Butcherblock counter finish help - Osmo over waterlox?

crashballSeptember 27, 2012

I am leaning toward getting a DIY Walnut butcherblock countertop from craft art. They ship with one coat of waterlox, but i'd like to use Osmo. I got the impression that it's a bit easier to apply, and no so bad in the fume department. Could Osmo go right over the waterlox, or would it need to be sanded down first?

I recently read a post (can't find it now), that some people recommended some sort of epoxy around the sink area? Would Osmo alone not be enough protection? We not yet sure if our sink will be top mount or undermount, but i'd be most concerned with the exposed edge of countertop. If there is a reveal on the sink where water could pool, is Osmo, or even WL, enough protection?

Our other option might be a John Boos countertop and those come with a oiled finish, or a varnique (hard) finish . I know i'd have to sand down enough of an oil finish to make WL or Osmo work.

Any of you with wood countertops, do you need to maintain the underside at all to prevent drying?

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After the underside has a thorough coat of sealant, it doesn't need anything else. It doesn't get the abuse the topside does.

Osmo, from reading the MSDS (Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet) is likely to be as fume-loaded as Waterlox. I'm seeing Naphtha and some other solvents, and the fire precautions are stringent.

Most of the smell of Waterlox, BTW, is the tung oil, not the solvents.

If you want to use Osmo, sand the Waterlox off completely so you don't have an incompatibility issue.

I did 5 or more coats of Waterlox on a bathroom floor, and with an open window and a fan blowing the air out the window it was not bad. It was more an "oilseed" smell than a solvent smell.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 10:28AM
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A follow up question to anyone who has used either of these. The craft-art DIY tops come with one coat of waterlox. I do have the ability to do most/all of the finishing in my garage, but it's getting cold. Is it difficult to get a good finish with waterlox? CA says to do a 50/50 orignal/satin blend for the top coats and use an applicator pad, which differs from Waterlox's directions. How did you all apply your waterlox? And should i be worried about sub-50 (or 40) degree nights coming up in my detached garage? What about the odor from the WL? I hear it's pretty bad, which i why i was considering Osmo top oil, which sounds easier to apply and not as bad in the odor dept - but i'd have to sand down the inital WL coat to apply it.. The long cure time of the WL concerns me as well. Even if do the finishing outside, when it come time to install the tops, it still says it takes 30-90 to fully cure, how long do i need to stay off my countertops once installed?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 2:20PM
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I did WL on a cutting board just to get an idea of application and also see how it looks. It wasn't very difficult but keep in mind it was about 18 x 24".

I am almost positive you can get an untreated top from both companies if u want to do Osmo. They may say they don't warranty it being its not treated but it seems silly IMO to get a finish you are only going to sand off.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:01PM
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My black walnut island is treated with Osmo Polyx Oil. My woodworker coated it in his shop before installing it and also did a coat here during install. The fumes weren't that bad. Yes, you could definitely smell it but it didn't have a knock-you-out-bad-chemical smell.

Since install, my woodworker applied a coat here for me one day when he was here on other business, and I have applied a coat myself. The counter has been looking thirsty again to me so I'll need to get out my little tin bottle for another round. It's very easy to apply.

Osmo doesn't really have a cure time. When it's on, it's done. My woodworker told me to use it right after application as I would normally. I can post a pic if you like, but I'm sure you've seen it.

I've read threads on WL and how tricky it can be to get the final coat just right with the product mix and the bubbles. I've never seen a WL wood product, but it sure sounds more difficult to apply than Osmo and I can't imagine the end product would be more beautiful than mine. YMMV.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Just sent CA an email asking them if they can do the DIY tops with no sealer. I'll share their response when I get one.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 9:15PM
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crashball- Sarah from CA told me they could send without anything on it... That was a few months ago.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:22PM
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If it helps any, we used Waterlox and did our counters in the winter in our uninsulated garage (which in Northern California means the temps were probably mid-40s, with occasional nights in the high 30s) and had no issues. We let it cure for about a week after the final coat before installing it, though. We also used it very lightly for some time after that--can't remember how long now but maybe a couple of weeks before we put appliances, etc. on it? Because we're in California, we used the low-VOC Waterlox and while you could smell it on application, there weren't odors to speak of after that. I don't have experience with "real" Waterlox so can't compare it to that (and I know nothing about Osmo). My husband did the finishing and did mix the top coat part satin, part regular based on a recommendation on a woodworkers' forum, but I remember he said afterwards that he would not use the satin if he had it to do over; it apparently didn't settle as well or as smoothly, and he really liked the look without it. No issues getting a clean finish with the regular Waterlox; he used a brush for the initial layers and a rag for the final layers with the satin.

I will say that we've had our counter in for a year and a half now and I love-love-love it--it takes a ridiculous beating (we have a toddler who hammers at it and spills on it, and everything wipes right off without a scratch or a dent...wish I could say the same of our soapstone!) and is just amazingly resilient.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 12:38AM
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artemis, thanks that is helpful. Have you had to do any touchups on the WL?

Sounds like i'll be good with either finish, but does sound like WL is slightly more durable. I forgot the CA already has a "trade DIY" countertop that is basically just the slab - no finish, no eased edges, and possible voids that need to be filled. I have a router and a couple of sanders, so i wouldn't expect that to much of an issue. Does anyone know what would be used to fill voids in the countertop? Just a regular wood filler?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:18AM
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Osmo really needs to be applied to untreated wood. Osmo is a hardwax oil which works by penetrating into the wood, then building on the surface, then hardening as the volatile compounds evaporate. If you've already applied Waterlox, its oils will have penetrated the wood, and ordinary sanding is not going to remove this. I think you'll be much more satisfied with the effect of using just one or the other.

We did a 50/50 prep on our 6-ft long maple island top. My carpenter told me that a locally famous chef for whom he'd done a kitchen had specified Osmo for the cutting surfaces, so we put that on the range end, which I use as a prep area (like a cutting board). The other end got Waterlox, as did the rest of the countertops (sapele). We did all this in late spring, when the temps were over 50, though a few nights dipped down. If it will consistently be below 50, I'd suggest using a heater (we can rent those contractor-type propane heaters around here, and used them in our construction before the heating system was ready.) I suspect you'll get a smoother, more even coat if you can keep the temps in the recommended range.

The last coat of Waterlox went on nice and smooth; no problems with bubbles or touch up needed. It's beautiful, and so easy to care for, just wipe it down and it gleams.

I also finished all my drawers (birch plywood, came sanded/unfinished) with Osmo, because after the first couple of days of outgassing, the rest of the curing time is pretty much non-toxic. I figured since the drawers would spend so much time closed, any outgassing would be concentrated, so for these I did want the least toxic product. Osmo is super easy to work with -- I applied it with rags. I spent day after day in the room with lots of Osmo. I kept the windows partly open -- need some air circulation and fresh air while it's wet. After the first couple of hours the smell was not a problem at all. They dried overnight sufficiently to lightly sand and apply a second coat. Now, several months later, they're so silky -- easy to clean -- no residual smell.

A local guy finished my cabinet doors with Osmo -- that's all he uses, because he believes it's safer sooner than other products, as well as easy to work with. I picked them up the day after he'd finished, at which point they were smooth/dry to the touch, but still had the Osmo smell -- like cooking oil left out. The smell was gone in a day or two.

Really, I love both of these products. I do like the way water just beads up on the Waterlox countertops, and for that reason, I also used Waterlox on all my fir window sills.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Islandlife--interesting that you use the Osmo end as a cutting board. Im almost positive that my woodworker told me that if I had wanted to use my black walnut island top as an actual cutting board, he would have recommended a different product than the Omo he used.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Do either seem better at resisting water? This will cover our sink area, so obviously water is a concern. We may even end up doing a top mount vs undermount sink because i'm worried about the edge grain around an undermount sink opening wearing off with so much exposure to water. Since you have both, does one seem more durable then the other? WE aren't going to be prepping on the countertop, but i'm sure it will have scuffles with heavy pots/pans over the years.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Breezygirl, Osmo states that the product is safe for cutting boards (and children's toys). This is from their website:
Q: Can I use OSMO Polyx-Oil for other projects besides the floor?
A: Absolutely. OSMO Polyx-Oil is an excellent finish for practically all interior wood applications. It provides excellent protection for unfinished wood paneling, trim, windows, stairs, railings and furniture. Once fully cured, Polyx-Oil will not emit any harmful odors or chemicals, and is non-soluble in water. Therefore, Polyx-Oil can also be used on food preparation surfaces, such as tables, cutting boards and butcher-block countertops.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 5:24PM
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OK, I am NO expert but from the reading I've done this always seems a slightly misunderstood topic. I THINK it would be SAFE for cutting... however I would think you would ruin the finish... Obviously you'd see a lot of scratches. Usually if someone wants to cut directly on their tops they use oil or beeswax/oil.

SO, it might be safe but I don't think it would necessarily wear very well.

I could be wrong : )

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Oh, sorry to have taken so long to reply to you, crashball. Waterlox resists water beautifully -- it really just beads and waits for a quick wipe off. We used it on our sapele countertops, including around the (topmount) sink. (I've read of others on this forum using waterlox on wood countertops with undermount sinks who sound quite satisfied.) Scuffing hasn't been a problem so far, but we're only a few months in. I have several decorative 6x6 tiles (samples from tile selection), to which I applied felt feet and on which I set pots etc.

Fishies, yes, the Osmo protects the wood well, but doesn't keep its shimmery finish after repeated rounds of prepping and washing. I was just thinking yesterday about when I might want to renew the finish; I think I'll wait until spring, when it's been a year, then lightly sand and coat it before a trip so it can cure while we're gone. It's a plant-based penetrating hardwax oil, so the protection it gives should be similar to others and to beeswax (and the appearance as it wears). I realize some might be more confident of the non-toxicity of beeswax, but I had the Osmo on hand and trust it sufficiently (tested & approved for food prep/cutting board use in Germany, where they're pretty picky about this kind of thing)!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:38PM
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I guess that's one of the things I like most about my walnut Osmo counter. That it DOESN'T look shimmery. It looks like beautiful, natural, glowing, lustrous wood that hadn't been treated or coated with anything.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 12:53PM
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Yes, Breezygirl, glowing and natural is a better way to describe it, isn't it? Overall, the waterloxed counters do show their heavier coating (five coats, I think). Our Osmo treated alder cabinet doors look more like they were just sanded until they became satiny. On the sapele countertops, though, it's a good thing, as the sapele's inner shimmer and appearance of depth increased as we added coats. Your walnut has a different effect and I can just imagine how lovely it must be with the Osmo -- seeing your pictures made me long for the walnut. (But we were able to make countertops from sapele for half the cost of even the Craft Art DIY walnut tops, and their reddish color is nicely harmonious with our reddish natural alder cabinet doors and fir windows.)

On the island prep top, after use the surface is not glowing, but water and food stains (or smells!) don't penetrate, either.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Circus Peanut

Despite its marketing, Waterlox is a wiping varnish made from cooking tung oil with solvents, not an 'oil' finish. It creates a denser shinier coat that's more water-repellent the thicker it is. Compare it to polyurethane or lacquer. It has a lovely golden amber tone that enhances most woods quite a bit, esp. walnut which can tend to go gray with clear, waterbased finishes.

Osmo is a hardwax oil, which means it's more like a liquid wax that soaks in, hardens, and then slowly oxydizes and wears off over time. Compare it to beeswax or butcher's wax. Unless you first stain the wood, I believe Osmo is pretty clear and won't give you the same ambered 'depth' as the Waterlox. I think the company that makes Osmo also offers pre-stains for exactly this purpose.

It all depends on what effect you want. I used Waterlox on my floors and would not do it again for the smell alone, which was truly noxious and long-lasting, and I was not happy with the amount of harsh shine in the 'original' formula, but the color was gorgeous on my fir floors.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 4:12PM
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