Butcher block countertops are simply wood countertops that are characterized by their high durability, low maintenance, and beautiful appearance that can suits any home style.
Although, butcher blocks countertops can be made by different types of wood, which can affect their durability and functionality.
For this purpose, we’ll try to compare the different types of wood from which butcher block countertops can be made from, as well as we review the behavior of each type in term of durability, sanitary and appearance.
How to Choose Wood for Butcher Block Countertops ?
Before talking about the main types of wood from which butcher block countertops are made, you should know why should be choose a particular type, and on what basis the choice can be made.
Basically, there are 4 main factors that controls the choice of a particular type of wood to be used for butcher block countertops which are :
The first factor is toxicity which is an important condition to be considered. You cant’ cut your food directly on a toxins-bearing countertop like purpleheart wood.
The porosity is extremely critical when it comes to wood countertops. The wood you want to choose is a fine-grained wood with low porosity, to avoid damages due to moisture and water.
The third logical point is the cost. The cost should by minimized, and we shouldn’t choose a very expensive type of wood to make a countertop.
And finally the hardness. A butcher block countertop should be hard enough to resist strong impacts, and support the weight of the kitchen furniture.
What Type of Wood Is Suitable for Butcher Block Countertops?
In this section, we’ll review the different types of wood that are used in butcher block countertops in term of appearance, durability and functionality and cost.
Is Mahogany Good for Butcher Block Countertops?
Mahogany is a hard wood that is characterized by it’s stunning look, with the yellowish to pale brown color palette that offers. With it’s straight fine grained structure, Mahogany wood will resist to stains, impacts and moisture.
On the other hand, the Mahogany wood is slightly soft which means that knives can leave some tracks on it’s surface, that you need to maintain them periodically.
Scratching the Mahogany countertops can release some oils that can cause health issues to people with allergy. Although, you can avoid such problems by sealing your Mahogany butcher block countertop using polyurethane coats.
The price of Mahogany butcher block countertop will depend on the thickness that you will choose, but for a 1 inch thickness, it will cost you between 30$ to 40$ per square foot.
Is Sapele Good for Butcher Block Countertops?
Sapele is another wood type from the Mahogany family. It’s know by it’s dark reddish color tone, in addition to it’s high durability and strength as it’s even harder than Mahogany wood.
The Sapele butcher block countertops will maintain through weathering is used outdoor, and they can be considered as one of the best when it comes to water and moisture resistance.
The main drawbacks of Sapele butcher block countertops are the cost that can be higher than other types of wood, besides the fact that Sapele countertops can darken over time, which may not suits the color of your kitchen cabinets in the future.
Can You Use Pine Wood for Butcher Block Countertops?
Pine wood butcher block countertops suits best historical and restored houses, as it will look very elegant in traditional kitchens. On the other hand, it’s not the best option for modern kitchens.
Pine wood countertops are often combined with epoxy resin, which provides them the ability to sustain through high traffic and daily use even longer. Although Pine wood is considered as a soft wood! So a hard epoxy coat is required if you’re planning to use Pine wood as your butcher block countertop.
You need to consider that using the epoxy coating on your butcher block countertop is not sufficient to protect it from stains and water-proof it, a descent sealing is always required using polyurethane or other substance.
Pine wood is less porous when comparing it to oak or ash, which makes of it one of great materials when it comes to water resistance and moisture. In addition to that, Pine wood countertops can be used outdoor, on condition that you apply a proper sealing coat.
A Pine wood countertop cost ranges between 50$ to 60$ per square foot, for a 1.5 inches of thickness. This price can changes slightly depending on the desired thickness.
Is Rubberwood Good for Butcher Block Countertops?
Rubberwood butcher block countertops will offer you a great quality/price ratio, as many of the inexpensive furniture is made of this type of wood. Rubberwood is classified as hardwood, which means that Rubberwood countertops are solid and are less likely to get cracked.
According to our experience, Rubberwood countertops can withstand high traffic kitchens with no problems for long term, as it’s coarse structure provides it with the ability of tearing resistance.
On the other hand, Rubberwood is a very porous type of wood, which means that it can get stained easily. This requires a proper sealing of this type of wood to prevent your Rubberwood butcher block from getting stained by coffee or wine spills.
The best way to seal Rubberwood butcher block countertops is using mineral oils or polyurethane, as it proved it’s efficiency in protecting such countertops from stains and moisture.
Due to its high porosity, and it’s natural structure, Rubberwood countertops get get damaged by heat or water. So don’t expect Rubberwood countertops to be heat resistant or waterproof. On the other hand, Rubberwood countertops are food safe, so you don’t need to worry about your food on the top of these butcher block countertops.
Can You Use Oak for Butcher Block Countertops?
Oak is characterized by it’s beautiful appearance that can suits classic and modern style kitchens, but you may not consider it for a high traffic kitchen countertop.
Oak proved it’s low durability and a descent number of kitchens. White Oak, and well as red Oak are characterized by a relatively solid structure, but a huge pore system, that can soak liquids and moisture that weaken its structure over time.
The porous structure of Oak can soak liquids and small particles and debris of different origins, making of your butcher block countertop a bacteria ground which might contaminate your food. So pay attention to high porosity countertops which are not food safe at all.
White Oak is slightly better than red Oak in term of porosity, and durability so you might consider it, if Oak is your only choice for a butcher block countertop. On the other hand, don’t expect from Oak butcher block countertops any heat resistance or waterproof.
The main advantage of Oak butcher block countertops is it’s price, as you can get it as low as a 20$ per square foot. This price can rise to 100$ per square foot for higher qualities and finishes.
Is Maple Good for Butcher Block Countertops?
Maple is a very popular wood type that is used in butcher block countertops. Besides it’s beautiful neutral appearance, Maple is a highly durable wood that can provide a long lasting butcher block countertop.
Maple countertops are highly durable, and they are naturally waterproof. So you will not have to worry about moisture and outdoor weathering. Although, a proper sealing is required to maintain your countertop for long periods.
The main drawback of Maple countertops is that they can darken over time, and sometimes turns to yellow. This can take some few years to appear, so you should consider it. Although, you can refinish it to keep the desired color palette that suits you kitchen style.
Is Birch Suitable for Butcher Block Countertops?
Birch is a to go (for most people !) hardwood that can be used for butcher block countertops. The neutral appearance of Birch will brighten your kitchen, and make it look bigger and welcoming.
The durability of Birch one the other hand is not suitable for butcher block countertops. Besides that, don’t expect for Birch countertops to be waterproof, or impact resistant. The natural properties of Birch wood make of it an elastic wood, which means that it’s more prone to shrinkage and grooves.
Is Walnut Good for Butcher Block Countertops?
Walnut is the best wood type for butcher block countertops. It’s a dense, heavy and durable wood that can last over 20 years in a high traffic kitchen. It’s charming dark appearance will add a touch of elegance and high quality to your kitchen, although it might darken your kitchen making looks smaller.
Walnut countertops are very durable, with a low porosity that protects it from stains and moisture infiltrations. Although, consider using a proper sealing to prevent bacteria from flourishing in the pores of your countertop.
The density and the hardness of Walnut countertops make of it a very durable wood countertop that will resist to scratches, impacts and breaks. Which explains why you will sometimes find lifetime warranties for such countertops.