Image of wood countertop but Are Wood Countertops a Bad Idea?

Are Wood Countertops a Bad Idea? Here’s What You Should Know

Lumber countertops spice up the look of any kitchen by lending it a warm feel. In addition, they bring nature into an otherwise synthetic room if you live in an apartment or typical condo unit. But there are concerns about how good these structures are, some people are specific to how countertops should look while some people pay less attention but are wood countertops a bad idea?

Wood countertops are a bad idea when you do not have time and effort to maintain them. Additionally, the structures are prone to cracking, discoloring, warping, splitting, and burning. Therefore, you should be ready to periodically sand and seal the surface to maintain its lovely look.

Despite wood countertops being beautiful and looking even better as it ages, many homeowners prefer marble, granite, or quartz. So, this article gives more reasons why the countertops are not ideal for some homes and how to maintain such a structure if you have one.

What Is a Wood Countertop?

Wood countertops are solid lumber products like hard Marple, teak, and Brazilian cherry. They feature multiple narrow planks secured together, mostly known as butcher block countertops, and are popular options for kitchen islands, kitchen and bathroom countertops, and laundry rooms.

Installing wood countertops is a simple do-it-yourself project for woodworkers wanting to update a room with a warmer look. The wood is also easy to work with and much less expensive than quartz, granite, or marble.

How Do You Waterproof Wood Countertops?

It is essential to waterproof wooden countertops to protect and maintain their elegant design. Also, although you’ll find multiple finishes to use for the process, it is advisable to use a food-safe wax or oil. This way, you won’t risk adding scents, flavors, or toxins to your food.

In addition, please note that varnishes are only best for tables, while polyurethanes are ideal for flooring, making them unsuitable for countertops. Also, they may hide the wood beneath and make it feel like hard plastic, compromising the soft look and feel needed for food preparation areas.

Apart from selecting the most suitable finish for your lumber countertop, it is prudent to follow the correct application technique. So, check out the following steps to help deliver a professional finish.

  • Wipe the countertop’s top surface and edges with a tack rag to remove any food particles or dust.
  • Wear a pair of rubber gloves recommended for kitchen cleaning.
  • Pour a liberal linseed oil amount onto a clean, lint-free cotton cloth. You can get the formula from any health-food or grocery stores, retail paints outlets, and drugstores. In addition, the painter’s wiping cloth is available in hardware and paint stores, or you can utilize a household rag or an old t-shirt.
  • Rub the oil into the lumber while moving the wiping rag in the wood grain’s direction. Also, saturate the cloth thoroughly with the oil and rub it on the surface until you cover the entire edge and top surface.
  • Wipe off any leftover formula pooling on the countertop.
  • Wait for about two hours and add another coat.
  • Finally, ensure that you apply a linseed oil maintenance coat every four weeks. However, this recommendation depends on whether you heavily use the surface, as lightly used countertops can go up to eight weeks before a touch-up.

The linseed oil adds water resistance and hardness to the wood. So, you can tell whether the surface needs a new coat by splashing a few water drops on it. If the water soaks into the wood, it is no longer waterproof.

How Much Do Wooden Countertops Cost?

Generally, wooden countertop prices range between $20 and $70 per square foot. Thus, you can expect to spend about $1,000 to $3,500 for an average kitchen space of 50 square feet.

In addition, most households have 30 to 60 feet of countertop space, bringing the cost estimate to around $600 to $12,000.

Below is a detailed account of what you’ll pay for various countertop woods.

  • Maple

Maple countertops are an economical and popular choice, costing $20 to $100 per square foot. They are sturdy, featuring an apparent wood grain, and you’ll often find the light-colored version of the wood blended with mahogany or Dark Walnut.

  • Acacia

Golden Teak or acacia countertops cost between $20 and $60 per square foot. In addition, finished acacia can go up to $100 per square foot, but the price continues to drop due to its popularity.

  • Walnut

Walnut lumber countertops range between $20 and $100 per square foot. They are a sturdy material and come in multiple hues.

  • Oak

Oak tops will cost $20 to $100 per square foot, depending on the lumber species. However, white oak costs twice as much as the darker version. But the new price is worth it as the wood is considerably denser and delivers a contemporary end grain counter.

  • Cherry

A cherry countertop ranges from $20 to $60 per square foot. It has a rich red hue and is the strongest even when the end grain faces upwards. In addition, the wood has a smooth and uniform finish, making it suitable for butcher blocks and furniture.

However, be careful not to mistake the typical cherry stain formula, which resembles cherry wood’s red color, for genuine cherry lumber. 

  • Teak

Teak’s price ranges between $100 and $200 for countertop projects. It is a trendy luxury wood and works well for flooring and siding applications.

  • Bamboo

Bamboo countertops cost $25 to $100 per square foot. However, their price continues to drop as the demand increases. Also, like cherry, the wood has a solid end grain, and you can darken it for finish variations.

  • Wenge

Wenge’s prices are $50 to $140 per square foot. It is a dense African wood that hides knife marks and does not warp with moisture exposure. The lumber is also resistant to warping when cut thin or laid flat.

  • Mixed Woods

You can mix multiple kinds of wood for $30 to $150 per square foot. Evaluate the end grain, face grain, and edge grain, and go for a combination that gives a visual appeal.

In addition, the pricing depends on the lumber types mixed. For example, expect to spend close to $150 per square foot for Walnut and zebra or $40 per square foot for Marple and cherry.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Wood Countertops?

Lumber countertops have several advantages: their lovely natural appearance, price, and durability. Check out this next section for more information.

Pros

Wood countertops comes with some great taking points about them. They include?

  • Natural Material

Apart from the adhesive that connects the countertops’ boards, the lumber is all-natural. It helps you avoid synthetic materials like quartz and laminate, which have up to seven percent synthetic resins.

  • Elegant Appearance

Wood countertops give a warm and rustic look, perfect for a farmhouse aesthetic. In addition, dark wood provides a sophisticated contrast against light-colored cabinets, and light lumber works well with black, blue, and other dark-colored shelves.

Some homeowners use a wood and stone mixture to deliver a more durable product. For instance, they may have lumber for the island countertop and granite, marble, or quartz for the perimeter counters.

The good thing is that you can choose from various lumber types and colors, regardless of your pattern and design preferences. This way, you get a material that suits your interior project.

  • Variety of Design Options

Different lumber species and construction types give you various design options. In addition, they help give your home a personalized touch, leaving it looking genuinely unique. For instance, Cherry has reddish hues, while American Walnut is darker than the hard Maple.

Also, each wood has a unique grain pattern. For example, Brazilian cherry has a fine grain, laking dents, and scratches, whereas hard Marple features a straight and uniform grain.

  • Warm to the Touch

Unlike marble, quartz, granite, and other stones, which sometimes feel cold, wood countertops are warm. Therefore, they create an inviting surface, perfect for eating and entertainment.

  • Natural Antibacterial Properties

The lumber naturally slows down bacteria growth. It also has antimicrobial compounds that guarantee a more hygienic kitchen. However, treating the wood may limit these anti-bacterial attributes and expose the wood.

  • Easy to Clean

Lumber countertops are easy to clean. Use one to one mix of water and vinegar. Then, add some lemon drops. Finally, spray the formula over the surface for an excellent clean, nice shine, and beautiful scent.

  • Work Surface

Wood countertops serve as perfect work surfaces, allowing you to cut food directly on them. But knives may nick and scratch the counter. Therefore, it would be best to frequently sand and refinish the lumber to restore its original smooth finish.

  • Eco-Friendly

Lumber countertops feature a low carbon footprint compared to other kitchen materials. In addition, they need little energy and processing, making them environmentally friendly and food safe.

Plus, the wood is biodegradable and easy to dispose of. So, you do not have to worry about disposal when removing or replacing the countertops.

  • Long Lifespan

Usually, lumber is softer, showing scratches and dents more quickly than other materials. But wooden countertops have a longer life resulting from frequent sanding and resurfacing.

  • Low Upfront Costs

The cost varies by construction, species, and location, but it is less costly for wooden countertops than marble, quartz, or granite.

Generally, the cost of the countertops ranges between $30 to $60 per square foot, making it affordable to most homeowners. However, other factors like the wood quality and type, counter size, and whether the material is local or international influence the price.

For comparison, Marple countertops cost $40 to $100 per square foot, quartz costs between $50 and $100 per square foot, and granite is $40 to $60 per square foot. 

  • Easy to Install

You can hire a professional to help install the wooden countertops or do it yourself. If you are handy and have the correct tools, cut the lumber to size and construct the structure.

Also, there are multiple ‘how-to videos’ and tutorials to help out. So, it is easy to get started on the project and expect a desirable outcome.

Cons

Here are some of the cons:

  • High Maintenance

Countertops get a lot of use and abuse, which can be an issue for organic materials like wood. Also, cracking, discoloring, warping, splitting, and burning are common problems for the material.

But it is possible to lengthen the lumber’s life span with proper maintenance and care. So, consider sanding and sealing the surface periodically. 

  • Limited Options

Not all wood species are suitable for countertops. The best ones are hardwoods that can withstand heavy traffic, such as teak, Marple, oak, Brazilian cherry, and Walnut, and they are not easy to come by.

Lumber types have a limited color range. So, you’d have to paint the desired colors. But the downside with this move is that the paint will cover up the wood’s natural color; thus, it’s not an ideal finishing option.

Lastly, some wood types work better for countertops than others. Therefore, it is prudent to determine what you’ll use them for before selecting the lumber.

  • Moisture Problems

Another common problem with lumber countertops is water. Remember that wood is very porous and reacts to water in various ways. For instance, moisture seepage leads to lumber splitting, swelling, and even rotting.

The sink is also an issue for wood countertops due to constant moisture exposure. And the wood will soon blacken, split, or warp without proper protection.

  • Staining

As mentioned earlier, lumber is porous so, staining is a real issue. It will stain easily from any liquid type, and when you leave it long enough, it will go quite deep into the wood fibers. Thus, it is advisable to ensure that the wood is dry and mop up any liquid as soon as possible.

  • Poor Construction

Most wood countertop suppliers use finger joints to create the surface, which is the most cost-effective strategy. However, finger joints are not durable compared to full-length wood strips. Also, cutting them to accommodate a sink or other fixture can expose the joists to elements.

In addition, you can hide the unsightly edges using a surface mount rather than an undermount sink, but still, finger joints are not ideal for kitchen countertops. 

  • Shipping

Lumber is more delicate than other countertop materials, and thus, shipping it safely is a challenge. Some suppliers ship the wood in sturdy crates to avoid damage during stacking and handling.

However, the wood comes in cardboard boxes, resulting in severe wood damage during shipping.

  • Cost

Generally, wood countertops’ purchasing and installation costs are similar to having quartz or natural stone. Moreover, it makes practical sense to choose these alternatives considering the drawbacks of wood countertops.

What Kind of Wood Is Good for Countertops?

This section narrows down the options to include some of the best wood types for your kitchen countertop, regardless of whether you want a gorgeous accent finish or a functional butcher block.

  • Hard Maple

Hard Maple has a simple and straight grain that makes it beautiful. In addition, it is durable and resistant to abrasion, making it a perfect material for butcher block countertops.

  • Teak

Teak, a tropical hardwood from Mexico’s Pacific coast, is reliably sturdy and appeals to woodworkers with an exotic taste. It also offers a rich, warm hue and boasts a naturally high oil level, making it moisture resistant.

  • Tigerwood

This wood prides itself in a striped quality, but it is not suitable for butcher blocks. However, you can still use the lumber to make a robust and lasting design in the kitchen as it is among the most complex wood species available.

  • Black Walnut

Black Walnut is one of the most revered lumber types because of its beautiful grain and toughness. The color may vary for different wood versions. For instance, heartwood is black or brown, while the sapwood is a honey cream.

  • Cherry

Cherry is a classic American wood with a subtle red color that deepens with time. The wood is ideal for furniture construction, butcher blocks, and pianos and features a smooth finish with a touch of sophistication.

  • Zebrawood

This wood withstands almost anything you throw at it, guaranteeing durability. In addition, it is an elegant material and adds a ‘wow’ factor to the kitchen.

  • Bamboo

It is no surprise that bamboo makes an excellent countertop, and no wonder it is a popular cutting board material. In addition, modern, sturdy, and clean bamboo is among the most rapidly renewing wood species. Therefore, it is an eco-friendly choice.

  • Wormy Chestnut

This reclaimed lumber gives an antique rustic charm. However, although the country look is on-trend and unique, the wood is soft compared to other types and is not suitable for butcher blocks.

  • Wenge

Wenge is a natural dark brown lumber with rich color and straight grain. In addition, it is highly durable and suitable for making furniture.

  • Beech

Many beech trees were left untouched before the advent of the chainsaw as they were too tough and heavy. But now, the wood type is in demand as it is relatively affordable, widely available, and undeniably attractive. In addition, you will enjoy a nice orangey-pink that blends well with stains.

  • Hickory

Hickory is the very first American hardwood and among the most potent species. So, you can bet it can withstand the wear and tear in your kitchen after surviving in the ice age for about 50 million years.

  • Mahogany

Mahogany is among the most preferred woods for luxury furniture. It is relatively soft lumber with a brown-red hue. However, though its aesthetic attributes impart a certain sophistication level, the wood is unsuitable for cutting boards.

How Long Does Wood Countertops Last?

Properly installed and well-maintained wood countertops can have the same life span as your kitchen. In addition, factory finishes have a warranty, ranging from one year or a lifetime.

Fortunately, it is easy to maintain wood countertops. All you need to do is seal and oil them regularly to protect against scratches, stains, and moisture damage.

Do Wood Countertops Hold Bacteria?

Since lumber is porous, countertops can hold germs more than other surfaces. In addition, while the surfaces have anti-bacterial attributes, it would be best to disinfect them to avoid food contamination.

Therefore, clean the surface with mild soap and vinegar or water after every use to remove germs, dirt, and grime. Spread the mixture with a damp cloth and let it penetrate the wood fibers for a minute or two before wiping it off.

How Do You Stop Wood Countertops From Warping?

One of the ways to stop wood countertops from warping is by keeping them away from excess moisture. Thus, never put the boards in a dishwasher or soak them in water, or else they will crack.

Besides, lumber is naturally antimicrobial, meaning that it kills harmful food-borne bacteria. So, it would be best to use hydrogen peroxide or a weak bleach to clean the surface when necessary.

Alternatively, you can oil the wood boards to keep them from drying out. So, consider oiling them weekly until you get a desirable appearance, then slowly move to a bi-monthly arrangement.

However, most oils are prone to rancidity. Thus, it is prudent to stick to food-safe products or mineral oils, available in almost every kitchen supply center.

Finally, you might consider refinishing the wooden countertop. Allow the surface to dry and sand with 50-grit sandpaper. Then, follow gently with 100-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. 

Here’s How to Repair Warping Wood Countertop:

Conclusion

There is a steady increase in wood countertops demand as homeowners incline more to natural aesthetics for home designs. However, there are different aspects to lumber counters, and it is good to analyze if they are suitable for your kitchen. It’s for this reason that I found it necessary to answer the question…

Are Wood Countertops a Bad Idea?

Wood countertops are a bad idea because modern life cannot accommodate the maintenance and care they need. But they are a perfect option if you’re looking to add charm and warmth to your home. Only be ready to deal with minor blemishes.

Alternatively, you can go for sure bets, such as granite, Marple, and quartz, which are low maintenance and ultra-durable.

I hope this discussion answered all of your questions on the subject. Do you have any point of concerns that you would like to be cleared? Any general suggestions? Please free to share it with me in the comment section below!

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