Butcher Block Countertops

The old butcher block countertop is making a comeback in today's modern kitchens. Yes, granite still sits on the throne but people are looking to mix it up a bit, and butcher block is one way to do it.

Butcher block as kitchen counters are composed of wood "slices" glued together and is not a solid piece of wood. Costs can run from $50 all the way up to $150 per square foot, and this does not include installation and delivery.

Butcher block wood choices can vary, or even be composed of many different types of wood glued together into one piece. Common choices are oak, maple, cherry and bamboo, very popular today with the "green movement." Bamboo is not a tree but technically a grass and grows at 10 times the rate of most trees. Bamboo is seen by the green movement more of a replenishable biofuel than "cutting down trees." Bamboo hardwood flooring is becoming very popular as well and you will find bamboo to be 25% less expensive than most other hardwoods.

Working with a professional, installation of a butcher block kitchen cabinet should not be as expensive as other types of kitchen countertops because, for the professional, it's relatively easy to install. This is especially true when compared to a poured concrete counter top or ceramic tile.

The process is relatively easy. You or your contractor need to first make a template of the countertop you want that will lay over your existing cabinet frame. This is most often done using a cardboard "template" and exact measurements mailed to the manufacturer. A few weeks later, the manufacturer will ship your countertop to you with the pieces ready to install.

The butcher block can be installed using kitchen and bath sealant along with screws driven from under the cabinets into the bottom of the butcher block. Once installed, butcher block is typically treated with mineral oil to protect the surface and restore the luster every so often. Of course, never use a toxic substance to protect the wood like polyurethane that could chip off and enter your food.

Many people will cut right on top of their block, knowing that all the scrapes, cuts, and nicks can be sanded out every few years to restore the wood.

From an aesthetic standpoint, butcher block goes with just about everything but "too much wood." If you have oak kitchen cabinets and a hardwood floor you certainly don't want more wood. A classic use of butcher block would be as an offset to a ceramic tile floor, or painted kitchen cabinets. You won't be able to match your butcher block to your cabinets so choose something completely different in grain and color for a nice complementary look.