The reality of a butcher block countertop - northstory + co. (2023)

I vowed never to put a butcher block countertop in a kitchen again. After the recent kitchen renovation where we had an IKEA butcher block I was like no. I can't do this again. Because I know the reality of having a butcher block bench every day.

So some time passed. And I realized that a lot of the reasons I didn't want a butcher block bench anymore had to do with several major issues with the previous butcher block bench we had, rather than the butcher block itself. Seeing that we have one in this kitchen Having put up a butcher's block, which I can only praise, I've obviously changed my mind.

In this case as partthe kitchen renovation series, I thought it would be a good (and useful) idea to take the time to write a post on the ins and outs and the reality of a butcher block bank for anyone debating whether or not to put one up .

The pros and cons of a butcher bank

  1. First the basics. Remodelista has onebom postabout what exactly a butcher block is (how it is made), what types of butcher blocks (there are different styles) and what types of wood are used to make them. It's a good butcher block primer 101.
  2. I wrote a very long post about itColoring of our butcher block benchHere I share different stains, oils and links to many great posts from bloggers using different stains. If you have decided to buy a butcher block andYou're confused about what to do about blemishesand how to protect it, read this post.
  3. I wanted to let you know which butcher block countertop we chose this time so you know which ones I'm talking about to compare my experience in the previous house to this one. And the ones we chose for this kitchen were from Lumber Liquidators.

Yes, the flooring store, they sell butcher block countertops. Some of them actually.

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You have the following butcher block countertop options:

  • The book
  • American cherry
  • American walnut
  • acacia
  • Carvalho
  • hevea
  • A CA
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Some are made for islands, others for longer banks. They take the butcher block countertops12 feet long. Do you know what that means?

No ugly seams on the kitchen counter.

It's like the whole curtain-length catastrophe. Standard 84″ length curtains are commonly sold everywhere when most people require curtains that are much longer. Nobody likes countertop seams, aka the unnecessary evil of longer kitchen countertops.


Now we wanted walnut countertopsbefore the last kitchen renovation. I love walnut wood, I love its strength and I love the variation and warmth of walnut tones. I mean look at this:

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I didn't know before that Lumber Liquidators sold butcher blocksour previous renovationand if I had known, it would have been very different.

But I couldn't tell the difference between the local butcher who sells furniture and Swedish meatballs and Lumber Liquidators. So that's a little bonus learning experience. I did a lot of research on this counter before deciding to use it.

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The most common concerns and questions people have about Butcher Block.


There is a never-ending rumor that wood countertops are worse for bacteria and food than other materials. TheNew York Times articleHelp dispel this myth. It turns out your plastic cutting board is probably shedding more material than you'd like.

The real food safety issue with wood countertops comes from the sealers used on the countertops to protect them from water damage. Obviously, many of them are not suitable for eating. I have discussed all thisin the post about butcher block coloring.

The most obvious way to get around this is to use an oil to protect your countertops instead of a polyurethane sealant.

NOTE: At the time of writing this blog post, I was using pure mineral oil. I have sinceswitched from mineral oil to hemp oil.

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The reality of a butcher block countertop - northstory + co. (9)

Aside from that, this is ONE coat of mineral oil on the nutmeat block. a cover Look how nice.

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If you insist on staining your butcher block countertop with a colored dye, I recommend one of these products:

Or buy countertops in the color and type of wood you want your countertops to look like.

But read those againMetzgerblock FleckpfostenAnd you'll find out why I didn't go that route.

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I was going to write a big post about installing the countertops above, but our contractor literally didn't take long to do it and it wasn't complicated or fancy at all.

The countertops were cut and bolted to the lower cabinets underneath. We made a butt joint (2 cuts side by side) versus a miter joint (45 degree angle) on the corners.

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In our last kitchen we made a miterdue to the proximity of the sink to the corner. It would have looked ridiculous to have a joint and leave us with a butcher platter the size of a plank by the sink.

But it's a bit more complex underneath and requires really precise cutting; So if you don't know what you're doing, you could end up in a messy mess.

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If you want a great tutorial on a butcher block miter cut, read theseFisherwoman furniturePost about how they did the miter cutting as they also used a Lumber Liquidators walnut countertop.

And they used Waterlox. What me to...


(and the reason I started hating my old butcher counters)

In our previous house we installed a sink in butcher block counters. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? That's where it ends.

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The problem with the old IKEA sink and countertop is an interesting little story.

Within 3 months of this photo above, the wood began to crack and bend around the faucet for the simple reason that it wasn't coated with anything better to protect it from water damage in an area where it's always going to be wet (duh). .

Mineral oil wasn't enough.

I just couldn't keep up with cleaning the water around the sink area. I started joking that a butcher's block was like a high-paying relationship and an exercise in patience.

The area around the sink wasAlwaysdarker than the rest of the wood but when it started to bubble and crack I was really disappointed.

After all that I still haven't used Waterlox because I've read about so many bad experiences with the product and because it leaves a shine. I'm not a fan of shiny wooden panels. This is a personal cosmetic issue only and I want my countertops to look and feel like natural wood.

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To solve this problem in this kitchen, we chose a farmhouse sink that doesn't have a faucet installed directly in the wood. Note: Our kitchen renovation was not complete at the time of this writing, hence the many photos of the process.

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The other factor was IKEA's own butcher block.

Compare the IKEA butcher block to this walnut block we have now?there is no comparison. In fact, Sarah outthe house of the ugly ducklinguses an oil that is a blend of beeswax and mineral oil in their Lumber Liquidator walnut countertops (I told them I researched it before settling on them) andYour built-in sink is fine.

That's because this Nut Butcher block is better. Period.

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Our contractor who has worked with IKEA and their kitchens for 10 years said after installing ours it was much better. It's heavier, denser and much better quality. Our old IKEA counter? It also began to split into placesaway from the wet sink. It doesn't matter that our first butcher block sheet warps after we open the box. I became that unsatisfied customer.

Like this? No problem. I put water in it and the cup rings that are in it are dry and dirty and you can't see anything. In fact, water collects differently on walnut countertops. It's like it doesn't penetrate. I attribute that to the product and also to the type of wood. Walnut is amazing.

If you are not sure what type of wood to use for your countertops, speak to a Lumber Liquidators professional and they will help you decide what type of wood is best for your home.

PS: I updated this post.after having the benchesalmost 4 years nowAnd they are still in pristine condition and I treat them like trash most days.


In previous homes I have experimented with granite, marble, laminate and of course butcher block countertops. The worst thing for me was undoubtedly the marble. I would never put a marble countertop in the kitchen. It got blotchy. It required special polishes and cleaners. It wore off very easily near water, leaving a very dry build up that looked like soap scum. Just no.

And then think of granite — what could be wrong with HGTV House Hunter's obligatory fondness for granite circa early 2000s? Are the oil or wine stains already absorbed by the granite? Good luck removing the stain and it will show up even on dark granite. And here's a surprise for many people who know both of the above chips.

Laminate worktops? Durable, heat resistant, still has faucet issues over time (our previous faucet rotted on the countertop). I haven't tried quartz, soapstone or concrete (so contact us to dispel any myths or pros and cons). The bottom line is that each bank had its own problems. The butcher block is no exception.



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The reality of a butcher block countertop - northstory + co. (17)

They will happen no matter what you do to avoid them. Either you accept that or you don't get a butcher block.

The best part, though, is that, contrary to the farce of fixing chipped marble, you can sand them down and re-grease them and they'll look brand new.


Speaking of sanding, when wood dries it can get a bit rough. So if you're used to wiping down the counter with paper towels, imagine running a paper towel over it. You will have paper towels all over the counter and it will not be fun to clean them up.

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See the photo above? This is not sanded.

The key here issand well before oilingAnd to ensure proper maintenance, lubricate your meters at least once a month. I am currently usinghemp oiland mePlanning on getting this butcher block oilto prove it.


If you're putting a hot pot or cast-iron skillet on the counter or slicing directly on it, you better not worry about burn marks and cuts on the surface. It's one of those things where dings, nicks and scratches add personality to a butcher counter over time.

cast iron pansWILL LEAVE A RING on your counters. the darkness

Your average hot pot doesn't usually do this, but "might".

However, if you're the type of person who insists on your counter being spotless, make chopping boards and tablecloths your best friends.

But now? I now place the hot pans directly on the wood (although this photo below shows otherwise) and the countertops are fine. It's been several years now and I never use anything to put my pots and pans on. They go straight to the butcher and that's fine.

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The reality of a butcher block countertop - northstory + co. (20)

For the record, I miss how clean my Frigidaire Gallery gas stove was in this photo. Sigh.

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I also miss the kitchen that looks so clean and new. This is an IKEA bench we made from kitchen cabinets. Post coming!


Here are my top reasons why I personally love Butcher Block:

  1. At the end of the day, I realize that if you're considering Butcher Block, it's because it's at the top of your Ride or Die bench list. That's just slang for the highest level of companionship with a friend/lover. In this case an inanimate object. Looks so good in any kitchen. Whether it's the entire counter or just an island, it's usually the first "Oh my gosh, I love that!" Reaction you get from your guests. No matter how many times I think I want something else, I always end upnail a kitchenwith butcher block somewhere.
  2. It's quiet and absorbs noise. I despise metallic or drumming noises. Storing pots and pans gives me goosebumps. No metallic noise on that panelless counter and if anything it dissipates noise levels (well at least that seems to do it in our kitchen with our kids, wishful thinking?)
  3. Economically. It's a very cheap option.
  4. Warm. It just makes the whole room cozy and warm.
  5. Easy to clean. I clean everything with a natural sanitizer spray (PS - note I don't prepare food directly in ours) or just dish soap/washing liquid and water.
  6. Environmentally friendly. Because of the way it is made, it has a low environmental impact.
  7. The color of the nut and the species hide the spots. If I were trying to get you to tell me where there are scratches just by looking at it from across the room, you wouldn't. With our previous workbench, every brand could be seen from miles away. With that tone and walnut wood, it masks everything. No additional wood stains required. Your natural color only.
  8. Just repaint. To make it look new again without scratches or dents, simply sand and re-oil.
  9. The length of 12 feet. Lumber Liquidators offers a 12-foot length. No unnecessary seams.
  10. If it's good enough forNate Berkus' kitchen, it is good enough for your kitchen.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can always ask them in the comments.

Disclaimer: I want to say thank youWooden liquidatorsfor working with us on our kitchen renovation. They provided us with kitchen worktops. Opinions are mine as always.

Please note that unfortunately Lumber Liquidators has closed its Canadian operations.

Their butcher block countertops are still available on their US website.

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