When you want to add a touch of warmth and coziness to the heart of your home, installing a butcher block countertop in the kitchen is a great choice. While you can certainly hire a professional to do the job, this DIY project is easy to tackle in just a couple of days. Learn how to install a butcher block countertop in eight straightforward steps.
Gather Tools and Equipment
Installing a butcher block isn’t hard, but it does require some advance planning. First, you’ll need to pick out the right countertop for your space. Options range from white oak to European walnut to give your kitchen a rustic, natural look or a rich, sophisticated edge.
To ensure you order the right size countertop, measure the length and depth of the cabinets where you plan to install the butcher block. Add an inch to each edge to allow for enough overhang, and account for the sink and other built-in elements, too. Measure twice to make sure your countertop will fit the space perfectly.
As you get ready to install the butcher block, get all the tools and materials you’ll need. To do this DIY project, you should have:
- Butcher block countertop
- Circular saw
- Power drill with one-sixteenth-inch and half-inch bits
- Plywood blocks (one-quarter inch or three-quarter inch)
- Deck screws
- Fender washers
- Butcher block conditioner or mineral oil
- Microfiber cloth
- Safety goggles
Acclimate the Butcher Block
No matter how eager you are to install your butcher block countertop, you won’t be able to put it in place right away. Because butcher blocks are made from wood, a natural material that expands and contracts as temperatures and humidity levels rise and fall, you’ll need to allow the countertop to acclimate to your home’s environment. If it doesn’t, the countertop could shift or pull away after installation, potentially causing damage or a visual disruption.
Allow your butcher block countertop five days to acclimate to your home. Be sure to leave it in the kitchen throughout this acclimation period so it becomes accustomed to the heat and humidity levels you typically generate in this room.
Get the Cabinets Ready
After the five-day acclimation period has passed, you’ll be ready to start the installation process. First, prepare the cabinets to ensure they can support the heavy countertop. While you don’t need to install a sub counter over open-top cabinets, you do need to install blocking to make sure the cabinets offer adequate support.
Use a circular saw to cut three-quarter-inch plywood blocks to the depth of your cabinets. Place these blocks every foot across the open tops of your cabinets, ensuring they’re flush with the top edges. Use screws to hold each block in place, but drill a pilot hole first to avoid cracking or splitting the cabinets.
If your cabinets have closed tops, simply attach furring strips to the top. Attach one-quarter-inch plywood strips to the cabinet top every 12 inches to give the butcher block space to breathe.
Prepare the Installation Points
Next, mark the points where you’ll attach the countertop to the supports below. Use a half-inch drill bit to create a large hole at each installation point, whether you’ll be installing directly onto closed-top cabinets or onto the blocking you just added.
Position the Countertop for Installation
Recruit a helper to assist you with putting the countertop in place. Mark each installation point on the underside of the butcher block, and pre-drill using a one-sixteenth-inch bit. Confirm the screws you’ll be using are the right length for the installation, and double check that they won’t pierce the surface of the butcher block.
After preparing the installation points and placing the countertop in the right position, you’re ready to install the butcher block. Add a fender washer to each deck screw to prevent it from slipping through the half-inch hole you created at each installation point. Then tighten each screw until it’s snug.
Although you’ll want the countertop to be secure, you won’t want it to be so tight that it can’t move. Butcher blocks must be able to expand and contract slightly throughout their life cycles, so take care not to overtighten each screw. Finally, lower the sink into place with the assistance of a helper and install the faucet and other components, too.
Oil and Condition the Butcher Block
After securing the countertop in place, you’ll need to condition the butcher block to complete the installation. To do this, apply butcher block oil to the entire countertop. Allow the oil to soak in, and use a microfiber cloth to remove any excess oil. Be sure to choose a food-safe oil designed for butcher blocks, and opt for a formula with beeswax to add an extra seal to the surface.
Although it’s difficult to apply too much oil, over time, excess oil can build up on the surface. If you notice any, simply use a putty knife to remove the excess material. Then reapply a thin layer of oil to the surface.
Perform Ongoing Care
Although you can finish the butcher block installation process relatively quickly, it’s important to note that you’ll need to perform basic care to keep your butcher block countertop in great shape. A single oil application isn’t enough. Instead, you’ll need to recondition the countertop at least once a month throughout the life span of your butcher block.
Check the countertop for dryness every two weeks, especially if you live in a dry climate. If the oil has evaporated, apply a new coat, and allow the oil to absorb into the butcher block. Always use a microfiber cloth to clean the countertop, and protect the butcher block by avoiding harsh cleaning products.
If you love the look of butcher blocks for kitchen islands and cutting boards, a butcher block countertop can transform your space, adding welcome elements of richness and warmth. With this guide to installing a butcher block countertop, you can turn a potentially expensive contractor job into a DIY project and give yourself the power to tackle home improvement projects by hand.