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Care and Maintenance for Butcher Blocks Countertops and Kitchen Islands.
The wood is widely considered the healthiest building material in the world. The solid wood represents a reliable, sturdy material that can last very long without requiring excessive protection. However, wood is a natural living material and, unlike man-made materials, it reacts to different environments in specific ways. We would like to draw your attention to the basic maintenance instructions for the solid wood countertops, island tops or butcher blocks. Following these directions will result in having a great looking, easy to maintain custom countertop that will last for many years.
Tops with a Mineral Oil Finish
The panel must be oiled carefully on top, bottom and sides, giving a special attention to the end-grain area, as the section that the wood is most likely to absorb humidity through. Each cut or drill you make in the panel (either for size adjustment, sink cutout or other purposes) must also be oiled thoroughly. Proterra mineral oil (Hesse, Germany) is a product that we recommend for kitchen tops applications given that it was specially designed to come in contact with foods. For situations where there is a great deal of humidity involved (like sinks, water faucets, etc) the mineral oil only will not assure the best protection and it is advisable to use polyurethane or any other similar finishing instead.
With a soft brush, oil the wood generously on all sides or simply pour a small quantity of oil on the wood and then spread it with the brush. Let the wood soak the oil for about 20-30 minutes and then remove the excess with an absorbent paper towel. When the top is first installed, it is advisable to apply 2-3 successive coats of oil, after which, the oil can be applied once several months or whenever needed. Every time you sand the area to remove scratches or cut marks, a new coat of oil must applied.
In order to keep your wooden top clean, periodically scrape or brush away any food residues existing on its surface, wash with warm soapy water and dry it well using either a dry cloth or paper towels. Apply a new coat of oil any time needed. Alternatively, you can warm up a 1:4 combination of beeswax and mineral oil until the mixture becomes homogenized and then apply it uniformly on top’s surface, thus getting supplementary protection against both stains and humidity.
Avoid setting your wood top next to extreme heat sources like stoves unless there is appropriate insulation between the heat source and the top. Avoid spilling vinegar on a wood top having a mineral oil finishing, as it can cause cupping or cracking. Do not use corrosive chemicals or excessively harsh detergents on a wooden top having a mineral oil finishing, as they can cause irreversible depreciation.
If properly installed and sealed and periodically oiled, there is no reason that your top won’t last a long period of time in the same good shape it was when new. Sometimes however, due to poor maintenance and improper environmental conditions, some problems might arise; it is our duty, therefore to inform about these problems and the way to solve them.
· Cupping and warping
Are prone to appear whenever there is a significant difference of moisture between the topside and the bottom side of the panel. If possible, place the top on a flat, hard surface, concave side facing down. On the convex side, uniformly place some fairly heavy objects. It will take up to 12 hours until the panel will straighten completely, after which, oil it abundantly on all sides.
If it is not possible to manipulate the top, simply apply generously mineral oil on the concave side until the panels straightens. In this case, however, you might need to repeat this operation several times to obtain the desired result.
· End splits
Will manifest whenever the panel is placed in an excessive dry environment without being properly sealed. To repair, mix wood sand with a small amount of water-based wood glue and fill the cracks thoroughly. Allow 15-20 minutes to cure, sand the area with a 120 grit sand paper and then oil the top freely.
· Scratches, cut marks and food stains
Can be removed by sanding uniformly the affected area, brushing away the resulting wood dust and applying a new coat of mineral oil. The finger-jointed panels can be sanded to a 3/8” depth, while for the continuous lamella panels and the end-grain butcher blocks, there are no such restrictions.
Tops with a Polyurethane Finishing
A solid wood surface finished with polyurethane based finishing requires no maintenance at all. However, scratches, cut marks and other damages will be difficult to repair; therefore extra care is required.
About the Author: Adrian Laza,
Lafor Wood Products – 15 + years expertise in the butchers block manufacturing field; supplier of butcher blocks, countertops, kitchen islands, bar tops and healthy wood finishing for butcher blocks.