Before You Buy: Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Counters

Learning the pros and cons of butcher block counters can help you decide if this is the right material for your kitchen. While these wood counters add a natural look to any space, they require ongoing maintenance, which is a deterrent for some buyers.

The Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Countertops

The Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher block counters are strips of wood bound to each other. They come in several species and at price points ranging from $25-$300 per square foot. While these counters are popular, they’re not a good choice for every kitchen. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.

Pro: Butcher Block Adds Natural Beauty to a Kitchen

Since butcher block countertops are a natural material, they can evoke a sense of earthiness in your kitchen. They also coordinate well with other wood tones and can add warmth to a cooler color palette.

Con: Butcher Block Countertops are Prone to Water Damage and Dings

Butcher block countertops consist of wood strips, which are porous. If you don’t keep up with sealing your counters, they can absorb moisture, causing them to expand and contract. Likewise, if your home suffers from low humidity, your butcher block can dry out and warp.

While butcher block is a popular cutting board material, it’s also prone to knife marks and dings. If you cut directly on the counter, it will leave many imperfections.

Pro: Butcher Block is Customizable with Multiple Wood Species to Choose From

Butcher block comes in a range of wood species with varied grain patterns and colors. The most common species of butcher block include Maple and Acacia, which are moderately priced and light-toned. You can also opt for darker species like Walnut, Teak, or Cherry for a different look.

Con: Butcher Block Can Be High Maintenance

You must seal your butcher block on a regular basis to keep it from absorbing moisture, warping, and staining. The most common butcher block sealer is mineral oil. While mineral oil is food safe, it requires frequent application – at least every 2 to 4 weeks.

Other butcher block sealer options are available, but not all are food-safe. One of the longest-lasting food-safe sealers is WaterLox which can last several years.

Pro: You Can Refinish Butcher Block, Making it Last for Decades

One of a butcher block’s best qualities is that you can refinish it. When your counters look scuffed up, dry, or faded, you can sand them down and then stain or reoil. 

There are even butcher block-friendly stain + oil combos available that dry to a food-safe finish, allowing you to change the color of your wood counters.

Con: Butcher Block is Not Heat Resistant

Be careful before you put a scorching hot pan on your butcher block. Wood countertops are not heat resistant and can show burn marks. Make sure to put down a potholder before setting hot pots and pans on the counter.

The good news is you can sand out any imperfections or burn rings.

Pro: DIYers Can Install Butcher Block

Butcher block countertops are an excellent money-saving option for DIYers. Since countertop installation ranges from $50-$100 per hour, installing your own butcher block can cut costs.