How to install a butcher block kitchen counter
Last modified: 2018/12/19 | Approximate reading time 4 mins
If your home décor embraces the rustic or the warm, then chances are you’re looking for ways to incorporate these details into all the rooms of your home. This is especially true of the kitchen, where it’s likely a plethora of stainless steel appliances live. If you’re looking for more of a down to earth vibe, have you considered a butcher block counter top?
A wood countertop invites pleasant tones into a room and allows for a charming change from the materials commonly associated with the kitchen. How do you install this counter? Well, look no further, as we’re here to provide step-by-step instructions.
How to install a butcher block counter top
Getting started with your butcher block counter installation
If you weren’t already aware, butcher block is a wood countertop. Specifically, it consists of many small slices of wood that have been glued together into slabs. As a result, the surface is sturdy and extremely stable as a kitchen counter material. It’s important to mention that using this material as a countertop is popular, but it will need to be finished with a nontoxic finish.
First, you’ll need to look into ordering a butcher-block counter that is designed specifically for your countertop measurements. In some cases, the manufacturer will measure and install the counter for you. However, if you’re looking to save some bucks and are comfortable with the DIY project, we suggest you keep reading for our tips to install the top yourself.
Making a template
This will start with making your own template to map out the area you want to be covered. Using a semi-rigid material like cardboard, trace and cut out the material into your desired shape. This will then be sent away to your manufacturer of choice, and the butcher block will be shipped to you at a later date. Start by measuring the depth of your cabinets in order to begin constructing the template and also considering the surrounding area.
If there are any serious curves or bumps in the wall behind your counter, you’ll need to sand these down and make sure that your template fits them. Also, consider overhang. Be certain that the material you’re using to create the template accounts for this.
Tape the cardboard strips you’re using to create the template in place. Scribe the cardboard template by way of a compass, running it along the wall with a pencil in one hand. With a utility knife, cut the cardboard along the scribe line following. Do this for the opposite side of the counter until you’ve created a few separate pieces of cardboard. Make a third strip of cardboard to fit along the back wall.
Now that you have all of the necessary pieces, you can begin to assemble the template. Make the joints between the strips of cardboard before you begin attaching them. Use a hot glue gun to finally attach everything, taking extra care to realign reference marks.
Once dry, your template can be carefully folded and sent off to the manufacturer. Before sending it off, make sure to take down the necessary information including the specific measurements, orientation as well as any decorative details.
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Preparing the cabinets
The butcher block itself will require a sturdy surface to rest on. If your cabinets have no top, then you’ll need to install blocking to provide support and have something to install the blocking on to. Using a handsaw, cut some plywood or scrap wood so that it fits tightly within the width of the cabinet.
Using a 1/8th bit fitted onto a drill/driver, drill angled piolet holes making sure they go through the top of the blocking. The blocking should fit in place at the front of the cabinet, securing it in with 1½-inch deck screws that go through the piolet holes.
On cabinets with solid tops, it’s important to add thin furring strips. You’ll need these to allow air to circulate underneath. Cut plywood or scrap wood to fit 2 inches shorter than the depth of the cabinets. These strips should be laid every 16 inches and should be secured with kitchen and bath sealant.
Next, you’ll need to consider the placement of your sink. Drill holes for your faucet by measuring and marking its desired place. Make sure that the faucet fits correctly by sliding it in and testing the placement. If there are any gaps or holes around the faucet, the sink, or other fixtures, fill these with a wood filler to prevent leaks as well as damage.
Finishing the butcher block installation
If the butcher block itself has not been finished, it will need to be sanded down. Pay special attention to the edges of the counter as well as the overhang. If any dust has accumulated during the sink installation process, make sure to remove this with a damp cloth or mineral spirits such as clear alcohol. Depending on the manufacture of your countertop, you may find a few imperfections. If you do come across these, you should refinish your counter.
Since there are a variety of finishes on the market to treat butcher block, it’s important that you find one best suited for your counter's use. If you plan on preparing food directly on the surface, you’ll need to apply an oil such as hemp or mineral, or any other option that is food safe.
If you need something particularly water-resistant, you’ll need something that further penetrates the surface but will protect like a polyurethane. However, avoid using a traditional polyurethane, as it often bubbles and peels over time.
After giving any additional finishes time to dry, you’re ready to install your countertop. Slide the countertop in place and secure it using ¼ inch wood screws that will need to be inserted through hardware. Once in place, install your sink following the instructions of the manufacturer. If your walls are bowed or not completely square, you might find yourself needing to fill in gaps.
In any case, make sure to use a silicone sealant between the wall and the countertop to prevent water from leaking behind and causing later problems. Voila! Your countertop should be safely installed and ready to be a member of your fully functional kitchen.
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