How To Make Wood Countertops Waterproof?

Wood countertops add a natural charm to kitchens. However, their natural material can expand and contract depending on humidity levels, leading glue joints to fail over time and leaving staining or bacteria to appear on them.

Wood countertops, once eclipsed by showy stones and low-maintenance engineered materials, are experiencing a comeback. Wood offers an organic landing surface that's gentle on dishware; unlike other countertops, however, wooden ones can even be revived after damage occurs.

Style upgrades may include flat, end, or edge grain planks, parquet patterns, chessboard inlays, and borders made up of various species - as well as staining techniques that enhance wood's color and pattern.

Once properly sealed, wood countertops can be durable and beautiful; however, many clients worry that it will be difficult to keep clean and functional.

Wood counters are stunning pieces of decor, but they require regular care and maintenance to remain in good condition. Due to atmospheric humidity fluctuations, they may swell or shrink over time and create gaps or cracks in the wood that must be protected properly to preserve its beauty.

To waterproof wood countertops, apply two or three coats of food-grade varnish using either a brush or roller. Worktop varnish products are readily available at most retail outlets and are easy to apply with tools.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is an eco-friendly natural finish used to waterproof wood surfaces, known for its longevity and durability. Made without chemicals or added dyes, tung oil's only drawback is taking longer to cure; up to 30 days might pass before it's ready for regular use.

Before applying tung oil to wood surfaces, it's crucial to sand them to create an even and smooth texture. Sand with medium grit sandpaper--around 150 grit--to open up pores of the wood so that tung oil can penetrate deeply enough and provide waterproof protection.

Once sanding is complete, clean the area using a damp cloth or paper towel to remove dirt and debris. After which, apply a generous coat of tung oil over all surfaces of your wood countertop and allow it to dry overnight before placing anything on it; apply another layer as necessary and reapply when necessary.

Tung oil's strength lies in its ability to accentuate woodgrain while simultaneously protecting and nurturing it, which makes it my go-to finish for surfaces that don't require the hard protection provided by lacquer or polyurethane finishes.

Pre-mixed Tung Oil/Citrus Solvent finishes are readily available or you can purchase all the ingredients and mix them yourself, using a ratio of 1/2 Tung Oil:1/2 Citrus Solvent. When buying pre-mixed Tung Oil/Citrus Solvent be sure to give it a thorough shake so that the pigment evenly dispersion.

Pure tung oil contains no VOCs and comes from seed (not nut), making it free from VOC emissions that could potentially trigger allergies in people or animals, unlike non-drying linseed oils which contain VOCs that dry over time and discolor over time. 

Furthermore, you won't require separate varnish to protect its surfaces because pure tung oil is impervious to water, most liquids, mold, and mildew resistance make it perfect for food preparation areas.

Hardwax Oil

Hardwax oils differ from traditional film-forming wood finishes such as polyurethane in that they react with oxygen in the air to cure, so to ensure proper application you must ensure plenty of airflow when applying the finish. Full curing may take 30 days; you may open windows or use fans to speed this process along.

Hardwax oil countertops when maintained properly will last a lifetime and only get better with age. Any minor blemishes that develop will add character rather than take away from its beauty; in addition, repairing damage is far simpler and less expensive than traditional finishes.

Anova Bois' worktop varnish is free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This makes the product eco-friendly and ideal for people with sensitivities. In addition, its protective qualities ensure wood protection from water damage, staining, and mold growth while keeping its natural color intact. Ideal for all types of wood including larch, oak, and walnut counters for a natural rustic aesthetic.

As with any sealant choice, wood countertop sealants require regular reapplication to remain waterproof. Resealing should occur every month during their first year to provide an essential protective barrier from staining, water damage, and warping; then once every 6 months.

If you have any inquiries regarding wood sealants for butcher block countertops, don't hesitate to reach out - our staff would love to assist in finding the perfect option for your project!

Once your counters are complete, double-check check all biscuit joints are secure by tightening any loose seams or slots and recutting if necessary. Your newly finished countertops should now be ready to use; just ensure any spills are cleaned up promptly and apply mineral oil regularly as required - adding another coat may provide even greater protection and preservation!


Waterlox uses its exclusive formula of protective resins and penetrating tung oil sealants to lock out water from surfaces, permeating wood surfaces and becoming part of them to resist moisture, household chemicals, alcoholic beverages, heat, and cold - creating an exceptional finish that preserves and enhances natural beauty.

Waterlox provides an ultra-durable finish that stands up to high traffic, kitchen countertops, and food-grade surfaces where regular scrubbing is necessary. Waterlox forms a hard non-sticky film which makes cleaning simple while being resistant to scratching; its color also enhances and highlights wood grain patterns beautifully.

Waterlox products have always been immensely popular, and none more so than the iconic Waterlox Original Sealer & Semi-Gloss Finish (ORIGINAL). Over its 100-plus-year history, this resin-modified tung oil finish produced in Cleveland, Ohio, and used on thousands of projects from floors to countertops to turned bowls and ornate furniture has enjoyed immense popularity. There is even an option to customize its gloss levels to meet specific project or style needs!

Waterlox finishing systems should be applied using our brush and pad application methods for maximum control over the spreading of coating and film build-up. Spraying may be considered for larger projects; however, back brushing should always be adhered to ensure a professional result.

Moreover, URETHANE finishes are a great option for neutral stained surfaces like maple and other neutral tones to minimize ambering or yellowing that occurs with some tung oils. The URETHANE finishes are high-performance oil-modified urethanes designed specifically to minimize this ambering or yellowing and have lower VOC emissions and odor emissions than their predecessor, ORIGINAL finishes - while remaining functional for indoor applications.

As opposed to water-based products, our finishes can be applied on any surface - including concrete, tile, and stone - for protection purposes. Marine finishes may be better suited for exterior environments or harsh climates (i.e. salt-dragged winter boots).


UTOS oil-based sealer can serve as an essential base coat to safeguard wood countertops against staining and water damage, without creating plastic-like films on them. Instead, UTOS soaks directly into their grain instead of creating plasticized layers on top requiring regular sandings of each coat of finish applied - providing reduced maintenance requirements! Plus, its low VOC emissions and odor levels make UTOS the ideal sealant choice.

Before applying UTOS, first, sand your countertops with 100-150 grit sandpaper to remove any scratches or dirt remaining on the surfaces. Following this process, vacuum off or brush away dust while using a tack cloth to pick up any additional lint that remains.

Start by pouring a small puddle of UTOS onto the surface and rubbing it in using a clean rag. As each puddle has been absorbed by the wood, pour another one and continue until all surfaces have been covered by the product. After applying and rubbing in, wipe away any excess and allow to dry overnight before wiping off.

Although UTOS itself doesn't provide an independent protective finish, it can serve as the foundation for any Waterlox Original, H2OLOX Marine, or URETHANE finish - making the countertop waterproof and stain-resistant.

As UTOS is cured with oxygen, proper ventilation must be maintained during its application. Be sure to wear chemical-resistant gloves and eye protection. Furthermore, when buffing pads/clothes need to be replaced or cleaned more easily (e.g. soft car buffing pad, sponge wrapped in an old T-shirt, or woven fiber polishing/buffing pads), clean rags or towels may be useful in wiping away any excess.


Waterlox wood finishing products create an appealing, lasting surface with ease. Waterlox finishes are waterproof, food-grade safe, and simple to maintain - ideal for countertops, tabletops, and vanities alike. Their H2OLOX formula uses fewer solvents than their original product for reduced odor and eco-friendliness - with quick dry/cure times that allow reapplication onto existing surfaces.

H2OLOX products penetrate deeply into wood fibers to seal them under the surface, offering far greater protection than film-forming urethane products can. This also helps prevent wear-and-tear damage while decreasing water-damage stains on surfaces that have already been coated.

Keep in mind that all types of finishes wear off over time with normal usage, including urethane products. A wood countertop that sees regular use may need to be refreshed with a new coat of urethane every few years for commercial settings, or closer to every decade or more in residential situations.

When the urethane finish of an object becomes worn away, it may need to be sanded and recoated - whether for aesthetic reasons or as the result of wear and tear. Once complete, this process should take only several hours to cure fully.

H2OLOX products make recoating less of an effort since their depth-penetrating ability enables it to penetrate further into existing finishes than traditional urethane finishes can, as well as reduce the need for abrasive pads and harsh chemicals when reapplying it. 

Still, we suggest you sand and buff before applying any recoats of this product - though to ensure optimal results always consult the Refreshing and Recoating a Waterlox Finished Surface guide for assistance in rejuvenating an H2OLOX surface finish!


Polyurethane is the preferred coating choice for wood countertops, providing a hard and durable surface while protecting against stains and moisture damage - ideal for kitchen counters. When installing new wood countertops or refurbishing old ones, you have several choices of oil or water-based polyurethanes; each has unique properties and cure times; be sure to read the label carefully to select one suitable for your project.

Polyurethane is considered food grade when fully cured, which typically takes anywhere from days to a month. When applying it, safety precautions such as working in a well-ventilated area with proper ventilation and wearing masks or respirators must be observed as fumes released during curing can be harmful, particularly to young children and pregnant women. Gloves and dust masks must be worn when sanding countertops once it has set.

Before beginning, lightly scuff the surface with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough patches and glossy spots, followed by applying a thin coat of polyurethane with a brush using natural bristle brushes for oil-based polyurethane applications which leave fewer stroke marks than synthetic ones. 

It is preferable to apply multiple thin coats instead of one thick one and allow each to dry fully before adding another one; please refer to your label to determine if sanding between coats is required as well as what grit should be used; always read and follow any recommendations contained therein for proper application of polyurethane use!

Polyurethanes have long been utilized to coat wood surfaces. But beyond just that, polyurethanes also serve as adhesives and binders for composite materials like OSB, MDF board, long strand lumber, and laminated veneer lumber. Automotive industries frequently utilize them as glue for rubber/vinyl parts onto metal parts while non-foam polyurethanes are frequently employed to encase, seal, and insulate electronic components like underwater cables or printed circuit boards.

Oil- and water-based polyurethanes come in various finishes ranging from satin to gloss, making selecting one for your countertops an easy decision based on strength, durability, and desired appearance. A semi-gloss or gloss finish may offer greater shine and protection compared to satin or matte finishes.

Polyurethane is an easy way to waterproof wood countertops with plastic resin finishes like polyurethane. Although its application is straightforward, polyurethane takes more time to dry than most finishes do - and should therefore be planned for. To avoid the finish irritating sensitive skin further, use only on flat surfaces and avoid butcher-block cutting surfaces; oil finishes would work much better as an option here.

There are two primary varieties of polyurethane available today: water-based and oil-based. Water-based polyurethane has a lower odor than oil-based varieties and is less toxic, yet doesn't last as well against wear-and-tear damage as its oil counterpart. Oil-based versions require longer drying times but offer greater durability with a darker appearance.

Water-based polyurethane can be applied to almost any surface, including metal, glass, concrete, and fiberglass. Sanding must first take place, as this will remove any bumps or scratches and help the finish adhere to the surface more securely. Once this step has been taken care of, multiple thin coats of polyurethane should be applied to create a natural look and help avoid plastic-like sheening of the finish.

Before applying polyurethane, allow the counters to acclimate for five days in their new surroundings to ensure that the finish has fully set and is safe to use. Acclimatization also enables sealer to penetrate deeper into wood grain which protects it against moisture damage.

When applying a water-based polyurethane, it's essential to use a clean brush and move slowly to minimize turbulence and easily brush out any bubbles that form. If any bubbles do form, be sure to address it quickly before it sets as hardened bubbles will be much harder to eliminate later.


Wax is an effective traditional solution to waterproof wood countertops, like oil. Like oil, wax repels moisture while adding a protective barrier against wear and tear to wood surfaces. As a food-grade natural product, it doesn't contain harmful chemicals and doesn't leave behind an oily residue on contact. 

Applying and reapplying wax may become necessary depending on wear-and-tear issues over time; product durability depends upon frequent rewaxing sessions depending on wear levels.

Wax can save you from expensive repairs on wood countertops. If any small scratches appear, using wax will conceal them completely and prevent further damage from occurring. In addition, natural oils present in wax treatments help restore wood's luster so it looks almost brand new again.

Before applying wax to your wooden worktop, it must first be thoroughly cleaned. Depending on its condition and finish, degreasing, stripping, or sanding may be necessary; this step is especially vital if your countertops were previously sealed but now exhibit signs of wear and tear.

After applying wax, let it set for 20 minutes before wiping off any excess with a cloth or paper towel. Repeat this every six to eight weeks to maintain waterproof protection on wood countertops. It is advised that you periodically test for water resistance by splashing a few drops onto its surface - if water beading off means applying a fresh coat of wax.

Staining wooden worktops can make them more durable and easier to keep clean, though this step isn't necessary for non-cutting surfaces. Furthermore, adding stain will raise its cost 5-10 percent; and it won't make your countertop watertight either!

Food-Grade Oil

Wood countertops have seen their time comeback after being overshadowed by showy stones like granite and marble, maintenance-free engineered materials, and other modern surfaces for some time now. Their warmth, durability, and ability to heal themselves after being dinged or gouged make them an excellent addition to any home's decor. But to remain beautiful and functional they require regular conditioning and more care than other countertop options.

To protect your wood countertops, apply food-grade mineral oil regularly. FDA-approved mineral oil penetrates deeply into wood fibers to make them moisture, heat, and stain-resistant - an easy way to make them stainproof without feeling sticky! Condition your counters at least once each month using this product so that you know they remain protected!

Other food-grade oils, like tung or linseed oil and beeswax, may also be used to protect your wood countertops. These natural-looking products provide a natural feel while not sealing as effectively. To apply, rub oil into wood countertops using a clean rag or natural bristle brush until all excess is absorbed before wiping away any excess.

Another method for protecting wooden countertops is using commercial products designed specifically for wood. A popular such product is Waterlox, with its mixture of tung oil and resins which makes this finish extremely tough and waterproof while resisting stains and spills more effectively than other finishes. Unfortunately, however, its strong smell may require multiple coats to achieve maximum protection.

If the chemical smell of Waterlox puts you off, try applying a thin coating of pure tung oil to your countertops on an annual basis instead. This will prevent moisture from seeping into your counters and potentially warping or staining over time. Tung oil can also be used on butcher block surfaces and cutting boards for similar effects.

If you want your wood to appear polished, consider using conversion varnish instead of mineral oil. This product provides a smooth matte finish and brings out natural wood tones in your countertops, plus is water and stain-resistant while still needing regular applications to preserve its protective qualities.


Wood counters come in an assortment of species, stains, and finishes. Their purpose may range from functional (such as butcher blocks made of thick round sycamore used by butchers to support meat cleaver blades), or decorative with intricate carvings or designs. 

Which choice will best meet the needs of its user(s), to decor with intricate carvings and designs? Maintenance requirements will likely arise over time due to staining and bacteria contamination issues, but these concerns can usually be overcome with some effort.

Staining wooden countertops adds color and protects them against water damage, adding another layer of protection from any potential moisture damage. This process can be completed either manually or with a brush, with regular reapplication necessary to maintain its effectiveness and ensure evenness without chipping the wood surface. Sanding in between coats ensures even coverage while chipped wood may require multiple applications of stain.

Oil- and water-based stains are two main categories of wood stains. Oil stains are known for their durability and rich colors that enhance the natural grain of wood surfaces, adding depth of hue. Unfortunately, they're not food-safe, and should only be used on countertops not as cutting surfaces. Water-based stains tend to be safer but less durable; drying faster. They're more environmentally friendly too and less smelly!

Both stains and sealants are suitable for use on both unfinished wood countertops and pre-finished countertops, provided they meet certain criteria in terms of durability, color choice, cost, and ease of application. When selecting the ideal stain color and application technique it is essential to take into account durability, color choice, cost considerations as well as its ability to be easily reapplied. 

When staining it is important to use long and steady strokes to avoid streaking or oversaturation; after sanding is complete be sure to wipe down the worktop to remove dust nibs while permitting product drying according to label instructions.

Depending upon the finish you select for your wooden worktops, regular maintenance may be required to preserve its beauty and protect it. A polyurethane sealant may not require this step; however, oil- or wax-coated countertops must be oiled every few months to remain beautiful yet protected. Using oil can make this task simpler than ever! This rewarding and simple process ensures your wooden countertops will always look their best!

Conversion Varnish

Like oil finishes, this finish is non-sticky and has low VOC levels; cleaning up is simple with soap and water. Perfect for countertops that receive frequent use. However, its only potential drawback may require periodic refresher coats via sanding and wiping on additional coats of finish; ideal for those seeking more durable finishes than Tung or Hardwax Oil but accepting regular maintenance requirements.

Keep in mind that, though this finish is tough and long-wearing, it still needs to be treated like any other surface and cleaned promptly to avoid staining. Apply mineral oil periodically to the wood grain to help protect it against moisture and staining, while periodically resealing your countertops will ensure they have a strong protective barrier against water and other liquids.

Conversion varnish differs from lacquer and polyurethane in that it requires two components and an accelerator for it to function effectively. Sherwin-Williams Chemical Coatings Finishing Guide describes conversion varnish as "A catalyzed alkyd-based coating that is exceptionally tough, watertight, chemical resistant and durable.

Before applying a final coat of EM8000cv, it is necessary to prepare the surface by lightly sanding it with a non-woven abrasive pad and a 50:50 mix of denatured alcohol and water (no finer than 220 grit). Also important is smoothing out edges so there is an unbroken transition from counter edge to cabinet edge.

Not uncommonly, corners of a countertop may become chipped due to impacts with heavy pots or bottles - however, if this occurs it usually won't cause major issues as chips can usually be epoxied back into position easily.

As with any clear finish, EM8000cv should not be applied over light or white paints as this can yellow the finished piece. Furthermore, its use on untreated wood or existing finishes is also discouraged as this may react and cause tannins, stains, or dyes to bleed through into existing finishes resulting in tannins, stains, or dyes seeping through and staining existing pieces with their pigment.

Worktop Varnish

Solid wood worktops make any kitchen stunning, but they can become vulnerable over time due to wear-and-tear use and moisture exposure. Leaky plumbing pipes pose long-term threats that necessitate protecting the worktops against further water damage by covering or protecting them with plastic sheeting.

Oiling countertops is one way of protecting them, though it's messy and will need regular reapplying. There are other products you can use to waterproof them such as mineral oil sealants and polyurethanes that you could also try using to make waterproof countertops.

Soft woods such as ash or maple require additional sealant applications than hardwoods like oak and walnut, due to looser grain patterns requiring more sealer for penetration and protection.

Before applying varnish to your countertops, ensure they are completely dry. As it can take time for them to cure completely, ensure there is plenty of airflow around them to speed up this process and provide plenty of airflow while they cure. Once they've fully set, they'll become water and stain-proof.

Before beginning, first, sand down your counters to remove dirt or scratches and wipe down with a damp cloth to get rid of dust. Mix oil-based polyurethane with a small amount of turpentine or paint thinner and stir thoroughly, to ensure there are no bubbles. Apply polyurethane with a brush, making sure to overlap slightly as you go from section to section; this will prevent wood from appearing uneven when dried.

Once the initial coat of polyurethane dries, allow it several hours to fully set before adding another. When this second layer dries completely, let your countertops cure for at least several days before using them; use the water bead test to check their dryness by dropping drops of water onto them and seeing whether they form beads or run off quickly.

Sebastian Brady

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