Butcher Block Finish: Natural Oil vs Varnique

Butcher Block Finish: Natural Oil vs Varnique

When ordering butcher block countertops you have the option to choose a Natural Oil Finish or a Varnique Semi-Gloss Finish. The most commonly asked question we get from consumers is “What is the difference between a natural oil and a Varnique finish?” This is a great question and an easy one to answer. All you have to do is think about how you intend to use your butcher block and how much maintenance you are willing to sign up for.

NATURAL OIL FINISH

Most butcher blocks come pre-treated with a food-safe, natural oil finish that moisturizes and protects the wood and makes it safe for food preparation, including cutting. All cutting boards and chopping blocks come with a natural oil finish. This finish must be renewed through the reapplication of butcher block oil or board cream about once a month. A stained or discolored natural-oil board can be restored fairly easily by simply sanding the stained area lightly then re-oiling the board.

A natural oil finish does require monthly maintenance.

  • Oil it every 3 to 4 weeks depending upon usage. When it looks dry or lighter in color it is time to oil.
  • Boos Block ® Mystery Oil and the Boos Block ® Board Cream are recommended to be used together.
  • First apply Mystery Oil. The oil and minerals penetrate through the wood surface to increase its longevity. Let dry.
  • Then wipe on Block Cream to seal the top coating of the wood to provide a thick surface protection.
  • Tip – use a plastic grocery bag instead of a cloth to spread the Mystery Oil over a large butcher block surface. This avoids oil absorbing into a cloth or getting on your hands.

VARNIQUE SEMI-GLOSS FINISH

Varnique is a branded, varnish-like product developed by John Boos & Co. Although Varnique provides a fine-furniture look and is perfect for general kitchen chores, it is not to be cut upon, since nicks in this hard-shell coating could leave unprotected the wood beneath. Varnique provides a virtually maintenance-free semi-gloss finish that seals and protects wood. It is the finish of choice among bakers in particular, since it provides a hard, smooth, non-stick surface on which to roll dough. Although not impermeable, a surface finished with Varnique is more resistant to spotting and staining.

Varnique finish is virtually maintenance-free. It is easily cleaned with mild soap and warm water, followed by a towel dry.

Which butcher block finish is best for you?  If you want to cut on your butcher block, you must choose a natural oil finish.

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