kitchen renovation notebook: butcher block

Earlier this year we went into Manhattan and way, way downtown to Green Depot to look at the linoleum samples in person, and ended up looking at countertops as well. As the store’s name suggests, they focus on renewable and sustainable design, so their countertop selection consisted of composite materials like quartz, and butcher block. I’ll admit, I automatically gravitated to the marble-like quartz options, but my husband really loved the butcher block.

You might think that butcher block is substantially cheaper than stone counters, but it’s not, unless you go the pre-cut route at a store like Ikea. According this Remodelista post, custom butcher block counters run between $75 to $150 per square foot. But the warmth of the countertops is undeniable and definitely evokes a country kitchen.

My only concern with butcher block is having it near the sink. Some articles indicate that unsealed butcher block near a sink will get discolored. I’m okay with an even patina, but not straight-up rotting sections of counter. So do you have butcher block counters and if so, how is the maintenance? Any issues near the sink?

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4 thoughts on “kitchen renovation notebook: butcher block

  1. Kelly

    If you seal the wood with Waterlox it should help protect it from the water. Waterlox is also a tung oil, so you could still do food prep directly on the wood with no issues other than sealing it again after a period of time. Going to build my own this summer and use that to seal it.

  2. Sarah

    So, my 1920s co op came with butcher block counters, including near the sink. I think the layout of your kitchen and the type of sink you choose, as well as the finish you put on it makes a huge difference.

    My kitchen is tiny, so the sink is right near walls on two sides, and constantly drying the area around the sink has gotten old very quickly. The sink is also a quite shallow over-mount, which as a tall person I like, but it means that there’s lots of splashing no matter what you do. The butcher block is finished with mineral oil, but it’s not enough to make it really water resistant. If you’re a very tidy it might not be a problem at all, but my boyfriend lived here alone for several years, and the butcher block near the sink is all separating at the seams. If you want to seal them well, and have/are able to put a dishwasher in (keeping a dish rack on a butcher block counter is a nightmare), they are a lovely option, but I’d take a really critical look at your kitchen habits.

    Sorry for the novel, I’ve just been daydreaming about getting rid of mine, so I wanted to share my experience!

    1. colleen Post author

      This is exactly the kind of info I wanted to know! You’re making me think we should go with quartz. I like the idea of butcher block in the prep area, but I do not want to mess around with water. Thank you!

      1. Sarah

        Totally agree. My current dream kitchen remodel has quartz/solid surface around the sink (with drainboard runnels cut in to echo the look of those big old 1920s sinks) and butcher block elsewhere in the kitchen, to warm it up. It’s gotten stained/worn/weathered in other areas in a way I don’t mind at all, and it’s nice to work with, but the big gaps around the sink are just terrible.


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