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Remodeling 101: All About Butcher Block Countertops

Warm and accommodating, butcher block is an affordable countertop material with a lot going for it. To be retained regularly and butcher block countertops will reward you by aging gracefully. But without proper upkeep, they can dull and fissure. Are butcher block countertops the privilege substance for you and your kitchen? Read our butcher block counter primer to find out.

Good enough for a chef: a butcher-block countertop in the Manhattan kitchen of chef David Tanis; see A Chef’s Low-Tech, Economical, and Beautifully Soulful Kitchen in the East Village. Photograph by Heidi’s Bridge. Above: Good enough for a chef: a butcher-block countertop in the Manhattan kitchen of cook David Tanis; consider A Chef’s Low-Tech, Economical, and Beautifully Soulful Kitchen in the East Village. Photograph by Heidi’s Bridge. What is butcher block?

Butcher block is made from straight-shooting cuts of wood glued together into thick-witted slabs that render a particularly sturdy and stable run surface in a kitchen, whether as a cutting board, tabletop, or counter.

A butcher block countertop in a British Standard Cupboard Kitchen by Plain English. Above: A butcher block countertop in a British Standard Cupboard Kitchen by Plain English. Are there different types of butcher block?

There are three basic construction styles of butcher block: boundary grain, face grain, and purpose grain.

Butcher block counters are a durable option for a mobile, outdoor kitchen; see Stockpot and Two Smoking Barrels: A Rustic Kitchen in a Shepherd’s Hut in England. Photograph by Emma Lewis. Above: Butcher block counters are a durable alternative for a mobile, outdoor kitchen; realise Stockpot and Two Smoking Barrels: A Rustic Kitchen in a Shepherd’s Hut in England. Photograph by Emma Lewis. Border Grain Edge grain is the one most commonly used for counters because it’s strong, stable, and less expensive than the others. It’s made by placing long boards on their sides and joining them so that their long narrow edges form the surface. The boards can be continuous lengths of wood with no joints, or random-length boards that are finger-jointed (as shown above). Above: Edge grain is the one most commonly used for counters because it’s strong, stable, and less costly than the others. It’s made by placing long boards on their backs and joining them so that their long narrow boundaries form the surface. The committees is also available continuous sections of wood with no joints, or random-length boards that are finger-jointed( as shown above ). Face Grain Face-grain butcher block is constructed from boards that are laid flat, their full widths forming a surface with a streamlined look. Susceptible to marks when used for chopping and cutting, face grain is less suitable for working kitchen counters than the others. Above: Face-grain butcher block is constructed from committees that are laid flat, their full thickness forming a surface with a streamlined seem. Susceptible to markers when used for chopping and cutting, face grain is less suitable for working kitchen counters than the others. Demise Grain End-grain construction is made from small rectangular blocks arranged so that the ends (with growth rings showing) are visible on the surface. The strongest and most expensive type of butcher block, it’s great for surfaces dedicated to cutting, because it camouflages knife marks and is gentle on blade edges (they slide into the grain rather than against it). Above: End-grain construction is made from small rectangular cubes arranged so that the ends( with proliferation hoops demonstrating) are visible on the surface. The strongest and most expensive type of butcher block, it’s great for surfaces dedicated to cutting, because it camouflages knife recognizes and is gentle on blade edges( they slip into the grain rather than against it ). What types of wood are used for butcher block?

Butcher block can be made from nearly any timber. Maple is one of the best and most popular for butcher block counters because it’s hard-handed and has a clear grain. Cherry and red oak present rich colouring. Butcher block is also possible to crafted from bamboo( it are most effective with end-grain construction) and sustainably farmed exotics such as wenge, zebrawood, and iroko.

In a London kitchen by deVol, the designers paired iroko wood with marble countertops. Above: In a London kitchen by deVol, the designers paired iroko timber with marble countertops. Do butcher block countertops need to be sealed?

For kitchen counter applications, it’s important to use unsealed, oil-finished wood. Sealed countertops are not meant to be used as food-prep work surfaces-they’re not food or knife friendly. Mark Squire of Quality Kitchen Cabinets in San Francisco explains: “Using sealed timber wins the purpose of butcher block, because it extends up the natural warm surface with plastic.” Sealed butcher block does present reflect and can work well as a work table or barroom top in a kitchen that doesn’t involve meat.( And when needed for food prep, pair it with a cutting board .) Note that unsealed butcher block is not recommended immediately around a sink: Over time it will probably discolor and rot.

Designer Athena Calderone updated the brown laminate countertops in her rental kitchen with Karlby birch countertops from Ikea. Photograph by Sarah Elliot, courtesy of Athena Calderone. Above: Designer Athena Calderone updated the dark-brown laminate countertops in her rental kitchen with Karlby birch countertops from Ikea. Photograph by Sarah Elliot, courtesy of Athena Calderone. How do you best maintain butcher block countertops?

At a minimum, butcher block countertops require oiling every six months to keep the wood protected. Different woods come with different finishing oil recommendations and it’s best to follow the instructions of your installer. Depending on level of use, butcher block countertops may also require more frequent oiling and situation to prevent the lumber from cracking and seeming dull. N.B .: Avoid using cooking petroleum to treat butcher block; it can damage the wood. Because butcher block is soft, it taints more than other materials, producing some people to use it for certain surfaces simply, such as work islands. Merely before oiling, you are able to gently remove scratchings, burns, and other surface shatters with fine sandpaper, and your countertop will look like new.

Christine wanted a warm material for her open kitchen, so she selected edge-grain countertops of solid oak treated with several coats of Danish oil for a hardwearing finish. For the full story, see Rehab Diary: Sleuthing for Space in My Kitchen. Photograph by Kristin Perers for Remodelista. Above: Christine craved a warm material for her open kitchen, so she selected edge-grain countertops of solid oak is dealing with several coatings of Danish oil for a hardwearing finish. For the full tale, find Rehab Diary: Sleuthing for Space in My Kitchen. Photograph by Kristin Perers for Remodelista. Can butcher block be used as a slashing surface?

Yes, unsealed butcher block works well as a large stationary work surface and has been used this course for centuries( after all, it comes by its identify candidly ). That said, it’s not as easy as it looks to cleanse a butcher block counter as it is a movable cutting board, which explains why many owners use cutting boards on top of butcher block. And, as mentioned, cutting on butcher block over day leaves celebrates and scratches–character-defining to some, best eschewed to others.

In this kitchen by Melbourne interior architecture firm Hearth Studio, a kitchen island is segmented into American oak and Carrara marble for a work surface. Above: In this kitchen by Melbourne interior architecture firm Hearth Studio, a kitchen island is segmented into American oak and Carrara marble for a run surface. What do butcher block countertops expenditure?

Prices vary depending on the type of wood, the grain construction, and the thickness. In general, custom-made quality butcher block countertops assortment from $75 to $150 per square foot. In other words, good butcher block is more expensive than mid-range granite but less expensive than top-of-the-line natural stone.

The good report is that several manufacturers offer off-the-shelf butcher block worktops in standard counter-depth sizes with variable lengths. If your setup allows, this is the affordable route to go. And the DIY-inclined can cut butcher block slabs to fit around gadgets, corners, and other obstacles–not something you can pull off on your own with stone.

In her cabin kitchen, Sarah Samuel of Smitten Studio installed Ikea’s affordable edge-grain, oiled-beech Numerar Wood Countertop (now discontinued). Ikea now offers a similar Hammarp Oak Countertop, which comes in precut lengths. Photograph courtesy of Smitten Studio. Above: In her compartment kitchen, Sarah Samuel of Smitten Studio installed Ikea’s affordable edge-grain, oiled-beech Numerar Wood Countertop( now discontinued ). Ikea now offers a similar Hammarp Oak Countertop, which comes in precut segments. Photograph courtesy of Smitten Studio. San Francisco architect Mark Reilly used end-grain butcher block countertops in a kitchen in a turn-of-the-century house in Palo Alto, California. “The countertop was originally Formica, but the client wanted a material that didn’t clink when glass or serving wares were placed on it,” Reilly says. “After exploring several options, we decided on end-grain butcher block because of its warmth, soft feel, and vintage-inspired look.” Photograph by Mark Reilly. N.B. See how the architect created an open kitchen in a Victorian house in Remodelista Best Design Professional Space Winner: Mark Reilly. Above: San Francisco architect Mark Reilly used end-grain butcher block countertops in a kitchen in a turn-of-the-century house in Palo Alto, California. “The countertop was originally Formica, but the customers craved training materials that didn’t clink when glass or providing wares were placed on it, ” Reilly says. “After exploring several options, we decided on end-grain butcher block because of its heat, soft feel, and vintage-inspired look.” Photograph by Mark Reilly. N.B. See how the architect established an open kitchen in a Victorian house in Remodelista Best Design Professional Space Winner: Mark Reilly. Butcher Block Pros and Cons Pros Butcher block counters add heat and natural emblazon. It’s a soft material that’s easy on glassware and bowls: No clatter when you put down a stack of platefuls. Lumber mixes well with many other countertop substances, specially marble. If maintained properly, it’s a long lasting and durable choice. Unlike laminate or solid-surface counters, wood countertops are repairable: Dents and burns is also available gently sanded and the surface reoiled. It develops a lovely patina over time. Wood has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

Cons

Wood counters are not heat or stain resistant. Red-hot pans can’t be set down on the counter without a pad or trivet. Timber can swell and wither in conditions of extreme dryness or humidity, which may cause cracking. Excessive wetness stirs the timber susceptible to rot and blotch. It develops a patina over period( a detail that also falls in the Pros category; it’s a matter of savor ). Butcher block involves some maintenance.

Italian kitchen designers Schiffini use end-grain butcher block at the end of a kitchen island. Above: Italian kitchen designers Schiffini employ end-grain butcher block at the end of a kitchen island.

Researching brand-new countertops? For more on the subject, realize our Remodeling 101 Guide to Kitchen Countertops, plus our recent posts on the subject 😛 TAGEND

Remodeling 101: A Primer on Kitchen Countertops Remodeling 101: A Low-Maintenance Guide to Maintaining Soapstone Counters Remodeling 101: The Difference Between Carrara, Calacatta, and Statuary Marble

Finally, get more suggestions on how to evaluate and choose your kitchen countertop in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Countertops.

N.B .: This post gave an update. It originally led on November 19, 2013.

Read more: remodelista.com

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