staining and sealing butcher-block counter

kcarrowDecember 23, 2012

Hi. I built my countertop seating area using an Ikea Numerar butcher-block counter. I will not be using the counter for food prep. I have been researching about how to seal it and think that i may use Rockler Salad Bowl Finish or Mineral oil. My only problem is that I would like a darker finish and would like to stain it. Has anyone done this? Is there an oil out there that has something in it for a darker finish? Can I stain it then oil it? Also, I am worried about water stains since it is an island eating area. Should I then cover it with wax? Thanks!

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If you aren't going to cut on it, then you don't want an oil finish. You want something like tung oil or polycrylic. Commercial stains will also work just fine, but will turn out blotchy unless you use a wood conditioner first. Even then, you may not get the evenest of results simply because it's not really meant to be stained.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:22PM
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Whenever I read about staining Ikea butcher block, I think of brickmanhouse's really beautiful kitchen. I'll link the reveal thread below where she describes the staining/darkening process she used. She finished the counters with Waterlox. I have a black walnut island counter sealed with Osmo Polyx Oil. Both are good finished. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Brickmanhouse's kitchen

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:38PM
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I've refinished our old wood countertops in the Rocker Salad Bowl oil, because we do cut on them. It works great; this countertop sees a lot of prep (usually on cutting boards), so I think I'd've noticed if water was doing major stains. But, no stain underneath it, so I don't have any answers for you there.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 9:41AM
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Again, I didn't use stain either, but another endorsement for Salad Bowl oil from Rockler. That stuff is excellent.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 9:51AM
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If you want to stain it, it's best to use some kind of wood conditioner like benite or maybe the one from general finishes, to make it take the stain more evenly. See this post from reshal, for instance:

Here is a link that might be useful: dark numerar

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 10:08AM
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I hope you have some samples for testing, or can detach and turn the countertop over, because just sealing can darken a finish.

Also, if you don't seal the underside, they can warp. My IKEA numerar slab, sealed only on one side, warped when the humidity rose during the rainy season and there was almost an inch of difference between the edges and the center. It eventually straightened out when the humidity went back down, but it's better to prevent it.

My alder countertops went from pale blonde to a reddish brown with just untinted tung oil (Waterlox). I saw the color change and canceled plans for staining it.

Try the sealant alone. For an eating area, any finish will do, but consider something matte that will not show the inevitable scrapes and nicks as badly as high-gloss does.

Then try several stains. You can buy tiny test packets of stain at ACE and perhaps other stores. It's convenient and cheap.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 1:40PM
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thanks for all the great advice....I never even thought of sealing the underside. Isnt tung oil and Waterlox two different things? I read about Waterlox....but it seems so time consuming. I think i would be ok if the tung oil darkens it a bit and pass on the stain. It seems like everything i do lately in my renovations ends up costing me more money and more hard work then necessary.....

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 11:04PM
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Yes, tung oil and waterlox are different. Waterlox has tung oil in it but really it is a "finish" not an oil. I think you need a LOT of coats of plain tung oil to build up a finish but not sure. Waterlox recommends 4 coats. Also, if it scratches you can spot fix.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 11:25PM
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I am currently finishing my cherry bblock counters with tung oil from Real Milk Paint. They sell a dark tung oil. They have pictures on their site showing what different woods look like with the regular and dark tung oils.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tung Oil Wood Samples

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 10:10PM
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I've just finished sealing my ikea beech counters with Osmo polyx oil, which I first heard about from breezygirl's posts. We didn't stain ours, but I agree with the previous posters that wood conditioner is a must if you go that route. We debated osmo vs Waterlox, and Waterlox definitely seems to be more popular. However, I absolutely love the osmo. It is super easy to apply - I used a cotton cloth and rubbed on 4 thin coats on both sides. It has the perfect low-sheen finish that I wanted. It does not darken the wood on its own, though. I would describe it as deepening the color a bit giving it a sort of gentle glow.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 12:01AM
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I ordered the dark tung oil today from the Real Milk Paint Company. I sanded off the factory finish on the numerar countertop tonight. I guess I got it all off???? Should I use a wood conditioner on it before I use the tung oil??

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 10:34PM
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No conditioner if you are using oil. Just wipe on several coats of it, starting with the underside.

Waterlox is tung oil and some added solvents to help it penetrate the wood, as are most of the "oil" finishes.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 4:42PM
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