We’ve finished our biggest DIY project to date and I’m extremely happy with the results! No more beige laminate countertops in the kitchen. I am in love with butcher block countertops and lucky me – they’re a very inexpensive countertop option and fairly easy to install yourself. The whole process went very smoothly (thanks to the handy Tyler and my helpful housemates), but it was a VERY time consuming project, meaning we went a long time with no kitchen, which can be really annoying!
Tyler and I picked up the butcher block from Ikea (NUMERÄR in Beech). We opened up and inspected each piece closely in the store. And we got them home safely, despite Tyler looking like he’s about to be decapitated.
We unscrewed all of the screws holding the existing counters and they lifted right off. There was residue from the old glue, which we scraped off to make sure the new counters would lay evenly.
Wood + water = bad, so butcher block counters require a sealant. There are quite a few sealant options out there–after doing some research we decided to use Waterlox, which offers strong protection while being food safe and non-toxic. The only downside is that it smells AWFUL when it’s applied!
I love how much Waterlox brings out the warmth of butcher block. Here’s the difference after one coat.
There was a lot going on at once during this project. McKenzie pointed out that we should paint the inside of the cabinets while they were easily accessible. We’ll eventually be painting the outside of the cabinets white as well.
Butcher block needs to be sanded before applying the first coat of Waterlox (not only to smooth out any rough areas, but also to remove the oils Ikea uses to protect them during shipment). We also sanded with a very fine grit sandpaper between the third and fourth coats of Waterlox.
Along with new counters, we put in a new sink and faucet (for free!). This was actually the sink Tyler removed from his house and he was kind enough to let us have it, as I was looking for a cast iron sink and a farmhouse-style faucet.
I almost had a stroke when Shawn and Tyler were setting the sink in place to make sure the cut-out was the right size. I was certain the whole piece of butcher block would snap in half.
Every piece was set in place for measurements before any cuts were made. As Tyler always says — measure twice, cut once.
As I mentioned before, installing butcher block is a super long process – mainly because you need to apply 4 coats of Waterlox, with 24 hours of drying time in between each coat (the undersides of the counters only got 2 coats of Waterlox, since they won’t see much moisture). On top of that, the counters need to cure for 7 days, and you really shouldn’t use them during that time period if you can help it! Applying Waterlox is easy because it’s self-leveling and you really can’t mess it up as long as you use a high quality natural bristle brush.
Tyler applied silicone about every 6 inches to keep the counters in place. He also applied silicone around the sink cut-out before setting the sink in place.
To fill the seams between two pieces of butcher block we mixed wood filler with sawdust left over from the cutting process.
I also finished painting the kitchen “Coventry Gray” by Benjamin Moore – although most of this wall space will be covered by subway tile (hopefully soon).
Now we just need to install subway tile, a range hood, crown molding, and open shelving – and paint the cabinets white and give them some hardware – and we can actually call the kitchen done. Almost there, right?