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DIY Refresh: Butcher Block Kitchen Island

This is part 2 of our kitchen reno blog series. To view part 1, choosing a kitchen backsplash, click here.

I love a good butcher block, especially for kitchen islands. This material is not only cost-effective but also provides a nice contrast in your space. As we began working on some renovation projects in our kitchen, such as the kitchen backsplash, I immediately knew that I wanted to update the current kitchen island top. At first I wanted to match our granite, but that was not in budget which I actually became thankful for since I reconsidered refreshing the current butcher block top. I just wasn't the biggest fan of the dark brown/reddish stain, and the current sealant was peeling (eek!). So that's when I convinced my husband that we needed to give it a refresh, and I had the perfect vision for it in mind with the updated subway tile backsplash.

Here's the before + after:

The below steps apply if you have current butcher block that needs to be updated, however if you are looking to add this to your space you can consider a few of the steps below (i.e. choosing a stain, etc.).

Remove the current stain

If you have a stain that you don't like, not a problem. All it requires is a sander and a little elbow power (prepare to be a little sore :)) to remove the layers of the stain and sealant. We used this power sander for this specific project, which was a huge help in providing the automatic circular motion recommended for sanding. Make sure you sand in the direction of the wood grain to help with easier removal. Ensure the surface is as smooth as possible, but don't get too caught up with this in this stage since you will need to smooth out after applying the stain and sealant.

Choose a stain color and apply

This all comes down to personal preference and the colors in your kitchen, but I love the appearance of a natural wood look. We used this stain color below which provided just the right amount of warmth. We applied one coat of stain with a large brush and wiped any excess stain after 3-5 minutes of applying. The longer you let it stay the darker it gets and there is potential for brush marks. We let this dry for a few hours.

Apply the sealant

After the stain has dried, we applied three coats of clear sealant and let each coat dry within a few hours. Similar to the process of staining, be sure to wipe away any excess to avoid drip and brush marks.

Smooth out the surface

Once the final coat of sealant is dry, lightly sand (we did this by hand vs. using a power sander) to smooth out the surface. TIP: Use a paper bag to ensure as smooth of a surface as possible. Once this is done, use a damp towel to wipe it down. Then you are ready to secure and finish the project!

If you have any questions as always, I'd be glad to answer. Reach out to me through Instagram or through the contact page on my website.

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