Should You Get a Wooden Butcher Block Countertop?

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Being a versatile and stylish material, wood is often incorporated into homes in the form of feature walls, flooring or countertops. If you’re thinking of adding a wooden butcher block countertop to your kitchen, here are some pros and cons to consider.

PRO: It’s hygienic

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Image courtesy of Heidi’s Bridge

The last thing you want in your kitchen is for it to become a breeding ground for germs. Whether you’re slicing your favourite steak or chopping up some fish, it’s easy to make a mess. A big pro of wooden butcher block countertops is that they naturally dry up bacteria. Wood is also extremely easy to sanitise—just use a mix of salt and lemon or alternatively spray it with some white vinegar.

PRO: It’s affordable

Depending on the type of wood you choose, the cost of a butcher block countertop can range from $20 to $150 psf. Even the cost of a custom-made one ($70 psf and up) is still much less than what you would spend on a natural stone countertop. The total cost will depend mostly on the species of wood you choose, with maple often being the most affordable and oak the most expensive.

PRO: It’s beautiful

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Image courtesy of Rachel Claire

Wood looks good! Besides elevating the look of your kitchen, a perfectly finished butcher block countertop has high versatility and can adapt to different decor styles, be it minimalist, Scandinavian, modern or rustic. Be prepared to be spoilt for choice—besides choosing which grain direction you prefer (edge grain, face grain or end grain), you also get to pick from different kinds of wood, colours and finishes.

CON: It’s prone to scratches and stains

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Image courtesy of Charles Deluvio

Compared to engineered quartz, wood scratches and stains easily and thus requires careful handling. If you want to chop directly on your wooden countertop, keep in mind that it’s likely to chip, although some people actually prefer this rugged look. Fortunately, wooden countertops can be easily restored by sanding and re-oiling the surface. Or you can also save yourself the trouble by using a chopping board!

CON: It’s sensitive to water

The golden rule of wooden countertops? Always keep the surface dry and wipe off spills before the wood has time to absorb the liquid. This can be inconvenient if you’re a fan of cold drinks and don’t have a habit of using coasters. You can avoid some of the trouble by sealing your wooden countertop, which will prevent water from seeping into the surface and damaging the wood.

CON: It’s high-maintenance

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Image courtesy of Becca Tapert

Depending on your level of use, you may need to reseal your wooden countertop up to three times a year. Mineral oil is a good sealant as it protects the wood and is entirely food-safe—an important factor in the kitchen! Simply apply a thin layer once a month within the first year of installation and once every six months afterwards.

Verdict

Wooden butcher block countertops are beautiful, hygienic and generally affordable, but they require a fair amount of maintenance to keep in tip-top shape. If you’re looking for a fuss-free kitchen that retains its sleek look through the years, this countertop style is not for you. But if you love a bit of a rustic touch and don’t mind the extra care, the butcher block countertop will be your new best friend.

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