Sunday, October 19, 2014

DIY Sunday: Staining Butcher Block Countertops


Our Ikea butcher block countertops are finally in! I was warned by other bloggers that they take a long time to get prepared, but I didn't plan on them taking almost 2 months. (Yeah. Seriously. I almost lost my mind). It was a learning experience, so I thought I would share some of my mishaps and tips I gained over my journey. I still have two large slabs to prepare for our island once the wall comes down, but I feel like they will be easy after this experience.

I followed the instructions from two different bloggers, This & That (Click here for the link) and Stillwater Story (Click here for the link). This & That has a great tutorial for an undermounted sink, where Stillwater Story has an apron front sink like I do.

My Countertop Preparation

1. We bought our countertops from Ikea. They are the Numerar countertops located here.
2. We cut our countertops with a jigsaw and then used a planer.
3. We used Minwax Wood Conditioner and Minwax Stain in "Dark Walnut." The conditioner and stain go a long way. We have plenty of extra.
4. I did two coats of stain to achieve the dark color we wanted. I wanted a dark color so I was liberal with my application. Reminder: The Waterlox lightens the stain by at least (if not more) than a shade, so go darker than you want the final shade to be.
5. Buy a box of latex (or whatever) gloves. It makes clean up so much easier.
6. We used Waterlox for our sealer.  (We used the "Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish" type) I had to buy it off their website since it's not sold in our state.
7. I did 2 coats on the bottom and 5 coats on top. I ended up putting extra coats on the area that would be around the sink just to be safe.
8. It was quite humid here. I had to let the stain dry 2-3 days and the Waterlox had to dry 24 hours.
9. I applied the stain with an extra rag (a smaller rag so it doesn't drip and drag), and the Waterlox with deck stain brush.
10. We used almost an entire quart of the Waterlox for the small amount of countertops which surprised me. I was under the impression it would go further.
11. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember to swipe the underside with a rag when you're applying the Waterlox. Otherwise it drips. And you ended up starting all over on that side. (See below on how that happened to me...and it sucked)
12. We used some wet/dry sandpaper to gently sand the countertops between coats of Waterlox. You may see a slight white discoloration but that will go away once you add a bit of moisture with the next coat (or final wipe down). (See picture below)

Last coat of Waterlox on the countertop.

The white discoloration post sanding is totally normal and goes away with a bit of moisture.

I didn't change/add much from these two awesome blogger's directions above except in 2 ways. 

1) We didn't do an angled cut in the corner. 

My husband and I talked about how we were going to cut the countertops over a couple of days. We had extra material since we had to buy 2 smaller slabs to make up for the one (out of stock) large slap. We decided to cut our smaller piece so the wood would go in the same direction as the larger piece. That meant there was some extra waste, but the piece looks like one solid piece. The seam blended in well with the wood since it was going the same direction. To give you an idea of what I mean by that (since my description is less than stellar), here are the three ways you can cut your countertops.

1. L shaped with just 2 cuts.

This is probably the easiest way to cut the corner (and was our original plan) and what Stillwater Story did. Here's her countertops:

{Picture from Stillwater Story}

2. Angled Corner.

This is what my husband originally wanted. I was scared of the difficulty of getting the angle correct.

{Picture from Domestic Imperfection}

3. L shaped with 3 cuts.

This is what method we ended up doing. We had to trim down the smaller piece twice so it would fit both length and width wise. I am happy we chose this way even though it involved an extra cut.

We joined our two pieces together using a biscuit joiner and not the hardware included with the countertops.

2) Wipe Excess Waterlox.

The second tip I would add to the instructions above is the importance to wipe the underside while you're using the Waterlox.

Maybe this is common sense. When I was applying the Waterlox, I noticed it was quite runny. (Hense the name Water-lox) I put it on and didn't take a second thought to drips. I wiped the under side with my brush and thought that would prevent any issue with the excess fluid.

Nope. So I did my two coats on the backside, went to flip the countertop and......uh oh. Many curse words streamed out of my mouth. Mostly because I had just spent weeks on these countertops and thought I was in the home stretch. There was big bumps of semi dried Waterlox on all the edges of the countertops. We tried to scrape them off. No dice. There was gunk all over my beautiful countertops.

So, we ended up having to sand down all the edges which gunked up a ton of sandpaper. Then, we had to restain the countertops and try to blend the color. All the edges blended just fine except this one side by the fridge. I don't notice it unless I'm looking closely (and if you don't know this by now, I just don't aim for perfection).  So save yourself weeks work and just grab a old rag and wipe up the excess!

Sanding away all that hard work.

Lightening on countertops from the excess Waterlox.
Here's the progress on the kitchen so far. We need to finish up the patchwork on the soffet. We're planning on attempting the backsplash next. We're thinking white subway tile with grey grout (a Nicole Curtis staple). I will then need to paint. (DEAR GOD WILL THE PAINTING EVER END?!). Then we'll be on to stage two. Stage two is getting the ugly wall down, island up and new floors.

I need to add a door to the cabinet my dad modified to fit the narrow opening. That will be another adventure!


1 comment

Momma Jenk said...

Thanks for the tips on counters. Where did you purchase your apron sink at? How expensive was it? My daughter is getting ready to redo her kitchen and i think she might love this look. thanks

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