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Our butcher block countertops are my favorite part of our RV remodel! We almost didn’t install them during our renovation because the countertops that came in our RV were actually solid surface and in good condition.
We also were a little worried about how difficult of a task switching out the countertops would be, but found that the process was fairly simple and straightforward once we got started.
Honestly, removing the old counters was the hardest part!
Pros & Cons of Butcher Block Countertops
- Aesthetics: They look great!
- Cost: They are more expensive than laminate counters, but cheaper than many stone countertops
- Longevity: Butcher block counters will last a very long time when taken care of
- Easy to clean: Just wipe it down with soap & water to clean or use vinegar to sanitize.
- Weight: Butcher block is likely going to be heavier than your current countertops, so you may need to consider removing weight from other places in your RV.
- Can scratch or gouge: If you’ve ever had a wood cutting board, you know that they can be scratched, so you won’t want to cut directly on your counters
- Not heat resistant: You’ll need to use pot holders before placing anything hot on the counter
- Can dry out: If you don’t finish it correctly or reapply finish as needed, the wood can dry out and crack
Step 1: Detach the plumbing pipes & sink
You’ll may need to remove some drawers or cabinets to access the area underneath the sink. Once you can see the plumbing pipes, you’ll need to detach the drain pipes and the hot/cold water lines attached to the sink.
Be sure the water is off before you begin your work!
We found it easier to remove our sink first before trying to remove the counters. Depending on the type of sink you have, or the room you have to work with, you may not have to remove the sink once the pipes are detached.
If you do decide to remove the sink:
For an undermount sink, there will likely be brackets with wing nuts that you can loosen so that you’ll be able to lower and remove the sink. You may need to use a knife to cut around silicone sealant that may be holding the sink to the counter.
For an overmount sink, you may just need to score the silicone with a knife and raise the sink out of the hole.
Step 2: Remove the old counters
Our counter was held on with staples and glue. We searched for a while looking for screws or brackets to loosen, but ended up just taking a mallet to it and hitting it from the bottom until it loosened and broke free.
Pro tip! Keep the old counters to trace the cutouts on your new butcher block countertops. This is particularly helpful for drawing your sink hole outline or the square cut out for the oven.
Step 3: Measure the length of the countertops
We got our unfinished butcher block countertops from Home Depot. They come in 4ft, 6ft, 8ft and 10ft lengths, which should be sufficient for pretty much any counter length in an RV.
Our island was 6 feet long (around $180) and our other countertop was just about an inch over 6ft, so we had to get the 8 foot long piece (around $220). This ended up working out in our favor because we were able to use the extra almost two feet for our bathroom counter.
Step 4: Draw your cut lines and start cutting the butcher block
If possible, use your old countertops to mark your sink hole, oven cut out and lengths. We just laid the old countertop on top of the butcher block and use a carpenter pencil to trace the cut lines.
We used a jigsaw to cut our butcher block. Be sure to use a fine finish bi-metal blade where the teeth cut in both directions.
To start the cut for the sink hole, we used a large drill bit to drill a hole all the way through where the cut out for the handle in the sink cover would be. That gave us a place to start cutting, since you can’t start from the outside edge to cut the sink hole.
Remember, after you cut out the sink hole, you can use the piece that you’ve cut out for the sink cover, you just have to cut out some indentations for the handles.
Go slow and steady while cutting. Cutting curves isn’t the easiest, the jigsaw will sometimes want to jump, so be prepared to hold tight and just take things slow.
Step 5: Sand and finish the butcher block countertops
This is a very important step! You have to finish your butcher block countertops if you want them to last. If you leave the wood unfinished, it may swell or crack over time.
But first, sand.
You may think your butcher block countertops feel smooth, but once you start sanding, you’ll realize just how rough they actually were!
We used a medium grit sandpaper on our palm sander, sanding with the grain, for an initial sanding and then followed the instructions on the Watco Butcher Block Oil & Finish can. That included applying the finish and sanding with 400 grit sandpaper about four times.
I settled on the Watco Oil & Finish because I didn’t want a strictly oil finish because we would have to reapply the finish every month or two. However, I didn’t really prefer the high sheen finish from Waterlox. The Watco Oil & Finish seemed to be the best of both worlds, though may still have to be reapplied 1 – 2 times per year.
No matter what finish you use, the color of your butcher block will change slightly. That’s another reason why we chose the finish that we did, because it did not darken the butcher block too much.
Step 6: Install your new butcher block countertops in your RV
Apply a construction grade adhesive, like liquid nails, around the tops of the wood where the countertop will be placed.
Then, use L-brackets on the inside of the cabinets (so that you don’t see them) to secure the countertop to the cabinets in a few places.
Put your oven and sink back in place and reattach the plumbing pipes to your sink to complete your project!
Pro tip! We installed our undermount sink on the counter prior to installing it on the island, which made things a lot easier.
RV Renovation Before & After: Butcher Block Countertops
Drop any questions you have in the comments and let me know if you install butcher block counters in your RV!