Butcher Block Kitchen Counter

Our top 3 Reasons Butcher Block is a great kitchen product

We love butcher block and here are our 3 reasons why…

1.  It is stunning  2.  It is functional  &  3. It is a sustainable kitchen product.

As seen in the picture above provided by Rune Enstad on Unsplash, they are also a great way to add a natural element into your kitchen design and warm up a crisp white palette. 

Depending on the wood species and finish you choose will you can also do food prep directly on your butcher block making them a desirable product for avid home chefs. 

Install them as countertops or purchase a butcher block island for easy kitchen prep!  Available in a multitude of wood species, butcher block is a versatile and durable kitchen product. 

Is butcher block durable?

Farmhouse Butcher block countertopThere are few things more spectacular than wood so incorporating it into a kitchen design is certainly special however, there are many factors to consider as this product is not ideal for every homeowner. Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash 

Pros of butcher block 

Style –  Obviously a great choice for design.  The natural beauty of wood makes an original statement and helps warm up sterol kitchens making butcher block a popular choice for kitchens.

Durability – There are actually pros and cons regarding the durability of butcher block.  Obviously it is very strong, they are made from a variety of wood species though most manufacturers choose the hardest, most dense woods to suit the requirements of a busy kitchen.  Often they are made with oak, walnut, cherry and maple, but they can also be made from a variety of others.  Depending on how you will use these counters will determine the species you select and the finish.

butcher block countertop optionsWill you be using it throughout the kitchen, or only as an island?  Will you use it as a border around a quartz countertop island for a dining area?  Are you planning on doing food prep directly on it?  Photo by Michael DeMarco on Unsplash

Where you want to install your countertop will help determine what type of wood species and manufacturer you should choose.

Hardwood countertops will, when treated, repel stains and moisture quite well. They resist nicks and scratches and do not splinter easily.

Lifespan -These counters are strong and will last a very long time but only if the homeowner properly maintains them.

Design – These countertops offer a unique array of style.  So many grains and colors are available to add a truly unique design element to your kitchen.

Cons of butcher block 

Durability –  While they are strong, they are also a natural product and must be properly maintained.  Depending on what type of counter and finish you choose will ultimately determine how much care they require.  Whether using a varnish finish or not, sharp objects and knives will scratch, cut and dent the surface.  You can obviously prevent that by using cutting boards however oil finished butcher block is actually designed for direct food prep.  Homeowners who choose this product must love it enough to take great care.

Heat – One draw back of using hardwood countertops is that it does burn.  It is important to keep hot pans off of or away from the surface to prevent burn marks.

Maintenance – To keep these counters at their best, they require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure they are protected.  They require the homeowners regular attention.

Is butcher block more expensive than quartz?

Butcher block IslandButcher block can be cost effective, less expensive than quartz, granite, and marble however, the cost of wood has dramatically increased during the Pandemic and they do require care and maintenance. 

If the homeowner ignores caring for them they run the risk of damaging their counters which in the long run will cost them more to repair, refinish, and potentially replace.

What finish should I choose for my butcher block counter?

As butcher block is a natural product, there are a few finishes to choose from when purchasing your countertop to protect them and what you choose depends on how you want to use them.

Raw butcher block

Some manufacturers will let you order a raw wood product without any finishing.  This allows an interior designer or homeowner to choose the finish themselves to achieve the look and color desired for the space or have the ability to color match it to an existing counter or table.

Varnished butcher block

To increase the durability of your butcher block counter you can choose to have it treated with a varnish product.  If you love the look of butcher block and are very active in the kitchen, varnish finish might be the right choice for you.

Varnish is the most protective coating, prevents water damage and stands up to most chemicals as well. It also requires the least amount of maintenance compared to oil finishes.

As varnish coats the wood, it will slightly color the counter and will leave it with a glassy sheen.

Cons of using varnish top coat

Varnish is not a natural product and any knife or sharp object on the counter risks damaging the finish.

Tung Oil 

This oil is 100% natural and food safe.  This finish is best for busy, working kitchens where the homeowner wishes to cut directly on the counter.  Tung oil is directly absorbed by the wood, protecting it from drying out and cracking. 

Cons of Tung Oil Finish

Cuts, scratches and dings will darken overtime and will change the overall appearance of the counter which has appeal to some but not all.

Tung oil does darken the wood as well so this finish may not be the optimal choice for homeowners who are looking for a clean, sexy designer look as it will darken with age and create a patina.

Tung oil finished butcher block also requires maintenance monthly by applying liquid beeswax to keep it healthy.

Modified Oil Finishes – Rubio Monocoat

There are modified oil finishes available to homeowners as well that do not darken the wood as much as tung oil and provides excellent water resistance.  This finish requires less maintenance as well.

How to maintain your butcher block countertop

Butcher Block kitchen countertops are a relatively hygienic and depending on the finish you selected your counters will need either more or less care.


It is always best to wash your butcher block countertops immediately to prevent any food cross contamination.  Since this is a natural product it can develop cracks without regular maintenance, providing opportunity for bacteria and viruses to enter the wood.  If you place raw meats or poultry on the surface, be sure to wash thoroughly with warm water, soap & a clean cloth.  Dry the affected areas and ensure that all juices are cleaned & wiped immediately.

Maintenance Products

There are several products available to help you maintain the beauty of your butcher block.  Mineral oils, beeswax conditioners, and rubio monocoat soaps & surface sprays are all readily available online.  Your manufacturer will recommend a maintenance schedule for specific products.

Is butcher block sustainable?

Since hardwood countertops are modestly processed and are a renewable resource, butcher block is considered a sustainable and environmentally friendly product. Try and ensure that you deal with a sustainable forestry product supplier and use only natural oils if possible.  You can source wood countertops from the Forest stewardship Council and try and find reclaimed wood products from previous building projects.

It is also important to keep in mind that these kitchen countertops can be a haven for germs and other forms of bacteria. We recommend using individual cutting boards when slicing meat or fish to prevent bacterial absorption into your countertop. Otherwise be sure to properly clean and season your butcher block countertop regularly.



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