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How to Safely Stain Butcher Block

April 25, 2017


Whether you like the lighter look of a butcher-block or a darker, stained look, there’s no question a butcher-block slab requires a little more TLC than other wood.


Because I’m a sucker for rich, dark-stained wood, I opted to stain the slab of butcher-block that tops my island.


There is a couple extra steps compared to staining trim or something like that – but it is still easy, I promise!

Here are a few before pictures!

Now, on to the fun stuff.

1.  Sand the surface.

Always sand with the grain of the wood. And as much as I love a good power tool, I would recommend sanding this by hand. I’ve found that power sanders leave little circular or side-to-side scratches that really show up on tabletops or counters!

**If your butcher block has been used (like mine was), this step is SO important. Sanding removes imperfections or stains that you may not see until you apply the stain – then its too late!

2.   Apply a wood conditioner. Make sure it has the same base as your stain – either water or oil. The conditioner I used was oil-based. Please don’t skip this step – it really helps your stain to absorb and have a nice, rich look.

I brushed this on and wiped off the excess.

Isn’t that difference just crazy? Please condition!


3.   Apply your choice of stain.

Everything in my house (from trim to dining table) was done in Minwax Dark Walnut, so that is what I stuck with. If you’re having trouble deciding on what color, I would check out Pinterest for some great side-by-side comparisons!

Try to apply the stain in long sections (with the butcher-blocks pattern). The streaks where the stain overlaps will be in the same direction as the wood then!


Wipe stain off immediately or after 5-10 minutes, depending on how dark you would like your color to be. Then let dry about 6 hours.


4.  Finally, seal with a finishing oil and sealer that is specific to butcher blocks. The key here is to make sure that whatever you choose seals the stain and is safe to prepare food on!

I used Watco Butcher Block Oil and Finish.

There you have it – all done!

If you want to check out the DIY for the island that I put this slab on – stay tuned!

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