This post is to explain the step-by-step process I did for my counter tops. It was really easy, but I won’t lie, it was very time consuming. I got the countertops at Ikea. We ended up paying about $700 for 5 different pieces. We decided to go with the Numerar Oak butcher block. They had a cheaper, thinner kind of butcher block, but from what I hear they generally sell out of those as soon as they come in, so if you can get your hands on them, your a lucky one!
First step is to measure and cut your countertops to the correct length. Also measure and cut the hole for the kitchen sink. We had to actually rip one of the countertops to make it not as deep, for the breakfast bar.
We started by sanding all of the counter tops down. I don’t remember exactly what grit, but start out rough, and work your way to a more fine grit. After sanding, get a damp cloth and wipe off all the dust. You will feel the wood become kind of rough. The water pulls up the uneven grain allowing you to sand it down easier. Repeat this step a few times, until you feel the butcher block is at its smoothest (wipe clean with a DRY cloth after the last sanding)
Now your read to stain! But before watching your countertops transform into the perfect shade of color, you should condition the wood. I applied one heavy coat of wood conditioner
Be sure to get an oil based conditioner and an oil based stain! You will want to apply the stain within 20 minutes of applying the wood conditioner. This will assure that the stain will lay evenly and not soak into drier spots. I tried three different kinds of stain to see which one would look best on the oak, and also have the same kind of tones as the wood floors we were putting in.
I ended up using Minwax’s English Chesnut stain. I was able to use the smallest “tester” can that is 8oz, and was able to do three coats on all of my countertops and still have some left over. So the 32oz (pictured below) is overkill unless you plan on using the stain on other projects.
Next, and finally, comes the clear coat, the sealer. A lot of people opt to go with a waxy, oily rub (not quite sure what the correct name is) that you have to apply to butcher block every three months. I know how forgetful of a person I am, and wanted to go with a more permanent sealer. I found something called Waterlox. Its a like a polyurethane, clear coat. It’s provides a hard protectant coat over the counter tops, and will never need be to reapplied again. The problem with Waterlox, is a lot of states don’t sell it, so you may have to buy it online. I lucked out and found a store here in Eugene that carried it. The reason a lot of states don’t carry it is because of the very high VOCs. I recommend applying coats in a well ventilated area, I even wore a respirator because the fumes were so strong. You MUST allow it to dry and cure before preparing food on it. Full cure time is about two weeks. We went ahead and installed the counter tops after it had dried, and just prepared our food on a separate surface until the full 2 weeks had passed. I got two different kinds of Waterlox, a gloss finish, and a satin finish. You must start with a couple of coats of the glossy finish. I didn’t want the countertops to be glossy, so after the two coats of glossy I finished up with 2-3 coats of a satin finish. Be sure to lightly sand away any dried bumps or bubbles after every coat! We used a 400 grit or higher for this, just enough to take the bumps away, but not take the layer off. It is a long and time consuming process with all of the drying time, but it is definitely worth it! I absolutely love the way they turned out!
Hope this helps! Here are some extra photos of the process