Most Comprehensive Guide For Wooden Countertops
This article is designed to be a comprehensive look into all things wooden countertops. We will cover history of butcher block, how they are made, wood types, rough costs, and we will ask some questions to help you decide whether wooden countertops are for you.
The origin of using wood to cut and prepare food is up for debate. Most seem to agree that prior to the butcher block that we know today butchers were using log rounds such as sycamore for their meat prep. They have wonderful qualities that allow the use of cutting instruments without quickly dulling them. Eventually these were put on legs and became utilized for multiple industries such as blacksmithing. Some rounds were large enough that it is reported being used by multiple butchers at the same time. These rounds would crack and split in their natural state. The need for something stronger and longer lasting was a need that someone finally capitalized on. As the milling process improved and people found harder wood varieties to use, the butcher block was finally born. Credit seems to go to Conrad Boos of John Boos and Co.
How They Are Made
Face Grain Wooden Countertop Options
The most commonly used grain orientation. Face grain refers to the top and bottom of the boards you may find at your local lumber yard.
Face grain wood countertops are the cheapest option because they are always the easiest to make and build. However, for a tad more you can opt in for edge grain which will perform and outlast face grain options.
Edge Grain Wood Countertop Options
The Edge grain orientation refers to taking a face grain board, cutting it into strips, and then standing them on their edge. This is a very similar look to any bowling alley. Edge grain wood countertops are a great option for cost but not losing the performance. They can stay straighter without warping or bowing than face grain options.
End Grain Wooden Countertops
This is the true butcher block. Although many out there refer to wooden counters as butcher block by default, this orientation is the one we refer to at Mahogany House Woodworks. This buff and tough style gives a great look and an even tough testimony. These are usually made by gluing face grain boards together on their edges, and then cut into strips and flipped. This gives us the end or butt of the board to the top and bottom.
Butcher blocks typically are the most expensive option for a wood countertop but are also the best performing. They must be built with care though, or they will break down with all the glue joints.
Wood Types and Cost
Here is a list of the common wood types we use for people. Included is the price in board feet which is length x width x height.
Many customers will often think that wood is cheaper than granite or marble. That is often not the case. So take this pricing consideration into thought when planning out your next kitchen or island space.
Maple $9.45 per BF
Maple is a classic wood used for countertops. Hard and tough wood with predictable color and grain pattern
Walnut $17.68 per BF
The richness of Walnut is hard to beat. Hues of chocolate collides with purple accents throughout this really warm wood.
Cherry $8.81 per BF
Usually straight grain with a smooth texture. Comes in a variety of shades but all have the iconic red tint. Cherry is a great performer in the kitchen or for an island but it needs a UV protective finish to avoid it from looking dull over time.
Hickory $9.20 per BF
Exceptionally heavy with strong durability. Hickory has works well in many homes with its more neutral tones. Hickory hardwood also has many characteristic streaks of light and warm together that really make for a great option.
White Oak $17.72 per BF
Old man wood as some woodworkers call it. White oak is a hallmark option for a true wood look and feel. Rich in showing grain in a warm brown and tan combination. White oak can have a very neutral feel and look to it, so use this option if you have more color or a mix of materials in your space.
Sapele $9.42 per BF
A warm option with a tight grain pattern. Color ranges in the rich brown tones with reddish hues.
A classic look with a simple edge.
A sharp angle also known as a beveled edge. A classy yet strong look
Traditional look with an elegant yet classy structure
It is hard to beat the sheer beauty of a wood countertop. They provide an unrivaled level of warmth to a space. Compared to a cooler material like stone, slate, or marble- wood is incredibly warm when in a kitchen space. From setting dishes and pans on wood kitchen counters, if warmth is what you are after then this type of material can be a great choice for your space.
With all the hardwoods available, the color and grain design options are almost endless for wood countertops. There are various types of grain orientation as well- from edge grain to end grain and even face grain, many choices exist. Add in stain and nearly any look is possible for your space.
Edge grain countertops are the best choice for longevity when choosing a durable option.
What comes with variety is the wonderful way wood can flow with any style of home. From contemporary to old style, traditional or country, wood brings out the best in them all. Wood if very warm in a kitchen space. Both how they look and in how they operate.
We wouldn’t be fair to only list the positives of wooden countertops. Here are some of the benefits and negatives to think about when making your choice.
Wood countertops need to be properly sealed for them to last as long as possible. To keep from getting water spots or food stains this is a must.There are a ton of options that range from a wax or resin coating to just sealing off the wood fibers with a penetration oil. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to make this decision by yourself, this however should be no problem when hiring professionals.
We enjoy using a product called OSMO or Rubio. Both have some key differences in their performance and operation but both are very friendly in a kitchen space.
Using a finish that can tackle sunlight from a window and water from the kitchen sink are always a must.
We often get requests to stain wood counters. This can be a cost purpose or helping the counter to fit into the existing space in a certain way. There are lots of options available there as well. We will sample out different colors to get the exact match you are looking for.
Knicks and Scratches
Wood is a softer material than other countertop materials even if it is considered a hard wood. With that comes more opportunities for knicks and scratches. The encouragement here is to remember what a wood countertop is. Ultimately they are a tool within the home. As with any good tool, accidents happen. With those accidents come stories and memories. As long as the countertops still function, this isn’t something we worry too much about.
The type of wood and its orientation will also help. Edge grain will always hold up better then face grain for instance. Here is a video to hear about the different orientations and their benefits.
This one could be seen as a pro or a con. As wear and tear happens the need to refinish your wood countertops will eventually happen. Some say this needs to happen every decade or so but take that with a grain of salt. This also gives you an option to snag out those scratches or utilize another stain color, let’s say if you had painted since original install.
One major thing to consider is how they absorb water and oils from cooking. If the counters look and operate dry, then chances are they can use a refinishing.
Working with a wood finish built for maintenance is an important factor when considering what to use for a finish.
Anything else you need to get your kitchen counters built and installed, please reach out. We would love to help bring your vision to life!
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