Butcher block countertops create warmth and beauty in your kitchen and bathroom spaces. These affordable countertops age gracefully when they are properly maintained. Butcher block countertops are made by gluing thin slices of wood together.
Butcher block countertops are an eco-friendly and biodegradable type of countertop. Furthermore, once these countertops are installed, your kitchen and bathroom areas will blend seamlessly with any décor style. Butcher block countertops create a warm, neutral home that will never go out of style.
Three Types of Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block countertops are available in three different styles – Edge Grain, End Grain, and Face Grain. Each of these types of countertops has different looks and distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Edge Grain Butcher Block Countertops – Edge grain countertops are formed by laying longboards of wood on their side. Each board is then joined together, creating a countertop with long narrow pieces of wood. The countertop can have joint free lengths of boards, or the boards can be finger-jointed together. Edge grain butcher block countertops are the most common type of butcher block countertops due to their stability, strength, and affordability.
End Grain Butcher Block Countertops – End grain butcher block countertops are created by lining up square pieces of wood vertically, allowing the ends of the pieces of wood to show. This creates a checkerboard pattern effect on the countertop. End grain countertops are usually the most expensive of the three types of countertops; they are also the strongest. Edge grain butcher block countertops are great for cutting foods because the checkerboard pattern camouflages scratches. Furthermore, this type of countertop is easy on knife blades because the blade cuts with the grain, rather than against the grain.
Face Grain Butcher Block Countertops – Face grain butcher block countertops are created by laying boards of wood flat and gluing together to form a streamlined countertop. This type of countertop is sometimes referred to as wide plank countertops. Face grain countertops are not as popular as edge grain or end grain countertops because they can easily dent or scratch. However, it should be noted that this countertop is more moisture resistant and stain-resistant than other types of butcher block countertops.
Wood Species Used for Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block countertops can be made of any species of wood. However, the most popular types of wood used in the construction of butcher block countertops are maple, cherry, red oak, bamboo, zebrawood, and black walnut.
Bamboo – Bamboo provides a durable, environmentally friendly butcher block countertop. Bamboo butcher block countertops are durable and offer natural antimicrobial protection, making bamboo an excellent choice for kitchen countertops. The average cost of bamboo countertops is $72 per square foot.
Birch – Birch grows fast, creating numerous rings in the countertops. Birch butcher block countertops feature a fine grain and a light color; however, the wood darkens as it ages. This affordable countertop option costs approximately $34 per square foot.
Cherry – Cherry wood is another closed-grain wood used in butcher block countertops. This mid-toned hardwood has a beautiful red tint that is highly sought after and prized. Cherry butcher block countertops are perfect in traditional kitchens and look stunning with black cabinetry. American cherry butcher block averages $152 per square foot.
Hickory – Hickory countertops are incredibly durable and provide a reddish-brown wood tone. Hickory butcher block countertops look fabulous in modern kitchens and bathrooms. This affordable butcher block countertop option averages around $30 per square foot.
Maple – Maple butcher block countertops provide you with a durable work surface thanks to the closed grain nature of maple. Maple is also prized for its light, neutral color, allowing it to be used with a variety of cabinetry. Maple butcher block countertops are the most affordable option in butcher block countertops. The average cost of maple butcher block countertops is $83 per square foot.
Red Oak – Red oak is an open grain species of wood that is commonly used in colonial-style homes. Red oak is prized for its vibrant golden brown color, which adds warmth to kitchens and bathrooms. Red oak butcher block countertops have a lot of wood grain visible, which increases the character of the countertop. You can expect to pay around $4 per square foot. Red oak is not recommended for food prep areas; therefore, it should not be used in kitchens.
Teak – Teak is an exotic species of wood. This wood is medium brown with hues of orange and gold throughout. Teak butcher block countertops are highly texture, making it an excellent wood for countertops. Unlike other butcher block countertops, teak retains its natural oils, making it water-resistant. The average cost of teak butcher block countertops is $184 per square foot.
Zebrawood – Zebrawood comes from Africa. Zebrawood countertops are strong and durable, making an extremely stable countertop. This exotic wood is very attractive and creates interest throughout the kitchen or bathroom areas. You can expect to spend around $72 per square foot for zebrawood butcher block countertops.
Butcher block countertops are typically one and a half inches to two and a half inches thick for edge grain or face grain countertops. If you choose an end grain butcher block countertop, the thickness of the countertop will be approximately four inches.
Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block countertops are made from wood that is glued together to form a durable countertop. Butcher block countertops provide your kitchen or bathroom with a cozy, authentic appeal. Butcher block countertops work great in the kitchen, bathrooms, or anywhere else you want to add warmth.
Advantages of Butcher Block Countertops
Budge Friendly – Butcher block countertops are an affordable option for homeowners who want a beautiful countertop at an affordable price. The average price of butcher block countertops runs between $20 to $60 per square foot. Compare that to other countertop options – stainless steel countertops ($20 to $150 per square foot), granite countertops ($40 to $60 per square foot), concrete countertops ($25 to $75 per square foot), glass countertops ($25 to $100 per square foot), marble countertops ($25 to $75 per square foot), and soapstone countertops ($20 to $75 per square foot). The average cost of professional installation for butcher block countertops adds an additional $5 to $10 per square foot; however, butcher block countertops are very DIY friendly.
Easy Clean Up – If you use detergents on other types of countertops, i.e., granite, quartz, or stainless steel countertops, water spots, and streaks can form. Conversely, marble countertops can become etched when exposed to acid-based all-purpose cleaners. You can use both of these types of products on butcher block countertops.
Choices – Butcher block countertops allow you to choose the type of wood used and the wood grain. Choosing the type of wood for your butcher block countertops will enable you to select a hue that matches your home’s decor. In addition to selecting the type of wood, you can choose the grain of the wood. Whether you want a countertop with long runs of multiple fingers or a checkerboard patterned countertop, you will be able to find exactly what you are looking for with butcher block countertops.
Long-Lasting – When properly taken care of, you can expect your butcher block countertops to last at least twenty years or longer. Compare this to laminate countertops that can be easily damaged and will last approximately ten years.
Sustainable – Butcher block countertops are made from sustainable, environmentally friendly materials. Eco-friendly countertop manufacturers use sustainable business practices like harvesting old-growth and replanting new trees.
Antimicrobial – Butcher block countertops are naturally antimicrobial, making them the perfect countertop for kitchen and bathroom areas.
Natural – Butcher block countertops create a warm and inviting room. Their natural coloring works well with all different types and colors of cabinetry.
Quiet – Butcher block countertops are soft compared to other types of countertops, which means when you set dishes or glassware on the countertops, they will not clatter.
Repairable – If a butcher block countertop becomes damaged, it can be repaired. Nicks and burns can be sanded, and the countertop reoiled.
Patina – Over time, butcher block countertops develops a beautiful patina. Most homeowners agree that these countertops get better with age.
Disadvantages of Butcher Block Countertops
Dents and Scratches – Because wood is soft, it can dent and scratch easily over time. However, if a scratch occurs, the countertop can be sanded and refinished.
Cutting Board Needed – Although butcher block countertops will not dull or damage your knives, the knives can cause scratches on the butcher block. To prevent scratches and help your countertops look amazing, always use a cutting board.
Maintenance – In order to keep your countertops looking great, you must perform routine maintenance, including sealing your countertops.
Not Heat Resistant – If a hot pan is set on a butcher block countertop, the countertop can scorch. To avoid scorch marks from occurring on your countertop, a trivet or pad should be used.
Not Stain Resistant – Butcher block countertops can stain if a liquid is spilled on them. To reduce the risk of stains on your butcher block, the countertop should be sealed. Additionally, all liquids and food items should be cleaned up immediately to decrease the risk of staining.
Cracking – When wood is exposed to high humidity levels, it will swell. Conversely, when butcher block countertops are exposed to dryness, the countertop will shrink. Both of these can cause the countertop to crack.
Discoloration and Rot – If butcher block countertops are exposed to wetness, the countertops can discolor and even rot.
How to Care for Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block countertops are quite easy to clean. All that is needed to clean your countertops is a damp dishcloth and a drop of dishwashing liquid.
As soon as spills occur, wipe them up immediately. If there are any greasy spills or sticky substances, pour a small amount of hot water over the substance and add a drop or two of dish soap. Allow the soapy water to sit on the countertop for three to five minutes and then scrub the area using a dishcloth. Wipe up the soap using a clean wet dishcloth.
If this method does not remove the substance, gently scrape the countertop with a plastic putty knife to loosen the stuck-on food. Then, wash the area with soap and water. Finally, wipe the countertop down using a clean damp cloth.
Avoid using harsh detergents, bleach, and other chemicals on your butcher block countertops. If these cleaners are used, the butcher block countertops will dry out the countertop. When countertops dry out, stains can occur more easily.
Use white vinegar that has been diluted with water at a three to one ratio. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray the countertops with the solution. Allow to sit on the countertop for a minute or two and then wipe the countertop using a soft, dry cloth.
Another option that can help remove surface stains, kill germs, and brighten your countertop is to use lemon and salt. Sprinkle your butcher block countertop with coarse salt. Then, cut the lemon in half and scour the entire countertop with the cut lemon. Use a damp cloth to remove the lemon and salt from your countertops.
Do You Need to Seal Butcher Block Countertops?
Because wood is porous, you will need to seal your butcher block countertops routinely. There are four different ways to seal butcher block countertops, including mineral oil, butcher block wax, a food-safe penetrating sealer, and polyurethane. The method chosen should be based on how you use your butcher block countertops.
How to Seal Butcher Block Countertops
As with any countertop, you must read the instructions on your chosen sealer and follow them precisely. You can also speak to a countertop specialist to learn how your butcher block countertops can be sealed.
Mineral Oil – Mineral oil is an inexpensive way to seal your countertops. However, if your butcher block countertops are face grain, mineral oils should not be used as they can raise the countertop’s grain.
Mineral oil is a food-safe and inexpensive sealant that locks moisture into the countertop to condition it. If you plan to cut on your butcher block countertop, this is the only sealer you should use as plant and seed-based oils will turn rancid.
Butcher Block Wax – Butcher block wax is a combination of wax and mineral. The wax used in butcher block wax can be either carnauba or beeswax. This type of wax is as safe as mineral oil for kitchen countertops.
The one benefit of using butcher block wax is its ability to seal the oil into the wood better than using mineral oil itself. When butcher block wax is used, the reapplication time will be decreased.
Butcher block penetrating sealers offer superior protection; however, this sealer is more expensive than butcher block wax or mineral oil. Furthermore, this type of sealer takes approximately one week to cure fully.
Polyurethane is not recommended for work surfaces in the kitchen; however, it is great for tables, bar tops, and other surfaces where food will not come in contact with the surface. This sealant changes the look and feel of the countertops. Instead of feeling like natural wood, butcher block countertops sealed with polyurethane have the appearance and feel of a piece of furniture. Finally, reapplication is minimal for countertops that have been sealed with polyurethane.
Butcher Block Countertop Costs
The cost of butcher block countertops varies based on the wood used, the grain profile, the countertop specialists, and the intricacy of your cabinetry. If your countertop requires numerous cutouts or angles, the labor will be more intensive and, therefore, more expensive.
The cost of butcher block countertops varies based on the quality of the product. Some butcher block countertops can cost as little as $10 per square foot. Others can cost as much as $200 per square foot.
An example of a $10 per square foot butcher block countertop is a butcher block wood veneer that is applied over a particleboard subsurface. For $200 per square foot, you can get a solid butcher block countertop made of exotic wood. A local craftsperson will fabricate this expensive countertop.
Instructions for Refinishing Butcher Block Countertops
If your entire countertop needs to be refinished, you can use fine-grit sandpaper and a random orbital sander to buff away imperfections. After you have sanded the surface, use a tack cloth to ensure all sawdust and debris have been removed. Finally, apply a fresh coat of mineral oil, wax, or sealer to your countertop.
Conversely, if your countertop has only a couple of small spots that need to be repaired, you can hand sand the area and then apply a fresh coat of mineral oil, butcher block wax, sealer, or polyurethane to your butcher block countertop.
Refinishing butcher block countertops is easy and can be used to repair scratches or scorch marks. However, dents cannot be easily removed. If a deep scratch or dent occurs, you should contact a countertop specialist for aid.
Butcher block countertops look fantastic in traditional homes as well as contemporary homes. Butcher block countertops provide you with a durable countertop that is functional and beautiful. This type of countertop has been used for years and remains a popular choice among homeowners.
Butcher block countertops are an environmentally friendly countertop and bring a touch of nature into your indoor spaces. Available in a variety of wood species and price points, homeowners around the country are choosing butcher block countertops.