Wood Countertops – Are They Right for Your New Kitchen?
Wood, wood, wood – it seems like everyone wants wood in their new kitchen. It’s the foundation of the farmhouse kitchen style, whether it’s exposed beams in the ceiling, mellow hardwood floors, beautifully finished cabinets or warm wood countertops.
If you, too, love the look of wood and have been considering wood countertops for your kitchen, you’re in good company; wood countertops provide warmth in any kitchen.
As a countertop material, wood is not as popular as stone surfaces like granite and marble and engineered materials like quartz. But wood is experiencing increased popularity, thanks to make-over shows like “Fixer Upper” that have used wood countertops in their finished projects and allowed wood to make a comeback as an alternative to expensive stones and quartz.
Some Advantages of Wood Countertops
They’re Affordable. Compared to marble or granite, which can be pricey, wooden countertops are affordable. The price depends on the type of wood, the thickness, construction and finish, but on average, costs range from $40 to $60 a square foot.
Butcher block, which is constructed from pieces of hardwood Maple laminated together with glue for strength and stability, is the most cost effective. The most well known is hard Maple butcher block with a natural finish from John Boos & Co.
If an entire kitchen filled with butcher block countertops is too much butcher block for you, it lends itself very well to an accent space, possible on the island or by the range.
They’re Versatile. Another advantage of wood countertops is that they go with any style. Traditional, transitional, contemporary – wood works with them all. And wood complements other countertop materials. A wood countertop on an island with stone or quartz or Corian on the perimeter countertops is a great combination. And it adds a layer of texture that everyone is looking for these days.
They’re Simple to Install. Stone slabs require special measuring, fabrication, handling and installation – all by trained personnel. Wooden countertops are easy to put in place.
They’re Forgiving. Knock over a wine glass on granite and it’s a disaster with pieces of glass everywhere. A wine glass knocked over on a softer wood surface will most likely result in spilled wine only. Wood countertops are easier on both dishes and glassware, which means less breakage and chipping.
They Require Only Moderate Maintenance. Wood countertops can either be sealed annually or oiled monthly. While sealing the surface requires less work, some people love the patina of an oiled wood top. Either way, the upkeep is basic.
Tip: Be sure to use mineral oil, which is safe for food. Never use cooking oil on your wood countertops.
They’re Durable. A wood countertop can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Unlike marble, which stains easily, wood can take whatever your family does every day. If scratch marks don’t bother you, you can chop directly on your wood countertops.
They’re Green. Most companies that sell wood countertops offer sustainably grown, Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC) woods. And although wood countertops last for years, once they’re worn out, they can be recycled. Installing wood countertops comes as part of being “green”, which calls for the use of renewable and recycled sources.
They’re Long Lasting. Perhaps the best benefit of wood countertops is that you can sand and refinish them and bring them back to like-new condition. And not just once, but over and over again. Or if you prefer, you can let the scratches and nicks create an authentic, aged surface with lots of character.
Wood countertops are great, but there are some disadvantages.
They Move. All wood expands and contracts with changes in moisture in the atmosphere, so there is the potential for countertops to warp and gap if they haven’t been properly installed and maintained regularly. The thicker the counter, the more stable it will be.
They Require Maintenance. Wood counters need monthly oiling or annual sealing.
They Require Care. Liquids can penetrate the wood, causing stains, cracks, and joint separation, so spills, especially water around the sink, should be wiped up right away.
They’re Not Scorch Proof. Wood and stoves aren’t a good mix; check with the manufacturer of your stove for required clearances. (Your kitchen designer will help you with this.) To prevent scorching, you’ll want to use trivets under hot pots.
How to Clean Wood Countertops
Wood countertops are low maintenance. Just wipe down the surface with a damp cloth and a small amount of dish soap; then wipe dry with a clean cloth.
To kill germs, spray your countertops with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water; let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe away.
Don’t use harsh cleansers with ammonia or bleach; they have no place in cleaning any wooden surfaces (this includes your cabinets!) and can eat away the finish.
There are a few ways to get rid of stains on your wood countertops.
Lemon. Sprinkle the stain with salt and rub it in with half a lemon, squeezing out the juice on the stain. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then wipe with a clean, damp cloth. This is the same method you would use on your wood cutting board.
Baking soda. Work baking soda into the stain and let sit for a few minutes to draw the stain out.
Whenever you remove a stain, be sure to reapply the mineral oil afterwards, or your counter could dry out.
Scratches, Knife Marks and Burns
It’s fairly easy to remove scratch marks or burns from the surface of a wood counter.
Follow sanding by pouring on mineral oil and rubbing it in with a rag. Let it sit for half an hour and then wipe away with a paper towel.
First, sand the area using 120-grit paper to prepare it. Then use 180-grit paper until the surface is smooth.
Voila! Good as new.
Now that you’ve got the facts, the decision is up to you – wood countertops or not? With their good looks, low maintenance and ability take the wear and tear of everyday use, wood can be a great, long-lasting choice.
Sources Use For This Article
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.