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Sealing Butcher Block Counter?

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Forum topic by mision56 posted 07-02-2019 02:34 PM 822 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mision56

56 posts in 1594 days


07-02-2019 02:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing finish butcherblock

Hey all, I am in the middle of making a butcher block counter top for my kitchen. I’ve made these a few times for islands and other furniture, but this is the first time ill be making it for a counter (with a sink) and I’m curious about finishing. I’ve always done oil based poly (Arm R Seal usually) and have had fine results, but I’m curious if anyone out there has used something similar and had issues? I have access to catalyzed products (my father is an autobody painter) and I’m wondering if that might be a better choice for such a high use and wet environment.

Any personal experience is appreciated!


15 replies so far

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controlfreak

1802 posts in 616 days


#1 posted 07-02-2019 04:27 PM

I had butcher block in my old kitchen and we would just rub on food grade mineral oil from Home Depot. I think we would do this once or twice a month.

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Dwain

622 posts in 4874 days


#2 posted 07-02-2019 04:39 PM

I think if you are using the surface to cut, then Mineral oil with a mix of beeswax or paraffin wax is the way to do. I wouldn’t want to chop on a surface that has other chemicals on it.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1802 posts in 3865 days


#3 posted 07-02-2019 04:51 PM

As long as nobody is going to use a knife directly on the surface, you’re fine to go with any type of finish for a non-food contact surface. My experience is 99.9% all food contact surfaces, but did once use WB poly for a display platter that was going to be used for passing cold appetizers. It held up well for several events until a “new” dishwasher put them through the machine…. If I were in your position, given how much my teenage kids throw the water around when doing the dishes, I’d look at some of the marine grade finishes and seal all 6 sides of the counter.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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mision56

56 posts in 1594 days


#4 posted 07-02-2019 06:20 PM



I think if you are using the surface to cut, then Mineral oil with a mix of beeswax or paraffin wax is the way to do. I wouldn t want to chop on a surface that has other chemicals on it.

- Dwain

Thanks for the input, this won’t be an actual “cutting board” though so I am probably not gunna use a oil/non film finish.

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

1531 posts in 1194 days


#5 posted 07-02-2019 08:18 PM

Sealing top for kitchen is one thing. Having a sink in it is something different.

What type of sink? Under mount?

Some type of 2k urethane is probably appropriate.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4181 posts in 2509 days


#6 posted 07-03-2019 12:06 AM

+1 2K Polyurethane

Visit an industrial wood finishing supplier and ask for 2K bar top polyurethane.
Stuff is designed to be soaked in beer every night, and bleached clean every day.
Choice of sealer is critical to reduce water permeation.
Must use 2K sealer, and must seal 100% grain top, side, ends.

Best of these materials are old school solvent based amber colored polyurethanes, cured with isocyanates (not intended for home shop). They require serious personal protection equipment; meaning respirator for lungs, goggles for eyes, over lapping gloves, and full coverage painters suit.
But the nearly waterproof finish and tough 10-15 mil film build provides amazing look for counter top surfaces.

YMMV


Some type of 2k urethane is probably appropriate.
- CWWoodworking

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Bob5103's profile

Bob5103

194 posts in 1849 days


#7 posted 07-03-2019 12:26 AM

I have done 2 kitchens in butcher block. I used this https://www.homedepot.com/p/Custom-Building-Products-RedGard-1-Gal-Waterproofing-and-Crack-Prevention-Membrane-LQWAF1/100169081 to seal around the end grain sink cutouts. Then 5 coats of poly for the surface lightly sanded between coats. One (my daughter’s) kitchen is 10yrs old and holding up well, the other, our current kitchen, is 5yrs with no signs of wear yet.

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3390 posts in 3959 days


#8 posted 07-03-2019 02:45 AM

Keep in mind, all the mineral oil you get at Walmart and such is “food grade,” and a lot cheaper than the flavored, pitched stuff many sell, and, in the end, most of it is just mineral oil.

Of course, you can add paraffin or bees wax, but a true old butcher block is, PROBABLY, better served with just the oil, so more can be added, for the reasons explained below.

I had a butcher block I bought and it had been sorely neglected. Joint separated and cracks were appearing. I slathered on the oil and kept adding it wherever it soaked in. After an hour or longer of doing that, I poured a whole pint on and left it, then walked away.

I forgot about the butcher block and, when I came back, the oil had replaced lost moisture and swollen the maple back to its original state. No cracks, splits or separations.

The oil does not evaporate. Rather, it wicks into the wood. As such, being generous with the oil treatments early on will create a lot of forgiveness on down the road.

View mision56's profile

mision56

56 posts in 1594 days


#9 posted 07-03-2019 02:42 PM



Sealing top for kitchen is one thing. Having a sink in it is something different.

What type of sink? Under mount?

Some type of 2k urethane is probably appropriate.

- CWWoodworking

Most likely will be undermounting, but we haven’t Bought the sink or cut the opening yet so i am open to debate. Is one better than the other for avoiding water issues?

View mision56's profile

mision56

56 posts in 1594 days


#10 posted 07-03-2019 02:43 PM



Keep in mind, all the mineral oil you get at Walmart and such is “food grade,” and a lot cheaper than the flavored, pitched stuff many sell, and, in the end, most of it is just mineral oil.

Of course, you can add paraffin or bees wax, but a true old butcher block is, PROBABLY, better served with just the oil, so more can be added, for the reasons explained below.

I had a butcher block I bought and it had been sorely neglected. Joint separated and cracks were appearing. I slathered on the oil and kept adding it wherever it soaked in. After an hour or longer of doing that, I poured a whole pint on and left it, then walked away.

I forgot about the butcher block and, when I came back, the oil had replaced lost moisture and swollen the maple back to its original state. No cracks, splits or separations.

The oil does not evaporate. Rather, it wicks into the wood. As such, being generous with the oil treatments early on will create a lot of forgiveness on down the road.

- Kelly

Thanks for the info, we won’t be using this for food prep though, so we probably won’t be doing any non film finishes. I know oil is effective for cutting boards, but the water from the sink would probably make that unworkable.

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

1531 posts in 1194 days


#11 posted 07-03-2019 02:58 PM

Under mount would definitely be the worst because your putting end grain right next to water.

I know drop in sinks are not as popular, but in this case, they make sense from a durability standpoint.

View SMP's profile (online now)

SMP

3460 posts in 921 days


#12 posted 07-03-2019 04:27 PM



Under mount would definitely be the worst because your putting end grain right next to water.

I know drop in sinks are not as popular, but in this case, they make sense from a durability standpoint.

- CWWoodworking

I agree with this. Not just for the water to endgrain, but for the inevitable loosening of the sink and/or the caulking getting leaks and water devastating underneath, due to that corner(formed by the sink and counter meeting up) being a magnet for water spray from the faucet and splashing off dishes etc. My neighbor recently asked if he could pay me to replace his undermount sink. I went to take a look and there was probably a 1/4” gap between the sink and counter, and I could see the silicone had split and saw light. When I looked underneath, water had completely decimated the plywood underlayment that the tile was on. So much so that the plywood had rotted enough to where the screws were just falling out.

View mision56's profile

mision56

56 posts in 1594 days


#13 posted 07-03-2019 05:34 PM


Under mount would definitely be the worst because your putting end grain right next to water.

I know drop in sinks are not as popular, but in this case, they make sense from a durability standpoint.

- CWWoodworking

Seems like the consensus is a 2k product with a drop in sink. Thanks everyone for your contributions!

I agree with this. Not just for the water to endgrain, but for the inevitable loosening of the sink and/or the caulking getting leaks and water devastating underneath, due to that corner(formed by the sink and counter meeting up) being a magnet for water spray from the faucet and splashing off dishes etc. My neighbor recently asked if he could pay me to replace his undermount sink. I went to take a look and there was probably a 1/4” gap between the sink and counter, and I could see the silicone had split and saw light. When I looked underneath, water had completely decimated the plywood underlayment that the tile was on. So much so that the plywood had rotted enough to where the screws were just falling out.

- SMP


View Kelly's profile

Kelly

3390 posts in 3959 days


#14 posted 07-03-2019 06:06 PM

If I’m going to top seal (e.g, resin, poly) something with a lot of end grain, I keep flooding it with thinned poly, as long as it will take it.

I start out with at least a 30% thin and go until it puddles, and let that soak in, then add more, as I can. I come back the next day and go again, with about a 15% thinned mix, doing the same as with the first coat.

I let all that dry for several days, then apply my top coat.

I used to make burl tables, some which sat in front of well used fire places, and they never cracked or split, because they could no longer lose moisture and shrink.

One slab I did was about 6” thick. Well into doing this, I dropped my brush. When I picked it up, I looked up and the bottom was wet. With that kind of penetration, and after the solvents gassed off, you, basically, had a big piece of plastic.

It was not uncommon for a slab or stump to eat several gallons of Varathane’s Plastic Oil, or thinned poly.

View Adhoc's profile

Adhoc

5 posts in 62 days


#15 posted 01-04-2021 01:27 AM


I have done 2 kitchens in butcher block. I used this {RedGard} to seal around the end grain sink cutouts.

I’m considering this on the underside of Ikea Pinnarp butcher block. How did this work for you? Can you share what type of poly you used on top? I want a honed look rather than a glassy look.

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