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Treating Butcher Block Countertops

Hello, I am looking to use a butcher block countertop (likely a 6 ft Brown or Espresso Stained Acacia) for a desk. I do not know a single thing about treating wood or anything. Start to finish, what do I do and what products do I use for my countertop to use as a desk? How often should I use them? In addition, I do not have any tools readily available. I can potentially purchase any oils or products necessary but will not be able to sand, cut, etc. at my house. Thank you so much I am completely new to this and do not know a thing.
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Posted 2020-07-06T03:43:26+0000  by rparikh rparikh

Hey rparikh,

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community.

Depending on if you ever decide to eat on the future desk or place food directly on it's surface will determine what to purchase. Since the butcher block itself already will have a tinted color to it, very little by the way of a coating on top of it will be needed.

If you do decide to use this as something to eat off of (that's what they are made for, not so much for desk usage), you can opt for the product shown below and linked here.

It's very simple to use to wipe on and use. It's made from natural ingredients like beeswax which is safe to use as well. Personally, I like this option bc I've used this on building a cutting board and it will help protect the wood surface without harming you. 

12 oz. Butcher Block Conditioner

If you know that you'll never ever be using this butcher block for any type of food preparation, you can then opt for applying a high quality polyurethane. We sell various types online and at your local Home Depot's paint department.

Some versions like a Spar Varnish urethane works very well for situations like this. But, ONLY use this clear coat option if you decide to never use the block for food prep. Placing drinks on the surface is fine, though.

At the end of the day, it's your choice what to use based on that earlier question. Overall though, place at least some sort of coating (be it butcher block conditioner or a spar varnish urethane), but you don't have to apply any stain to it. 

In terms of applying, the only time you'll have to sand (I realize you can't) is between coats of the spar varnish urethane. You can opt for using one coat, and then continuing to use it as is if you don't use the surface of the desk very much.

Luckily, in either option, they are very easy to apply with few materials to use. You will need a brush or staining pad for the urethane, but for the butcher block conditioner, just a lint-free rag is all you'll need for application.

Let us know what direction you will go, and we can assist further.

Posted 2020-07-06T17:49:07+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
Obviously the butcher block that Home Depot is selling is designed to be used in a kitchen.  Butcher block countertops are typically just treated occasionally with mineral oil (which is basically unscented baby oil) and there are specialty products like the one Joe showed above.  But you don't want to use your butcher block as a countertop...

The challenge with adding a top coat is that you don't know what is whatever finish the factory applied and that may create a problem when applying a top coat.  The make things even more complicated is that you don't have a lot of experience finishing.  What I would suggest is what's called a wiping finish, which is basically diluted varnish.  You apply it with a rag, let it dry, and repeat several times.  A very light sanding (220-340 grit paper) between coats isn't a bad idea.   It takes a lot longer to build up the finish but it's very easy to do and almost foolproof.  My recommendation would be General Finishes Gel Top Coat.  It's a gel, which is even easier to use than a liquid.  If you don't want to use that, Minwax and Watco makes a liquid wipe on finish as well that's available at Home Depot.  In either case, you probably want to do 5-7 coats, waiting per instructions between each coat.

I would suggest, starting on the bottom to make sure there isn't any compatibility issues.  Do a small section and give it a day or two.
Posted 2020-07-07T12:03:19+0000  by Adam444
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