A review: IKEA butcher block countertops

Back again for another episode of lots of information about the kitchen. This time, we’re talking countertops. I know that many people wonder about our IKEA countertops because I get a lot of questions and emails.

So, here’s my totally honest review of our counters after 18 months of use.

IKEA butcher block countertops

When we were renovating our kitchen, I really debated countertop options. Knowing that this is a short-timer house for us and we were undergoing a full-home renovation, expensive countertops were out. Also, they would honestly price the house out of the neighborhood.

Our last kitchen remodel used laminate and I actually really liked them. They were cost-effective, easy to keep clean and decent looking.

But my heart was really set on butcher block. I loved the warm look with white countertops. And when we went with IKEA cabinets, going with butcher block was sort of a no-brainer. I could pick them up with the cabinets and they were seriously cheap. Cheaper than laminate.

We went with the Numerar Oak Countertops from IKEA. We needed two “slabs” for a total of $338.

There were some naysayers for using butcher block for countertops. As I mentioned in this post, several smart people told us that it wasn’t a good idea, for various (and some good) reasons. Would it get stained by water? Is it sanitary? Will it be okay for resale?

I ended up doing a lot of research to figure out how to make this work for us. In addition to reading a lot of reviews posts and , I also reached out to some other people who had used them. I got some great tips from Jolie of Shopping Candy for my First Home,  Vanessa at This and That, and Aleah at Hey Baklenko.  All have beautiful countertops and really helpful posts about them.
So, we went with the butcher block and decided to seal them with Waterlox, at the recommendation of pretty much the entire Internet. Yes. The Internet speaks to me directly.


It’s worth mentioning that I had no intentions of using the countertops as a cutting board. I wanted them sealed and sealed well. Neither Ryan nor I are clean freak and I wanted the counters to look good and be easy to keep clean and sanitary. I also wanted something that would protect the wood from water damage, particularly around the sink area. Although if I’m being honest, there’s always water on the counters from glasses, washed dishes, etc. Sealing them protects the finish and was super important.

I had read that Waterlox was the best way to go. I had to order it online since it’s not sold locally. I ordered a quart of the original and satin finish. It’s not cheap, but it goes a really long way and seems to do it’s job well.

After Ryan sanded all the edges, I got to work. (You can see more in this renovation progress report.) First, I sealed the underside of the countertops twice. (This was really important to me since we have a dishwasher and the last thing I wanted was warping.) Then, I sealed the tops of the countertops four times. (I also did about 8 coats of Waterlox around the sink for safe measure, after reading Vanessa’s post.) For application, I used old rags and cloths. I found it was pretty important to get a good amount of Waterlox on the counters when applying but not to where it was pooling. Between coats, I sanded with fine steel wool and paper bags (which oddly really works to get the counters smooth). Then, I made sure to get all the dust off with a tack cloth.

A few notes about Waterlox:

  • I used the original finish for all coats until the final coat, when I used satin because I didn’t want the super shiny surface. I much prefer the satin finish myself.
  • It’s super strong-smelling. You need to have a very well-ventilated area to work. I did it in the garage.
  • It’s very easy to get dust and debris in the finish. This was the hardest part for me to avoid. Sanding well between coats is key.
  • Each coat takes 24 hours to dry, so while the actual finishing isn’t time-consuming, the process takes a very long time. This is difficult if you are like me and very impatient.
  • And it probably goes without saying that you shouldn’t flip the counters until you are completely done with the side, or risk messing up your hard work.

Here are the counters after installation. I’m not going into detail on the installation, but suffice it to say that my husband and father handled it beautifully. The cut the corner piece straight to the wall and attached the pieces together. I do know that the cutting was a challenge because the wood was solid and thick. But they did an awesome job.


And the counters today.

IKEA butcher block countertops

The verdict

We’ve been living with the countertops for over a year now. What do I think? The short answer – I like them. I don’t love them.

  • I like that they still look nice, give a warm feel to the kitchen and really fit in with the period of the house.
  • I do love the price.
  • I don’t love the finish. If I were doing it again, I’d have gone with my gut, sanded them down and stained them before sealing them. I think I would like them with a deeper stained tone. And I would have been more careful with the Waterlox application. I’m not thrilled with the finish and the small imperfections and dust specks that I didn’t get out.

The longer answer – They really look nice overall and I get a lot of compliments on them, in person and on the blog. They are a great value. I’m quite happy with the Waterlox finish.

I personally wouldn’t forgo the Waterlox for tung oil or another finish if the countertops butt up to the sink or if there’s dishwasher. The water could definitely warp the wood so quickly and I wouldn’t risk it. The countertops have really held up beautifully to water.

Ryan and I are not people who are insane about wiping up water if it spills. Every time my husband does the dishes (every night), there is splashed water around the sink. The Waterlox just gives it a nice finish and the water beads up and makes it easy to wipe up. The wood is truly impenetrable to water. We used tung oil on our coffee table and it doesn’t do that. I’d just fear that it would soak up the water and ruin the countertops or make them turn greyish.

I think your personality will determine whether you like the butcher block countertops. We aren’t clean freaks and we aren’t perfectionists. I actually would say I do love them at first glance, but it’s the small imperfections that I think would cause a perfectionist to go to the loony bin and makes me not love love them.

For example, there are a few spots where dust got under the Waterlox and it’s a little bumpy to the touch. There are a few areas of paint that dripped and I cannot get off for the life of me. (I think I have to sand and refinish to take care of them.) There are a couple of scratches, but nothing major. And there are a few spots that the Waterlox has worn off from none other than hot glue – I probably should have used some sort of protection when crafting.

In other words, we’ve used the heck out of these counters in the past year. We cook, we do projects, we craft … they are hardworking counters and I think it’s to be expected.

None of this is noticeable to a casual observer, or even to me on most days. But if you are a perfectionist, it would likely drive you batty. I have considered re-Waterloxing it this summer to stain the counters and get a better finish, but we’ll see.

Until then, I am quite happy with the countertops. Are they perfect? No. But, they are a really cost-effective option and they look really nice overall. And I definitely think they make an impact in the room.

Kitchen red and aqua

What do you think?

(Anything I missed?)


  1. says

    My mum has had the same butcher block counters for about 15 years. She went with oil (no sealing) because by the time she fitted them, the youngest child in the house (me!) was old enough to be sensible with them. They’ve held up perfectly, BUT she wipes down the area behind the sink every time she washes up and is really careful with anything like lemon juice (blackens them for some reason). I think she likes that she could always sand them down if anything went crazy. She has one of these big ikea chopping boards under the kettle (to catch drips from tea bags) and we use that for chopping bread.

    On the other hand, my friend bought a house where someone had used these (unsealed) and not taken care of them and the whole sink area was black and nasty, so you definitely have to do what is right for your family and lifestyle!

  2. says

    We have considered getting IKEA butcher block, so this is quite helpful! We currently have two slabs of poplar plywood as our counter, finished with Zinsser. They haven’t held up great, but I think if we resealed them, they’d look better (for a short time).

  3. says

    Thanks for this post Kim! I’m debating using butcher block counters in our kitcen remodel. It’s the home we are planning on raising our kiddos in so I may splurge on some quartz for the main counters and go with the butcherblock on the raised portion of the penninsula. Although I’m curious as to the hardness of the waterlox finish – do you think it would pick up indentations/scratches if it was used as a writing/homework surface?

  4. says

    I know you don’t like the finish, but I think it looks great. It’s really beautiful and looks great with the white cabinets and tile. If it was darker it might hide messes on the counter. That’s what ours do (we have dark granite), and it’s so annoying. Thanks for the honest review!

  5. says

    This is SO helpful Kim! We’ve been debating putting these in our kitchen mainly because of the cost. We have A LOT of countertop space and a really small budget. I’m going to share this with my hubby so he can see how you sealed them. I really like hearing how water-proof they are. That has been my main worry in going with butcher block.

  6. says

    We put in Ikea butcher block at our old house specifically to update the kitchen for selling. I LOVED them, but I never really got to use them (we were there for maybe two months after they went in, but I was so terrified of messing them up that spent most of my time wiping up every drop of water immediately and recoating them with mineral oil approximately every 20 minutes). I’ve always wondered how I would have liked them long term, so this was really interesting to read :)

  7. says

    Great to know that they are holding up…still on the fence with it simply cause I do tend to be a perfectionist , and worry that seeing dust and bumps would get to me… and I have no patience and so the amount of layers to do of the waterlox…. but we will see. I may still just do tile again… which fits the age of my house and though there is grout to deal with, I can seal that and it is a quick process. That being said…. I LOVE how the butcher block works, so you never know!

  8. says

    Your Butcher block counters look amazing, and I ‘ve always loved them! Can’t get over how affordable they are! We are planning to use them in our laundry room to go above our washer & dryer as a counter. Thanks for all the tips on how to seal them properly.

  9. says

    I’m so glad to read they are working out for you! I too have imperfections in our finish but I know I could sand it down and get a better finish if I so choose to (which I never will). We stained ours first, but didn’t seal the underside of them (a mistake we are just noticed 3 years later where there’s a fine crack in the dishwasher area). For now, I agree for the price this was the best option and in the future if I get sick of them and want a new look, I haven’t lost much in getting new countertops. :) Thanks for the reference in your post!

  10. says

    So, true story, it’s your countertops that have me wanting to try butcher block in our next house. I absolutely adore our granite, but dang, granite is expensive, and I love how the wood warms up the room.

    I will probably call you in a total panic every 3 minutes while I’m sealing the butcher block, though. You’ve been warned.

  11. says

    I have always wondered about butcher block counters. Thank you for the review. We have laminate and actually I don’t mind them at all. I have lived in places with granite, concrete counters and these are by far the easiest to clean and look clean.

  12. says

    I love this post! Thanks so much for sharing! We’re starting to plan out our kitchen remodel and REALLY want butcher block. And of course, due to the price, the IKEA counters are what we’re seriously leaning towards. But I think we’ll end up trying to sand them down and re-stain them. Oh…and I never would have thought to seal the underside of the counters too…doh…thanks for the reminder! Totally pinning this for later!

  13. says

    I think they look great. Thanks for the update on how they’ve held up! We’re thinking of putting them in and I figured we would oil them, but you might have convinced me Waterlox is the way to go!

  14. Susan says

    Oh my goodness! I am so happy that I just happened across this blog today! I have been going super nuts the past few days obsessing over countertop selection for my new house. I am still not completely sold, but I just love the look so much I may just go for it. (Also, I see that you know my pal and ex work buddy Meg! Clearly the internet is sending me a sign.)

  15. Diane says

    Hi! We are considering these exact countertops. I noticed you didn’t use a drop in sink. Can you tell me what sink you purchased and why you chose it? It looks like the counter cuts would be much easier with the one you have.

  16. says

    We want to do these countertops as well, so thanks for the info. I do have the same question as Diane concerning the sink you used. Thanks!

  17. Bob says

    We remodeled our kitchen 3 years ago after a fortuitous bathroom leak ruined the wall and carpet in the bedroom adjacent to our kitchen. Since we were planning on putting in laminate floors, it was the push that led us to remodel the kitchen simultaneously (the new floor is in both rooms). We removed a peninsula in the kitchen and replaced it with an island. All Ikea cabinets. For the long kitchen counter we put laminate countertop with an integrated sink (no edges!). But for the island we wanted something to match the wood decor of the Ikea cabinet exterior we chose (the northwoods cabin look), and opted for the butcher block. We sealed it several times using the sealant we bought at Ikea with the butcher block. We don’t let water sit/pool on it, but we’re not obsessive about it either (since there is no water supply on the butcher block), and have had no stains. My only regret is that I did not sand between coats, so the grain has really raised up. I hope to resolve that before I reseal it (for the first time) this week. We always use cutting boards, not the butcher block itself.

  18. says


    Your butcher block countertops look great. I can’t see any imperfections so great job. I have a small condo at the beach and am combining the butcher block with granite. I am putting the butcher block on both sides of the sink. On the left side of the sink I have a similar angle that you showed in your photos where you had to cut and run the butcher block away from the piece you ran from the sink. Did you guys do anything special for the line left in between the two pieces that were cut? I think your pieces are on the left side of your sink as well.

  19. nik says

    My wife and I are preparing to install Ikea cabinets and also use the Numerar countertop. I am a purist at heart but a realist when it comes to kitchen antics. Though tung oil is the proper way to go, waterlox does a superior job protecting when applied correctly. I am a luthier hobbiest and have done many fine woodworking projects. I came across this blog when searching about people’s experiences with Ikea’s counters. From observing the Numerar counters, the grain should first be filled. Wunderfil Wood Filler is the best. Ensure you buy the proper tint and dampen and resand if you plan on staining.. Then, stain as desired. General Finishes is the way to go for an easy stain. Waterlox 2 or more coats is preferable. To keep a good shine, the steel wool suggestion will get you where you want to go, but if you desire a precise finish, wet sand between coats with a 350 grit or greater. For the final 2 coats, go to 400, 600, and 800. For the 800, use a light touch because you are essentially buffing it. If you want to get really fancy, wet sand with 1200 and add a little dish soap to your water. Light touch. Easy does it. That’ll give you a flat, beautiful finish, no matter if you use a satin or gloss. Hope this helps.

    Thanks for reviewing your experiences. Buying the Numerar is much easier than making your own countertops!

  20. Hannah says

    I’m considering changing my counter top to ikea butcher block.
    I’m more concerned about grease and goo around my stove top than water. I use very
    little oil when cooking, but still end up with a mess. Are you able to clean up easily?
    I’m used to using my harsh spray cleaners, I’m sure that’s a no no.

  21. Christel says

    I was wondering how you did the seems since you waterloxed before installing? We don’t know how to do the seem unless we sand and waterloxed in the kitchen..

      • Christine says

        Regarding applying the waterlox prior to install; did you waterlox the entire “slab” or did you apply the waterlox after cutting the pieces to your precise coutnertop measurements? I’m trying to figure out if I can start the staining/waterloxing now, to get it out of the way, since we have another 2-3 weeks until install of the cabinets begins.


  22. says

    These look great! We have just purchased a home where they installed an IKEA kitchen with butcher block countertops but I don’t think they have been sealed so this is really helpful.

    Wanted to paint my kitchen a pale sage green just like yours – what brand and color did you use?


  23. Christie says

    Great post, thanks! This may be a silly question, but do you cut on these countertops – like you would on a cutting board? Or would that scratch the waterlox finish?

    • says

      You wouldn’t want to use these to cut on. If you wish to use the butcher block as a cutting board, I’d recommend using food-safe oil. The Waterlox is intended to seal and protect the countertops instead.

  24. Shannon says

    I’ve had the Ikea Numerar countertops (oiled) for about 4 1/2 years and they still look great, in fact, they almost look better with age. I cook every day and bake every weekend in my kitchen, we have big parties. Other than not leaving wet cloths on them for a long time (like overnight) I am not at all careful with them.

    With the oil finish anything you do to them can be either lightly sanded or carefully bleached out, and over time all blends together into a nice patina. The beeswax / oil goes on very nice and smooth and its a matte finish with a slight sheen. We waterloxed only around the sink and the underside where the dishwasher is, which isn’t visible.

    Every six months I give them a very light sand- which erases all of the sins and re-seal. It only takes me about 20 minutes every 6 months. They were intended to be a temporary solution, but I’m pretty confident I’ll get many more years out of them.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m glad you are happy with your countertops, too. There are clearly a lot of different ways to finish them and it all depends on your lifestyle and tolerance.

  25. Cindy says

    Hi Kim-
    Thanks for an honest review! We had wood countertops put in almost a year ago. They aren’t Ikea. They are walnut, put together by a local craftsman, so the price point was much higher, although I now know that if we had explored our options a bit more, we could have saved a lot. We didn’t use Waterlox to seal them; we used something called Vermont Natural Coatings Polywhey. Very, very low-VOC, so we were able to apply four coats with the countertops already installed. A quart was more than enough for the coverage we wanted. I was skeptical, but it has held up amazingly well to hard, daily use.

    I would do it again in exactly this way in a heartbeat. Like you, I love the warmth that the wood brings to the kitchen. Because walnut has such a deep, natural color, this protective coating was all we needed: no staining necessary. And Polywhey: who knew it could be such a good sealer?

    Thanks again for entering into such honest discussion!

    • says

      Walnut – that sounds gorgeous – I love walnut. I’m happy that you are loving yours and thanks for the tip on Polywhey. The low VOC is something I’m interested in. We’re actually exploring options for our barn remodel and with such a small space I wasn’t keen on Waterlox for the fumes. I’ll keep this in mind.

  26. says

    We have had our Ikea butcher block counters for about 7 or 8 years now. Personally, I love them. I use only the countertop oil I purchase at Ikea and apply about 2 coats every 8 months or so. Although we use cutting boards for heavy duty chopping, we have sliced bread and did quick chops on it now and again, we sit hot pots on it, water spills on it, and I still love it. I prefer the patina it has acquired over the years of use. I have had a few juice stains which I have just sanded out.

  27. patri says

    I so appreciated your review and loved your honesty. It seems to me, however that this is more of a review on Waterlox than it is the IKEA countertop. This is just merely an observation and not meant to come across as snide. I think the countertop has held up beautifully and does warm up the kitchen. As for the price, well…that just can’t be beat!

    • says

      You are probably right, patri. I would argue it’s a review of both. We love the countertops and the price and are thrilled with the Waterlox, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  28. says

    Wish I had read this before. We purchased a large islands and it had a butcher block top. I loved the way it looked. Ikea told me all I needed was the Tung oil. I was super faithful in treating it daily. It didn’t matter. Even if i wiped up spills quickly, liquid would seep between the seams. I have warped pieces. Now I am planning on replacing it with a large piece of stainless steel. I also have the black stains, didn’t realize it was lemon juice.

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  30. Lindsey says

    Hi there,
    I love your countertops and am considering putting these in the house we are building. I am hoping I can convince my husband we can buy a farm sink with the savings! I am not close to a ikea so I was hoping you could answer a question for me. I am a walnut stain fan so I will sand and stain the countertop. Will it matter which color of countertop I pick? I notice there is a price difference from what you picked and others that are offered. Is there a grain difference?

    • says

      The grain will be different based on the type of wood. The color won’t really matter (although oak will still have more reddish undertones if you stain). But the grain is different and some woods are more “soft” than others. For example, pine is a soft wood. Oak is pretty hard. Google the different types of wood and you’ll see. You’ll want something relatively hard since it will be used daily.

      Best of luck!

  31. Rhoni T says

    Thankful for your review!! Countertops and floors are the last thing on our whole house remodel. Still flip flopping on the floors, but I have totally been sold on wooden countertops from day one. I needed an honest oppion. Thanks!!

    • Rhoni T says

      10 slabs ordered, arriving this weekend!!! Yes 10, 7 for the kitchen ( lots of counter top space) one for the hall bath and two our 9-1/2 ‘ master bath. I see a long couple of weeks coming up soon!!

        • Rhoni T says

          We started out little countertop project last summer and finally finished this spring. Whew!! Each piece was measured by my husband, then myself and then together. Especially in the kitchen, where we piece the bar together and the corners and the runs at the stove top and sink. My husband says I chose the wrong side of the wood, the side with the knot-holes. Of course, I did. I sanded the finish off that came on them, filled any imperfections with wood putty (remember wrong side of the wood), and then sanded once more, wiped each piece down with warm water, when dry too the touch, I stained with General Finishes Antique Walnut gel stain. After 24 hours began the slow process of the Waterlox, I applied with a cut up t-shirt, an old worn out shirt without decals and that did not fray when cut up. 24 hours later I sanded with 000 steel wool, wiped the surface down with a damp cloth and dried it, then added the next coat of Waterlox, then repeated each day for a total of 7 coats of Waterlox. Love how they turned out, water beads up on the counters. In the bathrooms I did 5 coats of Waterlox, we don’t have any kids at home with exception of the college kid 3 months out of the year. All the counters turned out beautifully!!! I really babies the kitchen until I popped out the center of my kitchen aid grinder and left a dent in the wood. I did realize that our sink is no longer siliconed in a few spots, so when it is no longer sealed I will sand that area and ‘re silicon. Let me add that I have a copper sink, and that it is not as heavy as most sinks. And have not had any issues in the baths with the sinks that set on the counter there.
          I’d love to send pictures to you. Without your post I would have never thought it was possible to have my beautiful wooden counters. Thanks again.

  32. says

    Hey there,
    I absolutely love the look of these counter tops. We are looking for houses right now with some of the kitchens redone with Ikea countertops like these. I’m really concerned that they probably didn’t seal underneath. Have you experienced resealing or restaining the countertops once they are installed? Also, I’ve noticed that the two blocks (like near your stove) have a separation so I’m wondering if that was caused by moisture. They put a seam in there but it doesn’t bridge the gap. Not sure if that’s even fixable. Doesn’t look like you used a seam. Have you noticed separation between yours?

    • says

      Leah – I’m sorry that I can’t be more help. This is the only time we’ve used the Waterlox and haven’t had any issues. My gut is that you could sand down the corner and re-align the seam. But, I can’t be sure. I haven’t had any issues with separation on ours. Best of luck!

  33. Kay says

    We have butcherblock and want to add subway tile backplash, but the wood expands and contracts leaving a gap of 1/4″ sometimes. Sine caulk does not do the trick, what did you do about the gap at the wall? It looks like you have something different at the wall between the tiles and countertop. What do you recommend?

    • says

      We used the tile grout.It seems to be holding up, although there are a few spots that need to be re-done because of the contracting you speak of. Hope this helps.

      • KelseyH says

        My husband and I are planning on putting in butcher block in our new kitchen and this is my main concern. My one question about the contracting/expanding, is whether you live in a climate that is very susceptible to the seasons, or is this contracting/expanding happening in a more moderate climate? Ohio has some very hot, humid summers, and very cold winters, so this cold pose a problem.


          • Rhoni T says

            I added subway tile and used Mapei, Keracaulk Unsanded, bought at Lowe’s. So far with 1/2 a summer, 1 winter, the rainest spring on record ever in my county and well into the 2nd summer, I have not had any issues with my caulk. I live in Oklahoma, humidity today was @ 90%.

            Whew Whee the air is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Or my favorite; I broke a sweat just sticking my head out the door. Heard a lot this time of year.

  34. says

    Our new wood countertop (sealed with waterlox) is adjacent to painted (white) tongue & groove beadboard walls/backsplash. Would we apply anything, like a caulk, between the wood countertop and the painted tongue & groove beadboard walls/backsplash?

    • says

      We used sanded grout in this area, but we have tile. You could do caulk, but it will probably need to be fixed every so often because the wood will expand and contract.

  35. says

    If it’s latex paint drips on your counters, you could try dabbing rubbing alcohol on the paint and see if that helps remove it. I found that tip recently and used rubbing alcohol to get latex paint off of fabric. It worked great. I’d like to build a rolling cart with combo of butcher block and marble left over from our counters. Have considered the Ikea butcher block for that so your info about wanting to have stained it first, after living with it for awhile, is good to know. I think I’d want to stain it too.

  36. says

    My question is this: cuz I luv white… would you think that a picked white finish where grain is visible would be pleasing with the waterlox as a seal? I have two ikea butcher block islands slated for my studio kitchen and my studio is completely white thus I’d luv to soften the wood look! would luv your thoughts. thx for this awesome post:)

  37. says

    This post is old but I’m just coming across it, and I’m so happy I did!!! I am actually considering new countertops in my house now and Ikea butcher block is on the top of my list. I loved your advice in this post and I may be sold on the countertops!! Any advice on installing?? Or other posts that relate?? Also, is your farmhouse sink from ikea as well? I am in the market for one of those as well. Awesome post :)

  38. Bess says

    Thanks so much for posting your review! I used the Waterlox, too, but went with Black Walnut wood from Craft-Art for mine. I wish I could share a pic, but I’m not that clever on a computer! I think if I’d gone with Ikea I would have had to use a stain so I just went for the Craft Art Black Walnut (from “DIYHomeowner Collection”). I was worried about staining because if I ever wanted to fix a scratch I’d have to sand through the stain. Plus I was concerned abuot food safety with a stain.

    So anyway I decided to use Walnut and follow the process you did partially and partially the process from the place I bought them from. (I used 50/50 mix of the WAterlox Satin finish and the Waterlox Sealer finish for the 1st 2 coats and did the last 2 coats only the Satin Finish).

    For the other people that mentioned they didn’t want to stain I got my wood countertop in Walnut here since it’s already the color I wanted but it cost slightly more to get the higher quality wood:


    Thanks again for sharing your process and helping me make my decision!!!! Best kitchen decision we made on our very modest budget.


  39. Kellyn says

    I know you said water just beads up. What about wine or kids juice drinks. How does the Waterlox hold up to those spills?

  40. says

    The counters you did look wonderful! Even look stained to me. Thanks for sharing so many details! I think you need to accept those cute little drips, and the tiny dust bumps. You gave it your best shot at the time, and it looks great. Don’t spend any more of your life on it now- it’s finished! Move on to some other delightful project or hobby! It doesn’t have to be perfect at all- just a job well done!

  41. says

    Thanks for sharing such a detailed account of your work on the counters. They look great!
    I think you need to accept the cute little drips and the tiny dust bumps. Don’t spend any more of your life on the counters- you gave it your best shot at the time, and now you can move on to another project or hobby. It doesn’t ever have to be perfect, just a job well done! You’ve inspired many others about these counters, including myself. You shared the best possible way to protect them, and to keep them looking great. I’m sold!

  42. Lauren says

    Thanks so much for this review! I’m also getting ready to install these countertops, and similarly want to seal them well. I’m hoping I didn’t miss this info in your post or in another review, but do you think one quart of waterlox is enough to cover two slabs of the numerar? I was just going to get the VOC compliant which I think is the original formula, but since I have to order it online, I’d love to get it all in one go if I’ll need more than 1 quart. Thanks for your insight!

    • Christine says

      Just as an FYI! I emailed Waterlox to get their take on whether to seal before cutting/installation or after. They agree with the author here; BEFORE! This is the best way to protect against water damage from a sink, dishwasher, or god forbid, a leak later on. She also informed me that one quart will cover approx. 125 sq. feet. She recommended that we do between 3-5 coats. The slabs are a little over 12 square feet each.

      Here is her email:

      Thank you for reviewing our guides on waterlox.com and for your inquiry about your IKEA countertop projects.

      I would recommend that you coat all sides prior to installation. This will help in the long-run.

      Yes, the number of coats for a semi-gloss is somewhere between 3-5, depending on the species of wood you’re coating and the proximity to water. Spread rate is 125 square feet per quart per coat. Normal application is 3-4, again the extra coat is for a couple reasons – 1. For those who err on the light side of the spread rate, and, 2. To allow for some extra water–resistance. It doesn’t behoove you to go any more than that…

      Prior to coating your tops, be sure to wipe them down completely with regular mineral spirits and conduct a cross-hatch test to check for drying and inter-coat adhesion … some of the IKEA tops have had issues with drying if they have a wax-finish applied from the factory…I’ve heard…

  43. FradyKat says

    I LOVE YOUR KITCHEN! I did a sear for ikea DIY countertop vs. Craft Art DIY butcherblock countertops and found your page. I know you posted this a while ago but it still helped me now!

    I went with the Waterlox from your post and the Craft Art instead of Ikea because Ikea didn’t have the one and the size I wanted in stock (??? no idea why). But anyway I love what I ended up with so it was a blessing in disguise and I love the finish and the darker black walnut I ended up going with. I know you mentioned maybe wanting to have stained yours so I’m double glad.

    Do you have any update post where you show how your finish has done since you posted? Sorry – I am new to your page and didn’t see one but was wondering.

    So far I love my wood butcher block and the waterlox finish is holding up really well but just curious to get a glimpse into my future!!

    Thanks soo much for sharing your experience. Big help.

    Oh PS. I used these instructions in combination with yours. so to anyone reading this who wants to see a similar set of waterlox instructions I found them here, but they are less casual and fun than yours : )


    • says

      The finish is pretty close to the same as when I wrote this post. Nothing super noticeable, just a few imperfections from my application, and some normal scratches. Most wouldn’t even notice.

      Glad to hear you had good luck with your countertops. I would have loved to do walnut. We actually just finished our countertops for the barn and they look AMAZING> Can’t wait to share them.

  44. Badri Raghunathan says

    I love the ikea butcher blocks myself. But I’m looking to use it for a home office desk. Any suggestions on mounting options ?(Legs?) and other dos and don’ts (no sealing needed ?)


    • says

      There are legs available at IKEA, too. But I have no experience with them. I’d probably go through the same steps with Waterlox. That way, you don’t have to worry about spills.

  45. Pam says

    I installed custom butcher block countertops in 2003 on my island. Ikea was not selling these yet, and no one made the size I needed, so I had to go with custom. It is 5 feet by 8 feet, solid rock maple, with a 3 foot unsupported overhang at one end for an eating area. My fabricator installed steel rods through the 2.5 inch thick butcherblock so I could have an unsupported overhang of that size. The whole thing is amazing. I have a cooktop in the island, but no sink. It was sealed when installed, but needs to be refinished now after a decade of hard use. I think I am going to go with tung oil now. I like the imperfections and the look of age you get with that finish. My house is a 150 year old farmhouse, and anything too new looks out of place. I have quartz on all the other surfaces in the kitchen. My favorite feature is that I can just sand it down and start over if anything really disastrous happens, but I like all the dings and dents.

    I LOVE my butcherblock, but it is not for anyone who is too perfectionist. One must embrace the timeworn look.

  46. says

    Hi Kim,

    I love this post and have found it very helpful as I’m planning a walk-up wet bar for my basement using everything IKEA. Can you tell me what depth butcherblock you used for your counters? I ordered the 25″ but worry about it being deep enough since the sink is 27″ deep. I know the sinks are suppose to stick out a little, but I worry that 2 inches is a lot. Thanks for your help!

      • says

        Thanks! That’s what I wanted to hear b/c we also ordered the 25″. Now tell me, is that a 24″ sink base cabinet you used? They said that is what the sink fits in, but the width of the sink is 25″ so I was concerned about it fitting in a 24″ sink base. And tell me, how awful were all the cabinets to put together? You said once they did a few it was easier but did it take like hours upon hours? And how difficult was it to install? Did the sink install easily? I”m just curious what to expect as far as build and install time. We are hiring a neighbor who is a contractor to do the dirty work and will pay by the hour. :)

  47. carrie says

    We almost got IKEA butcher block countertops. I KNEW I wanted butcher block. We ended up going with the more expensive, Boos Block counter tops. I already had a large Boos block chopping block I was going to be including in my kitchen design. (FYI…I had a friend who was a dealer of the Boos, so we got a smokin’ deal. That is why we went with them. Local friends, good family. Great customer service. Once we added shipping costs to the IKEA…about the same price.) Anyway, we got one piece sealed(and used it for the raised bar area), because he had it in the warehouse as a return, and the rest are unfinished. I have dark cabinets and the countertops look amazing. I oil them when they start to get to looking dry. My scrubbie sponges take out any stains I may make in my daily use and then I just ruba little oil into them. I have had no warping over my dishwasher, which is right by the big farm sink. We have been in our home for 6 1/2 years now. The only problem I had is, the guy that installed them, didn’t follow the installation directions and secured them in too many places and I have a tiny crack or really a seperation of the wood pices. I filled it with glue and it isn’t noticiable. Wood must have room to expand and contract. Don’t over secure your wood countertops. We live in the country and have a rustic home so imperfections go perfectly with our home. My inlaws loved ours so much that when they remodeld, they got butcherblock too. They stained and sealed theirs as they have white cabinets and wanted a darker counter top. I adore my countertops and would never choose a solid surface like granite or quartz. These babies will last a lifetime, will never go out of style and to be honest, get better looking every year. Thank you for addressing the buthcerblock countertops. I highly recommend them to all my friends….and anyone else who would listen!!

  48. Webster says

    We installed the Ikea oak butcher block in our house over 5 years ago. We used Ikea’s own product (oil based) to seal and re-apply about once a year. You’ll only have water damage if you let something like a wet rag sit on the counter overnight; that just really traps in all the moisture. Even so, the water damage is really just a lifting of the grain. Sand it down, let it dry thoroughly, and then re-apply the Ikea oil.

    If you ever develop a small crack along one of the wood joints (may or may not happen to you) I’ve found a fix the works extremely well. Sand around the area and then pack as much sanding dust in the crack. Then drop fill the crack with super glue. Let dry and repeat until the glue surface is slightly raised. Then sand back to level and re-apply the oil. Super glue doesn’t shrink once dry and the repair will last pretty much forever.

    • Valerie says

      We’ve just purchased our Numerar butcher block from IKEA and are waiting for delivery. We ordered the 73″x39″ and I am starting to worry that maybe we can only cut the length and not the depth. Do you know if you can cut the depth measurement (39″)? We only need 32″.

      • webster says

        Yes, you can cut it to depth. We had a half-depth bar height section that ran the full length of one side of the open kitchen. The only issue you MIGHT run into is that uglier boards are used for the inner boards and they save the prettiest boards for the outer boards. When you cut it to depth you might find the board where your cut is to have a some knots or other imperfections. It’s completely luck of the draw. With that said, we didn’t run into anything ugly enough to even consider not using (and I’m pretty darn picky). In you case it sounds as if you can just put the cut edge against the wall so it’s a non-issue.

  49. says

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  50. Nancy Jo says

    We had the exact same beechwood Ikea slab counters in our last house. I LOVED them. We sanded them down super smooth , and rounded the edges to give them a more professional look. We had a professional join the corners with an angled biscuit joint to give lots of strength.
    I stained (2 coats) with a dark stain and then sealed it with food safe linseed oil. I oil the tops about once every six months and have never had any issues with water except for a bit around the sink area- but it’s not too noticeable. We also made a kitchen farm table and bench with the same top and maple bottom. It is very durable (proof from my four kids) and cleans up beautifully

  51. elle says

    Oh my gosh! I know where you used to live! (sorry for sounding creepy) I saw your house on the re -max website and tried to talk my fella into buying it because it was so adorable! Now I found you on pinterest! Keep up the good work! Your design style is fantastic!

  52. Allan says

    It’s good your instinct was to finish the underside. Any wood, and other materials as well, will automatically warp when a liquid finish seals off one side and not the other. Often this is completely balanced by finishing the other side, unless too much time passes between finishing top and bottom. It is also crucial to finish all edges, as unfinished wood around moisture is susceptible to mold growth as well.

    As a professional remodeler, I avoid using butcher block around water, period. I can see it for areas away from water, depending on other elements in the room, such as floors. If there are hardwood-look floors, wood countertops might seem too much like the floors instead of contrasting with them. I’m glad it worked out for you.

    I generally avoid staining wood that doesn’t have to be matched because it ruins the character, and is difficult to change later. In the building, cabinet, millwork, and furniture world, stain is typically used to hide defects and uneven colors of lower grade wood. The people selling the house I recently bought advertised “beautiful custom-made cherry cabinets throughout”. Well, they are actually alder, a cheaper, softer wood, stained with “cherry” stain. My wife and I both noticed immediately during the real estate tour, but decided the pluses of the house outweighed the minuses. The cabinets don’t have the deep shimmering quality of cherry, and the color isn’t even close. It is a color that doesn’t exist in nature, and nature is what creates that “warmth” people love.

    Depending on the amount of light in a house, and as our eyes age, lighter shades in general make it easier to see things, and tend to be less likely to go out of style. I’ve got a vaulted great room with fairly dark wood wrapped beams, plus a prominent stairway, solid core doors, and mantelpiece to match. Most of the framing and finish lumber here is of pine. All the dark trim gives the feeling of a 19th century banker’s club. If we stay here longer than our five year plan, I will remove all the 1″x6″ trim that wraps the beams, flip it over, nail it back on, and varnish the original wood. The dark stained trim and cabinets in our master bath made it cave-like, and as much as I resist painting good wood, I painted it off-white to get a lighter atmosphere going in that important room. It also helped set off new cabinet hardware and faucets.

    • says

      Allan – thanks so much for sharing your experience. We had the wood countertops (sealed with Waterlox) for over three years of daily use and never had a lick of trouble. I think that the avoidance of using wood around water is probably a good tip, but the Waterlox makes it possible with no issues.

  53. Gareth Emery says

    Hi Kim,

    I stumbled upon your blog from Google. I want to purchase this block but as a computer desk, not a countertop. Couple questions that you may or may not be able to answer:

    1. Would I need to seal the wood as a computer desk? I plan on eating at the desk.

    2. How did you purchase the desk? Did you get it delivered or pick it up at the store? None of the stores in my areas have it in stock. I have the option of getting it delivered for $100 (yikes) or ordering it in person and picking it up in the store at a later date (but I drive a sedan and I don’t think I can fit the 93 inch version).

    • says

      I don’t think you’d have to seal the desk if you didn’t want to – it’s really more for water protection than anything.

      I purchased the top in person at the store – it’s definitely something you’d need a truck to haul – maybe you could borrow one?

      Good luck!

  54. says

    Thanks so much for your review on Ikea butcher block countertops. I love the look and price of them, but is is nice to hear from an actual owner. I haven’t seen this addressed-any problems with clean up of grease splatters And can antibacterial cleaning sprays be used on countertops that have been treated with Waterlox? Just trying to make sure they can be properly cleaned. Thank you, Connie

    • says

      My understanding is that you technically shouldn’t use antibacterial cleaning sprays (or wipes) because the chemicals can break down waterlox. I used vinegar/water mix mostly and an Envirocloth from Norwex (which just uses water). Both of these kept the counters plenty clean. However, sometimes, I resorted to Clorox wipes. I didn’t have any issues, but I am told that it could break down the waterlox which means it won’t last as long.

  55. Dagg says

    Your info was VERY helpful……….we are a very DIY kind of family and are not afraid of a little work so save some money. So after reading your tips we are thinking of using butcher block on our counters and will used a tougher material on our island where the sink and most of the prep work is done. Thanks for confirming our thoughts.

  56. Kayla says

    Hi! I found your blog the other day and just love it! We are redoing our kitchen and are thinking of using IKEA butcher block for all our counters.

    I know you have sold the house since putting in the wood counter tops. My husband is kind of worried for when it is time for us to sale, could it deter some buyers with the wood counter tops. Do you think you had any would-be buyers that changed their minds because of the wood counter tops?

    • says

      This was something I worried a little about. But we actually didn’t have a SINGLE negative comment about the countertops when we were selling. And our house sold within 45 days, so it must not have been a huge issue.

  57. says

    Have yet to fin the price for these countertops from Ikea? Should I just drive up there 200 miles and get them or do I need to order the?
    Thank you

  58. Ingrid P says

    Whew! I’ve spent at least an hour reading all the comments. Your butcherblock countertop looks great. I have some leftover Ikea butcherblock th

  59. Ingrid P says

    Whew! I’ve spent at least an hour reading all the very interesting comments. Your butcherblock countertop looks really great. I had used Ikea butcherblock for a table and shelves in the kitchen so they are not in contact with water. I have some leftover that I would like to use as a countertop in the bathroom. I was set on using tung oil as it is touted to be the best and natural. But now I am having second thoughts. My husband splashes water around quite a bit. I really want something that will hold up. I live in France so will have to find the equivalent of Waterlock.

  60. Dusty Creighton says

    Would you have any opinions on using these in a different area of the home? I’m considering butcher block counters for a craft (mostly sewing) room and laundry room. Do you feel in an area with out water use you would more “love” them? Thanks for any input!

    • says

      I think they’d be great anywhere – Depending on use, I may just seal them with oil rather than Waterlox. The benefit of Waterlox is really that it’s waterproof so if that isn’t an issue, it may not be worth it

  61. Dicksie says

    Just wanted to add my experience. I installed IKEA counters in Beech and also treated with Waterlox (in original finish). I did not seal underneath but did use a metal-type ‘thing’ that they recommend in the area of the dishwasher. It installs underneath the overhang; not visible to just be in the room looking at them. I also did about 4 coats of the Waterlox.
    This was all done the summer of 2006, so they are now going on 8 years! They still look great with just a couple of very teeny areas of wear. No scratches, but do have a few areas sort of ‘smudged’ if looking critically in just the right light and at right angle. My seams have held up great. For backsplash, I used a trim board (matching) IKEA sold at the time and caulked between it and the butcher block counters with clear silicone caulk; it’s done very well. Above that, for ‘backsplash’, I actually have just vinyl coated wallpaper. My home is early 1900’s and I wanted a period look , found paper I loved, but didn’t have a lot of wall space due to my cabinets, so chose to go with the paper. It, too, has held up great. My cooking area is in an island , so no wallpaper there, but do have the Ikea counters there . Might mention that my particular countertop is no longer available. The main difference is that mine was not as thick/deep as the one they now carry. I think mine was ‘around’ an inch or 1 1/4 inch and only one presently available is 1 1/2 inches thick.


  1. […] renovators and DIYers A full kitchen tour, along with the details of our IKEA cabinetry and butcher block countertops A budget rental renovation Living in a barn Painting, adding windows and a deck to the […]

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