Over the past few years, we’ve seen a major increase in interest in wooden countertops. It seems more and more people are choosing to go with wood for their kitchen renovations, choosing it over the more popular choices of granite and engineered stones like Corian.
Why? Well, it may have something to do with a resurgence of the natural aesthetic in home design, something we pointed to back in October. Wood is able to capture that natural look while still giving off a modern vibe.
But it’s more than that. Wood provides a look that no other material can. It’s not the first material that jumps to mind when thinking about countertops, but for some that is a bonus. They want their kitchen to stand out, and what stands out more than a beautifully finished wooden countertop?
Wood countertops aren’t for everyone. Like every other material, they have pros and cons.
Let’s get to the bad news first. The truth is, wood requires a lot of care. It can be more easily damaged by spills, and not every kind of wood will stand up to kind of abuse that a normal kitchen counter will see.
However, if they are given the right amount of tender loving care, a wood countertop can retain its clean look long into its life. Generally speaking, most of the negatives to wood can be avoided with good care.
Bacteria Can Live in Poorly Sealed Wood
We’ve all heard it: wood is unsanitary. Well, that’s not exactly true. Properly sealed wood is no more bacteria friendly than tile or granite. In fact, some studies have shown that wood has natural anti-bacterial qualities.
Still, if not given the proper sealant, wood can develop bacteria and mould problems. This may be enough to discourage many wood countertop owners from putting food on it.
Wood is Prone to Damage
Not all wood is created equal. There is some wood that is simply too soft to be used as a countertop. Wood durability is measured by the Janka hardness test, in which the amount of force necessary to ram a steel ball into the wood is measured. At the low end of the Janka scale is a wood like balsa, which can only withstand 100 pounds of force.
The wood used in countertop making generally has a much higher Janka rating. Bolivian cherry, for example, has a Janka rating of 3650 pounds-force.
Still, no wood is going to be as strong as stone, and most wood is prone to scratches and even dents. This means that wood counters are generally unsuitable for direct cutting: you’ll want to use a cutting board.
Water damage can also be a problem. If wood is not properly sealed, water that sits on it for too long will begin to seep into it. This is the reason for the ring that coasterless glasses leave on wooden surfaces.
Wood Needs a Lot of Maintenance
We mentioned this before, but it bares repeating. Wood needs to be treated well. Depending on the type of sealant you’re using, you’ll likely need to reapply it two to three times a year.
For some that kind of regimen is worth it. Others may want a counter they can forget about. But, believe us, those who care for their wood countertops will tell you the difference their work makes.
Now the good stuff! We really like wood. Wood can complement many kitchen designs, and it can be used very creatively because of how easy it is to shape. While it certainly is not for everyone, those who love it do so with a passion usually reserved for family pets.
Wood is Beautiful
Goodness, wood looks good. A properly finished wooden countertop is something that begs to be touched, to be ogled. It’s hard to describe beyond that: it just looks so darn cool.
Most people who choose wood choose it for its looks alone, despite the maintenance it requires. They simply must have that look in their kitchen. And we understand.
Wood is Warm
We mean that in two ways: wood is warm to look at, and wood is warm to touch. You’ll be surprised at the difference between a granite countertop and wood one in terms of heat. A granite countertop will almost always feel cold, while the wood will remain warm.
It’s a small thing, but it can make a big difference. It can make surfaces feel more inviting, enticing people to hang around longer.
As a sidenote, wood is also quieter than other materials, which adds to the sense of ease it creates.
Wood is Eco-Friendly
Wood countertops can be made out of reclaimed materials, something that we recommend. And when you’re ready to change your countertop, or redo your kitchen completely, your wood countertop doesn’t have to end up in a landfill.
To Wood or Not to Wood?
Wood is one option among many. For more information on the many different countertop choices available see our article on countertop materials.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice. Wood does require work, but some will say that work is worth it for the beauty. Others will fall in love with their wood countertop, turning the chore that was caring for the wood into a pleasure.
But hey, if you like wood, go for it! We will applaud you all the way. If you want to discuss going with a wooden kitchen look, call the countertop experts at Laurysen Kitchens, and we’ll be able to answer your questions.