To Seal or Not to Seal - the butcherblock, that is..
October 14, 2014 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Installing a butcher block counter top on the island in our new kitchen. It comes with a "finish" from the counter top supplier. I'm not sure if I should keep the "finish" option or have it come au naturale and oil it myself. We won't be cutting directly on it and it is not near the sink. Thoughts?
posted by sarajane to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Tough to say without knowing anything about the "finish" offered by the countertop supplier.
posted by jon1270 at 2:14 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

While I agree with jon1270, if it comes with a "finish", and a guarantee of some sort, it doesn't sound like you're going to be testing the bounds of its survivability any. Get the factory finish.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:33 PM on October 14, 2014

The best product I know of for sealing butcher's block is Good Stuff from Michigan Maple Block, but when I did my counters years ago I just used it on the cut edges and left the factory finish on the top surfaces and both have worn well.
posted by nicwolff at 2:39 PM on October 14, 2014

I personally would finish it myself if I was going to be cutting food on the surface just because I'd want to be sure what the finish was and that it was food safe. Of course if the installers can tell you that info & you're happy with what they are using let them do the work.
posted by wwax at 3:12 PM on October 14, 2014

If you have very young children then you will want to get it sealed. I was foolish and thought I would do a lot of bread making and so got my island butcher block unsealed. It has become seriously stained and my son's love of markers has not added any Antique Roadshow level of patina that I would be proud of.
posted by jadepearl at 3:17 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd say get it unfinished and finish it yourself. I recently installed butcher block counter tops and have been very pleased with Mahoney's Walnut Oil for the finish. Takes numerous coats but looks great (really pulls out the beauty and depth of the natural grain), is totally food safe (unless someone in the family has a nut allergy), and makes the counter nearly impervious to water and stains, though it has taken many, many coats (12 and counting...)
posted by lazywhinerkid at 4:07 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We rented a house with oiled but unsealed butcher-block style counters, and it was a huge pain. The smallest drop of water would stain them.
posted by yarntheory at 7:09 PM on October 14, 2014

If I weren't planning to cut directly on a butcher block, I wouldn't get a butcher block. It's just not going to wear as well as a harder surface, not going to be heat-resistant, etc.

FWIW, I do have a butcher block, I do cut directly on it, it is unsealed (I periodically oil it with mineral oil), it looks pretty hard-used, and that's fine.
posted by adamrice at 7:41 AM on October 15, 2014

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