Butcher Block counter ok to use with a sink?

threegracesJanuary 20, 2010

We're thinking of putting a prep sink in our peninsula, but we really wanted butcher block. To me water + wood doesn't seem like a good combination, but what do I know?

Can you have a sink with butcher block? Does it need to be a certain kind - undermount, overmount, flush? Any special installation requirements? Would it be better to use two surfaces with a solid surface around the sink and wood elsewhere?


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You'll get varying opinions, but most will agree that you need to use an extremely water resistant finish on the wood such as pure tung oil or Waterlox. Teak is also an extremely water resistant wood on its own, with either of the above, even better.

I have american cherry counters throughout the kitchen treated with pure tung oil/citrus solvent. No issues in over three years of hard use at two sinks. It can be done.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:12PM
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I've been thinking about a maple butcher block for my island, too, but having worries about water. hmmm. We'd settled on a quartz countertop, but my imagination is still wandering around all the color schemes in our plan.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:16PM
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Pirula - do you have undermount sinks?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 12:41PM
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It can be done, but you will need to be vigilant about cleaning up water spills, and may come to wish you had used something else a few years down the line. Even though butcher block is laminated together with waterproof glue, once in a rare while you can get some slight separation of a joint, especially when the wood surface is exposed to water. If you do choose to go ahead with butcherblock, your best bet would be to use an overmount sink with a standard bead of silicone under the edge to seal it. Nonetheless, you may get some discoloration on the wood where the two materials meet as it's hard to keep this intersection perfectly dry.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:31PM
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Yes...they're both undermounted. Mine also aren't butcher block, they're planks. Personally, I think the undermount is way easier to keep dry than an overmount would be. But that's me. I clean up spilled water, because it leaves spots behind if I don't (which clean up with a wipe, but they bug me). Hubby and DS do not clean up splatters, they seem to be invisible to anyone with a Y chromosome in my house. No issues. Water just beads until it dries.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:59PM
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I'm having the same dilemma. Wanting to do a 1913 period kitchen just because the rest of the house is almost all original so I thought it would be fun to keep the old theme going. In a very similar house, I saw that the original countertop was a medium-dark to dark countertop...maybe mahogany or cherry or even old-growth fir. It had a heavy polyurethane-looking finish so wasn't used for food prep - and it had an old sink in the middle. This house was actually a mansion (mine isn't - but very similar architecture).

If you really want the surface to be for food prep, you'll have to be vigilant about drying up water, they say, because you won't be able to put a heavy duty finish on it. The hybrid finish called Waterlox is supposedly pretty durable and maybe it's food-grade/meant for cutting on? Otherwise, I'd reconsider. Or you could put a polyurethane finish on it but use the sink cut-out wood (oiled for cutting on) as the cutting board and leave it where people will see it and use it?

This was a helpful site:

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 10:57PM
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We have an undermount prep sink in our island, with IKEA beech wood countertops. We sealed it with a few coats of Watco sealer (food safe).

The surface gets HARD use in a family with several serious cooks, and it looks perfectly fine. No water damage, no stains, nothing. We do wipe up spills and puddles, of course, but I promise you we're pretty casual about it, and the wood's completely unaffected.

Wood, I think, is a lot tougher than a lot of people give it credit for.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 11:14PM
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I have a maple butcher block island top with an overmount sink. We would've gone with an undermount sink, but were against a deadline and the overmount was just easier. No issues around the edge of the sink yet, but we've only been here 5 months.

We finished it with Waterlox, and have been extremely happy with both its look and performance. Waterlox is supposed to be food safe, but I would not recommend cutting directly on it. It does scratch and ding, so you need to be prepared for a certain amount of patina. Of course, if you are considering butcher block, then you are probably already okay with that.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 11:17PM
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The biggest concern is that when you reach over to shut off the faucet, you will get some drips onto the counter. You should wipe it up immediately
Even if you have granite, honestly you should also wipe it up or the standing water will etch and make the granite dull. The standing water isn't a big problem if the wood has been coated with few coats of waterlox, the wiping up water is more for the silicone seam so it doesn't get mildew and gross..

It helps not to get alot of end grain of the wood exposed such as a round sink.. I rarely have to wipe up water beads on the side unless I make a mess. (had used mine for a while now with a towel near the faucet)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 2:14AM
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We have wood around our kitchen sink. It's cherry from Lumber Liquidators and finished around the sink with waterlox. I actually started off with just vegetable oil, but that wasn't enough, the waterlox is amazing. Our home is an 1898 Colonial Revival and it really fits with the period of our home.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 1:03PM
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Let's hear it for Waterlox! :~)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 2:35PM
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I've used polymerized tung oil on two different BB counters with main sinks in them, one was beech & the one I have now is oak. Both sinks were drop in. I did all 6 sides & the edge of the cutout with 8 coats of oil & haven't had any problems with water staining.
With the right finishes, wood has excellent water repelling properties. Where we live you can buy wood vessel sinks & bathtubs.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 2:54PM
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