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Types of Wood Countertops

With any home improvement project, being well-educated about each decision to be made in the process is an important part of ensuring that the final outcome will be the best possible version of what you're envisioning. In the world of wood surface products, each wood style has its own set of specific advantages, and therefore is best suited for certain uses. Are you researching the best countertop surface for everyday kitchen use? A wood that will be both beautiful and functional for a dining room table or entertaining island? Or a surface that will stand up to some serious, professional-grade chopping and prep work?

There are three main wood styles: edge grain butcher block, end grain butcher block, and plank style. Each can be manufactured from a wide array of hardwoods, but there are differences in how the wood boards are assembled into a single piece. Each style of construction results in a markedly different appearance, a unique set of strengths, and thus an ideal range of uses.

Edge Grain Butcher Block

Edge grain butcher block is assembled by placing - and gluing - boards face-to-face, leaving the edges showing as the surface of the piece. When the boards are face-glued like this, with the edge grain showing, the result is a very hard, utilitarian surface that has become highly popular as a material for kitchen countertops. It is ideal for regular kitchen activity, including chopping and cooking, plus it adds a degree of warmth to a room that tends to be full of cold surfaces like stainless steel, granite, and white enamel.

The edge grain butcher block countertops are sturdly constructed. They are more resistant than plank countertops, but still can be vulnerable to extreme temperature swings.

Butcher block countertops are offered in a wide selection of premium hardwoods, and in thicknesses up to 4-1/2".

End Grain Butcher Block

Another utilitarian wood style, end grain butcher block enjoys preferred status among professional chefs and butchers, due to its ability to seamlessly absorb cut marks. After the knife slices across the wood, the fibers actually pull back together. The unique construction of end grain butcher block also produces an extremely durable final surface.

This style is constructed by gluing 1" strips of wood lengths, which vary from 1-1/2" to 6", together in an attractive multi-shade brickwork pattern. The dense assembly of these boards makes end grain butcher block remarkably tough and durable, and the resulting surface is a one-of-a-kind, eclectic piece that works as well in a rustic home as in a gleaming professional kitchen.

End grain butcher block is available in a great selection of premium hardwoods, and can be custom-built up to 4-1/2" thick.

Plank Style

If you are looking for something with a more traditional look that still offers the strength and long-lasting quality of hardwood, plank style may fit your needs. Plank style means that wood boards of various widths are glued edge to edge, leaving the face grain showing. These wide boards, side by side, create a gorgeous, evenly colored piece that finishes well and accepts stains beautifully. Plank style is an excellent choice for an elegant surface that will be the "ooh and ahh" highlight of your dining room or kitchen.

Plank surfaces, while durable, are not as hard as either of the butcher block styles, and are therefore not recommended for anything beyond light prep and serving and entertaining duties. They should also be kept in fairly climate controlled areas.

Plank countertops are available in thicknesses ranging from 1" to 1-3/4", and in a wide array of top quality hardwoods. The board widths throughout the surface usually range from 3" to 6".

Every one of these styles can be carefully and attentively constructed from your choice of premium quality hardwoods. Consider your project's location, needs, and everyday uses before selecting the best construction for your one-of-a-kind piece, and you'll be confident that you'll have a gorgeous, top-quality wood surface in your home that will last for years to come.