Butcher Block Countertops: Costs & Installation

10 Things to Know Before Getting a Butcher Block Countertop
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Choosing a countertop for your kitchen remodel can be a difficult choice. With so many materials to choose from, all with different color options, finishes, and costs attached, coming to a decision is almost impossible. If you are looking for a countertop that will add warmth to your kitchen, a butcher block countertop is a great option.

Today, we’ll guide you through choosing a butcher block and all the things you need to consider before making your final decision.

Is butcher block cheaper than granite?

Typically, yes, butcher block is cheaper than granite. Granite prices range between $100 and $250 per square foot, depending on the manufacturer, the color you choose, and your location.

On the other hand, butcher block tends to cost somewhere between $40 and $65 per square foot, including the cost of installation. However, like granite, this will vary depending on the type of wood you choose, the finish/sealant, your location, and labor costs.


What are the cons of a butcher block countertop?

As with any countertop material, butcher block comes with some cons (we’ll look at the pros a little later):


  1. it will develop dents and scratches over time as natural wood is a softer material than other countertop alternatives
  2. although it can be used as a cutting surface, you should use a separate cutting board if you want to maintain the smooth surface of your butcher block countertop
  3. it needs to be sealed appropriately and regularly maintained
  4. it can be damaged by excess water (mold, stains, or warping)
  5. it expands and contracts with changing temperatures – need to allow for an expansion of 0.12 inches in the summer to avoid cracking or warping


How much does it cost to build a butcher block countertop?

The average cost of butcher block countertops per square foot is around $40, or $54, with labor costs. Taking an area of 120 square feet, the national average cost to install a butcher block countertop falls between $5,000 and $7,600, including materials and labor.

The actual cost will depend on where you live, the size of your kitchen, wood type and construction, and the job's complexity.


Are butcher blocks sanitary?

Natural wood actually contains antimicrobial compounds that work to naturally kill bacteria, making butcher block a particularly sanitary countertop material. With that being said, like any other material, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t regularly clean a butcher block countertop. With wood being porous, germs can build up within the wood if left to its own devices.


Can you put hot pans on butcher block countertops?

Natural wood can take a fair amount of heat before it becomes damaged. Putting a hot pot or sheet pan on a butcher block countertop is unlikely to pose a problem, but putting pans filled with hot liquid on your butcher block countertop will be a different story.

Liquid holds hot temperatures for much longer periods, which can lead to the wood scorching. However, you will typically find that this type of burn will only affect the wood's surface and can be sanded out using fine grain sandpaper.  


How do you disinfect butcher block countertops?

You can clean a butcher block countertop simply using soap and a damp cloth. However, if you are looking for a deeper cleanse, disinfecting a butcher block countertop is easy. All you need to do is dilute 1 part white vinegar with 3 parts water, spray on the countertop's surface and wipe away with a dry cloth. This is a gentle disinfecting solution and so can be used daily if you choose.

If you are looking to combat harsh stains or lingering odors in your butcher block countertop, using a mixture of salt and lemon is an effective stain remover, disinfectant, and deodorizer.


How often do you have to oil butcher block countertops?

This will depend on the wood species you choose, how often the countertop is used, how often the countertop is cleaned, and with what. Generally, butcher block countertops should be oiled once a week for the first month and then once a month after that. Essentially, if the wood is looking dry, the butcher block countertop should be oiled, although the manufacturer will give you more specific advice.


Top 10 Things to Know Before You Get a Butcher Block Countertop

1. Types of Butcher Block Countertops

One of the main benefits of butcher block countertops is that there are various options available to choose from. The four most common species of wood for butcher block countertops are:

  1. Maple – this is a hardwood with light coloring, uniform grain and is one of the cheapest options
  2. Red Oak – with a rich red tinge, this option is not as durable as maple but is still strong enough to make an effective kitchen surface
  3. White Oak – similar properties to red oak, but is lighter with more interesting grain patterns
  4. Walnut – this option is less durable than others but is the best option if you are looking for something with a deep, rich coloring


Once you have chosen the species of wood that is most suitable, you need to choose the type of construction. Commonly, you will be able to choose from edge grain, face grain, and end grain.

  1. Edge grain, where boards are assembled with their edges showing, is the most popular option as it is the strongest of the three and is the least expensive.
  2. Face grain is where boards are laid flat so that the butcher block's surface is made up of the full width of the boards. This is more suitable if you are more interested in aesthetics than practicality, as it will not stand up to chopping without being heavily marked.
  3. End grain, where small squares of wood are assembled vertically with the ends showing, is the most expensive option but is particularly durable if you want your countertop to double as a cutting surface.


2. The Cost of Butcher Block Countertops

The cost of a butcher block countertop will depend on the type of wood and construction, as well as your location. Prices range from as little as $10 per square foot (although this will be made up of particleboard surrounded by wood veneer) up to as much as $200 per square foot for a custom made, real wood countertop. If you have room in your budget, it is well worth paying more for a butcher block countertop of good quality that will last and withstand a lot.


3. Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Countertops

We discussed the cons of butcher block countertops above, so let’s look at the pros:

  1. Can be used as a cutting surface if you like that kind of character in your kitchen
  2. Softer surface means that dishes are less likely to break should you accidentally drop one
  3. Butcher block countertops can be easily restored through sanding (provided they aren’t sealed with polyurethane), which makes them perfect for busy kitchens
  4. The natural color of the wood warms up a kitchen’s coloring


4. How to Care for Butcher Block Countertops

To prevent the natural wood from drying out, you need to regularly apply a food-safe oil, such as mineral oil, every few weeks to one month. If your countertops are sealed with a semi-gloss, they require even less care to keep them looking their best, although these cannot be used for chopping.


5. Do Butcher Block Countertops Need to Be Sealed?

Sealing a butcher block countertop prevents moisture from being absorbed into the wood, which can otherwise cause mold and warping. There are 4 different methods for sealing butcher block countertops depending on their required use:

  1. Mineral oil – used if you want your counter to double as a cutting surface
  2. Butcher block wax – wax mixed with mineral oil, so it doesn’t have to be reapplied as often but does the same job as mineral oil
  3. Food safe penetrating sealers – higher protection but more expensive than the options above – should not be used if you wish to chop on the counter itself
  4. Polyurethane – stain and moisture resistant - best if you want the most appealing look and won’t use it for chopping


6. How to Maintain Butcher Block Countertops

To maintain a butcher block countertop, along with regular oiling, you need to ensure that you wipe away any excess moisture as soon as possible and clean regularly with a minimal amount of soap and water on a soft cloth. Avoid cleaning with anything abrasive, and never cut food with a serrated knife as this will cause more serious damage.


7. Can Butcher Block Countertops Be Used as a Cutting Surface?

A butcher block countertop can be used as a cutting surface, but if you want to keep your countertop looking as good as possible, you should always use a separate cutting board. If you wish to use your countertop as a cutting surface, you should ensure that your knives are sharp so that you only need to apply minimal pressure when chopping.

Knife marks in a butcher block countertop can usually be repaired by sanding with fine sandpaper and reoiling, although this will depend on your countertop's finish.


8. Is a Butcher Block Countertop Right for You?

A butcher block countertop is a much more eco-friendly and sustainable option than many countertop materials and is available in a range of colors and styles. However, you need to properly maintain your butcher block countertop to prolong its life for as long as possible.

If you are willing to put the effort in, butcher block countertops are an affordable, practical countertop option that will allow you to bring a touch of nature into your home.


9. Where to Buy Butcher Block Countertops

If you are looking to buy a butcher block countertop on a budget and fit it yourself, places like IKEA or other home improvement stores are as good a place as any; you just need to be aware that you will get what you pay for. Although they won’t be bad quality, they are unlikely to be solid wood and certainly won’t last as long as more expensive options.

If you are looking for quality, you should look to lumber yards and custom kitchen makers who will connect you with someone who can build a custom butcher block countertop for your kitchen with your chosen wood type and construction.


10. What Makes Butcher Block Countertops the Best Choice?

Butcher block countertops are the best choice if you are looking for something both attractive and practical without breaking the bank. They help to warm up cool-toned kitchens, and with so many styles to choose from, you are sure to find one that matches the theme and use of your kitchen.


A butcher block countertop is a perfect finish to any kitchen, no matter the size, style, or color, and it will stand the test of time. If you are looking to renovate your kitchen, Skipp can make the process simple and save you money. We can provide you with professional designs so that you can create that kitchen you have always dreamed of. To find out more about our easy 4-step process, click here.


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