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The countertop waffling is over


Since the day we moved in, we’ve debated the merits of various kitchen countertop materials. We’ve gone back and forth between cement, wood, and tile.

The pros/cons of each were weighed carefully. Tile would be easy to install, and relatively cheap, but the grout would be a pain to clean and it wasn’t a look we loved. Cement countertops are very cool and functional, but would require a lot of extra work, new tools, and lots of testing/research. We (or, I) wasn’t positive that wood was durable enough to bother with, but after doing some research it seemsm it’s no better or worse than our other options. And it’s pretty, and more traditional than cement or tile.

I had a few big freelance paychecks come in all at once, so we took a day trip out to Ikea on New Years Eve day. Our goal was to check out the kitchen goods, and we ended up coming home with 3 8″-long pieces of oak butcherblock countertop. It’s really beautiful wood, and it’s going to make a huge difference in the kitchen.


We also brought home two cans of wood conditioner, because conditioning (and re-conditioning) the wood with a non-toxic mineral oil is essential. We will not be cutting directly on the coutnertop, since knives will leave scratches in the surface. Also, I read that steam from dishwashers may cause wood counters to warp, so it is important to install a vapor barrier on the underside of the counter. Good to know!

Anyone have good tips for maintaining wood countertops?

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Heidi had this to say on 01.03.06:

We’ve love our new Ikea wood countertops! We’ve only done half of our kitchen, so we haven’t gotten to the ‘wet’ side with the sink and dishwasher. I confess we didn’t use the wood conditioner that Ikea sells, because I wanted a non-petroleum oil (which is harder to find than it should be!). We’re using a butcher block oil that is soybean oil based, with a little orange oil and vitamin e oil mixed in for good measure. The counters look beautiful all oiled up! You’re right, it has made a huge difference in the look of our kitchen!

Claudia had this to say on 01.04.06:

I grew up in a house with wood countertops, although I don’t know what type of wood. This was back in the 50’s. We did cut directly on the countertop. The counters were scrubbed regularly. Quarterly, my mom would spread a double layer of paper towels over the entire countertop and then soak the paper towels with a dilute solution of laundry bleach to sanitize. She would leave this to soak for several hours. She followed it up with wood conditioner. It must have worked, because we never got sick from food-borne germs that I can remember.

Gail had this to say on 01.10.06:

Love your blog! My husband and I are also renovating an old house and took the Ikea route for the kitchen. Glad to see our choice validated!

Matt had this to say on 12.05.07:

I’ve heard linseed oil is good for wood. You may want to check with a professional since wood can trap bacteria and decays easily. I use Murphy’s oil soap on mine, but we don’t use that surface for food preparation.

averie had this to say on 05.04.08:

Linseed oil should not be used on wood tops – it can go rancid and be toxic! You can purchase food grade Mineral Oil in any pharmacy section of stores. ($2, used as a laxative medically) don’t waste your money on the store brand wood conditioners – they are simply mineral oil in a fancy package.

Tricia had this to say on 12.07.09:

Hi! It’s been a couple of years now, and I am curious how you are liking your wood countertops still. We are considering them as a budget-friendly way to update our sad, cracked, linoleum counters. Would love to hear your experience with them! Thanks!

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