How To Seal Butcher Block Countertops

Our butcher block countertops are less than two years old, and we’ve re-sealed them a few times already. They get a normal amount of use in our kitchen, and we want to keep them looking as good as new for as long as possible!

If I’m being honest, I don’t know that I would choose these types of countertops again if I designed a new kitchen- I much prefer the leathered granite we have on our kitchen island in terms of its maintenance requirements and how it looks, overall. But, butcher block countertops do have a really cool look, and I love the warm tones of the wood.

*When you buy something from our links, we may get an affiliate commission — but it never affects your price or what we recommend.

Sealing a butcher block countertop is an essential step to protect the wood and maintain its beauty for years to come. In this post, we will go through the step-by-step process for how to seal a butcher block countertop and ensure it stays in top condition!

Materials Needed:

Looking for DIY inspiration? See our DIY window seat using an IKEA Nordli Hack here!

What kind of sealer is best for a butcher block surface?

If you’re using your wood counters for food preparation, you need to make sure you’re using a food-safe sealer. If your wood countertops are in an area like a garage or laundry room, you can get away with different types of oils, but should still avoid harsh chemicals as they can ruin the wood surface. 

When it comes to selecting the best sealer for a butcher block surface, there are a few options to consider. The choice of sealer depends on personal preference, how the countertop will be used, and the desired finish. Here are some common sealers that are suitable for sealing a butcher block surface:

Food-grade oils:  

Wood oil or mineral oil is a good choice when sealing a countertop that will be used for food preparation, as they are food safe. The wood or mineral oil soaks into the butcher block and brings out the natural colors in the wood. You can buy a generic, food-grade mineral oil or find options specifically for butcher-block countertops. There are several options available, many that will work on your wood cutting boards as well as the countertops. Our favorite is this one from Amazon, as it comes in a pack with the butcher block countertop conditioner as well.

An oil-based sealant like polyurethane is a good option only if you are not planning to use the butcher block surface for food preparation. The benefit of an oil-based polyurethane is that it is really durable and will protect the countertop from moisture. They come in a variety of stains, and are more scratch resistant than a water-based stain.

Butcher block conditioner can be used to further protect the surface. You’ll want to apply this after you’ve done your last coat of oil- our favorite conditioner uses a combination of carnauba wax and beeswax rejuvenate the wood and prevent it drying out.

Butcher block countertops start looking dry and a little greyish if you don’t seal them often enough, as you can see from before we sealed them recently, here:

And after sealing and conditioning:

How To Seal Butcher Block Countertops

Step 1: Lightly Sand the Countertop

Give your butcher block countertop a light sanding to remove any imperfections, scratches, or stains. You can use an orbital sander (like this one) or do it by hand. Use 120-grit sandpaper to sand the surface in the direction of the wood grain. Once the surface is smooth, switch to 220-grit sandpaper for a finer finish. Be sure to sand the edges and corners as well. 

Step 2: Clean the Countertop

After sanding, use a tack cloth to remove any sanding residue, dust and debris from the countertop. Tack cloths work well to catch small debris much more efficiently than a soft cloth- I highly recommend buying a few! It is essential to clean the surface thoroughly to ensure the sealant adheres properly.

Step 3: Apply the Sealant

As I mentioned, there are different options for sealing a butcher block countertop, including mineral oil, food-grade butcher block oil, beeswax, and butcher block conditioner. Use a paintbrush or lint-free cloth to apply a generous amount of the sealant to the countertop. Make sure to cover the entire surface, including the edges.

Step 4: Allow the Sealant to Penetrate

Let the sealant sit on the countertop for the recommended amount of time specified on the product label. This allows the sealant to penetrate the wood and create a protective barrier.This is usually over an hour, if not overnight. We have actually left the butcher block sealer on while going out of town before, and found it soaks in great and we can still wipe off the excess oil easily when we get back home. It just gives it that little bit of extra time to penetrate into the wood grain.

We leave the sealant on overnight- sometimes for days if we’re heading out of town!

Step 5: Wipe Off Excess Sealant

After the sealant has had time to penetrate the wood, use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess sealant from the surface. This step ensures a smooth and even finish.

 Step 6: Repeat the Process

Depending on the type of sealant used, you may need to apply multiple coats to achieve the desired level of protection. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended number of coats.We usually do a first coat, and after letting it sit for several hours, we determine if we need another couple of coats or not, depending on how it looks. Regardless how many coats of sealer you decide to use, keep in mind that some sealers may darken the wood, the more you add. When you’ve applied your final coat, make sure to use a soft cloth to wipe off any excess sealant, and let it sit for a bit before you use the countertops.

Step 7: Apply Conditioner:

Apply a butcher block conditioner like this one to rehydrate your wooden countertop regularly. I’ve noticed my countertops stay looking great much longer when I use the conditioner.

Step 8: Maintain the Countertop

To keep your butcher block countertop looking its best, regularly reapply the sealant as needed. This will help protect the wood from moisture, stains, and daily wear and tear. When cleaning the top of your butcher block, use mild dish soap or plain water. You can even use a mixture of lemon oil and salt to deeply clean the countertops. Apply a butcher block conditioner to rehydrate your wooden countertop regularly.

Regular maintenance will keep the surface of your butcher block countertop looking like a new countertop for years and years. 

Sealing butcher block countertops is a straightforward process that can be done at home with the right materials and a bit of patience. By following these steps, you can ensure that your butcher block countertop remains beautiful and functional for years to come.


Can I Use Vegetable Oil on Butcher Block Countertops?

Vegetable oil (or olive oil, linseed oil, etc) can turn rancid- its not recommended to use them on your butcher block countertops.

Similar Posts