Is wood an appropriate material for countertops? Absolutely, but you have to consider many things before taking the leap. Where is the countertop going to be located? Is it going to be exposed to water? Are you going to prepare food on it? If so, are you going to cut directly on top of it? How close is the nearest heat source? None of these considerations prohibit the use of wood, you just have to plan accordingly and understand that not every wood species or finish is appropriate for your condition.
Austin Kitchen Remodel
Wood species, cut, and finish are the three critical elements to consider when choosing wood countertops. Hardwoods are the most durable- they take a beating and keep on going. Maple, walnut, oak, and cherry are all great choices. Softer woods, such as pine, are going to wear and move much more than a quality hardwood.
If you are interested in maximum durability, an end grain configuration is a must. This is the way butcher blocks are built, and they must be maintained with an occasional application of mineral oil. You do not see the grain of the wood, but the checker board appearance is very interesting. These tops look best as an accent, such as an island, and are a great material choice for kitchen remodeling.
Edge grain is another configuration that gives your countertops good durability, but again, you do not see the beauty of the grain (imagine boards turned on their side). This also provides a more consistent looking countertop, without the busy appearance of the butcher block.
The last choice, which is the most popular for large countertop surfaces, is face grain configuration. This is when the countertop is built using the flat side of the board and thus the beauty of the wood grain is revealed. This is by far the most beautiful way of constructing the countertop, but is most prone to damage. Making sure not to cut directly on the tops will help to dramatically improve their beauty and longevity.
With any top configuration, the protective finish is key to long term durability. With end grain countertops, mineral oil is all you need to protect them. The wood will actually self heal itself, but will definitely take on a warn patina over the years. Any other configuration is going to require a good hard protective finish, such as Waterlox Original made from Tung oil and hardeners. Its important to note that this finish must be applied on all six sides of the countertop. If you are considering wood for a bathroom remodeling project, protecting the tops are a prime consideration.
Of course, this is an overly simple explanation of wood countertops. Many other factors need to be considered before installing wood countertops. Although we discussed very critical components that must be considered before choosing wood, the fabricator and installer is the most critical component that must be chosen correctly. Construction technique, wood quality, wood moisture, joining techniques, wood thickness, edge profiles, integrated features such as sinks and drain pans, and finishing techniques are just a few details that will have to be agreed upon to ensure a countertop that gives you the performance you expect.