Who loves Butcher Block?

anymaccMarch 8, 2014

If you have it currently or had it before would you do it again?

We're trying to figure out if we should butcher block the island and marble rest or vice versa. BTW our cooktop is on the island and we intend to make island all 1 level.

Thanks in advance for feedback.

Pics of our kitchen and rest of remodel on following thread:


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I have had a butcher block counter on my island with cooktop for 20 years. Am about to launch a total gut remodel and using butcher block in the new kitchen never crossed my mind. It is attractive and fairly durable but it stains- I can't tell you how many times a damp grocery receipt has transferred its purple ink onto the butcher block and reminded me and everyone else how much I spent at the store for weeks and weeks. The stains wear off eventually and I guess you could sand them out if you were so inclined. I also rarely cut directly on it, I prefer my cutting boards to avoid cross contamination. Also hot pans can leave dark scorch marks which are harder to sand out. A little mineral oil will spruce it up when needed. My other counters are navy blue tile and white(ish) grout-pretty in their day-but can't wait to see them go!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 6:29PM
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Applered thanks for your feedback. I found a few pics of island butcher block with cooktop. Mine will be a sitting island and I have wondered if chop block on it will create a psychological barrier with people thinking that they should not be putting their elbows on it. Is yours a sitting island and do you have any feedback on this?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 7:57PM
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Mine is not a sitting island but it is the central gathering spot. I can assure you no one has ever experienced a psychological barrier to leaning on the butcher block, accordingly, I have always felt that it is never quite clean enough for direct raw food prep. I have a busy household and am not a meticulous housekeeper which may account for the less than optimal conditions for butcher block.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:05PM
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I built my own of maple and LOVE it.
I've never had anything a little Windex didn't remove.
And I'm including in that my mom's butcher block that she had for 20 years, 3 kids and a careless husband.

Wood is very forgiving. You can just sand that puppy and seal it again.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:25AM
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We have three butcher block tops (though really only one that is true butcher block in that we can cut on it). Two are finished as counters, and I love one (Waterlox) and like the other (Salad Bowl Finish) quite a bit (maybe not love for that one since it doesn't roll with the punches quite as much... ;) However, neither of those finishes can be cut on, so if you are thinking of an actual butcher block that you can cut on, that gets finished in mineral oil. I'm somewhat lukewarm on our actual cutting butcher block top (which is actually on a mobile island remaining from our pre-remodel kitchen), since as Applered says, it stains easily and if you want to keep it looking good, you must oil often and periodically sand it down. However, ours is also an inexpensive and light-colored butcher block, so a higher end style (end grain, etc.) with a deeper toned wood might show a great deal less. (Ours are all face grain butcher blocks in beech and birch.) And it's nice that you *can* sand it down and start again--that's a much bigger project for the two wood tops we have that are finished as non-cutting surfaces. On the flip side, though, I have yet to stain either of those and the only blemish thus far is from when I dropped a knife blade down into one, which seemed reasonable on the counter's part.

If you don't want counters you can actually cut on, I would not hesitate to use Waterlox-finished butcher block tops again in a future kitchen. We have that and soapstone as our perimeter counter and the wood is far more forgiving than the soapstone--total surprise! I still like having the soapstone near water and heat, but I suspect the Waterlox would stand up just fine to either based on our experience with it over the first few years.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:09AM
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Oh, armetis78, do you have pictures!?
I'm saving for soapstone for my sink side of the kitchen. My butcherblock is all along the opposite, stove and dining room wall.
I'd love to see the two together....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:19AM
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One of my best friends from college designed her kitchen so that the island would serve as the kitchen table, so she did not want granite there. Her layout is different from yours in that her range and clean-up sink are on the perimeter with granite counters, and the island with its small prep sink, seating, and gorgeous maple BB is in the center of the room.

I love to cook in that kitchen, and I love eating dinner at that island. It is warm and beautiful and organic and soft. But she never cuts on it. Generally speaking, everything gets plopped on the granite, and the BB is cared for. Ten years after her build, it looks perfect.

A former neighbor of mine from coastal CT has a much smaller kitchen, galley, with (beech?) BB on either side (including range and clean-up sink), well used and oiled for over twenty years. She couldn't wait to replace those counters, and they were not beautiful before they got the boot. She installed Black Pearl granite and it looks fantastic. She keeps a roll-out edge grain BB cart for extra counter space but really only chops on cutting boards now.

So how will you use your BB? Will you baby it or cut on it? Are you willing to sand down your tops occasionally (if you have the much desired "open" layout, give this time to sink in)?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:41AM
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robo (z6a)

We chose birch bb from ikea as an alternative to laminate. We were out of the stone market for budget reasons. It's only a few weeks old so I can't tell you much about durability. We're going to treat it like laminate, never cutting on it, and we were so nervous about water that we ended up putting small pieces of quartz on either side of the sink. That worked out SUPER well functionally and has made a HUGE difference in our comfort level in the kitchen. I think we are patina people as far as water rings and dents go but not to the extent of cutting board patina or black water stains. Especially since edge grain birch is a whole world more fragile than end grain hard maple.

I've put four coats of salad bowl finish on it for initial sealing and plan to maintain with mineral oil. I couldn't find Waterlox locally.

All that said, we love the look and it really, really warmed up the kitchen and made it seem a lot more homey. We were going for a utilitarian look without being too stark and I think it worked out so far. I sanded to 400 grit and finished with #0000 steel wool (but didn't rub out to a gloss) and they feel very smooth and warm to the touch but have a satin finish.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:02PM
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We have had John Boos hard rock maple in 2 kitchens on the islands. Sealed with Boos Mystery Oil. We cut right on it, put hot pans right on it, roll out dough,and we really like it. The only stain I couldn't remove with baking soda, salt, and lemon juice was sharpie marker. For that I sanded with fine sandpaper and re-oiled.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 6:16PM
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Have had birch BB from IKea for 2+ years - I cut on it, however, it is not next to the sink. In previous home had Brazilian Cherry on either side of cook-top - with granite tile handy to set hot pot on.

I cut on my BB counters - the cherry was so dark you couldn't have seen red wine stain on it - the beech is light and although I have spilled red wine on it, it did not stain long term (i.e. faded out after being wiped up within a couple of days)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 9:46PM
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@CEFreeman, our reveal is linked below, but this was before we had finished everything and chosen the center work table, so only the Waterlox and mineral oil counters are in the photos. Looks like only one photo shows both soapstone and wood, though the last one does show the Waterlox and mineral oil BBs. Lighting is lousy in all of these, unfortunately. So not super helpful--if I have a moment I will try to snap some shots of the actual woods for comparison.

Generally, we've found that the Waterlox really ambers, so several years later that counter is even more of a cherry-looking tone than in these photos. (It is also beech while the other two are birch, so of course there's that too--but we also have a beech bench of the same wood/same age that is not Waterloxed, and it remains much lighter and more like the birch counters.) The SBF ambers slightly but not anything like the Waterlox. It is also not as durable in my experience (but is cheaper, easier to get locally where we live, and much easier to apply evenly--can be done on-site whereas Waterlox, even the low VOC version we have to use in CA, offgases too much for this). So there are some tradeoffs to weigh, and I don't regret using it where we did. I'm super curious about robotropolis' idea for maintaining with mineral oil, which I hadn't thought of--will have to explore that! Neither finish has stained at all, though.

Our butcher block is all IKEA Numerar; I think their suppliers have changed in recent years so not sure how it compares to what they sell now, but it's been great for the price for us.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen with wood and soapstone counters

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:27AM
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robo (z6a)

I should also say that the $200 butcher block is the FIRST thing that anyone comments on in our kitchen. Not sure if that's a good thing about the butcher block or a bad thing about the rest of our taste! Ps stunning kitchen, artemis! I love it!

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Mar 10, 14 at 9:07

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Again, don't know if you plan to cut on it or not, but here is an old thread about a well used walnut topped island. No cooktop in the island, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Walnut island

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:34AM
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