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Pros and Cons of Wood Countertops for Kitchens

Pros and Cons of Wood Countertops for Kitchens

Oct 3, 2012

Wood Countertop with sink Wood Countertops for Kitchens

Selecting the right countertops for your kitchen can be mind boggling.  There are so many surfaces to choose from, homeowners can be left scratching their heads to determine what the right choice is for them.  Adding to the confusion is the plethora of over-generalized information available on the internet written by novices.  A common question is “What are the pros and cons of wood countertops?”  There is truly no easy answer to that, and we will explore specific facts about wood countertops that will helpfully guide your decisions.

Question: Do wood countertops scratch easily?

Answer: How easily wood countertops scratch is determined by the wood chosen.

The capacity for your wood counter to scratch largely depends upon the hardness of the wood chosen.  Wood hardness is established by the Janka rating of the wood.  Janka measures the force required to embed an 11.28 mm (0.444 in) steel ball into a piece of wood, until half the ball’s diameter is embedded.  The rating is numeric and the higher the number, the harder the wood.  If you want to see the hardness of specific woods, check our wood species page. Hard Maple wood countertops will scratch and dent easier than Sapele Mahogany and Butternut is so soft, it is often requested by clients that desire a distressed countertop.  The hardest popular wood is Brazilian Cherry, with a Janka rating of 3290, compared to Hard Maple at 1450.  So the answer is wood countertops can scratch, just like any other countertop surface.  How easily wood countertops scratch is largely dependent upon the wood chosen. 

Question: Do wood countertops require maintenance?

Answer:  How much maintenance your wood countertops require will depend upon the finish chosen.

The maintenance required for a wood countertop will vary based on the finish.  Countertops finished with food grade mineral oil will require oiling at least monthly.  The good news is with mineral oil, the surface can be used for direct chopping and knife marks can be sanded out and the surface is good as new.  At Grothouse Lumber we also offer Durata® permanent finish, this finish is waterproof and the hardest wood countertop finish on the market. Durata® offers protection against scratches, just like a clear coat on your car.  It does not require ongoing maintenance.  How much maintenance your wood countertops require will largely depend upon the finish chosen.

Question: Are wood countertops subject to water damage around undermount sinks?

Answer: Yes if they are not properly protected

Wood countertops can be subjected to damage if not properly protected from a constant water source such as a sink.  Common polyurethanes will not withstand the constant contact with water and will begin to flake.  Tung Oil urethanes require homeowners to re-apply the finish, and require 24 hours in between the 3 to 6 coats leaving your sink out of service for almost a week!  Grothouse Lumber offers Durata® finish to waterproof the sink area.  In fact, Durata® is so waterproof, we use it to seal our custom wood sinks.  Water simply dries on the surface and it is almost impervious to common kitchen and bath chemicals that can wreak havoc on other finishes.  So the answer is yes wood countertops will suffer damage from constant exposure to water, but not if sealed with Grothouse recommended products.

There are so many considerations to take into account when selecting wood countertops.  At Grothouse, we recommend mixing up the kitchen countertop surfaces, using quartz countertops with a wood island countertop for example.  This allows you flexibility for food preparation, the wood helps quiet the kitchen and using the mixed materials eludes your kitchen from being relegated to a specific design era. The pros and cons of wood countertops are truly unique to every individual’s tastes and preferences.

Author: Denise Grothouse, CBO of The Grothouse Lumber Company