Finish: What Finish Option Should I Choose?
If you've been looking at countertops on our website, you've probably noticed that we offer a few finish options. Each option has a specific use, so here's how to decide what finish is best for you:
What does “food safe finish” actually mean?
Food safe for chopping - This means that everything in the finish is FDA approved and edible. Our Mineral oil and Organic Beeswax finish is in this category, 100% food safe and designed to use for direct chopping.
Food safe for contact - This means the finish is safe for food contact such as rolling out dough and general prep work. All of our finish options are food safe for contact. This does not necessarily mean the finish is safe for direct chopping. Finishes that are safe for food contact often have hardeners (wood-protecting chemical components) in them that shouldn’t be ingested. When this type of finish is fully cured, it forms a hard wood-protecting layer that does not interact with food. Here’s why this type of finish isn’t necessarily safe for direct chopping: If a knife is used to chop food on this type of finish, the knife can chip out pieces of hardened finish. If that happened, small bits of finish could be imparted into your food and ingested.
Which finish should I choose?
Each finish has different strengths, so the following is a more detailed description of each option.
Mineral Oil and Organic Beeswax
This is the perfect food safe butcher block finish. This finish is the one you want to choose if you’re chopping directly on your countertop. It is safe for food contact and direct chopping. Being an oiled finish, it requires more maintenance than our other finish options. This finish is the most natural and matte looking of all our finish options. Since it is an oiled finish, it is more susceptible to stains and spills than other finish options. It also maintains a slight oily/waxy feel throughout the life of the butcher block. We strongly recommend the use of coasters and placemats for glasses and plates if you have this finish. This is the easiest finish to repair if your butcher block gets stained. It can be sanded in place and re-oiled to look like new. We have a full care guide in the FAQ section of our website.
If you have a sink in your wood countertop: The Mineral oil and organic beeswax requires extra care around sinks. This finish protects the wood, but does not seal wood in the same way as other not-safe-for-chopping finishes. The oil and wax in this finish repel water, so it is very important to keep the wood well conditioned as well as dry after sink use to avoid the possibility of water damage over time.
Monocoat is a plant-based, sustainable and VOC-Free finish. It accentuates the natural beauty of wood with a thin, durable, matte and water resistant coating. It is a great choice if you want the most natural looking finish possible without the upkeep of an oiled finish. It's also important that you don’t plan on chopping directly on your countertop if choosing this finish. Monocoat is the finish we use on our personal woodworking projects for it’s appearance, ease of maintenance, and ease of repair. Monocoat is safe for food contact, but not for direct chopping. It offers a moderate amount of protection against stains and spills, while being easy to spot repair if your finish does get damaged over time. It is also a green, zero VOC finish, and can be worked on directly in your kitchen if you do need to spot repair at any point. We have a full Monocoat care guide in the FAQ section of our website.
If you have a sink in your wood countertop: Monocoat can be used around sinks. We recommend extra care in maintaining the finish around sink areas and keeping the area dry after use.
Everlast Satin Varnish
Everlast Varnish is our most durable and protective finish. This is an Epoxy and Urethane finish, designed to be very protective against water (stains and spills) and around sinks. This finish is built up over a number of coats for protection. While the many coats create a bit of a sheen, we use a dull satin version of this finish to best preserve the natural look of the wood. While it has a bit of sheen, it is not glossy. Please visit our gallery for pictures of this finish and our other finishes. Everlast is safe for food contact, but not recommended for chopping. It is the lowest maintenance of all finishes. We recommend a water/vinegar mix in a spray bottle for cleaning (not store bought cleaners).
If you have a sink in your wood countertop: This is our recommended finish for use with sinks.
This will come finish sanded and ready for finishing on site. This is the best choice if you plan on cutting a sink or cooktop opening on site - you or your contractor can make the required cuts and then finish on site.
We’ve gone through a significant amount of testing in developing/implementing these finish options. Each is beautiful and each has its strengths based on intended use.
Care info for each finish option can be found here:
Mineral oil and Organic Beeswax (care): https://www.armanifinewoodworking.com/mineral-oil-and-organic-beeswax-finish-care-instructions/
Mineral oil and Organic Beeswax (cleaning): https://www.armanifinewoodworking.com/cleaning-instructions/
Monocoat (care & cleaning): https://www.armanifinewoodworking.com/monocoat-finish-guide-cleaning-and-maintenance/
Everlast Varnish (care & cleaning): https://www.armanifinewoodworking.com/everlast-satin-varnish-care-guide/
Mineral oil and organic beeswax is the one to go with if you'll be chopping. It's also the most susceptible to stains/spills and it requires pretty regular oiling.
Monocoat is a favorite if you’re seeking a non-chopping countertop because of its natural look, protective quality, ease of repair, and very low maintenance requirements.
Everlast Satin Varnish is a full varnish that could be used as a bar top. It is extra durable while not being glossy (satin in sheen). It has a very attractive appearance that isn't too thick and retains the natural look of the wood very nicely. This option is more work to repair if that ever becomes necessary.
Here’s a link to our Wood Countertop Gallery for pictures (finish is labeled in the caption under the picture): https://www.armanifinewoodworking.com/gallery/
Hopefully this gives you an idea of the look and best use for each finish.