Tuesday, August 19, 2008

IKEA Numerar Butcher Block Installation

I was on the fence about butcher block with Adel Medium Brown cabinets until I saw this pic. Beautiful right? (Not that you can tell since HGTV removed the link and I now can't find the darn pic anywhere!) I bought two pieces of IKEA Numerar Butcher Block. One was very warped and the other was pretty good. If you are driving from far away to buy this, make sure your piece is okay before you drive back home.

If you need to cut it, don't freak out. Not as difficult as people try to make it seem. The key is to use a strong circular saw (My little cordless number would never had done the trick. You want something with oomph.) And buy a new blade. I don't know that the number of teeth matter so much or whether it's a carbide, but make sure it's new and sharp. I even used the circular saw the cut out the hole for the cooktop...but we'll get back to that. And don't forget to save that piece...a little sanding around the edges and I now have two extra cutting boards.

The directions, as do most IKEA instructions, suck. The screws they give you do not fit these holes, they are for dowels or something. (BTW if you're installing a cooktop, you might have to install your tie down brackets for the cooktop before you screw down the counters. Check your cooktop install booklet.)

Pick a spot close to the edge and screw the screws in the middle of the oval space of the bracket. I read somewhere that if you screw close too snug up against one end or the other that the wood won't be able to move do to changing humidity levels and what not. I don't know how true that is, but better safe than sorry.
Once it's screwed in, it's time to seal it. A lot of what you choose depends on how you plan to use it. Ikeafans has a great article on finish options for butcher block. I opted against IKEA's Benhandla because it contains linseed oil which can instantaneously combust. Kinda scary, right?
When I bought the IKEA Numerar Beech countertop, I was concerned with how light it was. But a coupe of coats of mineral oil darkened it up. Make sure you rub it in extra good on any parts that were cut (that's what they mean when they say to reseal the cut edges...again, not rocket science, don't feel stupid if you were confused and thought they meant to rub silicone caulk on it or something, no one explains it anywhere.)
I didn't sand between coats, as some people do. I simply poured it on and wiped it all over in whatever direction I felt like with an old mateless sock. I did it when I was waiting on hold with my doctor. I did it while my coffee was brewing. While the dishes and laundry were running...you get the idea. People act like it's a big deal, but it only takes a minute or two.
If you're installing it over a dishwasher, then you need a vapor barrier (aka moisture barrier). If you're doing a Pergo type floor and using it, cut a piece out of that. I used a heavy duty contractor garbage bag since it was thicker (6 ml's I think) as opposed to the floor barriers which were point something. I've heard of some people just draping it over their dishwasher, but I staple gunned it under my laminate counter (I only have butcher block on the island).
Now if you're doing a cooktop in the butcher block, you need a heat barrier. Either pick up some aluminum tape they use for ductwork. Or do what I did and bum some off of the HVAC guy.
Stick it around the edge of the counter where the cooktop is going (the back of it peels off, you don't need special adhesive). Use a block of wood, or something comprable, to rub along the tape to make sure it sticks well and is smoothish.
Anyway, sink or cooktop or neither, it's been easy to maintain so far and I'm not a neat freak my any means. Just use common sense. Don't stick a hot pot on it. It's okay to cut a sandwich in half, but don't dice some beets on it. If you spill wine, wipe it up! And regardless, like a wood floor (real wood, not the crap they're calling real wood now-a-days) you can always sand and re-oil if there's a problem.
I've never had a butcher block counter before, but I've had a butcher block cutting board forever. I scrub it down with soap and hot water after using it and re-oil every once in a blue moon. I can't fathom a counter is going to be much harder.
On a final note, my two cents...during my Numerar vs. Pronomen debate in my head, the thickness of the Numerar makes such a difference. Obviously costwise, it's a bit pricier, but I think long term, it'll hold up better. Some people say they chose Pronomen because it's easier to cut, but cutting the Numerar was as easy as cutting the post-form laminate.
UPDATE:  While I loved this counter, it wasn't big enough.  Click here to see how I ripped two IKEA Numerar Butcher Blocks lengthwise and joined them together to make one large counter.

UPDATE #2:  After I made it bigger, I added a dog feeding station via curb-side salvage material and crap from my basement.  Click here to see how it came out.