Edge grain walnut butcher block island top


Sealing Wood Countertops

Pictured is a 2-2/4 inch thick edge grain walnut kitchen island top with torino edge profile and penetrating oil sealer.

Sealing butcher block countertops needs to start with asking "what are you going to do on the top".

Some wood kitchen countertops are used as food prep areas where actual chopping will be done. For the most part people refer to this type of wood surface as butcher block. They are perfect for this use and proven over hundreds of years. The best sealers for these tops are mineral oil or butcher block wax, which is just mineral oil, food grade mineral spirits and beeswax. These are not really sealers but more of a way to keep the wood healthy and reduce the chance of cracking. It will stain and water will be able to penetrate so they are not good choice for kitchen countertops with sinks.

The second type of wood countertop is just that a countertop made from wood. It's designed for heavy use but not for cutting on. The sealers of choice here are the marine varnish or the Rubio Monocoat oil. They both perform and look very similar with the only real difference being the sheen. The marine varnish is a top coat with a sheen similar in look to a furniture piece. The Monocoat has no sheen above the sheen of the raw wood making it look much more like a butcher block top with the added protection of the marine varnish. Both are great around water and both can be used in a commercial or residential environment.

Rubio Monocoat Sealer

Monocoat-0% VOC-Natural Oil Sealer

(Our personal favorite.) It starts out with zero sheen much like a typical butcher block top but sheen can be increased using Monocoat Universal Maintenance Oil. Perks include easy sanding and spot repairs, excellent water resistance and superior stain resistance.

  • 100% VOC free.
  • Penetrating wood sealer that protects from the inside.
  • No sheen other than the wood itself. NOTE: Sheen can be added by applying Monocoat's Universal Maintenance Oil.
  • Water resistant (works great on tops with sinks).
  • Stain resistant.
  • Needs re-applied once every 4-8 years depending on use.
  • It's not recommended to cut on, but because it's a penetrating sealer there is no coating to damage and knife marks can be sanded out and a new coat of oil applied.
  • Safe for food contact.

Marine Varnish


If you're looking for a furniture style countertop this is the sealer for you. A very durable finish with sheens from satin to high gloss.

  • Penetrates deep into the wood fiber but also coats the wood to form a permanent barrier.
  • Scratch resistant.
  • Very water resistant (works great on tops with sinks).
  • Stain resistant.
  • Little to no maintenance required.
  • Available in matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss sheen.
  • Easy to repair using Howard Restore-A-Finish.
  • Safe for food contact.
  • Can not cut on surface.

Butchers Wax

The only product recommended for use on countertops which will be cut on.

  • 100% food safe certified.
  • Preserves the wood's natural oils but provides little protection against water or other liquids.
  • Ideal for counters designed to be cut on or butcher block tops.
  • No sheen other than the wood itself.
  • Not recommended for tops with sinks.
  • Can not be used on plank style tops.
  • Needs re-applied 5-6 times a year.

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