To butcher block or not to butcher block?

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Old 07-30-12, 11:10 AM
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To butcher block or not to butcher block?

My wife really wants butcher block counter top. I've done a bit of preliminary research, enough to learn that it really isn't as unsanitary as I thought it was. I assume that is accurate?

I was wondering, what about water damage? Like when you leave a frosty beer mug on the table and it soaks in, leaving a ring?

So, my question is, to butcher block or not to butcher block?
 
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Old 07-30-12, 11:24 AM
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Your wife wants it, what choice do you have?

It can work but I wouldn't install one. The upside is I don't have someone asking me for one

Can you talk to her? Why does she want this?
 
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Old 07-30-12, 12:08 PM
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So, my question is, to butcher block or not to butcher block?
Two quick points about your new butcher block counter: One, if you need to cut the counter for a sink, say, or a cooktop, look for material that is put together with doweling, not with all-thread with wood plugs over the nuts; two, treat the counter as you would a good wood bowl or utensils - oil and vinegar to seal and clean!
 
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Old 07-30-12, 12:13 PM
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she wants it for the following:
1) country look
2) shes into antiques and this is "the way they did it 100's of years ago"
3) lower cost
 
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Old 07-30-12, 12:22 PM
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Maybe just butcher block for a section? Like an island or work station? Butcher block tops on dishwashers used to be a popular thing, my parents had one. Yes, they stain and discolor but can be sanitized.

The fanciest type would be an end grain type made of maple squares....but ohhh they are pricey!
 
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Old 07-30-12, 01:32 PM
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Lower cost?

Than what?
 
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Old 07-30-12, 02:02 PM
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Well, I assumed wood is the least expensive countertop so long as you don't go with some really fancy style. wrong?

Oh, and as far as doing a section, she's talking about butcher block counter top period. as in all of it.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 02:05 PM
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It's been my experience laminate is the cheapest countertop option.

How many feet of countertop are we talking about here?
 
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Old 07-30-12, 02:19 PM
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If you can't get out of it, make it of a quality wood, namely maple. Pine is too soft, poplar will stain, Oak will turn black with moisture. It ain't gonna be cheap, and will take a long time to build.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 02:21 PM
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Personally, I would not do it. I won't install granite because I don't want the maintenance which comes with it and wood is a lot more maintenance-intensive.

Remember, we want pictures when you're done.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 03:38 PM
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If it's just the look she wants - they used to make formica that looked like butcher block.... maybe they still do.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 04:13 PM
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looking at about 16' or so, wall to wall with (1) corner.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 04:16 PM
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@mitch17
Well, now I'm thinking its a bad idea. but why? the maintenance? I guess it seemed legit if it were significantly less expensive than corian.
 
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Old 07-30-12, 04:30 PM
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Wood counter tops are a maintenance nightmare! How many wood cutting boards have you seen that have been kept oiled and are in good shape. I'm guessing zero.

You also touched on the other point, they are unsanitary and not easy to clean and easy to stain. Wood absorbs liquid quite easy unless kept oiled.

Wood is also easily damaged by tools. Are you going to cut on it too? Not a good idea, so you're going to use a cutting board on your wood counter top, seems redundant.

Cost: Have you priced hard Maple boards?

There are reasons you do not see them any more. There are many options of solid surface counter tops that do not require maintenance. I did sealed granite tile slabs (24 x 18") was likely the least expensive and best looking counter top I have had in the kitchen. I think big orange has started selling them, I got mine from a local tile shop.
 
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Old 08-01-12, 08:46 AM
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TO Butcher Block! (but I like to call it wood countertop)

The 2 most important things in a wood countertop are:

1.Finish
2. Installation technique

Of course you need to start with the wood, though. The best thing I ever did for my island top was buy the wood in a preexisting rectangle in a bit larger size than I needed, cut it down, and finish it myself.

Do not use a product with finger joints or short boards that looks like a wood floor. It won't hold up as well, and if you need to make size changes/sink cuts you will have to worry about each of those joints when you cut.

Get a product with full length/full width boards. I got mine at*****and love it so I'd recommend them. Its very low $ compared to other options and when I called there was a real actual person that answered and helped talk me through it (I'm not exactly a major DIYer though I want to be).

Finish - use a finish that penetrates and is waterproof and penetrating. The company I went through highly recommends using a Tung Oil finish. (i had trouble attaching the instructions that I downloaded from their website - too large? - but they are easier than they look BTW ******. With that finish I haven't needed to worry at all around my sink and faucet since I used that finish. Water just beads up on the surface like on a windshield. Apparently, you may need to reapply 1 coat of the oil every 4-5 years if water stops beading up no the surface, but that's similar to my granite perimeter countertops.

food stains - these just don't happen if you use a penetrating, semi-permanent oil finish like I used. I drink red wine, spill mustard and no problems. because the oil filled up the pores (knowledge I learned from calling them directly) and does not allow water in - it also completely prevents food stains.

White rings from cold glasses - these just don't happen either because if you use this finish it's a physical impossibility. White rings are condensation trapped between 2 layers. with this finish there is only ONE layer - the wood. The oil is within the wood. Therefore - no white rings can physically exist. I had to get a sample and test it to believe it. But I was very impressed... maybe even shocked.

Installation Technique - install like a floating surface. use "corner blocks" (came with my countertop i bought) with pilot holes that are larger than the diameter of the screws. Then use a washer between the screw and the hole and screw the top down in all four corners. don't use glue. if you glue it down the wood can't move that tiny little bit that it needs to move with a season cycle. i can't see any movement on mine but i know it's there. if you glue it they told me "the wood movement is stronger than the glue - the wood will win. that can mean a crack just because it was installed wrong.

it was easy to install. just as easy as glue for me. (drill is 1 tool I am certainly comfortable with!).


Hope that sheds some light. I never post because I usually use this to learn from others, but I happen to have done this very thing in the not too distant past - and the research alone was daunting.

I do not think of my countertops like cutting boards. I use a cutting board on my stone so why not on my wood, ya know? It's food safe, so you can cut on it. But I still choose to treat it like a countertop for my purposes. Plus I have an undermount sink so it really is a countertop in function.

Good Luck!

-MBD

(place I got mine was called*******
 

Last edited by Shadeladie; 08-01-12 at 09:50 AM. Reason: Links removed
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Old 08-01-12, 08:51 AM
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Looks like the links worked! I didn't even type one to say "*******" but looks like it take you to the right place.


**note on maintenance** mine is virtually zero maintenance and has NO water damage or stains despite my having a child and husband. The same or a bit less maintenance than my granite - ONLY BECAUSE of the finish I used. IF YOU USE MINERAL OIL it WILL BE very high maintenance. Mineral oil or "butcher block cream" are NOT waterproof and you have to add oil every month to keep them from being absolutely terrible. Don't make the mistakes of our ancestors and get a "typical butcher block" with mineral oil. Get a wood countertop and do a modified tung oil like the Waterlox brand I used (and highly recommend) and you won't have to do anything to it for literally years. It's crazy but try it on a sample like I did.
 

Last edited by Shadeladie; 08-01-12 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 08-01-12, 05:46 PM
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We are considering our other options

You all are so helpful. This is a wonderfully resourceful community.

Thank you for all of your input. geez, I could write a book from this stuff!
 
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Old 08-02-12, 01:17 PM
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Wooden counter tops

The wife is wrong: our ancestors did not have a butcher block top on their counters -- mostly because they didn't have counters! They used the wooden kitchen table for food preparation, and a chopping board for chopping.

A real butcher block is made up of wood standing on edge. It's made of very hard wood.

What passes for butcher block today is different, the wood is assembled lengthwise. It's not recommended for a counter around a sink, for instance.

I've had a birch island from Ikea for about 7 years. I love it! I use it for cutting, chopping, everything. I'm a former chef and I do a lot of cooking. This year, I sanded it and polished it with my little electric hand sander and it looks like new again. It cost $179 at the time.
 
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Old 08-04-12, 01:18 PM
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It is reasonable to hypothesize that wood cutting boards are unsanitary, but testing does not prove this to be true. UC-Davis Food Safety Laboratory: Cutting Board Research Wood kills germs!
 
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Old 08-04-12, 05:49 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Wood does not kill germs. Read the entire article. Although meat residue was cleaned from the surface, residual particles would "eventually" die off. And if enough meat was prepared on the surface, the more E-coli would be present.
I worked at a commercial kitchen for the airlines in another lifetime and we were never to use wooden cutting boards. In the UC study they considered rinsing to be the method of cleaning. We had to run them through 180 degree water in a cleansing machine after each use, so the UC study has it's flaws. Only tight grained wood such as maple could be used, according to them.
The OP has decided to continue in another direction, so this should be the end of comments regarding this. I will keep an eye on it and end it if it gets too out of hand.
 
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