Finish for butcher block countertops -- NOT for cutting

pasigalJuly 5, 2008

Hello,

We're installing Ikea oak butcher block countertops, 1 5/8" thick. We're not going to be cutting directly on them, but I'd like a finish that is somewhat durable and water resistent. I'm considering pure tung oil, as that's what I've put on our walnut dining table (about 10 coats...), but I'm also weighing an oil/varnish blend like Watco Danish Oil or Minwax Tung Oil Finish (which I know isn't tung oil).

I think the blend would be more durable, but I already know how to apply and maintain a pure tung finish. Does anyone have an opinion? Or is there another finish I should consider?

Thanks

Peter

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bobismyuncle

My choice would be a varnish. Waterlox original (a phenolic + tung oil varnish) would be as resistant to water as any choice. Flexner says the key to water resistance is film thickness -- not ideally suited to oil-varnish blends such as Watco Danish Oil (65% BLO), and will take a long time to get to with a wiping varnish like Minwax Tung Oil Finish.

Of course, if you will be doing cutting on it, a film finish is not what you want, but you are ruling that out.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 7:22PM
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pasigal

Waterlox intrigues me, and I hear what you say re Flexner. My only concerns about Waterlox is whether it looks "plasticky" or not, and how easy it is to repair/rejuvenate.

On that note, what is a good application schedule for Waterlox? 3 coats, with 400/600 between? I plan on defurring first, and slapping on some sort of poly on the bottom and cut areas for a moisture barrier.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 6:20PM
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bobismyuncle

My opinion of "plasticky" is more at the handle end of the brush than the bristle end, if you catch my drift.

Waterlox Original has a dark amber cast to it. This would be the only disadvantage to choosing it, if you object to that. Last time I used it it was on a dry sink converted to vanity. It worked well, color wise, as the top (a new replacement piece) was stained and glazed to a burnt sienna red, so the Waterlox blended right in.

I used my standard varnish regimen:
- Two coats thinned 50-50 (Varnish to mineral spirits)
- Light sanding
- One coat thinned 60-40 more or less, light sanding when dry
- Two coats thinned 90-10

It's not going to burn in like a lacquer or shellac, but it sands well and you can clean, sand and recoat in the future.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 9:30PM
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pasigal

Just a follow up.

I went with Waterlox after defurring and sanding to 220. 2 coats of original, then 3 coats of satin finish, with 400 in between to knock down dust nibs. I diluted the first coat about 60/40 so it would dry faster. i tend to be impatient with 24-hour drying times since shellac is usually my finish of choice.

Looks and feels great and water beads right up. I may rub it out a bit with white 3m pads, or not. It did darken the wood, however, not that I minded but it is a consideration.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 1:54PM
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bobismyuncle

Great to hear. Glad it worked out for you.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 8:35PM
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