July 31, 2013

Countertops, Nervously

Wood purists, avert your eyes.
I've been spending a lot of time with these items over the past week. Water based Varathane floor finish, a good paintbrush, sanding block with 220 grit sandpaper, and a tack cloth (essentially cheese cloth dipped in wax). 
And here's why. Much to the chagrin of wood lovers everywhere, I am sealing our butcher block countertops before we install them. The recommended use and care of butcher block is to treat it with oil every week. Um. I know myself well enough to realize I would diligently oil these beauties for a few weeks, tops, and then forget about it entirely. Oh, then there's the fact that red wine will stain the uncoated wood. Yeah, how long 'til there's an unsightly red ring on the counter top from the bottom of a wine glass? I'm guessing coffee spills wouldn't be much better. Plus, standing water isn't good for the wood. With butcher block on both sides of the sink, and an *exuberant* dish washer helper, how exactly am I going to prevent that?

So, how to have the warmth of wood countertops without the constant fear of ruining using them? And without me turing into the counter top surveillance monitor complete with screeching reprimands and towel permanently in hand? Seal 'em. But I must admit, sealing them is nerve wracking in an anxiety ridden kind of way. I'm afraid I'm going to screw it up. Even after using the 6 inch leftover scrap as a tester. This is nerve wracking to me.

Here's what I've done so far. 
  1. Lightly sanded the tops and edges of the counter tops until perfectly smooth to the touch. 
  2. Shop vac-ed, wiped, and tack clothed the dust away. 
  3. Applied 2 coats of oil based natural stain to the tops and edges of the counter tops to bring out the richness of the wood grain. 
  4. Allowed each coat to dry thoroughly.
  5. Blue taped around the edges and a 2 inch border on the top sides of the counters.
  6. Began finishing the under sides of the counters as a practice run.
  7. Applied 3 coats of Varathane with a brush after attempting use of the specially made applicator (kind of like a sponge mop). My use of the applicator caused many, many minute bubbles in the surface of the finish. Using the brush still caused some bubbles, but far less. In this sense, I don't like working with Varathane. But here's the great thing. It dries to the touch super fast, in an hour or two, at which time you can apply the next coat WITHOUT SANDING! The last time I finished wood (a bed frame), I had to sand between each and every layer of finish. Not so anymore! As long as each additional coat is applied within 24 hours of the previous coat, no sanding required. 
  8. However, I did sand with 220 grit before applying the final coat. This is recommended if the finish causes the grain to raise. If this happens, you can see it and feel it. The surface becomes bumpy. Very light sanding, virtually no pressure at all, takes care of it (and the little bubbles, too).
  9. Shop vac-ed, wiped, and tack clothed the dust away.
  10. Applied a 4th, final coat of finish.
  11. Currently waiting on pins and needles to see how it dries.
I'm really nervous about removing the blue tape. I hope it doesn't pull up the finish. Maybe I'll ease it's removal by cutting around the edge with a blade? I don't know. Then it'll be time to flip the countertops over and finish the parts that are gonna show. I have a crick in my back from merely contemplating that prospect. Oh dear.

No comments:

Post a Comment