Reader request – butcher block counters and sinks

Posted on Thu, 7 Apr 2011 by KiM

Today’s reader request is from Nat: I was wondering if you could help me find more inspirational images of kitchens. I want to put butcher block counters throughout my kitchen and don’t know what type of sink to choose: (1) undermount; or (2) drop in. I don’t like the look of drop-ins, but I’m worried that with an undermount sink I run a chance of ruining my counter edges. I’ve read around blogs that this should not be a problem if you seal them properly. But I’m looking for images to convince hubby that this will be worth the extra work. I haven’t had much experience with butcher block (I do LOVE it) but I would guess with a good initial seal and re-sealing as required, you could go with either. I’d had an aversion towards drop-in sinks for a loooong time now but after taking a close look at the photos I found of sinks used with butcher block, I actually think I prefer drop-ins (and those in white ceramic). Perhaps you’ll agree after having a look at the following photos…

design*sponge Katie Sellers
Julia Wong Designs Living Etc.
Marie Claire Italia Apartment Therapy
Hus & Hem jj Locations
The Yvestown Blog Apartment Therapy

Light Locations


The Yvestown Blog



environa studio

Sköna hem

Jake Fitzjones

Skelton Harris Interiors

jj Locations

Hus & Hem

Marie Claire Italia

Hus & Hem

Oak Management

Homes & Gardens

KiM says:

Leanne, I blogged beds in front of windows once before here

polish chick says:

word of warning – both my mom and my aunt have butcher block counters in their kitchens and it is incredibly high maintenance. no acids, no liquids, no staining stuff (red wine, i'm looking at you!) and all manner of do's and don'ts. i'd go with quartz and be done with it. butcher block IS economical and pretty but if you do any kind of cooking, then you'll be watching every step you take and to me, that's exhausting!

Kelsi says:

I love the last photo with the CUISINE sign! I'm so nit-picky though… the "S" is upside down. Maybe that's what they're going for… but I adore the ceiling beams and it all just looks so delightfully French. =)

jd says:

i redid my kitchen last year with butcher block and a drop in sink and i love it…

i bought two of the large butcher block boards from IKEA. at first i was completely obsessed with not staining them, but now it is pretty much life as usual – and i am not a neat freak by any stretch. i do keep some straw coasters on the counter and use those when drinking red wine, for the bottle mostly. i have been terrible about keeping it oiled, but only i would know, as it looks fine. i use the IKEA behandla oil they recommended and the counters are due for another coat, especially since there is a washer/dryer, small oven and fridge all underneath, the heat from which probably accelerates the need to oil. i did install a piece of plexiglass under the counter where the w/d is though, so that helps.

as for the sink… well, you can see the fully functioning kitchen (and w/d) is tucked into a small expanse of wall… welcome to nyc. it was like solving a puzzle!! i needed a small sink. i splurged on a cast iron Kohler and i love it. someone commented on broken wine glasses with their sink, i have dropped plenty, but have not broken anything. i do keep a white wire rack at the bottom of the sink though, for both the dishes and the sink's sake – it also is employed as an extra drying rack in a pinch. kohler sells a cleaner, but in a year's time i have gotten by with dish soap and water and it still looks great. if it is in your budget, i would definitely get cast iron white over stainless. i have white appliances too. (and painted the entire apartment floor white) i know stainless is popular, but i think white looks really fresh and clean with the wood counter.

good luck with your kitchen!

Kris in Iceland says:

We have a butcher block counter in our home, we've had it for 3 years now and never had any problems.

Exactly like you, I liked the look of drop in sinks but my hubby did not want to do the extra work, saying that you need specific tools etc which he didn't have…

What I did was purchase a sink that was intended to be drop in but actually put it on top (like one normally would) the result is that the rim lies completely flat on the countertop (it only rises about about 1-2 mm above the counter top). It actually looks pretty good

lisa says:

We have butcher block countertops from Ikea and we LOVE them…we have an undermount sink and get compliments from everyone. It's a double-wide single-bowl stainless sink and it's SOOO great.

Regardless of what kind of sink you have you will need to be vigilant about oiling the counters. I don't think that the undermount sink gives us any more problems than a drop-in would. I just have to oil the rim around the sink and we put a good bead of clear silicone where the wood meets the sink so no water is leaching in underneath. I think go with what you like, but we're very happy with our undermount and wouldn't do it any other way.

Great post! We installed butcher block countertops into the kitchen of the basement apartment we rent out and totally love the look and price (super budget-friendly!). We're so smitten that we're going to install them in OUR kitchen as well once we start our reno.

ALSO- I absolutely agree with the oiling as mentioned in the comments above. If you live in Ottawa (or another Canadian city), you can get some at Lee Valley Tools.

paul says:

many kitchen professionals and the famous home expert mike holmes say NEVER to use wooden counters nor concrete surfaces in your kitchen – its way too porous and will harbour major bacteria. he says imagine rubbing raw chicken over your counters… is the surface porous enough to catch all the nasty bits invisible to the eye? ick! quartz is the best. wood butcherblock style is nice to look at but just not practical. dont do it!

Nathalie says:

If you want to keep the natural look and feel of the wood, I would highly recommend using tung oil. We impregnated our oak countertop three times with it and since then (one year) it has stayed perfect – without chasing every drop of water immediately!!

marcia says:

You CAN seal butcher block with Marine varnish (which woodworkers cry over, because it looks a little plastic-y, but can be done). Many commercial high end bartops are varnished/verathaned (my dad used to build them for a living). OR you can use a product called waterlox, which is low VOC, and is a combo of varnish and oil, so it penetrates deep and seals. That comes matte, medium sheen/satin, or high gloss. Very reputable company, highly recommended by DIY butcher block people, especially w/ undermount sinks. If you're going for a high end furniture look rather than planning to hack on your countertop, works beautifully…and the sink cutout makes a great cutting board you CAN oil and keep on your countertop.

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