Butcher block countertops are ideal for gourmet cooks or any designer seeking wood as a complement to the kitchen decor. Butcher block is composed of an assembled wood, usually sugar maple, fitted together in a manner that supports the durability and form necessary in a regularly used kitchen or cooking area. Wood is widely considered to be more aesthetically appealing than the fabricated countertops prevalent in the market today. The natural appearance of wood in the cooking area, along with a kitchen stool or two, adds a sophisticated earthiness to a kitchen and is less likely to become dated as trends shift in interior design.
Butcher block countertops are ideal cutting surfaces. Wood gives the appearance of a warm material but has the necessary sturdiness to withstand rigorous cutting and chopping. The importance of proper fitting for a butcher block countertop cannot be underestimated, as the anti-bacterial properties of wood can become insignificant if bacteria finds its way into the seams and joint spaces. Maintenance is as critical with butcher block kitchen countertops as with other fabricated surfaces, with the additional option of sanding to remove any cuts or indentations that result from regular use. Periodic cleaning must be performed thoroughly, with special care taken to the finish of the wood surface.
Cost is a major selling point of butcher block countertops. These types of counters are on the whole far less expensive than the exotic stone and granite surfaces popular today. Though the cost as an average will be less for a butcher block than that of another material, there are high-end materials available that will still exceed a budget-level price point. Northern or sugar maple is the most common wood used in the construction of butcher block countertops and run the gammut in cost and design depending on the manufacturer and complexity of the layout.
Butcher block countertops are available in pre-fabricated and custom designs. Pre-fabricated or pre-assembled sections are on the average more cost-efficient than custom designs. A 12″ by 25″ section of a butcher block countertop can be purchased wholesale for well under a hundred dollars, whereas custom pieces are more commonly priced as a unit rather than individual sections. Consumers in the market for a butcher block countertop should pay strict attention to the thickness of the design. Sections with equal surface area will be less expensive when constructed in a thinner design or of lower quality wood. Reclaimed woods are sometimes used in the construction of butcher block countertops and can further cut the cost from a materials standpoint.
Butcher blocks are becoming more popular with builders and consumers who place an emphasis on “green” living and design. Many of the countertops on the market today are fabricated from wood harvested from sustainable forests that are either replanted or protected for repeated use without expansion into other areas. The emphasis being placed on preserving the environment has resulted in the introduction of many different woods for use in butcher block countertops. Though the sugar maple is still the most common wood used for these pieces, other materials are growing in supply and will soon price comparably to the older standard.
The appropriate hardness of wood to be used for a butcher block is an important aspect of its design. Butcher block countertops manufactured with wood that is too hard will damage the cutlery used on its surface, while block countertops that are too soft will wear quickly and require extra upkeep. While the market is experimenting in new woods for the fabrication of butcher blocks in an exercise of forest conservation, some of the new materials may not be ideal for the cook or homeowner who regularly prepares food with high-end knives and cutlery. Surfaces that become damaged or worn to a fault over time can be replaned to revitalize the surface and give new life aesthetically. High quality coffee tables can also add a lot to a room.
Aside from the resurfacing of an entire countertop with butcher block, the material is widely available as a piece to be placed on top of the existing countertop and stored when not in use or as the countertop to an island for food preparation. Walnut butcher block countertops are common on rolling kitchen carts conveniently designed for ease of use and durability. Many of the retailers speciallizing in maple butcher block countertops will also sell specialized conditioners and cleaners intended to maximize the life of the countertop. Warranties are also popular among manufacturers and retailers of butcher block countertops due to a confidence in the material’s durability and longevity.