We chose the Numerar 1 1/2" beech butcher block countertops.
In the old house we had the Pronomen 1 1/4" , which I would have gone with this time as well, but they didn't have any in stock. With the old kitchen, we didn't stain the countertops. I just applied about many coats of Tung Oil to the countertops and kept the natural beech color. But in this kitchen, I wanted the countertops to be darker.
We started by measuring the length of countertop we needed and cut off the excess.
Next it was time to cut the hole for the sink. Since we were going with an undermount sink, we weren't sure if we wanted to cut the hole since there was no room for a mistake. I called around to several cabinet shops to see what they would charge, all said around $300 not including formatting and sanding the hole. So needless to say, we did it ourselves.
I bought an undermount sink on clearance for $60, originally $290 so that was a great deal. But I wanted to double check just to make sure the template that was included in the clearance sink was the correct one, well it wasn't. So we just put the sink on the underside of the countertop and made our own template first tracing the outside of the sink and the tracing the inside of the sink by sticking our hands through the drain hole. Make sure you look under your cabinets to measure where the sink should go and don't go off of your old countertops. We had some wood pieces inside our cabinets we wouldn't have know about if we had not looked, also if we had gotten the cabinet shop to cut the hole, they would have cut it wrong since the wouldn't have measured off of our cabinets.
After we got the sink drawn off where we wanted it, it was time to cut. Eric used a circular saw to cut the straight parts and a jigsaw to cut the rounded corners. We had known that it would be a pretty rough cut job with the jigsaw so I bought Eric a belt sander for our "anniversary" to sand the sink hole with. A belt sander is a must have for this project. It was only $70, which is still a lot cheaper than the $300 (our lowest quote) for someone else to cut the hole. He used the belt sander to smooth everything out and then finished it up hand sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. I was so excited, I guess I didn't take pictures.
After the sink hole was cut and smoothed out, I went over the countertops with a tack cloth to get all of the additional dust off. The I applied a wood conditioner. This is a very important step, as it will help the stain have an even appearance with all of the different cuts of the butcher block. After the wood conditioner dried, I went back over the countertop with 220 grit sandpaper to get all of the raised grain sanded off, and the used a tack cloth. Then it was time to stain. We used Minwax Special Walnut #224. I read to use an oil based stain, but we already had this so I took the risk. So far so good. I put on 2 coats of stain.
Next I had to seal the countertops to protect the finish. Like I mentioned before I had sealed the old countertops with tung oil, and would reseal them every couple of months. Since I was going with an undermount sink this time, I wanted something a little stronger to protect the sink area that would constantly be getting wet. I had read that Waterlox was the best way to go. It is no where to be found in these parts, so I ordered it online. I order a quart and used about 3/4 of the can on about 13' of countertops.
I sealed the underside of the countertops (to prevent warping) two times and I sealed the tops of the countertops five times. (Make sure you finish sealing all the coats one side completely before staining the other side. I am really impatient when waiting to see how projects turn out and I know I would have gotten excited and flipped the countertop over to stain the top side while the bottom wasn't completly dry and marred the finish.) Around the sink hole I applied 12 coats of Waterlox. I am sure that was overboard, but we cut the faucet holes out two days after I started to Waterlox the other countertop, so I would just Waterlox the sink hole everytime I Waterloxed the countertop. I also put Waterlox in the faucet holes, and I am glad I did because it was hard to get all of the water around them up after I washed dishes yesterday.
The Waterlox did lighten up the stain on the countertop about a shade. That was fine with me, I had read that it would happen. If you don't want that to happen I would recommend putting an extra coat of stain on the countertop. I also read to wait several days after staining before applying the Waterlox. I waited four days. I used rags made from old tshirts to apply the waterlox. I would apply a coat of WL before work and then one before bed. Between coats I sanded with fine steel wool and used a tack cloth to make sure it was extra clean.
After everything dried it was time to install the sink. We turned the countertop upside down and set the sink on top. Then we got under the countertop to maneuver the sink into the right place. Once we were happy with its position, we traced around it with a sharpie so we would know exactly where to place it. We got back under the countertop just to double check we like where the sink was. Then we predrilled the holes for the screw clips that hold the sink onto the wood. Make sure you don't drill too far!!! Then we loosely attached the clips so we wouldn't have to do it after the silicone was put on.
We then put silicone where the sink was going and set the sink on top of the silicone.
After that we flipped the countertop back over and put silicone between the sink and the countertop. We flipped it back over so it would have the weight of the sink to help the silicone adhere.
After the sink was set into the silicone, we tightened the clips. Then we flipped the countertop back over and put silicone between the sink and the countertops and cleaned up the excess silicone. We then flipped the countertop back over so the weight of the sink would help the silicone adhere properly.
Before installation we went ahead and attached the faucet parts so we wouldn't have to crawl under the sink to do it and to make sure there weren't any surprises, which it was too late to fix any surprises anyway. Where the dishwasher was we attached foil so that the moisture from the steam wouldn't affect the wood.
The installation went pretty well since we didn't have any corners, just two straight shots with no seams. Just make sure you predrill all of your holes and don't go too far!
And the moment we have all been waiting for...
can you see a peek of my brick floors?!
The other side of the kitchen has the same countertops, it just had all of the junk that goes under the sink cabinet sitting on it, so I didn't take its picture. I know these pictures aren't the best, but I was working with what I had this morning.
If you think these countertops are hideous, I am sorry. But they are the loves of my life (besides Eric & Claire of course). I was 2 minutes late for work today because I just stood in the kitchen looking at them. I am so proud of Eric for all the work he did in the kitchen. I think it is awesome, but he still said his irrigation system is cooler to him than getting a new kitchen!
UPDATE!! I've had a lot of comments asking about how the BB countertops have held up since this post click HERE to find out!ALSO: For more info on installation or if you have a join in your countertops read this great post by Stillwater Story.
UPDATE!! To see how everything else in the kitchen turned out click HERE!