The Pros And Cons Of Butcher Block Countertops (2023)

Butcher block countertops are a popular countertop option for homeowners seeking a country cottage look or a farmhouse-style appearance. But butcher block remains more versatile than that because it can come in a variety of woods, designs and colors. Butcher block countertops remain a solid value for kitchen countertops and installation can be a DIY project.


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What Are Butcher Block Countertops?

Butcher block countertops are wooden countertops that come in a variety of styles and colors. Several types of woods, like maple, cherry, walnut and oak can be used for butcher block countertops fashioned in different styles.

Butcher block is typically made of straight cuts of wood glued together in slabs for edge grain butcher block. Blended grain butcher block has rails of different lengths that get finger-jointed together, laminated and glued side by side.

End grain butcher block looks like a checkerboard and is made with edge grain boards that are glued and stacked on top of each other. Then, it gets placed in a vice to squeeze the wood and glue together. Once dry, the block gets set on its end.

Butcher Block Countertop Pros

  • Versatility: Butcher block countertops not only come in traditional woods like cherry, oak, maple, cherry and walnut, but also bamboo, teak, tigerwood, zebrawood, wenge, beech, hickory and mahogany can be used. Plus, you typically have the option to choose edge grain, end grain or blended styles with butcher block.
  • Cost: Butcher blocks aren’t as cheap as laminate countertops, but they aren’t as expensive as natural stone countertops. Butcher block typically runs between $30 and $40 per square foot, depending upon the type of wood you choose. The labor cost to install a butcher block countertop is between $50 and $70 per square foot.
  • Longevity: Butcher block can last for around 20 years with regular maintenance, which places it in line with granite countertops. Butcher block will typically outlast laminate countertops.
  • Easy to Clean: Butcher block doesn’t need any crazy cleaning solutions. A sponge dipped in a mix of two cups of warm water with a teaspoon of dish soap will usually do the trick. If you want to disinfect the butcher block, use some vinegar. To remove a butcher block stain, put salt over the stain and rub the spot with half of a lemon.
  • Easy to Refinish: This could be a con in the eyes of other people, but should you have to refinish butcher block because of nicks or scratches, all you need to do is sand it down. Sand butcher block with fine-grit sandpaper, like 220-grit, to remove affected spots and re-oil the surface with food-safe oil.

Butcher Block Countertop Cons

  • Stains and Scratches: Harder woods might not suffer from scratches as much as softer woods, but all wood will stain if not cleaned quickly. Some people will use butcher block like a cutting board but they invite germs, mold and even warping. To prevent those issues, butcher block needs sealing upon installation and on a monthly basis after that. Find a suitable oil for the type of wood used in your butcher block.
  • Can Dry Out: With any wood material, the possibility of it drying out can materialize. It’s important to routinely apply food-grade mineral oil to butcher block to prevent it from drying out.
  • Not Heat Resistant: Any hot items placed on butcher block can scorch the wood and leave you having to refinish it to remove the burn mark.
  • Collects Dust: Butcher block will show crumbs and dust more visibly than its stone counterparts, so beware that they’ll require more upkeep.

Butcher Block Countertop Cost

Butcher block typically runs between $30 and $40 per square foot, depending upon the type of wood you choose. The labor cost to install butcher block is between $50 and $70 per square foot. Higher-end butcher blocks can cost more than concrete countertops and run as high as $200 per square foot. Maple butcher block can cost around $80 per square foot while cherry butcher block can be $150 per square foot and bamboo runs around $72 per square foot. Teak can be the most expensive at $180 per square foot.

Butcher Block Countertop Maintenance and Care

Butcher block needs routine maintenance to make it last. After installed and sealed, the butcher block needs to be sealed monthly to guard against stains, dings and nicks. Use a food-grade oil and apply it with a soft cloth to help prevent stains.

Butcher block will need resurfacing. How often it needs resurfacing depends upon the amount of wear and tear the countertop takes, but some recommend resurfacing every 10 years. All you need to do is sand with a fine-grit sandpaper, like 220-grit, to remove stains and reseal.

(Video) Thoughts on Wooden Countertops - Pros and Cons.

For daily cleaning, a solution of warm water and dish soap will clean butcher block. If you have a tougher stain, try putting salt on the spot and rubbing a lemon over the salt.

Butcher Block Design Options

There are four butcher block design options: end grain, face grain, edge grain and blended.

  • Edge grain: This is the most popular kind and is characterized by long boards glued together. The boards can vary in length so there aren’t joints or they can be finger-jointed. It’s one of the least expensive options.
  • Face grain: This uses the top of the wood as the countertop. It’s the most visible part of the wood as well as the widest and broadest side.
  • End grain: This uses the end of the wood and is characterized by a checkerboard look.
  • Blended grain: This combines interior rails and exterior rails. It will have color variations between light and dark wood. The rails can vary in length and woodshops will create blended grain to reduce waste, which means deals for homeowners.

Butcher Block Installation

Installing butcher block countertops can be a DIY project, but you’ll need to measure carefully and cut accurately with a circular saw so the countertop will fit around a sink and faucet. Wood will expand in summer and contract in winter, so you need to account for that when installing a butcher block. Butcher block will also need to acclimate to your home before you install it to prevent future warping. You might need to shim spots on the cabinets so the butcher block rests properly.

Butcher Block Lifespan

Butcher block countertops will last around 20 years, which compares to other countertops like granite. Butcher block will last longer than laminate countertops but need monthly resealing to have a long lifespan. Butcher blocks also need occasional resurfacing to remove deep stains, dings and scratches.

Top Butcher Block Brands

  • Created Hardwood: Features live-edge wood slabs.
  • John Boos & Co.: Garners a lot of attention for its quality and routines tops the list as one of the top butcher block countertop brands.
  • Grothouse: Located in Pennsylvania, Grothouse won Houzz design awards in 2019 and 2020. It also won a service award in 2018.
  • The Home Depot: Features a number of butcher block brands.
  • Craft-Art: A high-end manufacturer of butcher block countertops, search for retailers that carry the brand.
  • IKEA: Features a number of butcher block countertops at a reasonable price, but there isn’t a ton of variety or uniqueness.
  • Timeless Timber: Located in Wisconsin, Timeless Timber recovers lumber that sank from milling companies more than 100 years ago. Timeless Timber will certainly give you an impressive and unique look.

Are Butcher Block Countertops Right for My Kitchen?

If you’re looking for a versatile and durable surface that can handle the wear and tear of kitchen life, butcher block tops are your best option. Butcher blocks are stronger and more resistant to damage than other countertop surfaces like granite. Butcher block countertops are also easier to clean than other countertop materials, making them an excellent choice for families with kids doing their homework at the kitchen table or helping with food prep.

Bottom Line

Butcher block countertops can fit in seamlessly with most kitchen styles and if maintained properly, they’ll last a long time. Butcher block won’t fade as a fad so consider it a one-time investment. Just beware of its limitations and don’t treat it as a cutting board. For its price, it’s one of the best deals around for kitchen countertops.

To arrive at the average costs in this article, editorial team members surveyed a range of providers on national and local levels. All averaged figures were correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.


THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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What is the downside of using butcher block countertops? ›

Butcher Block Countertop Cons

Stains and Scratches: Harder woods might not suffer from scratches as much as softer woods, but all wood will stain if not cleaned quickly. Some people will use butcher block like a cutting board but they invite germs, mold and even warping.

Are butcher block countertops hard to maintain? ›

While pretty, butcher block countertops require much more maintenance than their marble or stone counterparts. You'll have to treat the surface with mineral oil to protect the natural wood and use sandpaper to sand down and fill in any nicks or scratches that have occurred.

Are butcher block countertops any good? ›

A butcher block countertop will last 20 years and even decades beyond that, depending on the type of wood you choose and how you care for it. Your countertop may require occasional sanding and resurfacing to remove scorch marks, dings, and scratches.

Are butcher block countertops in style 2022? ›

The most popular and trending countertop for 2022 is a marble countertop. Closely trailing behind is concrete countertops and butcher block countertops.

Can you put a hot pan on butcher block countertops? ›

Placing hot pots and pans directly on the butcher block surface is one of the most common mistakes homeowners make. It is also one of the most problematic. The hot items can burn and even crack the wood, leaving permanent damage, in most cases.

Will butcher block countertops increase home value? ›

Butcher block tends to be less expensive than granite, but can also increase home value. This countertop material is made of wood so it also has a variety of unique styles and patterns to choose from.

Can you use Clorox wipes on butcher block countertops? ›

To disinfect your Traditions butcher block after cleaning use Lysol® or Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes. These wipes are available at Lowe's, and report to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria when used as directed.

Can you permanently seal butcher block countertops? ›

There are a variety of options for permanently sealing and waterproofing butcher block wood countertops, commonly used in kitchens. When considering sealers, there are two types available: penetrating and topical.

Can butcher block get moldy? ›

A well-used butcher block logs in many hours of slicing, dicing, chopping and tenderizing. Without regular care and maintenance, moisture and bacteria can build up in the pores of the wood and before you know it, mold starts to grow.

Are butcher block countertops outdated? ›

Butcher block will continue to rise in popularity against more traditional stone countertops. Large, statement butcher block islands serve as a unique focal point in the kitchen and are a great option for those who aren't ready to commit to complete countertops.

Does butcher block scratch easily? ›

Con: Butcher-block is susceptible to scratches, dings, and stains. If you plan on chopping directly on your countertops, you're going to end up marking things up a little (or a lot).

Can you put raw meat on butcher block countertops? ›

Avoid cutting raw meat or poultry directly on a butcher block or wooden cutting board. Instead, place a plastic cutting board on the wooden surface and use the plastic board as the cutting surface. This will protect the wood and prevent it from becoming contaminated.

What is the most popular kitchen countertop for 2022? ›

Of the more than one in five renovating homeowners who select an island countertop material that contrasts from their primary countertops, over one-third choose butcher block or wood slab. Aesthetically, homeowners increasingly choose white for their countertops during renovations.

What is the kitchen trend for 2023? ›

While white will continue to be a popular choice for kitchens in 2023, we can expect to see kitchens get a bit more colorful in the new year. In particular, homeowners are embracing warmer tones and bold pops of color rather than monochromatic, Scandinavian-style minimalism or white and gray farmhouse-style kitchens.

How long do butcher block countertops last? ›

You can choose a wood that fits your price range and they're not as expensive as natural stone countertops. Plus, you can combine it with other materials. Life span: Butcher blocks can last as long as 20 years with proper care and regular maintenance. This means they will outlast your usual laminate countertop.

Do you need plywood under butcher block countertops? ›

A. If your cabinets have open tops: Install blocking to create a surface that you can attach your butcher block countertop to. Use a quality grade of 3/4" plywood or 1x stock boards to do this.

What is the best color for butcher block countertops? ›

Maple is one of the best and most popular for butcher block counters because it's hard and has a clear grain. Cherry and red oak offer rich color.

What is the most durable butcher block countertop? ›

Types of Woods Used in Butcher Block Countertops

Hardwoods like maple, walnut and oak are preferred for their durability.

Which countertop adds the most value? ›

Recently quartz or manufactured stone beat out granite as the most popular kitchen countertop material. While on the surface, natural stone may seem to offer more resale value, that might be changing! As of right now, granite, marble, travertine, soapstone, and so on will typically give you bigger resale value.

What color countertop is best for resale? ›

Light neutrals are the most popular choice, with 27% of survey respondents reporting that having a white kitchen would make them more likely to buy a property, followed by 22% who would be swayed by a light grey kitchen. More surprisingly, bold colourways like black and dark blue also made the list.

Can butcher block get wet? ›

With a coating of water-resistant, food-safe mineral oil like McClure's Organic Color Seal, water and moisture shouldn't be a problem for butcher block countertops. Water-resistant finishes are widely available and should prevent all moisture from seeping into hardwood countertops.

Can you use Murphy oil soap on butcher block? ›

Never use soap based oil cleaners like Murphy's Oil Soap or other wood floor cleaners, as these will leave a film that will gum the surface of the finish.

What is an everyday cleaner for butcher block countertops? ›

Undiluted vinegar will clean and disinfect the butcher block without leaving behind a strong smell. Simply spray the area with white vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, return to the butcher block and wipe it down with a damp dishtowel.

What is a daily cleaner for butcher block countertops? ›

The best ingredients for cleaning a butcher block surface are kosher salt, lemon, and baking soda.

How often do you have to oil butcher block countertops? ›

While the typical or average user should apply butcher block oil or board cream monthly, if you use yours heavily or frequently, you should oil it every two weeks to prevent it from drying out and cracking.

How often do you need to reseal butcher block countertops? ›

How to seal a butcher block countertop. What is this? It is a good idea to do a light sanding and add a coat or two every 6 months or so. This will ensure the ultimate protection and long life of your new counters.

How often do you have to refinish butcher block countertops? ›

Assuming you followed the instructions regarding finishing before installation, you will need to apply on your hardwood countertop a new coat of oil every month during the first year and once every six months or so ever after.

Are butcher blocks sanitary? ›

If you prepare food on butcher block – regardless whether it's a countertop, an island, a kitchen cart or a cutting board, you will benefit from wood's natural germ-killing properties.

What is the best way to waterproof butcher block countertops? ›

Follow these steps to easily waterproof your butcher block countertops with Polyurethane:
  1. Sand the counters until they're completely clean.
  2. Vacuum any dirt off the surface and apply a natural stain.
  3. Apply a thick coat of Polyurethane, a liquid coating that dries into a plastic.
  4. film, on top of the stain.

How do you maintain a butcher block surface? ›

Clean Daily

Use a combination of warm water and gentle dish soap to slow the buildup of grime. Scrub against the wood grain for a deep clean, and rinse the countertop with a clean, wet washcloth or sponge. Be careful never to saturate the butcher block with water and dry thoroughly with a soft dish towel.

What type of countertop lasts the longest? ›

Quartz takes first place in terms of durability. Made of crushed quartz stone mixed with polymers and resin, this artificially engineered stone countertop is an extremely durable surface that resembles natural stone.

Which is better butcher block or quartz? ›

Quartz is virtually indestructible, but butcher block is susceptible to scratches, dings, and stains. Some types of butcher block are especially susceptible to scratches and marks when used for chopping and cutting.

Is butcher block cheaper then granite? ›

Lastly, butcher block is an affordable material, generally costing less than granite. If you have a smaller budget, then butcher block is a beautiful option that doesn't put strain on your bank account.

Why did my butcher block crack? ›

The main causes of butcher block cracks are poor construction, one side drying more than the other, one side is wet while the other side is dry and neglect. Butcher blocks are expensive and sometimes can so pricey that one may consider the purchase of a butcher block as an investment.

What type of butcher block is best? ›

Maple is the most common wood species for butcher block because it's relatively inexpensive, durable, and widely available. But almost any hardwood can get the treatment: cherry, oak, beech, birch, tigerwood, and walnut are other great options.

How do you clean a butcher block daily? ›

Scrape off any caked-on dirt and wipe away crumbs. Next, add a few drops of dish soap to a wet sponge, and give the butcher block a good scrub. Scrubbing along the grain of the wood will make the countertops cleaner. Rinse the sponge, and wipe the counter down with the rinsed sponge.

Can I use bleach on butcher block? ›

Bleach: Bleach should be used as a last resort as it may discolor the wood and the smell may linger for days. If you must use bleach, create a solution using equal parts bleach and water and apply to your butcher block using a damp sponge or rag.

Why is my butcher block sticky? ›

A sticky surface typically comes from an accumulation of dirt, cooking grease and grime. Another possibility is from the buildup of furniture polish, especially waxes or oils.

Can I use olive oil on butcher block countertops? ›

Olive oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil, should never be used to maintain a cutting board or butcher block. As touched on above, these oils experience rancidification – a process that yields a rank smell and unpleasant taste.

Do butcher block countertops need to be sealed? ›

Butcher block countertops are so classic. But they need to be sealed to protect the wood from staining and water damage. There are many different ways to seal your butcher block.

Can you leave butcher block unsealed? ›

While this can take weeks or even months to get going, you only need to seal them every six months. If you choose not to seal butcher block countertops, you will significantly reduce their life span. An unsealed butcher's block will wear out faster than many less expensive counter materials.

What is the most durable finish for a butcher block countertop? ›

Polyurethane is among the most durable wood finishes for floors, countertops, and furniture. Water based polyurethane dries faster, doesn't smell, and is easier to clean up. The finish look and feels like a transparent film.

Should I polyurethane my butcher block countertops? ›

Using Polyurethane to Waterproof Your Countertops

While water can invite mold to appear and grow, waterproofing your countertops is a great way to keep them clean and you'll no longer have to stress about spills!

How often do you need to oil butcher block? ›

When determining how often to oil a block, the general rule of thumb is once a day for a week upon purchase; once a week for a month; and once a month forever. The block should be oiled whenever the wood starts to look dry and chalky.

Can you permanently seal butcher block? ›

There are a variety of options for permanently sealing and waterproofing butcher block wood countertops, commonly used in kitchens. When considering sealers, there are two types available: penetrating and topical.

How do you keep a butcher block from turning yellow? ›

Once installed, it's important to treat or seal the butcher block to keep it from drying out and staining. There are a lot of options for products to treat butcher block, but one of the simplest and least expensive is mineral oil. And that's what I went with for the first several months.


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