Butcher Block Countertops: The Good, The Bad, The Answers To Your Burning Questions (Literally!)

From how to care for it to whether or not you can put a hot pan on it, here’s what you need to know.

Whitney McGregor Greenville, SC White Kitchen
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Lizzie Cox

It's easy to see why butcher block countertops have achieved timeless status in Southern kitchens. The material adds instant warmth and pairs perfectly with current trends, from farmhouse to dreamy cottagecore . If you're not ready to commit to butcher block countertops throughout your entire kitchen, try the latest trend and use it to create contrast on the island. In Houzz's 2021 Kitchen Trends Study, 88% of homeowners said they're upgrading their countertops. Engineered quartz was by far the most popular countertop choice overall, but when it comes to the island specifically, butcher block takes center stage as the most popular choice. As with any design decision, there are pros and cons to choosing butcher block kitchen countertops. Here's what to know.

Whitney McGregor Greenville, SC White Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Lizzie Cox

Pros And Cons Of Butcher Block Countertops

Right off the bat, the benefits include style (cozy and classic), affordability (as low as $30 per square foot), and variety (choose your pattern, grain, and color). As for the downsides to butcher block kitchen countertops? They require regular upkeep; they're susceptible to nicks, scratches, and dings; they expand and contract with temperature and humidity; and they're porous. Here's more on that:

Is Butcher Block Sanitary?

Yes! Or, more accurately, it can be. Butcher block countertop owners will reap the reward of being able to skip the cutting board occasionally, but with great power comes great responsibility. Here's how to clean butcher block countertops right up. Begin by scraping off any stuck-on residue, then proceed to wipe it down with dish soap and water. Next, you sanitize. Combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, and give the counters a good spritz, followed by another wipe-down with a wet cloth. With a daily routine like this, butcher block counters can be a perfectly sanitary choice.

Cottage Kitchen with Butcherblock Countertops
Laurey W. Glenn; styling: Elizabeth Demos

How To Take Care Of Butcher Block

In addition to the daily cleaning routine, you can protect your butcher block kitchen countertops a few other ways. First, by continuing to use a cutting board instead of cutting directly on the counters (though tempting), you can prevent unnecessary scratches and dings. Next, you'll need to treat them with a food-safe mineral oil or butcher-block conditioner. The frequency will depend on the age and wear on your counters. According to Butcher Block Co. , you can expect to do this monthly. Finally, since wood is porous, avoid letting liquids puddle on the counters at all costs (for this reason, you may want to avoid installing butcher block next to your kitchen sink).

Can You Put Hot Pans On Butcher Block?

Butcher block counters get a bad rap when it comes to hot pots and pans, as the rule should apply to all countertop surfaces—if you can avoid it, don't put hot pans directly on the counter. The good news is, if you accidentally scorch your butcher block counters, you can always sand out the charring.

How Much Does Butcher Block Cost?

As with any kitchen renovation , it will depend on your location, size, and customization. Regardless, butcher block is still one of the most cost-effective countertop choices. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere between $30-$70 per square foot. Choosing certain high-end species like cherry or oak can drive costs up to around or above $200 per square foot. For quick reference: the National Kitchen & Bath Association reports that the average kitchen size for a house under 1,500 square feet is around 103 square feet, and the average kitchen size for a 4,000-square-foot house is 238 square feet.

How Long Does Butcher Block Last?

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.

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  1. Houzz Research. 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. Houzz. Accessed March 6, 2023. https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2021-u-s-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~139328655

  2. The National Kitchen + Bath Association. New NKBA research defines average kitchen sizes across U.S.

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