Consider Ikea Karlby butcher block counters for a classic look and budget-friendly option for your home…
Choosing counters for your home is not an easy decision. Many times you are working with a tight budget. Because kitchen makeovers are not something you do often, you want to make sure you love the counters you choose.
Butcher block is one option, but solid butcher block options can be pricey. You may want to consider one of IKEA’s popular butcher block countertop options that is a veneer, rather than solid wood, such as the Karlby line.
I have lots of personal experience with this product to share, and I’ll also be sharing 10 more real-life examples of these IKEA countertops in use to help you decide if it’s a product you’d like to try in your own home.
Here’s a highlight reel with some of the awesome butcher block countertop inspiration that’s on tap for you today!
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Are you considering butcher block counters?
I personally lived with IKEA Karlby butcher block counters for many years, and don’t regret my decision to buy them one bit!
Butcher block countertops give a warm, traditional, even historic look to a home. My first home was a post-WWII era, brick townhouse. The whole neighborhood was built as barracks for soldiers stationed at the Pentagon in my hometown of Washington DC in the 1940s.
The community is a historic landmark, and three previous presidents called this little neighborhood home at one point during their lifetimes.
The homes were originally built with butcher block counters in them, and when I moved into mine in 2003, we needed to renovate the kitchen, but I wanted to preserve some of the original feel and character.
So I chose IKEA Karlby butcher block counters. They gave me the look I was after, at a price point I could afford in my first home.
Excuse the novice pictures, guys. I took these pictures eons ago when my little sister was actually a renter in my townhouse. I didn’t know about cameras, photography, none of it.
Butcher Block Countertop FAQ’s
Are IKEA Karlby counters real wood?
Yes, they are made of real wood. However, it’s a veneer, not a solid wood slab.
According to IKEA the veneer approach, “makes the countertops easier to install, more stable and more resistant to humidity compared to solid countertops. And since we use the whole tree – even the crooked branches and the small twigs – we can save natural resources too.”
How do you seal butcher block counters?
For the IKEA Karlby counters, clean the surface thoroughly with soap and water or a gentle counter cleaner.
Allow to dry.
Once dry, use a clean, dry cloth to liberally apply the tung tree/linseed oil. Allow the oil to sit on the countertops for several minutes. Longer if the counters have not been treated in a long time or are looking particularly dry or cracked.
After the oil has been allowed to penetrate the surface, rub off any excess with a clean rag.
Repeat several times per year to preserve and extend the life of your counters.
Can these countertops be cut?
Yes! They sure can.
Cutting countertops is always a bit stressful…but cutting this type of countertop as opposed to materials like granite or marble is much simpler, and doesn’t require more specialized tools.
Once upon a time, my dad cut and installed these countertops by himself. I’d like to say I was helpful during the process, but alas, I do not think I helped him at all. Le sigh.
Compared to solid stone counters, these wood counters are MUCH lighter weight, and easier to maneuver, cut, and install as a DIY’er.
How do you care for butcher block countertops?
IKEA sells a product for its Karlby countertops. It’s called Stockaryd, and it’s a blend of tung tree and linseed oils.
I kept a container of this under my kitchen sink, and about twice a year, I would clean the counters thoroughly, then liberally apply this oil to my countertops with a clean rag. It penetrates the wood, then you simply wipe off any excess.
It shines up the counters beautifully, and helps prevent stains from setting in.
Are IKEA Karlby counters high-maintenance or difficult to care for?
In my experience, having lived with them, and owned a rental property with them for nearly 20 years, I’d say they are SUPER resilient and VERY economical. They aren’t maintenance-free (what counter really is?), but they are not really difficult to care for.
If you seal them with oil about 2x/year and lightly sand out stubborn stains when necessary, you can get many years out of this type of countertop.
We finally replaced ours after 20 years. And that was in a rental property where they had survived over 10 renters!
Can butcher block countertops be stained?
Yes. Wood counters can be stained. But whether you CAN and SHOULD are two different questions, entirely. While stain companies may say it’s ok to stain counters, and perhaps it is, I don’t think that stain and a food prep surface sound like things that should go together.
IKEA offers their butcher block counters in several types of woods and finishes now. When I installed mine 20 years ago, the options were more limited.
But today, you can purchase these counters in birch, oak, ash and even walnut, so there’s likely a look that you’ll love without dealing with messy (and potentially toxic) stains.
Does IKEA offer other types of butcher block countertops?
IKEA currently offers butcher block in various styles and wood species.
Their current lines include Karlby, Pinnarp, Skogsa, Mollekulla, and Vrena. The wood species currently offered include oak, ash, walnut and birch.
All of their current offerings are veneers rather than solid wood countertops.
What are the biggest pros and cons of IKEA butcher block countertops?
Based on my years of personal experience and everything I’ve come to know and learn about this style of countertop, and compared to others I’ve owned over the years to include granite, marble, and quartz here’s what I’d cite as the biggest pros and cons of this type of counter:
– Affordable (higher-end look than other lower-end priced countertop options)
– Classic, natural look
– Stains can be removed relatively easily by light sanding
– Upkeep is not very expensive, time-consuming or difficult
– Comparatively simple to cut and install versus heavier, thicker stones/materials
– Water will stain over time/repeated exposure
– Require upkeep (though simple) in the form of oiling at least 2x/year
– Will require light sanding over time to remove difficult stains
If you’re already an IKEA die-hard (or even if you haven’t yet caught the bug), then grab this free list of 25 IKEA must-have items for a stylish home on a budget! These are my favorite IKEA products as many of them can be used in amazing, outside-the-box ways, too.
Ready to see some more wood countertop inspiration? Let’s go!
So what do you think? Are you sold on butcher block? Still on the fence? Pin these countertop ideas for later:
Don’t leave empty-handed! Grab your free copy of our “25 Best IKEA Buys For A Stylish Home On A Budget” list! It’s the next best thing to an IKEA cinnamon roll (and if you haven’t tried one of those, you are missing one of life’s biggest joys)!