Adding a butcher block backsplash to your kitchen can provide a stylish, durable, and easy-to-clean accent wall. Butcher block is made from glued and pressed blocks of hardwood, providing a thick and sturdy material perfect for kitchen backsplashes. Attaching a butcher block backsplash securely and properly ensures it will stand up to years of use without warping, cracking, or pulling away from the wall. With some basic tools and materials, installing a butcher block backsplash is a DIY project many homeowners can complete successfully.
Choosing Your Butcher Block
The first step is selecting the right butcher block panels for your backsplash area. Consider the following when deciding on your butcher block:
Butcher block comes in a variety of wood species, each with their own visual appeal and characteristics:
- Maple – Hard and dense with a light color. Stains well.
- Walnut – Richer mid-brown tone. More moisture resistant.
- Cherry – Reddish brown color darkens with age. Ages well.
- Oak – Durable, moisture-resistant. Has dramatic grain patterns.
- Teak – Excellent water resistance. Natural oils deter bacteria.
Butcher block thickness typically ranges from 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches. Thicker butcher block is sturdier and less prone to warping. 0.75-1 inch panels are ideal for backsplashes.
You can choose square-edged or edge-grained butcher block. Edge-grain is more resistant to moisture and wear.
Butcher block can come pre-finished with an oil/wax coating or unfinished. Unfinished saves money but requires sanding and coating.
Size of Panels
Measure your backsplash area and purchase panels to fit, allowing for 0.25 inch gaps between panels. Many manufacturers sell standard width panels you can cut to fit your height.
Preparing Your Backsplash Area
Proper prep work ensures your butcher block adheres securely for years to come.
Remove Existing Backsplash
If there is an existing backsplash, remove it completely with a pry bar, hammer and scraper. Clean off any old adhesive residue.
Deep Clean the Wall
Use TSP or other degreaser to deep clean the wall area. This removes built-up grease and dirt so your adhesive bonds well.
Fill Any Gaps or Imperfections
Use spackling compound to fill any holes, cracks or uneven spots so the area is smooth and flat. Sand smooth when dry.
Prime the Surface
After cleaning, apply an oil-based primer to the wall area. This helps the adhesive bind to the surface. Allow primer to dry fully.
Preparing Your Butcher Block
Proper prep of your butcher block panels ensures successful installation.
Acclimate the Wood
Take butcher block out of packaging and let it acclimate to your home’s temperature/humidity for 1-2 days. This prevents possible warping or gapping after install.
Sand Down Surface (Unfinished Only)
If you purchased unfinished butcher block, lightly sand the panels with 120-150 grit sandpaper to improve adhesion.
Apply Finish (Unfinished Only)
Use food-grade mineral oil, beeswax or butcher block conditioner to seal and protect all surfaces of unfinished butcher block panels prior to installing.
Cut to Size
If needed, cut your butcher block panels to fit your backsplash area using a circular saw. Wear protective gear when cutting.
Pre-drill clearance holes in the corners of each panel, approx. 1 inch from edges. This prevents possible wood splitting when screwing panels to the wall.
Choosing Your Adhesive
Choosing the right adhesive ensures your butcher block adheres flat and firmly. Consider the following options:
Heavy duty adhesives like Liquid Nails provide a strong, permanent bond. Can be messy and requires weights/clamps to secure panels while drying.
Clear silicone caulk adheres panels firmly while allowing for expansion and contraction of wood. Provides less immediate grab than construction adhesive.
Mastic adhesive is specifically designed for bonding wood panels to surfaces. Mastic allows for some flexibility while providing a strong bond.
Two-part epoxy adhesives provide an incredibly strong, permanent bond. Can be more difficult to work with and require precisely mixed ratios.
Applying Adhesive and Installing Butcher Block
Follow these steps when attaching your butcher block backsplash:
Work from the Bottom Up
Start adhering panels from the bottom edge, working upwards. This prevents drips sticking panels to wall incorrectly.
Run a zig-zag bead of your chosen adhesive along the back of each panel, approximately 1 inch from edges.
Set Panels in Place
Carefully press panels to the wall in the correct position. Temporary bracing or weights may help during drying.
Use Scribes if Needed
Use wood scribes trimmed to match wall contours to fill any gaps if your wall is uneven. Adhere and fill scribes with adhesive.
Allow Proper Curing Time
Most adhesives require 24-48 hours curing time before surfaces can be cleaned, finished or sealed. Check manufacturer recommendations.
Secure With Screws
Once adhesive has cured, drill clearance holes and insert 2.5-3 inch wood screws into each pre-drilled hole to firmly anchor panels.
Finishing Your Butcher Block Backsplash
Applying a protective finish ensures your butcher block stays looking its best.
Lightly sand any rough areas with 220 grit sandpaper, being careful not to scratch wood surface.
Use mineral spirits to remove any grease, glue residue and dirt from all surfaces before applying finish.
Apply Finish Coats
Apply 2-3 thin coats of FDA approved mineral oil, beeswax or butcher block conditioner. Allow drying fully between coats.
Reapply food-safe butcher block finish 1-2 times per year to maintain the protective coating.
With the right materials and proper technique, you can successfully install an attractive, durable butcher block backsplash to add functionality and style to your kitchen. Always read and follow manufacturer instructions for adhesives, finishes and sealers for best results. Take your time to prep properly and make accurate cuts – your new backsplash will provide beauty and utility for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Attaching Butcher Block Backsplash
Installing a butcher block backsplash in your kitchen can add visual appeal and durability. But many homeowners have questions about the process before getting started. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about attaching butcher block backsplash:
What tools do I need to install a butcher block backsplash?
You’ll need basic DIY tools like a circular saw, jigsaw, drill, tape measure, level, pry bar, nails, screws, sandpaper, clamps, and adhesive applicator. Safety gear like goggles, mask and gloves are also recommended when cutting and prepping materials.
What’s the best way to cut butcher block panels?
The thickness of butcher block requires power tools to cut effectively. Use a circular saw with a fine-tooth woodcutting blade to make straight cuts. For curves or openings, use a jigsaw with a blade designed for cutting thicker hardwood. Go slowly to avoid cracking or splintering edges. You can also have panels professionally cut for you.
Should I seal all sides of the butcher block before installing?
Yes, it’s recommended to apply protective finish like mineral oil or beeswax to all sides and edges of the butcher block panels, even sides that get mounted to the wall. This prevents moisture damage down the line. Just avoid getting finish on surfaces getting glued.
How long does construction adhesive take to cure?
Most construction adhesives used for bonding wood take 24-48 hours to fully cure at normal room temperature. The panels shouldn’t be sanded, finished, cleaned or subjected to heavy loads during this curing time. Check manufacturer instructions for recommended curing times.
What’s the best way to clean butcher block after installation?
Once adhesive is fully cured, use a soft cloth with a mild soap and warm water to gently clean off any residue or dirt from the surface. Avoid harsh cleaners which can damage or dry out the wood. Reapply protective finish regularly to keep butcher block looking its best.
Can I use leftover wall tile backsplash with the butcher block?
It’s best not to combine materials like wall tile and butcher block within the same backsplash area. Their thickness, finishing requirements and ability to adhere to surfaces differ quite a bit. Maintaining a consistent look with all butcher block panels is recommended.
How often do I need to reseal my butcher block backsplash?
Typically, reapplying a protecvtive topcoat of food-safe mineral oil or wax 1-2 times per year will maintain the finish while allowing for easy cleaning. Seasoning with butcher block oil monthly will provide extra protection. Always wipe spills quickly to prevent moisture damage.
What’s the best way to cut pieces to fit around outlets?
It’s easiest to remove the outlet covers and trace the exact outline onto your butcher block panel. Carefully cut along this outline with a jigsaw. Test the fit before gluing panels in place, and sand edges smooth. Be sure power is disconnected when removing outlets.
Can I install butcher block over drywall or does it need a backer board?
Butcher block can be installed directly onto drywall as long as the surface is smooth, primed and properly cleaned. However, moisture-resistant backer board provides an even more durable surface for bonding and prevents possible water damage to drywall over time.
How do I prep the wall for good adhesion?
Lightly sand and then clean with TSP or degreaser to remove dirt and oils. Fill any gouges and holes with spackle and then lightly sand smooth when dry. Wipe away dust. Prime the surface before applying adhesive for best results.
Following proper techniques for preparing both your wall and the butcher block, combined with using the right construction adhesive, will result in a backsplash that stays adhered securely for many years of beauty and function.
Installing a butcher block backsplash in your kitchen can provide a handsome, useful accent wall that is more durable and repairable than ceramic tile. With the right combination of quality materials, proper surface prep, precision cuts, full adhesive cure times, and professional finishing, you can achieve stunning results adding this rustic yet refined element to your cooking space. Although installation does require careful adherence to methods, the ability to cut panels to fit, screw to the wall for stability, and refinish over time provides benefits over more complex tile setting. Take it slow, follow adhesive instructions, and don’t be afraid to ask a professional if unsure about any steps. With some patience and care, you can do this project yourself and enjoy the warm, practical addition of butcher block in your home for decades to come.
Here are the key points covered in this article:
- Choose the right thickness, wood type, edge style and finish when selecting butcher block panels for your backsplash. Measure carefully for a custom fit.
- Properly prepare the wall area by removing old backsplash, deep cleaning, filling imperfections, priming, and making any electrical box adjustments needed.
- Prepare the butcher block by acclimating to your home’s conditions, lightly sanding, predrilling holes, and applying protective finish on all sides.
- Adhere panels using quality construction adhesive designed for bonding wood. Work from bottom up, applying adhesive in a zig-zag pattern.
- Allow full curing time for adhesive before cleaning or finishing panels. Secure with wood screws into pre-drilled holes.
- Smooth any rough areas with fine grit sandpaper, clean thoroughly, and apply 2-3 coats of FDA approved finish.
- Maintain finish 1-2 times per year by gently cleaning and reapplying mineral oil or butcher block conditioner.
Following the proper installation methods carefully results in a beautiful, long-lasting butcher block backsplash you’ll enjoy for many years.