caring for butcher block countertops

Whenever I post a shot of our kitchen  on insta, by far the most questions I get are in regards to our butcher block countertops: how we like them, where they came from and how we care for them.

When we were working on our kitchen I had my heart set on butcher block, but we really didn't have much experience with them {and to be honest, everyone and anyone tried to talk us out of it}. We've learned a ton since installing them and I'm hoping the info I share will help!

How did you decide on butcher block?

When we were doing our kitchen, I wanted a warm, but industrial, farmhouse, vintage look. I debated marble, but our island has a marble countertop {and marble is notoriously difficult to care for!} I also debated concrete, but due to the nature of our cabinets the concrete would be way to heavy and wouldn't hold up over the years. {which is something HUGE to consider if you are debating concrete! We've heard this from contractors as well, over time the weight may be too much for your cabinets!}

Like I said, everyone told me butcher block was a bad idea but I really had my heart set on the look!

Where did you get your butcher block from?

Our countertops are from IKEA, they are the HAMMARP butcher block countertops. They come in two sizes, 74 " x 25 5/8 " x 1 1/8 " and 98" x 25 5/8 " x 1 1/8 " .

You purchase the pieces in the sizes you'd need to cover your countertops, cut to fit and install yourself.

We purchased two 98" x 25 5/8 " x 1 1/8 " and one 74 " x 25 5/8 " x 1 1/8 ". To install, we used liquid nails on our cabinets and then screwed them in from the bottom. To seal the seams {like the seam right behind me above, where two pieces connect} we melted bees wax with a heat gun to make the seam seamless.

Now, IKEA has a number of other butcher block options and I would not recommend them, all other options are actually a veneer. The KARLBY  looks gorgeous, but if you read closely it states that it's actually only 1/8" of walnut over particleboard, AKA veneer, AKA will warp, AKA you don't want!

How do your countertops hold up? Do you like them?

First and foremost, when it comes to things like markings on furniture, walls, etc. I'm not a perfectionist. While clutter and mess makes me itch and crazy in the house, a couple of marks on the countertops won't keep me up at night. Also, the majority of my prep when cooking is done on my island. I hardly ever actually prep or cook on the countertops. The area around the sink does get water splash over, and things have spilled and it can look a bit faded, discolored or rough. BUT! After we do a quick treatment they look beautiful once again, and even better than the day we installed thanks to our diligence in caring for the wood.

The best part of butcher block, especially buying a solid wood like the HAMMARP {as opposed to veneer} is that you CAN sand it down every couple years to reveal a whole new layer, which is huge!

All in all, if you love the look and have your heart set on butcher block, you'll love them. If you're a perfectionist and want countertops that will be super durable that you can wipe down, they may not be for you.

How do you care for them? 

You only want to use a cleaner designed for butcher block. If there's a mess, I'll wipe down with a damp cloth, but to clean I use CLARK'S Cutting Board Soap {rosemary and lavender, of course!}. This will not only clean but sanitize your countertops as well. First I wipe down the countertops with a wet microfiber towel, then I use another microfiber towel to scrub with the soap until a lather appears. Then I rinse with another wet microfiber towel.

Again, do not use any other cleaner, not even pledge. It will dry out your countertops {trust me!}

We also try and treat them at least every six months, but we've gotten in to the habit of doing this process whenever we head out of town so that the oil can set fully set and be absorbed by the wood undisturbed. If not, we'll do this overnight.

First, we'll clear off everything from the countertops and  clean them using the process above. Then,  we'll apply a generous amount of John Boos mystery butcher block oil. We'll watch how the wood takes the oil, if it's absorbing right away, we'll be sure and add some more. If we're going out of town for a while, we'll really slather on the oil to let a ton absorb. When we get home, or the next morning, we'll take a look at how much oil was absorbed. If the countertops really took in a ton of oil, we'll know they're dry and need treatments more often.

We'll then wipe off excess oil with a microfiber towel, and then apply Clark's cutting board wax. We use this applicator to apply the wax.

It's really amazing how much this process helps and brings the countertops back to life!

So! to summarize, if you love the look of butcher block, I say go for it! Yes, it may get discolored, no it's not as durable and bulletproof as, say, granite BUT! You can easily do a treatment to bring them back to life, and let the true beauty of the wood grain show. My island is marble and, thanks to the fact that I'm cooking on it all day, everyday, it looks a bit haggard, despite diligently cleaning it night. The thing with a natural stone is, once it's stained, it's very difficult to get out so that's one point for butcher block!

Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions here, and you can always find me posting on insta here, pinterest here and Facebook here. Thanks for reading sweet friend!