Home>Discussions>KITCHENS>Butcher block shrinkage
7 posts / 0 new
Last post
Butcher block shrinkage

We have a butcher block countertop that shrinks and expands 1/8"to 1/2" each season. Right now (dry winter), the countertop has pulled away from the wall, leaving an ugly gap. The installer used a white grout that is a ragged mess. We want to install a tile backsplash on the wall behind the countertop, but we don't know what to do where the tile and butcher block meet. If we grout the line where the tile ends, the butcher block won't be able to expand and contract. If we leave a gap, crumbs, etc. will get in. We would welcome any suggestions.

MLB Construction
Re: Butcher block shrinkage

grout has zero give to it. it takes a lot less than 1/8" of expansion to crack it out. tiling is the best option for the backsplash. leave the tile about 1/8" above the countertop and then caulk that gap with a silicon, mold resistant caulk. you should be able to find one that has a close color to your grout.

whenever tile meets a non tile material, the seam should be caulked, not grouted. whenever tile meets tile at a 90 degree angle (like a vertical corner in a shower or when a shower wall meets the shower floor) the seam should be caulked, not grouted. the movement in the walls behind the tile due to the expansion and contraction of the wood during the different seasons always cracks the grout. a kitchen countertop (granite meeting tile) is no different, just as butcher block meeting tile.

Re: Butcher block shrinkage

Ditto. Good answer, except I would use ELASTROMERIC CAULK.

Re: Butcher block shrinkage

A substantial amount of seasonal movement should be expected with a butcher block counter no matter how well it's sealed. This movement can be enough pull apart even silicone caulk. Securely screwing both the front and back of the cabinet to the counter will either split the counter or tear apart the cabinet. If just the back edge is firmly screwed and the front edge is secured with a slotted fasteners to accommodate the seasonal movement, caulk between tile and wood will hold up. If you have two sections of butcher block joined to form an L, securing the back edge won't work. (you can't secure the back edges and maintain a tight connection between sections) You could make up a 2 piece wood backslash with the lower piece secured to the counter and the upper secured to the wall.

For a section of counter in a dry area you can skip the caulk. To get a clean line between the counter and tile without caulk, use metal tile edging against the counter.

Re: Butcher block shrinkage

You can use a 'profile' typical of tile work or even an L shaped piece of aluminum at the bottom of the tile where the tile meets the counter. The counter can slide under the aluminum at will, leaving the tile uncracked.

Re: Butcher block shrinkage

You can control where the block moves by where you choose to make the fixed attachment point, the other attachment points being cleats which allow for the wood to move. If you fix it at the back, all movement will be along the front edge, allowing you to tile right down to the wood. If you secured it at the front edge of the cabinets, every bit of movement would have to be along the wall (bad). I'd probably attach it at a quarter to a third away from the wall, so most of the movement would be at the cabinet edge where it's less noticeable.
Various tabletop fasteners: https://www.google.com/search?q=table+top+fasteners&client=firefox-a&hs=0gU&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=E4UUU5WSH8S00QHPhoCQDw&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1252&bih=551

Re: Butcher block shrinkage

I had a four foot section of butherblock and just never bothered to fasten it down. It just butted up to the tile. It did however have a wooden backsplash on it.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.