A Complete Guide to Butcher Block Countertops | Julie Blanner

Come and see how butcher block countertops can invite warmth and function into your home. With proper care, they can be a beautiful addition to your home for many years to come.

You may be considering them but wonder if they are a good idea. Are they safe for food? Will they hold water?

Butcher block countertops can do it all, adding a rich, elegant wood tone for ambiance and classic style. Learn more in this complete guide!

The butcher’s block table top in our built-in basement bar.

You know me, I love to make homes feel warm and cozy, and butcher block is a perfect way to do it! In our recently completed basement barwe decided to add warmth and a soft, light finish with these beautiful table tops.

Butcher block is not just for a design aesthetic either. Yes, it goes with traditional style and farmhouse style. But even modern style can use the warmth of wood and still feel sleek.

If you would like to read about other types of table top materials, here it is why i love danby marble, alternatives to marbleand everything about quartz countertops.

We also discuss other materials including laminate, solid surface and concrete in this post on styles of tabletop edges.

Use the Table of Contents drop-down menu to navigate this post, and don’t forget to pin it and save it for later!

What is Butcher Block?

Butcher block, also called butcher block, is a wooden surface made from narrow strips of wood glued together and sanded into one thick, smooth sheet. It is a durable countertop material, as well as an attractive one.

Often when people refer to wood countertops, they are really talking about butcher block. Many wood tabletops are maple, although oak, walnut, cherry, hickory and teak are other popular options.

You can dye butcher block countertops any color you like, or you can simply seal them in their natural color.

Frequently asked questions

Can you put hot pans on butcher block?

No, hot pots and pans can burn wooden tables and even cause them to crack. It is best to use a coaster or heating pad to protect the surface from heat.

Are butcher block countertops sanitary?

Butcher block counters are sanitary when properly sealed. If left unsealed, they will absorb germs and bacteria and will be unsafe for cooking. Properly sealed, they are completely safe and hygienic for cooking. They must be resealed regularly.

What kind of wood is used for butcher block countertops?

Butcher block can be made from maple, oak, cherry, hickory, teak, bamboo and more. For a significantly higher price, you can pay a craftsman to make a butcher block from virtually any wood.

How much are butcher block countertops?

Butcher block is an affordable countertop option, with the countertops themselves ranging from $23-$60 each. square foot. Installation will of course be an additional charge.

Pros and cons of Butcher Block worktops


  • Adds heat – The wood tones in the butcher block add a cozy look to any room.
  • Easy to customize – Choose the type of wood, color and finish you want.
  • Can be post-processed – You can sand your finish and change your stain color to match your new design.
  • Discount – Compared to other countertop options, butcher block costs less per square foot.
  • DIY installation – Experienced do-it-yourselfers can install wood countertops themselves. Pro installation also costs less than other alternatives.
  • Easy to clean – Daily cleaning is easy with a damp cleaner and washing-up liquid. It does not require any fancy or expensive cleaning products.
  • Long life – With proper care, butcher block counters can last up to 20 years. Laminate table tops typically need to be replaced between 10 and 15 years.


  • Not waterproof – Butcher block is very sensitive to water. They can be installed around a sink if they are very well sealed, resealed monthly, and dry immediately when they get wet. Butcher block countertops can be does not recommended for bathrooms due to exposure to moisture.
  • Bend easy – Wood is naturally soft, so it’s no surprise that butcher block countertops can get dented, dented, and scratched. Embrace this look and be sure to use a cutting board when using a knife.
  • Can burn – The same tip applies when handling hot pots and pans. They can burn and even crack wooden counters, so it’s best to use a trivet or heating pad underneath to protect the surface.
  • Can expand and contract – Like hardwood floors, butcher block can expand in warm temperatures and contract when it’s cool. In extreme temperatures, they can deform or even crack.
Two hanging rails above a potting bench, painted green

Where to use Butcher Block countertops

Although not recommended for use in bathrooms because it is not the most moisture-resistant option, there are so many ways to use butcher block.

Butcher block stain

How do you end them? You can stain them, seal with polyurethane, choose a matte or gloss finish, or simply condition with mineral oil.

Mineral oil finishing requires the most maintenance as you will need to reapply every month as the wood dries out. However, it is also the easiest to do, as you do not have to grind anything down to finish the surface.

In the end, it comes down to what you want, how you plan to use your surface, and how much work you’re willing to put into maintaining your countertops.

If you are going to stain, remember to test a small section first because wood handles stains and colors differently. See our favorite stain and sealant in the source section at the end of this post.

Wooden tabletops on a basement bar above a drinks fridge

How to maintain wooden table tops

Butcher block has a reputation for being high maintenance – don’t let that put you off. With proper care, your butcher block countertops can remain beautiful for many years to come.

Daily Care

  • Wood is absorbent and can stain, so it is important to take care of small defects in time.
  • You can use a nylon scraper to easily scrape the surface free of anything dried in place. To wipe the surface, use a cloth moistened with water and mild dish soap.
  • Remember never to saturate wooden table tops with water. If they get too wet, make sure to dry them completely as soon as possible.

Stain removal

  • For fresh stains, try sprinkling them with baking soda. Rub it in and let it absorb the stain for a few minutes. Moisten a cloth or sponge with mild dish soap or undiluted vinegar and use it to scrub the stain.
  • Or sprinkle some coarse salt on the stain, then rub it with half a lemon. The stain may disappear completely, but if it doesn’t, you can leave it for a few days, then try going over it with dish soap or vinegar.

Butcher block can also be lightly sanded with a high-grit sandpaper to remove stains.

Butcher block tabletops on a painted gray basement bar.


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