Best way to refinish wood vanity top?

My bathroom is rather old and it has a butcher block vanity top. The wood needs to be sanded down, stained and sealed. I just don't know how to go about doing it.
  7 answers
  • Edwina Himmler Chiesa Edwina Himmler Chiesa on Jul 01, 2018

    We installed butcherblock in a rental kitchen- looks beautiful. we chose to wax rather than seal. we re- wax it every couple of months - you can tell when it needs it. renters have left rings- we freaked, but then found that liquid bar keepers friend drawn on the stain or ring takes it right out! just leave it on a minute and it bleaches right out. sand it down- try it

  • Carolina's Art Carolina's Art on Jul 02, 2018

    I would apply polyeurethane or clear epoxy. Won't have to worry about it ever.

  • Zard Pocleeb Zard Pocleeb on Jul 02, 2018

    Wax is a good choice, but if you don’t want to do the upkeep you can strip it down like you said, you can strip it and refinish. It does take quite a bit of time and effort. You would begin by removing the sink, and anything else on the countertop. Perhaps the best sander to use would be a belt sander, but I would only recommend using if you have considerable experience. They can do quite a bit of damage, or entirely ruin the top in seconds. The next best choice would be a random orbit sander. They are excellent tools, easy to use, and are pretty much foolproof. Start with an aggressive grit of sandpaper; 60-grit would be an excellent choice. Sand it down until the finish coat is all gone. In the photograph it looks like the wood is stained, so you will need to sand down to bare wood. Switch to a less aggressive grit, such as 100-grit and remove all of the stain. Now sand down with 120-grit, then 150-grit. If you are going to stain the wood sto here. Some people will say to sand to 220-grit, but I disagree with that. This fine a sandpaper tends to close the grain and it won’t take the stain evenly. Buy your stain in the color of your choice. I prefer Minwax stain. I have been using it for more than 30 years, and it gives excellent results. Don’t buy “Polyshades”. This is stain mixed with polyurethane. I have found that t product doesn’t give enough protection, and it is hard to apply subsequent coats. Test the stain in a small area of the countertop and let it fully dry. Take into consideration that the color will darken when the top coat is applied. If you’re satisfied with the color let it dry overnight. Apply your topcoat now. You have several choices here: polyurethane, spar varnish, shellac, lacquer, and some others. I would suggest lacquer because it is easy to use, dries fast, and you can easily make repairs down the road if it becomes damaged. I would recommend at least 3 coats. Take a fine grit of sandpaper, like a 220-grit, and lightly sand between coats. There should be virtually nothing to sand after the final coat.

    • Theresa F. Painter Theresa F. Painter on Jul 02, 2018

      Thanks so much for the detailed information I really appreciate it. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. I was thinking of replacing it but would have to have it cut special since it's not a straight piece. That's where refinishing came into play.

  • Heje Heje on Jul 02, 2018

    The counter top will be beautiful when finished. Remove anything that can be removed and protect walls. Clean thoroughly and sand, I use a hand sander with the grit necessary to get the surface ready. Then stain with perhaps a darker color and protect with poly or whatever you feel is the best. It will look almost brand new when complete.

    • Theresa F. Painter Theresa F. Painter on Jul 02, 2018

      Thanks I have my fingers crossed that I don't mess it up, but really with the condition it's in now it really cannot look much worse, I hope ;-)

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jul 02, 2018

    Hi Theresa,

    That vanity is so beautiful!

    I agree with Edwina, rather than seal, use wax.

  • Andrea Andrea on Dec 20, 2023

    Hello. Jumping on to this old post for some advice. We have a lovely hardwood vanity that needs to be re-sealed. It has a number of knots etc that should be filled in once sanded back, and before seal. What would you use, a clear resin?