece that will fall off with some foam board underneath or have someone hold it in place so when you get to the end it doesn’t rip off a chunk of your beautiful counters. Slow and steady wins the race!!
Once you are done, do NOT throw away or blow your sawdust off! SAVE IT! You will need it for when you are putty-ing up your seams!
Once all your cuts are done you are going to sand that baby down! First with an 80 grit, then 150, then finally 220. You want this countertop smooth as a baby’s bottom!! When you think you are done, sand it again! : )
**TIP: when cutting where to pieces meet up, make sure you measure at the front, middle and back. There might be a slight angle and you NEED to take this into account when cutting. Adjust your fence if necessary to accommodate for any angles. This needs to fit as tightly as possible
Measure and Cut the Sink Hole
Next comes the sink hole. I wish I could give you detailed instructions here, but each sink is different. If you get a new sink then it comes with a template. If you are reusing an old sink then you will need to make your own. My honest opinion is that it’s just better to get a new sink so you can have a template you KNOW will work!
Measure measure measure! I measured, took it off, and re did it to see if I came up with the same lines! This was by FAR the most scary part for me. Cutting a giant hole that cannot be fixed under any circumstances! You need to know what you are doing here!
Once it’s all measured out, you will need to drill pilot holes for the jig saw to have a starting point. I drilled one at each of the corners.
Then using a jig saw, cut out your sink hole. This sounds a lot easier than it is. The wood is THICK. The jig saw will not want to glide through it the way it does on plywood. Just be patient. You might also want to get someone to do it who is excellent with jig saws!
Once that is done take it all inside and make sure everything fits together nicely. Make any necessary adjustments. Once you are satisfied with everything take it back outside and it’s time to make these counters pretty.
How to Seal Butcher Block Countertops
I used Waterlox to finish and seal my counters. This is a food-safe finish that enhances the natural color of your wood. Remember, I have maple… if I were to have say Walnut, it would give you a very dark finish. The type of wood really matters here!
You can see how just the first coat is already changing the color! Now, with Waterlox you do NOT need to sand between each coat. It is self leveling, and I applied 4 coats to the top of my counters following their instructions and 1 coat on the bottom. make sure you do the inside edge of the sink hole as well! You might need more or less. It will just depend. This process takes a while because you have to let each coat dry for 24 hours. It’s hard to be patient, but this is a time when you really need to follow the rules! I know I break them a lot, but I was a stickler for these countertops!
Installing Butcher Block Countertops
Our cabinets are original and were in good condition so I refinished those, but they weren’t perfectly level, so we had to level the countertops with some wood shims. Just caulk any gap between the cabinets and countertop. Our cabinets are white so you couldn’t see it, but if you have a different color or stain, make sure you buy the right caulk.
Once it’s all level, we secured the counter with screws, make sure you pre drill any holes to avoid splitting.
Installing the Sink
Now, we went with a cast iron sink which is 135lbs. It is a beast and I love it! We did however need to make sure it was properly sealed because it doesn’t use clips as your stainless steel sinks do. I used a good silicone caulk. This is an oil-based caulk which I’m not a huge fan of, but it is the best when it comes to resisting mold and cracking. When I caulked around the outside of the sink I used white, water-based caulk with easy clean up!
Now that you have your sink in place everything secured and ready to go we can fill in any gaps. Use some wood putty and your sawdust to fill in where two pieces meet up. We decided to not do the mitered 45 degree angle, mainly because I like the look of it where it meets straight on, and also because it’s way easier to install without the angle cut! Once the putty is in place, put a coat of your Waterlox on there and you are done!
So what do you think? Do you love a good butcher block countertop as much as I do?
FAQ About Butcher Block Counters
Where did you get your butcher block countertop?
I ordered mine from Lumber Liquidators in the builder’s maple. I talk about how to choose the right wood for you in this post
Does your butcher block countertop scratch?
It has received a few scratches, mainly from the other work we are doing in the kitchen with tools and such. I have 3 kids and a not so gentle husband and I haven’t seen any scratches as a result of normal wear and tear. The waterlox is pretty good!
Does it stain easily?
No stains yet! Everything I have seen has wiped of easily with a rag.
Do you think water will be a problem?
I don’t have a lot of issues with water. We have a top-mounted sink and I just simply wipe up any water the same way I did with my laminate counters. I would be more concerned if my sink was under-mount, but I know several people who have this and don’t seem to have too many problems.
Would you do it again?
I’ve only had them for a few months now, but I would ABSOLUTELY do it again. I love the look of them, they are holding up fantastically. No complaints here!
More questions? leave them in the comments below!