How to Finish Butcher Block Countertops

There’s a reason butcher block counter tops are finding their way back into kitchens. It’s because they add an extra layer of warmth and homeyness. Learn how to finish your butcher block counters so they stay looking great for a lifetime!

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Adding butcher block counters to the kitchen of the lodge wasn’t part of the plan.

We initially bought high quality laminate counter tops to have installed however after a little mishap there, our builder provided a chance to upgrade to these beautiful butcher block kitchen counters. 

After the new counters were successfully installed, it was time to decide if we were team sealant or oil to finish off the wood. To maintain the surface from being damaged from dryness, water, and just normal wear, you’ll want to properly finish your butcher block. 

Sealing Butcher Block Countertops

Sealing butcher block countertops with products that a contain food safe lacquer is one option. 

Lacquers are often resin modified versions of mineral or tung oil. They harden to preserve the wood counter and tend to have less on-going maintenance unlike with a butcher block oil. 

The downsides to using a sealant product on your butcher block kitchen counters is that there may be a strong smell during the application process. You will also not be able to cut on the counter directly as it will break the protective barrier the sealer just created for the countertop.

Oiling Butcher Block Counters

Using a food grade oil could be a better option for finishing your butcher block counters if you would like to cut directly on the wood. 

Oils used to preserve woods that come into contact with food are mineral oil, tung oil, and bees wax. Make sure when purchasing these that they specifically state they are food safe. 

When choosing to finish your counter using an oil verse a sealant, you’ll need to more regularly care for your butcher block counters. 

The standard routine for oiling butcher block counters is once a day for a week, once a week for a month, and once a month for life. Following this maintenance routine should keep your butcher block countertops looking beautiful for a lifetime!

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Finishing Butcher Block Countertops

Here’s exactly how we finished our butcher block countertops. This process works for both sealing and oiling them.


  • Painters Tape
  • Old Rag
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Gloves
  • Sealer or Oil 
  • 400 grit Sandpaper
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Prepping Butcher Block

Start by taping off the area especially if you are using a sealant type product. You do not want this accidentally getting on your walls, cabinets, or floors however most can be cleaned up with mineral spirits. 

Next use your sand paper to sand with the direction of the wood grain. This will help get any of those not completely finished and soft to the touch areas taken care of.

Vacuum the entire counter thoroughly and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth to catch anything still left on the surface.

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Finishing Butcher Block

Pour your oil or sealer over the middle of the counter. With gloves on, use an oil rag to help spread it out evenly across the entire surface. We liked to let it kind of pool for 10 minutes before wiping off the excess. 

Let it dry overnight before repeating the process for a second coat. 

If using oil, follow the maintenance cadence above. If using sealant, the label will specify how many coats are needed.

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Caring for Butcher Block Counter Tops

While following a good oiling or sealing schedule is a must for keeping your butch block counters in great shape, here are some other tips when caring for them.

Can I use any type of oil on butcher block countertops?

Skip using olive oil, corn oil, or sunflower oil as a substitute for mineral oil. These oils will become rancid over time and lead to an unpleasant taste and smell.

How do I clean butcher block counters?

Use a spatula to scrape off any dried on food bits and wipe it down with soapy water using mild dish soap.

Can I cut meat on my butcher block counters?

Butch block counters are made for cutting however to keep you safe, make sure to only cut meat or poultry on another surface.

How do I prevent butcher block counters from rotting and mold?

It’s best to wipe up water or liquid as soon as possible from the counter to prevent any type of mold growth or wood rot. Again, your first defense against this is sealing or oiling your countertops regularly. 


Tell us in the comments below: How did you decide to finish your kitchen countertops?

how to finish Butcher Block Countertops, sealing butcher block counters, calling tennessee home

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