I’m not certain, but I am pretty sure that IKEA is Swedish for ‘You’re about to spend a whole lot of money!’ Even when I think my wife is going to slip out of there with just one or two little items I find myself making 12 trips out to the truck to bring the ‘last’ of it in. Our latest trip to IKEA proved to be no different. It really is my mom and dad’s fault. For Christmas, they bought us a dishwasher. Our dishwasher had been on the fritz for awhile and we were going to replace it when we redid the kitchen. You see, besides the faulty dishwasher; the sink leaked, the cabinet bases were falling in and the old particle board countertop was flaking pretty bad. Despite the checkout shock that accompanies most IKEA trips, we were able to score a major bargain on a new countertop using an inexpensive Ikea butcher block top.
Our little kitchen redo was something that we were fiscally prepared for but not time or logistically preapared for. But hey, what’s better than a little day-after-Christmas impromptu kitchen remodel and shopping trip? Our first step was to do emergency searches on kitchen stuff. That actually lead us to pretty inexpensive unifinished cabinets at Lowe’s (more on that in an upcoming article), a sink and cold water filter, all of which I was able to order online and pickup at the service desk (it’s a great service btw). But what to do about the countertop?
My wife has always loved butcher block and I have always hated the prices. In fact, prior to stumbling onto Ikea’s website, the best price that I was able to find for our short 7′ span was $450 and that was with me doing any and all cutting. Then my wife found an ideal solution at IKEA. It would have been OK if there was a store even within my state but noooo, the closest one was 1.5 hrs away. Hopefully you have an IKEA a little closer to home than we do.
But, Ikea does carry an inexpensive butcher block countertop. So inexpensive that I still saved nearly $200 driving all the way over there in my dad’s monster diesel truck. For just under $150 I was able to score a 1 1/2″ butcher block table from them (of course my wife fell in love with a bed and so we bought that and some towels and this and thats as well bringing the grand total much higher then what it was supposed to be, but…)
The butcher block counter top that IKEA sells may not be the high-end ones at nice kitchen stores, but they are inexpensive and thus far, durable. Traditionally butcher block is often made from maple, however, IKEA sells them in birch, beech and red oak. All three of these woods are hardwoods as well, and since I stained my cabinets dark, the lighter birch worked out perfectly with some nice contrast.
Kristi Linauer over at Addicted2Decorating.com also has a great article on her adventure with an Ikea butcher block wood countertop. In it she describes a rather harrowing wood refinishing regimin, in which she ultimately opts for mineral oil to finish and protect the counter. Definitely necessary reading if you’re considering a similar plan. Check out her handiwork in this photo -
I have just a couple of tips and guidelines if you do install this countertop yourself. First, installation is a breeze especially if you set your cabinets right the first time. Second, although Ikea offers a counter treatment that goes along with the countertop, think carefully about how you plan to preserve and care for the wood. An unprotected counter, or even a protected one that is left wet regularly is just asking for trouble. Finally, unlike normal countertops, these are much thicker. So instead of cutting out the sink hole with a jig saw, cut the straight lines with a circular saw, or consider trying the extra long Bosch precision jigsaw blades we recently reviewed. Otherwise, you’ll be in for some wicked blade flaring and you may just barely get your sink to fit in the newly cut hole!