The Appeal of Butcher-Block Countertops
Butcher-block countertops are making a comeback inside today’s kitchens. After years of counters made of natural stone and engineered materials, homeowners are now being drawn to the natural warmth and texture of wooden countertops.
What is a Butcher Block Countertop?
A butcher-block countertop, sometimes simply called a wooden countertop, is constructed from hardwood laminated together to create the “butcher block” look. While a century ago, these countertops were used on a daily basis for meal prep, most of today’s wooden countertops are not used for direct chopping. Instead, they are favored more for their looks and inexpensive cost.
Butcher-block counters are visually rich – adding textural interest and warmth to contemporary, modern, and eclectic spaces alike. Whether used throughout the entire kitchen or as an accent piece on an island, butcher block is a versatile alternative to costly and often high-maintenance stones.
Wooden Counter Longevity and Care
Properly installed and cared-for wood countertops can last the lifetime of a home, something no other countertop material can claim; however, they do require a bit more attention than other materials to keep them looking good and free from bacteria. For starters, unfinished counters need to be oiled almost every month while coated counters need to be refinished about every five years. Since they also are prone to warping and staining, cleaning up spills quickly is a must.
If you are thinking about installing wooden countertops into your kitchen, here are a few pros and cons to consider first.
Wooden Countertop Pros
Budget friendly. A butcher-block counter made from birch can cost just a little more than laminate and is less than half the starting price for natural stone or engineered materials.
Easy to install. Butcher-block tops can easily be cut to fit around corners, sinks, and appliances – much easier than most stone.
Strong yet quiet. Unlike stone, there's no clatter when you set down a plate or a glass, and dropped dishes are less likely to break. Wood also quiets the noise of appliances, while stone will amplify such noise.
Revived if damaged. Knife scratches, deep cuts and burn marks can all be sanded out, and the counters can be refinished to look new again.
Eco-friendly. Most companies offer sustainably grown, Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods. And while wood counters last for years, once they are worn out, they can be recycled.
Wood Countertop Cons
Moves and warps. All wood expands and contracts with changes in air moisture, so there is the potential for these countertops to cup, warp and gap if not properly constructed, installed and maintained.
Maintenance required. Unfinished wood counters need monthly oiling, with clear-coated surfaces requiring refinishing approximately every five years. Factory-finished counters may never need recoating, but if they do, you'll pay to ship them, even under warranty.
Demands a watchful eye. Liquids can penetrate wood, causing stains, cracks and joint separation, so spills, especially water around the sink, should be wiped up right away. You’ll also need to be mindful not to set damp cloths on the counter.
Not fireproof. Wood and stove burners don't mix. To prevent scorching, use trivets under hot pots.
If you are still unsure if wooden countertops are the best fit for your kitchen, contact us to talk about it further. Our professional design team is happy to help you find the right countertop solution for your home.