How to Install IKEA Butcher Block Countertops
Installing IKEA butcher block countertops was probably the most intimidating step of the entire kitchen renovation. We couldn’t afford to mess up and though we build lots of things, we don’t often cut ginormous pieces of butcher block or have such a small acceptable range for error. I read lots of blogs about how to install IKEA butcher block countertops, but at the end of the day, knowing how to do it and executing it successfully are two different things. The reading DID help, so let me offer up some insight on how to install IKEA butcher block and how to avoid some easy mistakes along the way.
Step One: Inspect the Butcher Block
The first step in installing IKEA butcher block is actually just to unpack and inspect the butcher block. One unpacked you will see that there can be a lot of variation between the color of your slabs. It may be necessary to plan out where each slab is going to be used to make sure that two drastically dissimilar slabs are not butted up against each other.
We learned this the hard way. Our first 3 slabs were almost identical but the next 2 were very different from the other three and from each other. Unfortunately, those were the ones we had planned to use together on the peninsula.
You also want to check for defects during this step.
Step 2: Cut Butcher Block to Size
The next step when installing IKEA butcher block countertops is to cut them to size. You can get by without any special tools to accomplish this step but there are a few steps that are crucial to getting good clean cuts.
First, you will want to minimize chipping around the edge of the cut as much as possible. A new, sharp, saw blade will greatly help with this. We also chose to go with a blade that had “medium-size” teeth. Smaller teeth usually result in cleaner cuts but considering the thickness, density, and hardness of the oak butcher block, we felt we also needed a blade with some serious cutting power: so we went with the middle ground.
We also used a low tack painters tape over the cut to help prevent minor splinters. Make sure your tape is low tack, or not very adhesive, so it doesn’t create splinters and chips when you remove it.
Another very important consideration is making sure you cut very straight. Though my dad is basically a master with the skill saw and can make very difficult cuts look easy and perfect, I wouldn’t even let him near my countertops without a jig. A jig is just another word for a guide that will make sure you run the saw perfectly straight. We 1x10s and 2x4s on our countertops and clamped them down on either end. We were then able to run the saw right along it and get perfectly straight cuts…or so we thought.
Come to find out, the 2×4 wasn’t straight at all. I’m not sure why we thought that would be a good choice. It’s not uncommon to sort through half a pile of 2x4s just to find a semi straight, non-warped board. I think our minds were just so tired at that point in time that we didn’t think about much other than finishing.
In hind sight, we should have used the Kreg Rip Cut to cut the countertops longways instead of the using the 2×4 jig. When we cut the bathroom countertops we did use the Kreg Rip Cut and it was so easy and gave us great results.
tip: Push the saw too hard through the cut and you risk extra splinters and chipping. Push it too slow and you can leave burn marks on the wood.”
Step 3: Cut Butcher Block Openings
If you have a drop in stove top or either an undercount or drop in sink, you will need to cut additional holes in the butcher block to accommodate those. Stoves and sinks both come with paper templates that you cut out and position and trace onto the butcher block.
After I traced the template for our stove top, I used a half inch paddle bit to drill a hole into the corner of the rectangular template. The hole goes INSIDE the template, in the part that will be removed. The hole allowed me to easily position the blade of my jig saw to begin the cut. I did set up a small jig using a metal yard stick to help my achieve very straight cuts on the perimeter. For the curves though, you just have to go slow and steady. It’s important to know how much of an overhang your appliance or sink has so that you know your margin for error.
Tip: Use a blade with larger teeth with your jig saw so it can easily cut through the countertop. Splinters/chips are less of a concern since the edge will be covered.
Step 4: Finishing
Finishing IKEA butcher block countertops is a multi-step process and I’m going to cover it in a little more detail in its own post. Suffice to say that you must do a lot of sanding and a lot of coats!
Step 5: Attach Butcher Block
Attaching the butcher block is very easy. As we had learned to expect by this point in time, IKEA has designed the cabinet bases to ensure a quick and easy install. The base cabinets come with simple metal angles that attach to the base cabinet and will also support and anchor into the countertop. The base cabinets also have a slotted metal strip running along the front edge. The install process basically consists of laying down the butcher block countertop in the right location, drilling a few pilot holes through the angles and slotted strip and then putting in some screws.
It is important to also check and make sure the countertops are level before anchoring them, but since you have already leveled the base cabinets, there shouldn’t be any major adjustments. However, in a few places, we did adjust the angle pieces slightly to ensure the countertop was level.
Step 6: Caulk Joints
The last step is to caulk any joints where the slabs meet up. Honestly, we haven’t done this yet for some reason, but a clear silicone caulk for kitchen and bathrooms should do the trick!
Well that is how to Install IKEA butcher block countertops. It’s really just a matter of cutting, finishing, and attaching. This process wasn’t exactly hard for us but it was definitely intimidating. IKEA butcher block countertops are reasonably priced but that does not mean we wanted to drive 2 hours back up to IKEA to purchase a new slab because we messed up the cuts.
My recommendation, if you are new to power tools and cutting, is to do some practice cuts first. For example, we cut off over two feet of length from one slab and it wasn’t going to be used elsewhere so my husband mocked up the entire process (taping the cut line, drawing his cut line, and aligning the jig) and did a test cut on that section. When that worked well and he had a feel for how much force it would require to push the saw through the cut, he setup and got to work on the actual cuts.
If you liked this post, check out more of our renovation process including tips and tricks to save you time and money.