Whitewash and Seal a Butcher Block Counter Top

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Are you looking for a way to get the exact colour of butcher block countertop you want, but don’t want to spend the money for a high end, trendy shade? Or maybe you’re looking to update the current wood tones of your counter or tabletop. In this post, I’m going to show you how to take an orange-hued butcher block and whitewash and seal it to get the chic modern twist you want for a fraction of the cost that it would take to buy a new countertop!

A beautiful vintage industrial kitchen featuring black and white Ikea cabinets, turquoise accents and a Carrara marble stone panel backsplash.

This post was first published in 2013 and has since been updated.

One of the goals for the decor in Our DIY House was to have NO orange or golden toned wood ANYWHERE. I think it looks great in some houses, don’t misunderstand me! But if you recall, when we were building our forever home we lived in our Garage House, which was full of orangey wood because that was the cheapest color of laminate flooring and cabinets we could find. I was just plain tired of it, and I wanted our new house to have a more contemporary character.

We were on a very tight budget for our house build (especially toward the end), and couldn’t afford stone countertops. That would have been my first choice. I considered laminate countertops, but I wanted something light-coloured for our kitchen design and I couldn’t find a laminate color I liked in our price range.

I had a wooden butcher block countertop on my island and I loved it. So I thought about butcher block counters in our new house, but my only hesitations were (a) the golden color of the cheap IKEA ones that we could afford and (b) the thought of it rotting and moulding around my kitchen sink.

After browsing Pinterest and my favorite blogs, I stumbled across a few posts on how to stain and seal wood countertops. I had my “eureka” moment: what if I whitewashed some butcher block, and then waterproofed it? It would be the perfect solution for our kitchen! I had been thinking that raw wood was the only option, but of course a little stain can always change wood to whatever color you need.


It took a lot of time and work, but here’s how I whitewashed, stained, and sealed my inexpensive butcher block countertops to get the look I wanted. I’m really happy with the results! I think you can tell there is an authentic touch to it because of all the work I put in. Let me show you how I did it.

How to White Wash Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

We purchased our counters from IKEA. Our 10×10′ kitchen and island cost less than $800, a comfortably cool price. My husband cut them to size, and I sanded them with my lovely power orbital sander! This exposed the natural wood and got it ready for stain.

How to whitewash butcher block?

How to White Wash Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

I used some non-toxic water-based stain in a whitewash color and applied it with a brush in the direction of the grain on the wood surface. I did small sections about one foot in length at a time.

How to White Wash Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

Next, I wiped each section down with a cloth after a few minutes. I wiped with the wood grain, just like I had applied the stain. The effect was instantly cooler and lighter, which was exactly what I wanted. I really started getting excited at this point!

How to White Wash Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop
How to Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

Here’s the change in my wooden countertops after one coat of whitewash. I decided to do four coats in total because I knew the sealant would yellow the counters a little and I wanted to over-correct with the stain. If you aren’t sure exactly what effect you’re going for, try practicing your technique and the number of coats of stain and sealant on a scrap piece of wood before you get started! The time figuring out what you really want will be worth it.

I stained the tops and the three visible sides of each butcher block piece and let them dry overnight.

How do you permanently seal a butcher block countertop?

How to White Wash Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

The next day I sealed them with Aquaspar, a water-based varnish that is extremely waterproof and durable. The little foam brush I used worked really well, and I sanded with very fine sandpaper in between coats. Then, I coated the counters with varnish twice before they were installed. I also sealed the sides and the underside once. You can test different kinds of sealant on scrap wood before you begin too! Some people like to do their kitchen counters with mineral oil, for example.

How to Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

After Sean installed our new countertops, I sealed them one more time. They’re so fresh, shiny, and pretty. They gleam, they’re unique, AND they’re waterproof!

How to Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

I’ll treat my whitewashed butcher block countertops just like I would a laminate countertop: no placing hot pots and pans directly on them and wiping up spills as soon as they happen.

How to Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

I think staining & sealing inexpensive butcher block counters is a great alternative to laminate counters when you’re on a budget! Plus, they’re so pretty and vintage-looking. I’m totally in love.

How to White Wash Stain and Seal a Butcher Block Countertop

This technique would work for other projects too! This farmhouse style whitewash technique could be used on different wood for a totally different effect all over the house. You could create a bright bedroom set for a naturally beautiful bedroom retreat, or freshen up the storage unit in your dining room by whitewashing your sideboard! You can see it would be great anywhere.  

DIY Chalk Paint Recipe using latex paint and plater of paris

Have you whitewashed countertops or furniture in your home? Leave a pic in the comments or tag me @thediymommy, I would love to see it! 

Happy DIYing!

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whitewash butcher block counter top


  1. LOVE!!!! But I could see between all the coats how this project is time consuming. Great contrast to your black cabinets.

      1. Beautiful- exactly what I want?I love ? them!!! Thank u soooo much. Totally doing this to my table as I don’t like the gold either .

  2. Hi Christina!

    I LOVE your house! It’s beautiful! I was just wondering where you purchased the Aquaspar from??

      1. Looks beautiful! Is the sealer food safe?,one of my concerns having a 7 yr old,who loves to cook with mommy!

  3. Just re-finished my Ikea butcher block countertops this past weekend using exactly the same products you did, but went with a dark “Urban Gray” stain. They make my kitchen look completely different and it was so inexpensive to do.
    Thanks for the idea!

  4. Do you have to use wood from Ikea or would wood from somewhere else work? We are thinking of doing this but using Craft-Art wood in Hard Maple “DIY Homeowner” and using the WAterlox. I have heard that waterlox has a slight amber tint so we will test it first.

    Do you think it would work to use this wood instead?


    Thanks for all your wonderful DIY-ing!!

    1. Hi, Maggie! I used the butcher block counter tops from Ikea. Yes, I’d recommend testing your finish on the underside of your counters first. The Waterlox does have an amber tint, but it’s only slight in my opinion. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Thank you! I will definitely test on the bottom side. good call. I may even order a sample and test on that for some extra practice. : )

        1. Hey there Maggie, I’d love to know if you tried the waterlox with the whitewash. I have used waterlox before and liked the product very much but I was concerned about the yellowing for this. I haven’t yet been able to purchase a sample kit…

          Also, cheers to Christina! I’m in the same exact position. I wanted white quartz but then I got a quote and quickly changed my mind. I’ve searched and searched for photos of white washed butcher block and found nothing but finally stumbled on this post! I think it looks great!

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  7. Hi there! Love what you did with your countertops, it looks like you’ve had a couple years to live with them now. I wonder if you could comment on how they’ve worn…stains? water marks? warping?


  8. Hi christina,
    i love your countertops! we will be building this summer and i want butcherblock countertops, but dont want the orange color either! i love the idea of whitewashing them! i was wondering if you remember the brand/color of stain you used? many “white wood stain” products i have seen have reviews saying that its more like paint and that it didnt work for them. i would love to know what you used so i can make mine look like yours! haha thanks!

  9. That will not last. Looks alright but not even remotely cost-effective as it will need replacing before long.

  10. Hi Christina,

    Just wondering if you could please share the name of the IKEA counter top. I know sometimes, IKEA varies in products depending in the country they’re in. I would really appreciated it.


  11. Hi, You certainly sounds like you put in a lot of work but the results paid off.

    Just a little-BIG point if I can be pedantic though: the wood you’ve used – and other responders are referring to – is not “butcher block”! It is actually correctly called “laminated” to designate that it is made of multiple smaller pieces joined side-by-side and often end-to-end as well. Butcher block is literally even sized (usually) pieces that are glued with the end-grain facing UP just like a … butcher’s chopping block or cutting board. This is not what your bench is. Your wrong choice of terminology led me to your site posting by mistake when I was looking for genuine butcher-block wood treatment ideas. Just saying …

        1. Looking at the can in the picture, it appears to be “Saman” but you can use any non-toxic, white wash, water based stain 🙂

  12. Hello! I found you on Pinterest while searching for this exact thing. Do you have any updates on how these help up, especially with the waterproofing. Thank you!

  13. came for the roman shade tutorial, stayed for the guest cottage tour! Love it all, but the curtain fabric in this room has been one I LOVE and can’t find. can u tell me name, maker & where you found it? assuming used same on stools. 🙂

  14. Hi! Do you have the step by step tutorial or any video footage on the white wash butcher block process? It was originally posted in 2013. I found your article but no video at all or tutorial. Thank you so much

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