The butcher block counters have been the subject of a few questions so I figured it was time to finally share how we stained and sealed them.
For starters, we bought two of the Numerar Countertops from Ikea. Just as a heads up, I’ve since heard that they may have changed these slightly. Ours were purchased a little over a year ago at this point. We ended up stealing my step-dad for the cutting & hole drilling process since we do not have a circular saw.
For the staining and sealing process, I set up shop in our basement. I read a few reviews on the sealer and let’s just say that stuff is pungent. Before I started with any staining I did a little bit of light sanding on the edges that were cut and along the top.
My first step was to seal the bottom of the counters with Waterlox. I did this in hopes of make the entire piece water safe and my main concern was the piece that would fit around the sink and over the dishwasher. I applied two coats to the underside of the counters. I followed the directions and waited 24 hours between coats. I would recommend stocking up on those foam craft brushes. I learned after the first coat that it’s not easy to get out of a typical paintbrush. I would pour the Waterlox into a small plastic cup and use a new disposable brush each time. I learned my lesson from the below picture and changed my methods.
I’m going to be completely honest and say that I wish I would have done more coats of Waterlox on the bottom side of the counters. They have held up perfectly fine so far, I’m just paranoid and want these to last as long as possible.
Next, I used Minwax PreStain Wood Conditioner to prep the wood for stain. I’m not sure if this next step is absolutely necessary but considering this is going to be our only countertop surface in the kitchen for years to come, I went with it.
After all that jazz, I was finally able to work on the stain. I tested a few different options on the piece that we cut out for the sink and I wasn’t sold. The stain on the left was a bit plain for me and the one on the right was too red. That’s when I started to think about mixing a few different stains.
I went a bit crazy on the other side of the above piece and tested probably 8 different mixes of the below three stains. Dark Walnut, Special Walnut, & Golden Oak (All Minwax Wood Finishes) are the stains we used. In the end, we both agreed that equal parts of each looked the best.
For this step, I tore up one of Chris’ old shirts and mixed equal parts of the three stains in a plastic cup. Then just applied the stain as directed, remembering to stir (you’re not supposed to shake stain) it occasionally so the colors would stay well mixed. The below shows the counters after two coats of the custom mix.
I liked it but didn’t love it. I still felt like it was reading slightly redder than I had hoped. This is when I decided to go in with one last coat using only the Dark Walnut. Another reason I decided to do this was that I had read that the Waterlox can slightly alter the color of the counters, usually tone down/lightening them. I figured I should go slightly dark than my goal in hopes of having the Waterlox bring it back down to the desired shade.
The above picture is after a few coats of the Waterlox sealer. In total, I ended up applying 6 coats of the sealer to the tops and all of the edges of these counters. Again I waited a day between coats and used disposable brushes. The only thing I did differently with the top was some light sanding in between coats.
After the second coat of sealer, I didn’t feel like I was getting the smoothness that I wanted so I ran to Lowe’s and bought a small hand sander and some 320 grit sandpaper. I went over everything with a very light hand between coats of sealer and then wiped off the dust. I would wait to sand until right before I applied the next coat and I was amazing at how much this step helped!
I hope this answers some of the questions about how we tackled the counters. Please let me know if you have any questions or need more clarity on anything in the comments! We’ve been living with these for at least 10 months and so far they’ve been great! I would avoid placing plastic bags with type or newspapers on them for a while as the print does seem to transfer easily but it can be washed off with a little light scrubbing. Since I don’t really like to do any hardcore scrubbing on these I just try to avoid that stuff altogether.
Here are a couple more after for good measure:)
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