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Butcher Block Countertops

If you are looking for a warm, natural look in your kitchen, nothing beats butcher block countertops. A favorite of serious cooks, butcher block is made by gluing 1 1/2 or 2 inch strips of hard maple together with the wood’s edge grain up. This makes the countertop more warp and wear resistant; it also makes it more water repellent. Butcher block is available in lengths up to 12 feet long and 4 feet wide, but longer pieces can be specially ordered. Its chief advantage is that it is very practical; it is easy to install, and the cook can cut and chop right on its surface. Scratches, cut marks and scorching simply add to the patina, or they can be periodically sanded or scraped out.

Consider the following if you would like to install butcher block countertops:

  • It is not advisable to use butcher block around the sink, where water can eventually warp and discolor the area. If you want to use it there, you should carefully seal it. Two or three coats of high quality urethane can be applied, but you cannot cut directly on a urethaned counter.
  • Manufacturers usually seal butcher block with oil to prevent it from absorbing moisture and cracking. Repeated cleaning with soap and water will gradually wear away the oil, so it needs to be occasionally re oiled with tung, vegetable, or mineral oil. Stains can be removed by using lemon juice or diluted chorine bleach.
  • Butcher block countertops are heavy. Make sure that the cabinets you are installing can hold their weight. The countertops are usually installed by gluing them to the tops of the cabinets with silicone or epoxy or by screwing them in from the underside.

If you like the look of butcher block, but do not want to deal with water problems around the sink, consider installing it in only part of your kitchen.

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