Wood countertops, regardless of whether they’re solid wood countertops, reclaimed wood countertops, natural wood countertops, or even custom wood countertops, are a great way to add a bit of character and warmth to your kitchen counters.

There are a few considerations, such as proper sealing, and choosing the right type of wood.

You will find plenty of types of wood, and each one can give you different looking wood kitchen countertops, which create a different atmosphere in your home.

For example, rustic wood countertops fit in very nicely in a traditional kitchen.

Kitchen-Backsplash-by-Buckminster-Green- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Buckminster Green

As far as the seal goes, you can either seal them with polyurethane or food-safe shellac, or you can live with your well-worn, well-used countertops, it depends on your taste.

You will have to deal with stains, scratches and moisture, but you can either rub them or sand them out.

Twickenham-Histroic-Renovation-and-addition-by-VTS-Homes- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: VTS Homes

And, to remove germs, you’ll have to use disinfectant constantly.

If you go for natural wood countertops, make sure you oil them frequently, in order for the wood not to dry out.

And, keep in mind that as temperature changes, wood contracts and expands, so if you have something, like a leak, it might change its shape substantially, so keep that in mind.

Big-Sky-Ansel-Haus-by-Laura-Fedro-Interiors-Inc- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Laura Fedro Interiors, Inc

Why get a wood countertop?

  • It is readily available and sustainable, and it gives you a sense of comfort.
  • It is quieter to work with, as pots or glassware don’t make much noise when placed on it, and they’re also less likely to break.
  • There are a lot of finish options, as well as species and color.
  • You can install it very quickly and seamlessly, which isn’t the case with marble or stone, for example.
  • You can use it for both a traditional and a modern kitchen, as you like.
  • It is naturally resistant and durable. Some types are very resistant to heat, foods, and when sealed well, bacteria.
  • You can sand out and restore any damage to them, making them look like new.

Why not to get wood countertops

Pentwater-Lake-Cottage-by-New-Urban-Home-Builders- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: New Urban Home Builders

They require maintenance. If unfinished, they will need oiling, monthly, and a factory sealed one may require refinishing every few years. Some may come to appreciate the character, but they will inevitably get gauged and scratched.

Tribecca-Duplex-by-Studio-4W Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Studio 4W

Standing water can damage them. Liquid goes through wood, and causes cracks, stains, and might lead to joint separation. Vinegar, for example, dissolves glue, so you should wipe away spills immediately.

They could burn, so make sure you meet the required clearance with any range, oven or cooktop. Use a trivet to make sure you don’t burn them.

The proper way to care for them

You should care and pay attention to them, if you truly want them to last you for years to come. As far as daily maintenance goes, keeping the wood dry and cleaning it is enough. If you want, you can refurbish the wood with a professional carpenter, and it should be oiled every four months.

New-Kitchen-by-Madson-Design- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Madson Design

What kind of wood can you use?

The most popular ones are surely bamboo and maple, but you will find that many hardwoods are well-suited to be used as a countertop. The look and use, or the regional preferences, usually have a lot to do here, and local woods can perform just as well as some of the more popular ones.

Many reclaimed and FSC-certified woods are good choices too, and will meet the LEED certification guidelines for sustainability. Other woods, such as softwoods, pine for example, aren’t really appropriate, nor are they high performing.

Pershing-Ave-by-Stony-Creek-Construction- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Stony Creek Construction

Style and species

As far as style goes, you have three main styles, explained below:

  • Flat grain, which is best installed when you want to show off the grain with a stylish look. It is also known as wide plank style.
  • End grain, which is best when you want to prepare food, and you’ll also find it as a butcher block countertop.
  • Edge grain, which is extremely stable, and best used for a surface counter. Any counter that is considered edge grain should have a minimum thickness of an inch.

Sullivans-Island-Family-Home-Renovation-by-Diament-Builders- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Diament Builders

Once you have styles out of the way, species is important too. A designer can make you a beautiful product out of a variety of trees, and the best way to go is usually a hardwood. Some of the options include, but are not limited to:

  • Bamboo, which is sturdy, eco-friendly, and clean. The primary choice for butcher blocks.
  • Walnut, which is tough, and comes in a lot of hues. Some of your other furniture may be made of walnut as well.
  • Cherry has a smooth, even finish, and you can use it for anything from butcher blocks to furniture.
  • Wenge is a dense African wood which won’t warp when exposed to moisture, and hides knife marks very well. Durability is amazing, and it is frequently used with furniture construction.
  • Teak is very durable, and handles moisture well. You can use it for an edge or end grain type of countertop.
  • Reclaimed wood, where you have many options certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. These materials can be durable, moisture resistant, and sustainable, and potentially cheaper than hardwoods.

Live-wood-edge-island-top-by-Remodel-West- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Remodel West

Why is wood good for a countertop?

The wood is sustainable, and readily available. You can also get it in a lot of colors, species, finishes and shapes, and it is warmer to the touch than any other comparable surface you may get. You can modify it very easily, and it’s less expensive, and faster to get than solid surfaces, such as stone. The color and character also improve with age, and you can refurbish it with ease.

Chapman-Court-Project-by-Vedco-Design-Group- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Vedco Design Group

What about the cost?

A well-fabricated, solid butcher block or wood countertop is usually made to order, and it’s made of high-grade woods that have been dried, and are prepared for long wear. The surfaces should be carefully finished to prevent damage.

A-Traditional-Country-Kitchen-by-Sustainable-Kitchens Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Sustainable Kitchens

The cost for the materials is usually around $50 to $100 per square foot, but the price may be higher or lower, depending on your location and the species. If you want more detailed information for your specific situation, you should talk to a reputable installer.

Melrose-Kitchen-by-Luciano-Group- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Luciano Group

What are the price factors?

Since we got the materials out of the way, you should know about the other prices as well. Notably, edging can cost up to $10 per sq. foot, and staining may cost up to $20 per sq. foot. As far as specific materials, there are some popular options.

Maple is around $45 to $75 per sq. foot, whereas walnut is $100 per square foot. A sq. foot of sebrawood, or teak, can cost around $130, butcher block goes for around $40 to $65, and wide plank is anywhere between $30 and $150 per square foot.

What are the other things you should consider?

When you want to go with wood countertops, you ought to have a good understanding of the process and why it costs as much as it does. You will be using it for a while, and it is a pretty major part of your kitchen. The more durable wood you go for, the more you’ll pay for it. However, you’re investing in something that will last longer, and you won’t have to pay as much attention to maintenance than with other options.

Project-One-by-Carl-Mayfield-Architect-Photographer- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Carl Mayfield Architect Photographer

Relocating appliances and fixtures

When you’re installing new counters and countertops, consider where you have your appliances and plumbing fixtures. The installation of the countertop may require you to remove and reinstall some of them, depending on where they’re located, such as the oven, stove, dishwasher, or the sink.

Sinks

To avoid excess moisture absorption, you should have your sink at least 8 to 10” away from the wood counter. A professional will use acid-free silicone sealant, which helps prevent moisture from getting into the counter. Stagnant water should be prevented from collecting on your wood counter, as a result of cleaning your dishes, or washing vegetables.

Stoves and ovens

Stoves and ovens are also best placed 8 to 10” away from the joint. You should also have enough space between the back and front of the oven and range, to ensure heat won’t damage the counter. However, if your range was built into the old counter, make the cutouts up to a quarter of an inch larger, to accommodate to the shrinking and swelling of the wood.

Farm-Cottage-by-Rosewood-Custom-Cabinetry-Millwork- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Rosewood Custom Cabinetry & Millwork

What to ask your contractor?

When you’re hiring a contractor do to this for you, you should be sure he has enough experience with this. Some professionals may be experts with stone or marble, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be that good with wooden countertops too. Ask questions. Some of them should include:

  • Do you have experience with installing wood counters?
  • How long have you been installing wood counters?
  • Who else will help you with the job, and how much experience do they have?
  • Which one of your past clients may I call for a reference?

Mountain-Contemporary-by-Fedewa-Custom-Works- Wood Countertops: Solid, Rustic, Natural Kitchen Counters
Image source: Mountain Contemporary

Summary

When we’re discussing beautiful countertops, the comfort, warmth and character of wood is hard to beat. However, before you opt for it, make sure to read the pros and cons outlined above, they will help you make up your mind better.

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