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Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block Countertops

One of the latest interior design trends to start popping up in homes across the country is a butcher block countertop. These countertops are typically made from pieces of wood cut straight and bonded together to create one solid piece. While the beauty of butcher block countertops is undeniable, they still have their advantages and disadvantages. If you’ve been thinking about installing butcher block countertops in your home but you’re not sure if they’re the right choice for your kitchen, read on to learn more about their pros and cons.

Butcher Block Strengths

The first thing that stands out to most people when they first see butcher block countertops is how gorgeous they are. The warm wood tones add a natural glow and beauty to the kitchen. In addition to their good looks, butcher block countertops have several other strengths you’ll likely appreciate if you have them installed in your kitchen, whether in a new home or as part of a home improvement project.


Manufacturers make butcher block countertops from a variety of different woods. While maple is typically the most common wood used, you can also find countertops made from oak, cherry, birch, teak, and walnut. Although bamboo is actually a grass, it does have a wood-like appearance, and it’s a great choice for those looking for a more eco-friendly option. Along with different types of woods, you have numerous stains and finishes you can use to complete your countertop and customize your look.

You can also modify the look of your butcher block countertop to suit your tastes even more by selecting one of the different construction styles. The three basic styles are edge grain, end grain, and face grain. Edge grain is the most commonly used style and consists of long boards on their sides. End grain stacks the wood on its end so the growth rings show. Finally, on a face grain butcher block, the boards lay flat so their full widths form the surface.


When you’re dealing with natural stone countertops, you sometimes must be careful not to mix different styles in the kitchen. However, a butcher block countertop doesn’t have that problem because it can fit in well with all home decor styles. In fact, a butcher block looks just as good in a modern kitchen as it does in a French country kitchen.

Many people decide to get butcher block countertops because of the character they bring to the kitchen. Therefore, they typically cut, chop, and roll their food directly on the countertop. They love the small dents, dings, and scratches that give the countertop a well-loved, utilitarian look. If you would prefer your butcher block to have a smooth and unblemished appearance, it’s a good idea to use a cutting board to protect the surface.


Chopping on Wood

Imagine the sounds in your kitchen when you’re moving around pots and pans on stone countertops. The banging and clashing is enough to give everyone a headache. With butcher block countertops, you get to enjoy a quieter kitchen no matter who is creating their latest culinary masterpiece. Wood is significantly softer than stone or tile, which means it can absorb sound instead of creating more.

Recycled Materials

If you’re trying to turn your house into a green home, you’ll appreciate the eco-friendly benefits offered by butcher block countertops. Besides the previously mentioned bamboo countertops, you can find some wood countertops made from reclaimed wood. Also, if your butcher block countertops eventually reach the end of their lifespan, you can recycle them into some other type of wood creation.

Work Surface

wooden countertop

Butcher block countertops make an excellent work surface in your kitchen. They’re easier on your dishes and won’t dull the edges of your cutlery as quickly as stone countertops. If you accidentally drop something on a wood countertop, it has a better chance of not getting damaged than if you dropped it on granite or concrete.

While citrus juices can sometimes damage stone countertops, they don’t have much of an impact on wood. Wood countertops also don’t require anything special in the way of cleaning. In fact, you simply need to wipe them down with water and plain soap. Plus, if you do happen to nick, scratch, stain, or scorch your butcher block countertop, you can simply sand the damage away. Once sanded, put a protective coat of mineral oil over the surface again.

Butcher Block Weaknesses

While butcher block countertops have plenty of strengths, they also have some weaknesses. If you’re considering these countertops for your kitchen, you should make sure you understand these weaknesses so you can decide if you can live with them.

Water Damage

When you put a wet glass down on your wood coffee table without using a coaster you can quickly understand how water damage happens. While you can treat your wood countertop with mineral oil or other protectants to make sure water doesn’t damage it, you have to be sure you keep up with the applications.

If you don’t apply protectants consistently and water sits on your countertop too long or seeps into the seams, it can cause significant damage beyond what you can see. Water can also loosen the glue that holds your butcher block countertop together. This can create splits and cracks. Even worse, these cracks then become the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. You should attempt to oil your countertops about once a month.

Requires Proper Sealing

Along with applying a protective treatment, you should also properly seal your butcher block countertop. Proper sealing not only helps prevent staining on your wood countertop, but it also makes sure the naturally porous surface of the wood is thoroughly covered so germs don’t have anywhere to hide and multiply. For best results, you want to try to seal your countertops every six months.

Now that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of butcher block countertops, you can decide if they’re right for your home. If you appreciate their beauty and you’re willing to spend the necessary time maintaining them, you might find wood countertops are a perfect choice.

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