Kitchen Reno – Butcher Block

A quick post about butcher block counter tops! We had a butcher block counter on our kitchen island in our previous house – a 1980 “ranch”. I loved the butcher block counter made out of maple. I sanded it every six months with my electric sander and removed the stains (pot marks, spills, red wine…..), and then applied food safe mineral oil with a cloth.

Real Wood Countertop

When selling our house, we dealt with young families who were interested in “real wood tones”. “Real Wood” floors and surfaces were a thing – darker finishes were popular. The Maple butcher block was considered a feature – and was differentiated from the “bamboo” surfaces being sold at Home Depot. Unfortunately, maple butcher block and mineral oil is light in colour – sort of birch-like in tone.

Butcher Block Countertop with Dark Tung Oil
Butcher Block Countertop with Dark Tung Oil

How to Darken Butcher Block Countertops

I searched the internet, books, home improvement stores… for a way to darken the raw wood without using a wood stain. The surface needs to be food safe after all…….

I tried various methods that I found on Youtube – like making a stain/paste out of coffee grounds and then applying mineral oil – but none of these things worked.

I was not able to find a darkening mineral oil for sale in Canada. Finally I found a product from the Real Milk Paint Company.

Real Milk Paint

I purchased Dark Tung Oil in a small container for $15.99USD. I was able to use a food safe stain, to darken my counter slightly – maybe not as dark as I would have liked, but much better. The only caution that I would make is that Tung Oil is derived from a nut – so be careful if you have any nut allergy issues!

Dark Tung Oil

Tung Oil and Nut Allergies

“As the source of tung oil is a nut, people with nut allergies have reported adverse reactions to contact with (or even the odour of) tung oil. Reactions can be severe in some cases. Once dry, tung oil is polymerised by reaction with air to a solid, unreactive flexible film, which is classed as food and toy safe.” Nut Allergies |

In our new house, we have a pre-purchased wood island with a wood surface which has been stained in a dark colour and varathaned. This is a different solution, and we just use a cutting board on top of this surface!

Pre-purchased island with dark stained varathaned surface - a mess during our kitchen reno
Pre-purchased island with stained varathaned surface – a mess during our kitchen reno

I just wanted to share this source – as it was a different and hard to find product – and they also have wonderful milk paint products which I may use to paint the island in my new house.

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6 thoughts on “Kitchen Reno – Butcher Block

  1. I used tung oil many years ago to refinish old furniture. I never thought that it could be used to darken. I had century-old, original cherry counters many houses ago. They were beautiful but not at all practical considering the way we live today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Dark Tung Oil wasn’t the same as the standard Tung Oil – so it was a solution to make the light counters look a little darker – it wasn’t really dark though! I bet your cherry counters looked awesome even though they weren’t practical


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