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How Do You Finish a Solid Wood Countertop? (Step-By-Step Guide)

finished solid wood countertops in kitchen

You might be tired of going to professionals and paying extra money for things you can easily do on your own. One of the things we think we have to go to a carpenter for is finishing, or refinishing, a countertop. However, you’ll be happy to know that it’s quite a simple job.

If you were wondering, “How do you finish a solid wood countertop?”, here’s our step-by-step guide to finishing a perfect kitchen countertop!

Related: The Best Finish For Wooden Kitchen Countertops

Finishing Wooden Countertop (Step-By-Step)

Finishing a wood countertop can be done in basically three steps: sanding, dying, and sealing. However, the first step is always to get your things ready. So, here are our suggested steps:

Step 1. Prepare Your Equipment

The equipment you’ll need for this job are:

A little extra tip to ensure a smooth process: prepare something to hold your countertop after you’ve finished one side. Ideally, they’d be two nails fixed onto some horizontal surface. That way, the nails will only remove the sealer from only two tiny dots. This shall be on the back side of the countertop so they won’t appear.

Step 2. Sanding

Sanding is the process where you even out the whole countertop. This means you remove any cracks, scratches, and uneven areas so you’d get a perfectly straight countertop.

Sanding is done in two steps. First, you use the belt sander to remove any unwanted material that may be stuck on the wood. Second, you use the orbit sander. It’ll be more helpful in the rest of the sanding as it has a finer grit.

If the cracks are too deep, you can use epoxy to fill them, wait for it to dry, then begin sanding.

Bear in mind that you can’t use a sander if your countertop has a decorative edge or it’ll be ruined. In that case, you’ll need to sand it carefully with 120 grit sandpaper.

Step 3. Applying Dye or Stain

You can color your countertop using either wood dye or stain, depending on which of them gives you a better color. You have to dye both the top and bottom of the countertop.

If you’re going to use, for example, two coats on the top, you can use just one on the bottom. However, it’s better to give both sides equal quality.

Related: How To Tell If Stain Is Oil Or Water Based (Oil Based vs Water Based Stain)

Step 4. Sealing

This is where you use the roller brush to apply the sealer.

Make sure you seal the whole countertop: the top, the sides, and the backside even though it won’t appear. This is crucial because the seal protects the countertop from any moisture and prevents the wood from shrinking with time

The wood sealer we suggest is the Thompson’s Water Seal. It’s waterproof and maintains the color for a long time thanks to its advanced polymers. 

Video Guide On Finishing Wood Countertops

How to Do Maintenance on a Solid Wood Countertop?

Once you’ve installed your countertop, you’re going to need to keep it under constant maintenance so your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Here are four tips for how you can maintain and do regular maintenance on your countertop:

1. Regular Oiling

Oil helps keep your countertop protected and well-sealed. For a month or two, after you’ve installed the countertop, it’s best to oil it weekly. Afterward, you can oil it once every two or three months.

To oil your countertop, apply only a small portion of the oil and leave it for about half an hour. Then, wipe the excess oil and give the countertop its time to dry. 

2. Keep It Clean

It’s best to wipe out anything that spills over your countertop before it dries out and leaves a stain. If it’s too late for that, make sure you clean the stains as soon as possible.

You can use soap mixed with warm water to clean your countertop. Just wipe it using a clean cloth then dry it using another dry cloth.

3. Careful Usage

Wood is sensitive to heat. That’s why it’s best not to put any hot pots, plates, or cups directly on your countertop. Otherwise, it might be damaged or stained. Thus, it’s always wise to use potholders.

You should also be careful not to use the countertop for cutting. The knife might cause damage and scratches to the wood. Instead, try to get used to preparing food on cutting boards.

4. Repair Damages

Don’t worry too much if you find that your countertop has some damaged spots. This doesn’t mean you must refinish it right away.

Some small damages like scratches can go away by just rubbing them. If it’s something a little bigger, you can rub it using a paraffin-wax stick that has a color matching that of your countertop. 

For bigger damages, you may have to refinish your countertop. You can use sandpaper or a sander, depending on how big the crack is. Then, you’ll have to dye it all again to avoid having different color shades on your countertop, and reseal it.

Why Choose Wood Countertops?

After learning all about finishing and maintaining a wooden countertop, you may be thinking that it’d be easier if you just buy marble countertops or any other material that requires less maintenance. However, there are three key benefits to buying  a natural wood countertop:

1. Modern Look

Wood countertops give your kitchen a modern, organic, and warm vibe. It’ll be different from traditional granite and marble countertops that have dominated home design for such a long time. It’s time for a change, isn’t it?

2. More Affordable

Wood countertops cost less than other countertops made of other materials. So, if you want to glam up your kitchen without paying too much, wood countertops will be a good option for you.

3. User-Friendly

You’ll find wood countertops to be beneficial in many ways. For one, their feel is much warmer than cold granite and marble countertops. You don’t need to worry about wood catching bacteria as it’s known to have antibacterial properties. Wood has the ability to absorb sound as well, which can help in confining loud cooking noises a little.

Moreover, wood countertops are environmentally friendly since they’re recyclable, and many of them are actually made of recovered materials.


Wood countertops add something unique to your kitchen, and they’ll be even more special if you put in the effort to finish them yourself.

It’s not a complicated job at all, and I’m sure you’ll see that once you start it. It only requires some handy skills.

However, we have to advise you to wear a mask while finishing your wood countertop, so you don’t get harmed by the materials coming out from sanding or sealing.

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