A few weeks ago I shared the “unvarnished truth” about our wood countertops—and it wasn’t pretty. I can’t believe I made the rookie mistake of relying on “oil” for my sealant. If you’re considering wood countertops in your kitchen, and especially if yours is a sink counter, be realistic about the way you actually use your countertops. If you’re like me, oil was not enough protection as a sealant.
We don’t chop on our wood counters—like most people, we use cutting boards for food prep—but we definitely do a lot of handwashing when it comes to pots and pans. And when we do, we tend to leave them to air dry on the countertop. If this sounds like you, oil will not be enough protection. Water is simply too invasive when it comes to wood, and black mold spots will eventually win out (see photos). The rookie mistake I made: I thought it was important for our sealant to be food safe, but if you use cutting boards, this is a non-issue. For the way we live, our countertops need to be water resistant.
Here’s how I sanded down the wood countertops, treated the water mold stains, then stained and sealed them with polyurethane.
Almost 10 years of wear and tear could be read in the black mold spots, wine stains, and rusty circles from bottles and cans left sitting on our countertops:
To recover the finish, the first thing I did was sand down the top layer with 220 grit sandpaper (very coarse).
Then I treated the stained areas with an oxygen bleaching agent.
Sadly, the very worst stains were still there after the oxygen bleach, so the following weekend, I spot treated those with hydrogen peroxide and that did help somewhat.
In some areas the wood responded beautifully. So I sanded again, this time with a 110 grit (fine) sand paper, followed by a coat of wood conditioner, followed by a coat of “natural” stain. By the time I’d finished this, they looked almost new again.
I let the stain sit for a week, then I followed up with a coat of low-sheen polyurethane and let that sit for a week.
I have to say, they’re looking pretty good now. But only time will tell.