Are you thinking about replacing your kitchen countertops? If so, you may be wondering whether butcher block countertops are a good idea. Below, we discuss why butcher blocks might not be your best option and how natural stone offers more benefits for homeowners over the long haul.
The Rise in Butcher Block Counter Popularity
Butcher blocks are flat wooden surfaces that are traditionally used by butchers to cut and carve meat. Popular social media influences and trends have fostered interest and a subsequent increase in a global “foodie” culture, which in turn resonates with the growing desire to revamp kitchens with both conventional and modern elements.
This includes reverting to installing butcher block counters for visual appeal as opposed to functionality, which deviates from stone countertops that offer both. Despite the fact that they come in a variety of colors and types of wood, butcher block countertops don’t compare to stone tops in a myriad of ways.
Notable Cons of Butcher Block Counters
Is butcher block a good idea for kitchen counters? While they’re durable, butcher block countertops offer more drawbacks than advantages. The following are a few to keep in mind:
1. Not Heat Resistant
Natural wood is undeniably beautiful, but one of its biggest flaws is that it’s not heat resistant. If you installed a butcher block counter, you’d have to keep hot pans and racks off your counter to avoid unsightly burn marks. Placing a scalding pot on your wood counter for a few seconds will leave a stain that can only be removed by refinishing your counter.
2. Prone to Dents, Scratches, and Stains
Butcher blocks are essentially large cutting boards, meaning you can cut food items right on them. However, this practice leads to scratches and dents on the countertop. Softer wood is especially susceptible to scratching.
You may wonder whether you can stain butcher block counters. Water can stain and leave rings on butcher block counters, requiring you to sand and refinish the surface to remove the stain. Similarly, wine and other dark liquid spills have to be wiped up quickly to avoid permanent stains.
3. Require Regular Sealing
You may choose to leave your wood naturally exposed. If you opt to seal it, it must be done regularly. A food-safe oil sealant can be used on the counters to prevent scratching, but you must keep up with resealing to ensure the counters stay in great condition. This can be time-consuming and costly.
4. Prone to Dirt and Grime Buildup
Imperfections on the surface of your wood counters may highlight specks of dust and dirt and show signs of grime buildup. This debris can be difficult to remove if left to accumulate.
5. Can Experience Bacteria Buildup
Dings and dents in a butcher block counter allow bacteria to gather and fester if it’s not sealed properly and regularly. This increases the risk of food contamination. Just like you would take extra steps to clean a wooden cutting board after using it to prepare raw meat, you’d need to clean your butcher block countertops thoroughly to prevent illness.
6. Susceptible to Water Damage
Untreated wood is porous, so it’ll retain water if it’s exposed to it and eventually expand due to moisture buildup. Although butcher block countertops are treated and sealed, there’s a risk of excess water creating rings due to insufficient or infrequent sealing. These counters are especially prone to peeling and expanding around sinks where they’re in constant contact with water.
7. May Dry Out
Because wood inherently dries out, it must be periodically sealed with a layer of oil or wood conditioner to prevent further drying. The process of buying and applying oil takes additional time and money.
Are butcher block counters hard to maintain? The short answer is yes. Butcher block counters are only as durable as the time and money you put into maintaining them. With constant exposure to hard kitchen tools like knives and liquids like water, wood counters need much more attention and maintenance than other kinds of countertops.
Alternatives to Butcher Block Countertops
Without butchering the butcher block countertop any further, let’s discuss a few other kitchen countertops you can consider for your next remodel. Stone is the perfect alternative. Some high-quality, durable options that require much less care include:
- Marble: Marble is hard and durable and can be altered to your design preferences. Its heat resistance is unwavering, as it can withstand temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also known for its ability to stay cool, which is great for bakers who roll out dough regularly.
- Granite: Besides boasting unparalleled natural beauty, granite countertops are some of the most durable on the market. Granite can withstand high temperatures and direct heat without leaving a hint of a burn mark. It’s also scratch resistant to the point that the other object is more likely to be damaged than the granite itself. Looking after your granite top is also effortless.
- Quartz: Quartz requires little maintenance and offers appeal and durability in its design. It stands out in bright colors that aren’t found in natural stone but are replicated through the efforts of superior craftsmanship.
- Quartzite: The material in quartzite makes it ideal for everyday use — it doesn’t chip or dent. Further, it doesn’t scratch easily and can withstand direct heat on the surface without degradation. It’s exceptionally durable, and the added advantage is that it resembles marble.
- Soapstone: A distinctive feature of soapstone is that its color gradually gets darker with time and regular use. These counters are eye-catching, with similar features to granite or marble tops but clear differences in texture and material. Soapstone is heat-resistant, doesn’t stain easily, requires little maintenance, and is a bit softer than marble.
If you’re looking for the best quality kitchen countertops, natural stone is your answer. Overall, these materials have longer life spans than butcher block counters and require less maintenance, giving you a kitchen countertop you can count on for years to come.
Lesher Natural Stone, Quartz, & Tile Can Install the Stone Countertop of Your Dreams
When it comes to your home and your kitchen specifically, you shouldn’t have to compromise on quality and style. Let Lesher Marble help you find the perfect natural stone countertop to complement your unique taste and style. With decades of experience, our team has the knowledge to help you select an option that suits your home and your needs.