The Problems with Wood as Kitchen Countertops
You can typically find wood or engineered wood in most kitchens because wood looks great. It is a natural material with a warmth and mellowness unmatched by other materials, and even improves with age. This makes a great design statement, especially in modern living spaces usually dominated by synthetic materials. Wood is also eco-friendly if it comes from a sustainable source, because it is a renewable resource.
That said, wood is probably not the best option when it comes with kitchen countertops.
Here are some of the problems with wood as kitchen countertops you would not encounter with marble, granite, or quartz countertops.
Too few options
There are very many wood species, but only a few are going to make it to the grade as kitchen countertops. As you might easily imagine, soft woods will not do at all. You need hardwood, and those are not easily available. Hardwoods take quite a while to grow, so finding a sustainable source of them takes a bit of work.
The ideal materials for wood kitchen countertops are teak, walnut, ash, Brazilian cherry, oak, and maple. Teak and walnut are very hard and beautiful, but they are also very hard to find and quite expensive. Among these, the most cost-effective and easily available is maple, and these are quite beautiful when stained. However, maple comes in limited colors. If you need a particular color, you may have to resort to paint, which is a shame if you have solid wood cabinets, as this will cover up the grain.
Too much TLC
One of the top reasons wood is not such a hot choice for kitchen countertops is that it is an organic material. It tends to warp and crack in the presence of water, and it may split, burn, or discolor in the presence of heat. Water and heat are common occurrences in the kitchen, and more so on kitchen countertops.
Of particular note is the problem with water. Wood is extremely porous, so water can get in quite easily. This is especially true around a sink, where the water can seep through where the wood and sink meet. This can cause the wood to swell and, over time, rot.
Stains may also be a problem, as any type of liquid will definitely make one if you leave it for any length of time. Once the stain seeps through deep enough, it will be impossible to get it out. The best way to prevent that is to be vigilant. Wipe up any spills immediately, and make a point of using coasters and trays for drinks. Definitely keep bottles of oil and any liquid used for liquid preparation off your kitchen countertops.
Of course, you can seal the wood to protect it from water and other liquids. If you have a butcher block, however, you cannot use polyurethane or lacquer sealers as these are not food safe. You will need to lay down a layer of mineral oil to seal the pores, and you have to do this quite regularly, at least once a month. The frequency will depend on how you use it. If that is not to your taste, keep the butcher block as a decorative fixture and use a chopping board for food prep.
Periodic sanding and polishing will take care of any damage caused by heat. You just have to make sure it does not crack or split, because you cannot repair those. Overall, keeping wood countertops in good heart is too much trouble for many homeowners.
The ideal type of wood for kitchen countertops tends to be on the expensive type, so a continuous length of solid wood is not usually what you get. Instead, you get wood countertops formed from smaller pieces of wood joined with finger joints to form a solid surface.
The problem with finger joints is that they are not durable, so you may have some trouble sooner than you think. In addition, putting in an undermounted sink will expose unsightly edges of the joints, so you might have to choose a surface mount instead to cover them up.
Of course, you will not have this trouble if you specify a solid slab of wood for your kitchen countertops. However, you may have to pay about the same or slightly more for it than for a solid slab of granite or quartz, so it is something about which to think.
If you do manage to get solid wood for your kitchen countertops, most likely it will have to come from a long way. Shipping them can be another problem for you as wood is much more likely to sustain damage during transport. You can ask your supplier to make sure to ship them in well-padded crates to protect them from damage, but that will cost more. Most suppliers cut costs by packing them in cardboard and hope for the best.
Wood is beautiful and natural, and they are an asset in any kitchen. The only exception is wood for kitchen countertops because it is just too much trouble to keep it in good condition. Homeowners of today simply do not have the time or resources to do it. A better idea is to choose wood for other parts of the kitchen and choose granite or quartz for kitchen countertops.
For that, you need a reliable contractor to supply, fabricate, and install your granite or quartz countertops. Granite ASAP carries a wide range of the best engineered stone brands in the country as well as natural stones. We service the state of Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, Tysons, and Washington DC.
Over 100 colors of granite and marble slabs are available for inspection at our Chantilly, Virginia showroom. If you prefer engineered stone, we can
offer you products from the top three brands described above as well as quartz countertops from MSI brands. You can choose what you want and we will deliver it ASAP!
Feel free to ask any questions over the phone, or get in touch using our contact form. We offer free estimates and quotes for any of your kitchen remodeling or bathroom remodeling needs.