How to Refinish Butcher Block Countertops

onion sitting on butcher block

Butcher block countertops can be practical and lovely in a kitchen. One of the positive aspects of having one of these wooden countertops is that it can be refinished to look like new – or at least, nearly new. Refinishing a butcher block countertop is not difficult, and with a little time and effort you can be revitalize yours simply by following the information below.

Step 1 - Clean Your Countertop Thoroughly

If you have determined that your butcher block is definitely in need of refinishing, you will want to first remove any food residue, grease, or oil, so that your countertop is thoroughly clean before you begin the refinishing process. This can simply be done with a cloth or sponge dampened in a water and mild detergent solution.

Step 2 - Sand Your Countertop

moving a sanding block across wood surface

If you have superficial scratches or stains on your countertop, remove them by sanding the surface. Avoid using polyurethane or varnish on a wooden countertop because if moisture can seep through the cracks and scratches in this sealant and damage the countertop. Therefore, if you have noted that your countertop has polyurethane or varnish, now would be a good time to remove it with sandpaper.

The grade of sandpaper you use will depend on the severity of damage to your countertop. If the wood appears to be heavily scratched, use a 80 grit sandpaper to remove these scratches. To restore your countertop surface to a smooth condition, finish sanding with a fine grit sandpaper. If heavy scratches remain, use a more coarse grade. Continue sanding until you have removed all scratches and until you have attained the desired texture.

Step 3 - Use Caution When Sanding

Use caution when sanding to remove scratches. You will want to make sure that you keep the surface smooth and even. Also remember to always sand in the direction of the wood grain.

Step 4 - Remove Residue

Once you have sanded the countertop to your satisfaction, wipe off all dust and debris left on the surface with a clean cloth and hot, soapy water.

Step 5 - Oil the Countertop

applying oil to wood countertop

There are a lot of different types of oils you can use on butcher block surfaces, some of them very costly. The best type to use is a mineral oil, usually available at a local pharmacy, hardware store, or home improvement center. Avoid using cooking oil on your butcher block, as it will usually create an odor in your wood, which in turn will be absorbed and retained by food prepared on it.

Step 6 - Finish

When applying oil to your countertop, use a clean cloth or a sponge. Apply the oil to your cloth and wipe the oil into the wood’s surface until the wood won’t absorb any more of the oil. Although you may not prefer to have an oil residue on your countertop, this oil is not likely to harm the wood. Preserving your countertop from drying will likely offset any oily appearance.