Wood Countertops and Kitchen Remodeling

by J on September 14, 2009

In the past few kitchen remodeling blogs, we’ve discussed granite and quartz countertops. If stone isn’t the look you’re after for your kitchen, maybe the timeless, warm look of a wood countertop will meet your design desires.

One of the first decisions you will need to make about your wood countertop is the type of wood you want to use. Oak, cherry and maple are all popular choices among the many varieties available. High-density woods are better than low density, because they will stand up better to the wear and tear of daily kitchen tasks, like chopping, baking and cleaning. Unlike stone countertops which are made from mainly one type of substance, different types of wood can be combined to make a stunning countertop that will become the centerpiece of your kitchen.  The wood can even be stained to match your kitchen and prices start at only $30 per sq. ft. and run up to $150 per sq. ft. installed.

Since wood is a porous material, you will need to seal your wood countertop. Generally, you can use nontoxic oil, such as linseed, made for kitchen use; some have even used olive oil. As with any wood, water is the enemy, so you want to make sure you mop up spills and not let them set on the finish. Avoid harsh or acidic cleansers. The old standby of soap and water is the best way to clean a wooden countertop. You should also protect the countertop surface with a pad when setting a just-out-of-the-oven-or-freezer dish on the counter.

The jury is still out on whether you should cut directly on a wood countertop. Some experts say yes, while others disagree. Whatever you decide, if your countertop ends up with dings or scratches, one of the benefits of wood is that you can sand it and reseal it, and they will magically disappear. For best results, consult your kitchen design expert for their advice on the use and care of your wood countertop.

To enhance the natural beauty of the wood, you can consider options like edge details, inserts and backsplashes. These details all lend an artistic element to your remodeling project. Edges can be finished in a square edge, ogee style (S shape) or end-grain style.

Another popular choice is to install a butcher block insert into the countertop. Butcher blocks are tougher and can handle the food prep tasks like chopping with ease. Installing one of these would also solve the debate of cutting on the wood countertop itself.

Additionally, homeowners can add to the kitchen project and  install wood countertop backsplashes. Three choices are available: partial backsplashes, full backsplashes and partial end splashes. Your kitchen design specialist can help you puzzle through these additional options in deciding what will work best for your kitchen.

Finally, for the green-conscious remodelers in our midst, wood has an answer for you, actually two answers. Reclaimed wood is becoming more popular for use in home remodeling projects. As old barns, textile mills and warehouses are torn down, the wood is repurposed for use in new projects. Consult your manufacturer to see if they offer reclaimed wood. The other green option for wood countertops is Teragren bamboo. A joint venture between the US and China, this project uses wood produced in a factory, located in the middle of a sustainably-harvested bamboo forest.

Whichever wood you choose, its timeless appeal may be just the boost your kitchen needs to take it from blasé to spectacular.

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