Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Jan 22, 2012 01:08 PM

Butcher's block counters in kitchen?

We're considering renovation of a kitchen, and initially intended to get butcher's block (wooden) countertop on our island, with stone (say granite) on the main bench. We're now thinking of using butchers block for the lot - we love the look of it, we haven't seen any granite or similar stone that we like (some lovely dark marble, but not willing to deal with the constant worries about spilled acids marking), and the savings are considerable.

I know that it will require initial and then periodic oiling. But are there any other issues or disadvantages that we should take into account? Concerns around gas ranges or anything similar? Anyone out there jumped this way, or considered it and then thought better?



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here is a fairly recent thread where some of your questions came up:

    1. We had a home in our last city that came with butcher block countertops. Certainly have their advantages, but for me the primary disadvantage was that they need more maintenance than my current countertops do. Being a porous material they are prone to staining and to wear. Now, you can sand them and refinish but they do mar and mark easily, especially if you put a hot pan directly on the countertop by accident or leave, say, a cup with something on the bottom on the countertop overnight. This is also why I didn't go with marble, but I digress.
      An advantage is that you can sand and refinish the butcher block countertops to refresh them, but I found that they look "tired" fairly quickly. They also give a rustic look to a kitchen which is something that I didn't want with our current new kitchen. Now, something else to consider is how you are going to use the countertop, If, as you say, you want to oil the surface, this means you are looking at a countertop suitable for prep work? In this case, be prepared for water damage to take its toll, so best not to have them around water sources. Water splashing and so on can cause your countertop to turn black in areas. So if you want your countertop for display vice using as a food prep surface, you might want to get a different finish on the countertop in those areas. Say, the island is for food prep with one finish and the rest is for "display" with a water resistant finish.
      At the end of the day, though, the countertops can be refinished so if you LOVE the look, go for it, knowing about the maintenance requirements and possible downsides.

      1. Are you talking about a butcher block set in the counter? I am not a huge fan of that idea. There is nothing really bad, but I just don't see a lot of advantages compared to an individual butcher block. The only advantage is the look. Aside from this, you cannot move the block, you cannot really clean block as easily....etc.

        1. I have a maple butcher block counter, very thick, about 8ft long. Also very expensive about 15 years ago. It still looks great. I've cooked in restaurants all my life, so this is what I wanted in my house. To clean in a restaurant, use bleach and a heavy scrubber..I do this at home but only a few times a year..I use one end of the counter for prep work (sometimes with sometimes without a cutting board). Guests can sit on both sides of the counter while I'm cooking and chopping. I see reviews of marble and granite and reviewers like butcher block....because they are interior decorators....not cooks....I say go for it

          1 Reply
          1. re: johnnyb510

            PS many years ago, maybe 10, in my restaurant...The Board of Health came in and said "remove all maple cutting boards (all custom made....maybe $5,000) and replace with plastic....We did this....another $3,000. Then, a year later... they said "plastic is no good, take out all plastic cutting surfaces and replace with can use the wood again.....wood, long gone....Amazing gov't shizzle....don't get me started on the thousands of dollars they made us spend on Smoke Eater machines (all frome only one company) and then outlawed smoking..but I still like butcherblock..

          2. I have butcher block counters. In addition to the maintenance issue, I would add: 1) Easy to stain. My counters have stains from cans and pans left to long as well as some blotches I have no idea where they came from. 2) Easy to mar. Scratches and dents will quickly discolor. And it's very easy to mar the surface. I used a cutting board without noticing that a few grains of rice were caught between the board and counter, and they got pressed into the wood. Now I have 7 or 8 rice shapes decorating the counter top. 3) Guests think that since it's butcherblock, they can use it as a chopping board.

            All that said, I still like my weathered and well used/misused counter tops, but don't expect yours to be pristine after a couple of years. If you can live with that, go for it.