What is the Best Wood for Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher block countertops can be made from a wide variety of wood types and grades (or finishings). All butcher block worktops are made in a similar way, cutting the wood to shape, sanding and buffing it, polishing and then sealing it before proceeding to install it. But the type and grade of the wood is what will give your butcher block the desired look and feel, so it’s worth spending some time choosing one you love. Different woods also mean different butcher block countertop prices, and more exotic woods will carry a premium.

What is the Best Wood for a Butcher Block

There is not a single “best wood for butcher block” because depending on your tastes and priorities certain types of hardwood will be better than others. For example, if price is a priority then cheaper woods from quick growing trees like birch can be preferable, whereas for the eco-conscious customer bamboo or reclaimed wood would be the top choice. If your main thing is fair trade, then look for woods that are guaranteed to come from managed forests and with respect to the local people working them, even if it involves higher costs. Or you may prefer to choose based on the colour of the rest of the kitchen, such as the cabinets and floors. A small kitchen would benefit from a lighter wood, whereas a very large one can go for elegant, darker hardwood countertops without looking opressive. Here is a small overview of some of the most common wood for a butcher block countertop.

Maple Butcher Block Countertop Wood

Maple Butcher Block Countertop Wood
Maple Butcher Block Countertop Wood

Maple is a traditional choice of hardwood for butcher blocks, with fine grain and generally light colours. It has a smooth texture but it’s very resistent and durable, so a good choice for almost any kitchen and one of the most popular types of wood.

Bestseller No. 1
Big Bison Blocks Premium Kitchen Countertop, 48x25 Inch, Grade A Hard Maple, 1.5 Inch Thick Butcher Block
  • Solid Maple Butcher Block - Measures 48" long and 25" wide (standard countertop depth). Full 1.5 inch thick wood construction for stability and...
  • Premium Wood Countertop - Our butcher blocks all feature edge grain construction using full length wood staves, ensuring our blocks are truly high...
Bestseller No. 2
John Boos Blended Maple Butcher Block Countertop - 1-1/2 Thick, 30" L x 25" W, Oil Finish
  • Blended Maple Butcher Block Counter Top - 1-1/2" Thick, 30"L x 25"W, Oil Finish.
  • Maple is the hardest and most durable North American hardwood, plus it complements nearly any decor.
Bestseller No. 3
John Boos Edge-Grain Maple Butcher Block Countertop - 1-1/2" Thick, 72" L x 30" W, Oil Finish
  • Edge-Grain Maple Butcher Block Countertop, 1-1/2" Thick, 72"L x 30"W, Oil Finish
  • Maple is the hardest and most durable North American hardwood, plus it complements nearly any decor.

Oak Butcher Block Countertops

Oak Butcher Block Countertops IKEA
Oak butcher block countertop

Red oak is popular in the northeastern U.S. because it fits great with colonial style homes, whereas white oak has a medium tone and fine grain that make for beautifully neutral butcher blocks. Oak butcher block countertops with white cabinets look understated and classic, for example.

Bestseller No. 2
John Boos Blended Oak Butcher Block Countertop - 1-1/2" Thick, 24" L x 25" W, Varnique Semi-Gloss
  • Blended Oak Butcher Block Countertop - 1-1/2" Thick, 24"L x 25"W, Varnique Finish
  • Red Oak combines soft whites and light to medium browns with a reddish cast to exude warmth.
Bestseller No. 3
Oak Countertop 1-1/2" Thick, 25" Wide (12" x 25" x 1-1/2")
  • Wood Species: Red Oak
  • Lamination: Edge-grain

Bamboo Butcher Block Countertop Wood

Bamboo Butcher Block Countertop Wood IKEA
Bamboo Butcher Block Countertop Wood IKEA

Bamboo may sound like a strange choice for a hardwood kitchen countertop, but it’s actually really practical and has impeccable green credentials. Bamboo is actually a herb that grows incredibly quick, so there is no damage to the environment. At the same time, bamboo countertops are naturally anti-microbial, resistant and durable.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Food Grade Mineral Oil for Cutting Boards, Countertops and Butcher Blocks - Food Safe and Made in the USA
  • Our mineral oil is food safe and can be used on surfaces like wood butchering blocks, bamboo cutting boards, steel countertops, meat grinders, and...
  • The highest grade white mineral oil for food applications with a tamper seal to prevent cross-contamination and other degradation
Bestseller No. 2
Mohy Premium Extra Large Bamboo Cutting Board 17'' x 13'' x 1.5'' - Thick Butcher Block with Juice Groove and Handles, Reversible Heavy Duty Kitchen Chopping Board for Meat, Cheese and Vegetables
  • CHEFS CHOICE - Mohy's restaurant grade cutting board is now available to the public. Use by chefs in Europe for years, now exclusively available from...
  • TOP QUALITY - Forget flimsy thin cutting boards that warp within a year. This is a serious piece of wood. Solid construction, built to last, the last...
Bestseller No. 3
PURENJOY Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove, Chopping Board for Kitchen, Heavy Duty Butcher Block for Meat, Fruit and Vegetables, BPA Free Carving-Serving Board (9.7x14.9, Original)
  • Our kitchen cutting board can be used on both sides, the groove on one side keeps juice from escaping when cutting foods and leaving a mess, cleanup...
  • Well constructed with solid, durable and eco-friendly bamboo wood, right size fits the counter slot for use and storage, this cutting board is ideal...

Birch Butcher Block

Birch Butcher Block Countertop
Birch Butcher Block Countertop

Birch worktops show off the rings caused by the quick growth of the tree. Fine-grained and pale, it has a satin-like sheen that will darken with age. It can be found at major retailers at relatively unexpensive prices.

Bestseller No. 2
Adjustable Height Workbench, Birch Butcher Block Square Edge, 96"W x 30"D x 29-5/8 to 37-1/4"H, Gray
  • Leg height (without top) adjusts from 27-7/8" to 35-3/8" in 1" increments
  • Bench stringer comes with mounting hardware to assemble legs to the bench top
SaleBestseller No. 3
Butcher Block Countertop 36in.x 36in.x1.5in Wood in Unfinished Birch
  • Works excellent as a table top, island top or countertop
  • Smooth birch countertop adds warmth to any kitchen with its light shade of blonde

Teak Butcher Block

Teak Butcher BlockIf you are after a centerpiece for your kitchen, teak is one of the hardwoods better suited for a dramatic statement, particularly against solid coloured countertops. The wood is highly textured with light and dark brown grain.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Sonder Los Angeles, Large End Grain Teak Wood Cutting Board, 17x13x1.5in with Sorting Compartments, Non-Slip Feet, Juice Groove (Gift Box Included)
  • Durability – Thoughtfully crafted to be the most functional board you will ever own with its multipurpose design. Artisan is an end grain...
  • Deep Juice Grooves – No more messy countertops from liquids running off your board. Cleaning up after a meal is already enough work. Our built-in...
Bestseller No. 2
CLARK'S Cutting Board Finish Wax, Enriched with Lemon & Orange Oils ,Made with Natural Beeswax and Carnauba Wax,Butcher Block Wax, (6 ounces)
  • PROTECTIVE BARRIER – After applying oil to your Butcher Blocks, Cutting Boards, Bamboo Cutting Boards, Salad Bowls, Wood Utensils or Wood...
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS – Specially formulated mix of beeswax, carnauba wax, mineral oil, lemon oil and orange oil. More carnauba wax than other brands...
Bestseller No. 3
Teak Counter Top With Oil Finish 1.5inch Thickness, Kitchen Counter & Island Tops, The Modi
  • Gorgeous and perfect standard teak oil finish, this carving countertop has various colors due to its blend of premium grade teak construction.
  • Eco-friendly teak – this high-quality teak makes for an eco-conscious choice. This makes the cutting surface a safe choice for you and everyone...

Cherry Butcher Block Countertops

Cherry Butcher Block Countertops
Cherry Butcher Block Countertops

American or Black Cherry has a naturally deep red or light red-brown colour that darkens with age to a deep brown-red colour in a variety of textures, from straight to wavy or curly streaks. It’s not the most durable type of butcher blocks, but it’s definitely beautiful. You can also find it in a lovely light, creamy pink colour with dark wavy streaks.

Bestseller No. 1
John Boos CHYKCT-BL1825-O Blended Cherry Counter Top with Oil Finish, 1.5" Thickness, 18" x 25"
  • This cherry wood countertop measures 18 inches wide, 25 inches long and 1.5 inches thick
  • Penetrating Oil Finish: Natural wood surface is finished with food-safe oil, allowing you to use the countertop as a cutting surface
Bestseller No. 2
John Boos CHYKCT-BL3627-O Blended Cherry Counter Top with Oil Finish, 1.5" Thickness, 36" x 27"
  • This cherry wood countertop measures 36 inches wide, 27 inches long and 1.5 inches thick
  • Penetrating Oil Finish: Natural wood surface is finished with food-safe oil, allowing you to use the countertop as a cutting surface
Bestseller No. 3
John Boos CHYKCT-BL3625-O Blended Cherry Counter Top with Oil Finish, 1.5" Thickness, 36" x 25"
  • This cherry wood countertop measures 36 inches wide, 25 inches long and 1.5 inches thick
  • Penetrating Oil Finish: Natural wood surface is finished with food-safe oil, allowing you to use the countertop as a cutting surface

Hickory Butcher Block Countertops

Hickory Butcher Block Countertops
Hickory Butcher Block Countertops

Hickory has a warm, reddish tone once sealed that looks amazing. This is a very heavy and hard wood, and so very durable, with a lot of beautiful texture.

Other commonly used woods for butcher blocks are pine, poplar, beech or alder. Depending on your location some will be more available and affordable than others, as importing wood is generally expensive.

Bestseller No. 1
Forever Joint Hickory Butcher Block Bar Top - 1.5" x 18" x 72
  • CUSTOM CUT SIZES AVAILABLE! We can make a top any size up to 36” x 96” long!
  • ALL OF OUR TOPS ARE EDGE GRAIN BUTCHER BLOCK. Face grain and Mixed butcher block tops are not as dense and long lasting as edge grain tops.
Bestseller No. 2
Forever Joint 26" x 38" Butcher Block Wood Top (Oak)
  • CUSTOM CUT SIZES AVAILABLE UP TO 36" WIDE AND 96" LONG
  • 1.5" Thick x 26" Wide x 38" Long
Bestseller No. 3
Forever Joint Walnut Butcher Block Wood Countertop - 1.5" x 26" x 96"
  • 1.5" Thick x 26" Wide x 96" Long
  • CUSTOM CUT SIZES AVAILABLE UP TO 36" X 96"

Wood Grades For Kitchen Countertops

The grade, or quality, of a butcher block countertop depends on how the different blocks of wood are glued together. Wood is very strong when parallel to the grain, and the bonding is also stronger when using the face and edge grain, but less strong on the end grain.

Wood configurations edge end face grain
Wood configurations edge end face grain

There are 3 wood grades.

Edge grain is the cheapest, second stronger and most stable of the three, and as such the most popular. The surface is made with the long and narrow edges of the boards, so it has a striped pattern.

Flat grain on the other hand is arranged so the surface is formed by the width of the boards, which means less of a pattern than with edge grain.

Finally, end grain grade uses smaller blocks of wood placed so the front of the wood (the bit that would go at the end of a board) forms the surface. As such it shows a lot of pattern with the knots and grow rings, and since the pieces are very small it’s very strong. However, it’s also the most expensive and the one with more room to get damaged by water being absorbed into the wood and expanding it.

Bestseller No. 1
BenchPro 1" Thick Solid Butcher Block Maple Top - Multiple Sizes
  • 1" Thick Solid Hardwood Butcher Block.
  • Sanded Smooth and Treated with Mineral Oil.
Bestseller No. 2
John Boos WALKCT-BL1825-O Blended Walnut Counter Top with Oil Finish, 1.5" Thickness, 18" x 25"
  • This walnut wood countertop measures 18 inches long, 25 inches wide, and is 1.5 inches thick
  • Penetrating Oil Finish: Natural wood surface is finished with the same food-safe oil John Boos uses on their world famous cutting boards, allowing you...
Bestseller No. 3
John Boos WALKCT-BL2425-O Blended Walnut Counter Top with Oil Finish, 1.5" Thickness, 24" x 25"
  • This walnut wood countertop measures 24 inches long, 25 inches wide, and is 1.5 inches thick
  • Penetrating Oil Finish: Natural wood surface is finished with the same food-safe oil John Boos uses on their world famous cutting boards, allowing you...

As you can see, deciding what is the best wood for butcher block countertops is not easy because there is not really a bad or a absolutely superior type of hardwood. However, price and desired end result will help you choose the one more suitable for your needs.

2 responses to “What is the Best Wood for Butcher Block Countertops

  1. looking for a 8’x25″x2″ butcher block countertop that work with a mocha glazed maple cabinets. would like to know price also.

  2. Will an unfinished birch butcher block accept a stain for a kitchen countertop in a little rental? Can it be sanded if it needs refinishing?

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