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Butcher Block Countertop Finishing Styles

Finished vs. Unfinished

Everything you need to know about the two most popular types of finishing for hardwood butcher block countertops.

Walnut Kitchen Countertop Swain Customs

Wood counertops, like the beautiful walnut top pictured above, are a very popular way for homeowners to add value and timeless beauty to their kitchens without breaking their bank.  An upgraded kitchen countertop can almost seem like an entire kitchen remodel in one purchase.


When shopping for a butcher block countertop, it is important to consider the type of finishing style you prefer.  The two main styles of finishing for butcher block coutnertops are unfinished (aka oiled), and finished with a furniture finish.  See the helpful guide below to help you choose which finish is right for you!

Unfinished (Oiled)


  • Able to use as a cutting surface

  • Less expensive at first purchase

  • Eco-conscious and food safe alterntative

  • More appropriate for smaller square foot tops



  • Must upkeep over time (investment of money and time)

  • Will show stains, water marks when wet etc.


Overall Review:

Unfinished (oiled) butcher block surfaces are most appropriate in smaller sized blocks that are inteded to be used for food preparation surfaces. Although more effort is required for upkeep over time since you will have to continue to re-oil your block, there is usually less (or no) investment up front for this finishing style.  If you have a small kitchen that lacks storage space, having an unfinished butcher block as a kitchen countertop can be a huge plus.



  • No maintenance required (time or money)

  • Don't have to worry about scratches or stains

  • More appropriate for larger square foot tops

  • Can use stain to darken the color of the wood



  • Cannot use as a cutting surface

  • More expensive at first purchase


Overall Review:

If you are investing in a larger butcher block kitchen countertop, having it finished with a funiture finish is probably a good idea.  At larger dimensions, wood joints are more likely to split if the top is unfinished.  Of course, it is a drawback (and almost a cunundrum) to have a butcher block top that you can't cut on, but money spent up front on having your top finished will save you both time and money down the road from having to continusly re-oil your block.

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