Butcher block countertops – also known as wood worktops – add warmth to the kitchen. They add a bit of rustic charm and are especially essential to establishing that modern farmhouse kitchen energy. They can even help smooth out some of the sleeker, more subtle elements of contemporary or modern kitchens.
And of course, like any popular countertop material, butcher block countertops have their quirks, pros and cons. In this article, we’ll answer the question about do butcher block countertops need to be sealed, what should you use to seal your butcher block countertop, and how often you seal your butcher block countertop.
What Is Butcher Block Countertop ?
Butcher block is a style of composite wood (often hard maple, teak, oak, or walnut) used as heavy-duty chopping worktops, table tops, and cutting boards. It was commonly used in butcher shops and meat but is now popular for home use as kitchen countertops.
A thick, chunky butcher block look can stand out against cool, monochromatic countertops like marble or granite—Murray says it offers an organic, sophisticated aesthetic.
Butcher block countertops, consisting of individual wood slats strung together in an elegant panel, is a timeless and modern material for kitchen countertops that can suits a variety of styles.
Does Butcher Block Countertop Need to Be Sealed ?
Butcher block countertops requires to be sealed like every wood countertop, due to the porous nature and and it’s ability to expansion and contraction due to moisture, which can shorten the lifespan of these types of countertops.
The second reason why you would seal your butcher block countertop is to prevent it from staining. The porous nature of this countertop make it easy for liquids such as wine and coffee to infiltrate, causing permanent discoloration of your butcher block countertop.
The sealing of your countertop should be examined every once and while, to test it’s efficiency and change it once it’s started to fail blocking liquids from being soaked by your butcher block countertop. You can easily test the efficiency of your sealing coat by spilling some water on the surface of your countertop and see if the water is soaked after 15 minutes. If yes, then your sealing coat need to be changed.
Experts recommend to re-seal your butcher block countertop every 6 months to 1 year, but the water test mentioned above is better, since some kitchens receive higher traffic than others, which can cause the failure of your sealing sooner.
Do You Need to Seal Both Sides of Butcher Block countertop ?
Yes, it’s recommended to seal the top, bottom and the sides of your butcher block countertop. A proper sealing will increase the lifespan of your countertop, and prevent hard stains from appearing on your butcher block countertop.
By sealing the bottom and the 4 sides of your butcher block countertop, you will protect it from soaking moisture, and prevent it from developing water pockets that will cause it to explode, and ruins it’s finish.
You should also insist on sealing properly around the sink and the oven, as the joints around them can be an easy spot where liquids and dust can accumulate.
What Should I Use to Seal Butcher Block Countertop?
For a descent sealing of your butcher block countertop, we recommend to use Polyurethane coats. Polyurethane is a type of industrial varnish that is used in wood finishes and polishing, whether in countertops, furniture, floors and other woodwork. It’s a cheap, easy to use, and efficient substance.
For butcher block countertop, you should apply 2 coats of polyurethane. You will need to sand your butcher block countertop before the first coat, and sand it once again before the second coat of polyurethane.
If you want to get extra durability and glossiness, you can apply a third layer or even a fourth layer, but the last layer does not need sanding before it. Also is not recommended that the polyurethane coats exceed four coats.
Check this step by step guide on how to seal your butcher block countertop using polyurethane
Are Butcher Block Countertops Waterproof ?
Butcher block countertops are not waterproof, because of the porous nature of wood. The infiltration of water and moisture through the pores can damage the structure of your butcher block countertop, as it can expands and contracts and break eventually.
On the other hand, applying a proper sealing coat on your butcher block countertop will prevent the infiltration of liquids, so you shouldn’t leave your butcher block countertop unfinished!
We should mention that you can seal your butcher block countertop permanently by using a penetrating sealer that soaks into the pore system and seal it from the inside. Just make sure that you’re using a non toxic sealer such as natural oils.
Are Butcher Block Countertops Heat Proof ?
Butcher block countertops are not heat proof. So you shouldn’t put your hot pan directly on it, if you want to preserve the finish and the appearance of your countertop.
Butcher block countertop is a wood-based countertop, so it’s logical that you need to avoid putting hot items directly on it, unless you like the burn marks that will appear on the surface of your countertop.
Can I Use Butcher Block Countertop as A Cutting Board ?
You can cut your vegetables directly on butcher block countertop, as cutting vegetables don’t need the strength that can cause your countertop being damaged. On the other hand, avoid cutting meat directly on your butcher block countertop, as this latter can get contaminated.
But we recommend to use a dedicated cutting board, as cutting directly on your butcher block countertop can cause scores on the surface of your countertop. Also, your sealing coat can be damaged by using your butcher block countertop as a cutting board.