FIRST, let me begin by confessing that, in the whole year I've owned this abode, this is the ONLY thing I've hired out to do. This isn't to say I haven't had help (Sup parents & Roger), BUT it's the first time that I went with the whole "hire a professional" route. Which to me, is a BIG deal. Could I have done this myself? Yes. I could have rented a table saw, taught myself how to use a router, and gotten the job done. Would I have freaked out the entire time? YES. Could I carry around the million pound butcher blocks? NO. Does my sanity trump my bank account? YES. YES, it does.
AND IT WENT SO WELL. The back wall was a little warped (which I figured was the case), so that was a little tricky for them to get fit. And the whole, cut a perfect hole for the sink business...which is what took the longest to perfect. Then they cut a few holes for the faucet/soap and were on their way.
Once they left I got right to work. I had a goal: faucet installed by sundown.
First - I sanded everything down with a 100 grit. The edges were routed, so those needed to be smoothed over. Plus I wanted everything SUPER smooth. After that, I hand sanded with a 120grit, then vacuumed everything down.
NOW, let's talk sealers. There seems to be two ways, chemically seal (Waterlox/Poly) or naturally seal (oil). If you know anything about me, i'm sure you already know which one I chose, BUT, let's discuss...
SO many people are going the Waterlox/Poly Route. I think it's mostly because they want their wood a darker color, and this allows you to stain the wood. These products completely seal the countertops, much like you would any furniture that you stain. Some people have found issues with sitting water on this product if left for an extended period of time, but it seems people are happy with the results. The largest complaint it how much this still smells to put on. Like - leave your house for a few days -toxic.
The OTHER route is oil. Mineral oil to be exact. Really, any oil will be fine, but Mineral oil won't go bad over time like a walnut (food) oil would. It's also a laxative, so i'm sure the guy at check out had a chuckle when I strolled down the line with 5 bottled (they are about $4 a bottle, so cheap, too!). What REALLY sold me was this post but House Tweaking. My largest concern was that if I chemically sealed the counters and SOMETHING happened (stain/scratch/IDK), i'd have to sand down/strip the sealer off, sand down the wood and re-seal. With an oil sealer, the oil is to keep the wood moisturized, so water (remember science? Oil + Water don't mix?!) doesn't penetrate. Yes, marks can/will happen, but all that will need to be done is a little sanding and re-oil. That's what I LOVE, these countertops can look brand spanking NEW in 10 years with a little sanding/oil. YES, you can still do this with Waterlox/Poly, there is just an added step/smell :)