Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge) - Week 5

Here we are at week 5 of the ORC, just one week away from the reveal! If you are just joining me, I am a guest participant in the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda at Calling It Home, where 20 Designers and over 200 guest bloggers make over a room in 6 weeks! Our kitchen is coming right along and hopefully (fingers crossed) will be finished next week.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

One of the things we did in the kitchen was replace the tile counter tops with wood butcher block. This project definitely had its challenges, so I am sharing what I learned with you in case you are considering installing butcher block yourself.

Disclaimer: we are not professionals and this project should be done by someone with advanced DIY skills. This website is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a professional.

Choosing  Our Butcher Block


Why did we go with butcher block?  My husband and I have never been huge fans of marble and granite...just call us weird. When dreaming about updating our kitchen, we always talked about either doing concrete or butcher block counter tops because they are both budget friendly and can be DIYed. We ultimately decided on maple butcher block.  After much research, we custom ordered our butcher block from a local wood shop, that was recommended by my husband's friend who is a woodworker. You can also order from big box stores, such as Home Depot, Ikea, Floor & Decor, and Lumber Liquidators.

We chose to have ours made custom because we wanted to keep the bar on our peninsula, and we could not find pieces wide enough at the big box stores. We ordered an 8' x 42" long piece and a 10' x 25" long piece, that we cut to fit the "L shape at the sink/stove. You can have the butcher block delivered if you purchase from a big box store, but we rented a truck to pick ours up. We also used it to pick up the wood and appliances we needed for rest of the project.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Prepping the Butcher Block for Installation


Before you bring your butcher block home or have it delivered, make sure you have an area large enough to stage it for sanding and sealing. We used our basement garage and mudroom/living room area since we had 2 long pieces. You want to pick a place inside if possible to keep the wood away from moisture and dust until you get it sealed. I also want to mention that the pieces are very heavy. It took my husband, myself, and my 18 yr old strapping son to manhandle these two pieces and it was almost more than we could lift. Once we cut the 10' piece to fit the sink area and the stove area, it was manageable for the two of us. 

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Our custom made butcher block came "finish sanded" which meant we had to do some work on it before sealing it. It had burn marks on the side from the saw and a few rough areas on the top that we had to sand out. We used the belt sander, palm sander, then a sanding block; going from rough grit to fine grit (80 grit to 120 to 220). It was actually more work than I expected; I am not sure if the ones you purchase from big box stores are also like this or ready to install. After sanding, I used tack cloth to wipe down the butcher block to make sure it was completely free of dust prior to sealing.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Once the butcher block is sanded to your satisfaction, it needs to be sealed. We decided to leave it the natural wood color, but you could stain it if you wanted to prior to sealing it. We used John Boos & Co EZ-DO Clear coat which is safe for food prep surfaces. I applied 2 coats to the top, bottom, and all four sides. It is important to apply the same number of coats to the entire piece, letting it dry overnight in between coats, then sanding before applying the next coat.  This process took several days.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Make sure you do this in a well ventilated area and wear a mask and gloves because the fumes are strong. The instructions said you could apply with a nylon brush, rag, or foam brush. I started out using cheap foam brushes from the dollar store, which worked fine, but had to be thrown away after each use...and a couple fell apart. I found a couple of round sponges in my stash that came in a chalk paint kit and they worked really well, so I ended up using those after I went through the pack of foam brushes. Once you cut the hole for the sink, you will need to seal the cut portion as well.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)


Installing the Butcher Block


Once all of the pieces were sealed and dry, we were ready to install them. We prepped the counter area by making sure the area was level and removing any nails sticking out. We also  pre-drilled 1/2" holes in the support pieces where the butcher block would be attached from underneath. By drilling an over-sized hole and using screws with washers, it allows the counter to expand and contract without cracking the wood. The bar piece was straight forward once we decided on the amount of overhang we wanted on the front. We secured it with washers and 2 1/2" SPAX multi-purpose deck screws.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)


Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

We had to cut the long piece, which made me a little nervous. You only get one chance, because it is not like a 2 x 4 that you can just run to Home Depot and buy if you cut it too short; it is an expensive, custom made piece. So, we measured about 10 times from every direction. Before making the cut, we placed a piece of painter's tape over the cut area and marked it. This reduces the chance of splintering. We used a "General Purpose" Magnum blade on the circular saw to cut it. My husband started with a fine finish blade, but it would barely cut through the wood, so he switched it up and this one cut like butter. 

We dry fit the pieces that formed an "L" at the sink/stove. We chose to butt the pieces together rather than cut them at an angle to meet in the corner, only because that seemed much easier and less of a chance of screwing it up. I have seen people do it both ways, so you can pick your preference. 

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Because our house is old and nothing is perfectly square or level, and our cut sides were not perfect, we did have to use a couple of shims to get the butcher block level and the joints to meet as close as possible. Once we were happy with how it looked, we secured it to the support pieces with the washers and screws. 

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Cutting the Hole for the Sink


OK, here is the part where it gets scary...cutting the hole for the sink. Again, you only get one chance to get the hole right. This was the part I was most nervous about tackling. Cutting a straight line is one thing, but a rectangular hole in hard wood is another, but it has a happy ending, so keep reading.

Our new sink did not come with a paper template. The instructions said to flip the sink upside down, trace around it, then come in 1/4" all the way around for your cut. I positioned the sink where I wanted it then put down painters tape around it to trace onto with a pen, since I did not want to draw directly on the butcher block. We used a pencil to make the inside line which was the template.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

We went back and forth on how to cut it because we were not sure if the jigsaw blade would be able to cut through the hard wood, but my husband was not 100% comfortable with using the circular saw and using the "plunge cut" method. My husband did a test "plunge cut" in the middle of the where the hole would be and it worked well, so we said a few prayers and went for it. He was able to cut the straight part of the front and sides, but could not clear the back of the sink, so we had to unscrew the piece and pull it out to cut the back side. He used the jigsaw to cut the rounded corners. It is slow work with a jigsaw, you have to be patient and let it cut at its own pace.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

Once the piece was screwed back down, we dropped the sink in and Hallelujah, it fit! Whew! I think this was one of the most stressful DIY's we have done. After making sure the sink fit, we removed it to seal the cut edge before installing the sink for good.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

I hope this was helpful. We read a few blogs on how to do this ourselves prior to tackling it, but there were not a ton of tutorials out there because I think most people leave it to the professionals. It was a learning process and probably took us three times longer than a pro, but we saved money and can proudly tell everyone that WE did it!

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)

If you made it through this long post, thank you! I hope you will PIN this to help others that may be taking on this project. I would not recommend it to someone with no DIY experience, but for those with advanced skills, it is a doable project.

Tips on Installing Butcher Block Counters (One Room Challenge)



Catch up on my weekly ORC posts here:


12 comments:

  1. Great job! I love the butcher block! I've been there on those nerve wrecking cuts :) lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! We love it so much! (Now that we have it in!)

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  2. Love love love butcher block! And Yall are rockin the install. So excited to see the whole room next week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! We love it too! The room probably won't be completely done, but I'll show it off anyway :-)

      Delete
  3. I love the warmth of wood countertops! Love how your butcher block turned out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so impressed with all the work you guys have put into this kitchen makeover! The butcher block looks awesome. Good luck with final details for the reveal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It has been a challenge and a lot to do in 6 weeks, but we will get finished...hopefully!

      Delete
  5. Cutting the hole for the sink is the scariest part of any countertop installation! Haha!

    ReplyDelete
  6. These countertops are lovely and really warm up the space! So excited to see the reveal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was surprised at what a huge difference they made in the feel of the kitchen!

      Delete

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