What’s the best wood to use for countertops? What should I look for when selecting the best wood to use for countertops? What are the main advantages of choosing the best wood to use for countertops?
Wood is increasingly becoming the go-to material for countertops. The key advantage is the natural feel and aesthetic quality that you can achieve with wood.
Also, wood is relatively less expensive than several other countertop materials and this makes buyers, woodworkers, and other shareholders to choose wood.
SELECTING THE BEST WOOD TO USE FOR COUNTERTOPS
1• HARDWOOD VS SOFTWOOD FOR COUNTERTOPS [Janka Score]
Janka score is a scientific measurement for hardness and describes the impact, crack, scratch, and build quality of a piece of wood.
For countertops materials, you want a surface that will withstand as much pressure as possible. Whether you are throwing big chunks of meat, storing many heavy items on it, or even shaking the countertop, you are guaranteed non-shaky build quality.
A Janka score of 1,000 or higher assures you the best resistance from scratches, and any other pressures allowing you to use the wood piece in a wide variety of countertop projects.
2• GRAIN DIRECTION
2.1• EDGE GRAIN
Edge grain is the most common type of grain direction and is what the majority of ordinary users quickly associate with when it comes to countertops.
Choose an edge grain if you are in search of military-grade durability because the edges of the strip of the countertop are rotated and laminated together to form a durable and food safe surface.
Edge grain is the more expensive format than face grain due to the labor intensity in its production.
2.2• FACE GRAIN
Face grain direction is used in premium furniture and other expensive home furnishings.
Face grain wood can be used as countertop wood material only if you are not cutting on the surface because face grain is easily marred and scratched by cleavers or knives.
Despite the easy-to-scratch disadvantage, face grain countertops are durable and last long with everlasting solid build quality.
If you want a premium look to your countertop, or just want it to display expensive jewelry then go for face grain wood. You will get the best and unique wood colors and grain patterns from some of the rarest and most expensive hardwoods.
2.3• END GRAIN
Ultimate thickest, generational durability countertops can only be achieved in end grain direction. However, end grain countertops are rare in the market due to their extremely high process owing to the humongous amount of wasteful small wood scarps.
The reason that end grain construction isn’t popular now is that it’s expensive. They are extremely labor-intensive to make and to make them a lot of small scrap pieces get thrown away in the process.
Although you can paint wood to achieve practically any color in the 16,000,000 spectra, mostly you want to use the plain wood surface.
The reason to use the [plain wood surface is to expose as much detail of the aesthetically appealing surface while at the same time retaining utility properties such as food safety capabilities.
Selecting the color of the wood for your countertop could be primarily dictated by the theme colors of the surrounding design space.
For example, if you have a design featuring warm and light colors, then you could choose to go with natural maple wood which will blend excellently with other design elements.
Depending on the use you want to subject your countertop, you may want to go for a bright color or a dull color. If you are exposing your surface to many cuts, scratch-prone uses, then it is better to go for a dull color that will mildly and with illusion, mask out some of the defects.
On the other hand, if you intend mild tasks only on the wood countertop, then you can go for bright revealing colors.
It’s crucial to check the variety of dimensions in which your wood is being offered.
By having the flexibility to choose from a variety of sizes, then you can work on different scales of woodworking projects.
The thickness of a wood piece is important depending on the nature of your wood countertop project.
However, for the majority of projects, woodworking enthusiasts go for an optimum thickness preference of 1.5”, especially for kitchen setups.
You do not need a whole 50” by 50” block for a simple meat butcher countertop. And also it is impossible to work with a 24” by 12” if you want to install a surface for a dining tabletop.
Failing to work with the correct size of the tabletop either leads to a ton of waste, repairs, and joints which compromise the integrity of the strength of the wood countertop.
OUR BEST PICKS – BEST WOOD TO USE FOR COUNTERTOPS
1• [🔝] MAPLE – BEST HARDEST WOOD TO USE FOR COUNTERTOPS
Being a hardwood, Maple ticks the first key criterion for the best wood to use for countertops with a 1,400 Janka score.
Maple is a high Janka-score wood ideal for reclaimed or upgraded kitchens. Maple is the right wood option for country kitchens to blend with the natural colors and texture of the countryside.
Maple has a smooth texture that is excellent for quality aesthetic appearance, low maintenance cost, and smooth utility.
The smooth texture makes maple surfaces shiny and glossy while reflecting bulb light making them excellent for photography and revamping the looks of your kitchen or other spaces.
Maple offers users warm and light-colored non-shouting colors. Maple exhibits subtle color variations that are ideal for dull thematic interior and exterior designs for minimalist and conservative crafts.
Even when Maple is featuring a simple straight grain, you are assured of sleek aesthetics, everlasting durability, and excellent abrasion resistance.
John Boos R02 Maple Wood is our best pick for the Maple category of the best wood to use for countertops and comes in 3 sizes (24×18”x1.5”, 20”x15”x1.5” 18”x12”x1.5”). The 1.5” Thickness is a common favorite dimension for many customers whether in-home and commercial spaces. John Boos R02 is an easy-to-use surface with reversible phases meaning either side is usable in your woodworking project. John Boos R02 has hand grips for ease of use during lifting and cleaning. John Boos R02 has a design featuring a juice groove handy for butchers and fruit ninjas. John Boos R02 has extra sanitary capabilities with the Boss mineral oil and cream. John Boos R02 assures ultimate build quality with care procedures and tips and a one year guarantee on defects. John Boos R02 follows environmentally friendly production guidelines. John Boos R02 Maple features edge grain construction which is aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain.
Red oak is the go-to choice whenever you need a red hue for reddish color themes for your spaces.
Although red oak has a Janka score of 1,200, which is 15% lower than that of maple, red oak is strong enough as a countertop material.
Another form of oak is white oak which is 10% harder (Janka 1,300) than red oak but lacks the striking red hues of red oak. Also, white oak has a much more interesting grain pattern increasing the aesthetic quality potential.
Due to the high Janka score of oak, countertops made of oak are generally more durable than those of walnut.
John Boos Blended Oak is a combination of soft white sections and medium browns and an overall reddish tint to give a warm feeling. John Boos Blended Oak is finished with natural oil making the surface food safe but regular oiling is necessary. John Boos Blended Oak includes a user warranty and guarantee although it does not cover the piece when cut or trimmed. John Boos Blended Oak, as in all the products they sell advocates for environmental friendliness with sustainable harvesting and a comprehensive reforestation program. John Boos Blended Oak is durable and easy to use for several woodworking projects. John Boos Blended Oak comes in different sizes with a variable length between 12” and 145” and a fixed width and height of 25” and 1.5” respectively.
3• WALNUT – BEST AESTHETICALLY APPEALING WOOD TO USE FOR COUNTERTOP
The color of walnut is picturesque and great for blending with many designs in indoor and outdoor spaces.
Walnut has a Janka score of 1,000 meaning it’s just at the threshold of our required hardness for countertop wood.
This lower figure for Janka score is responsible for the low durability of walnut. By having a lower Janka score, Walnut is highly susceptible to scratches, bruises even from ordinary use.
Therefore, even with its stunning aesthetics walnut is not the go-to choice for acute durability.
John Boos WALKCT comes in different sizes with a variable length between 12” and 145” and a fixed width and height of 18” and 1.5” respectively. These dimensions give woodworking enthusiasts a wide variety of sizes to work with fitting in any scale of project. John Boos WALKC features a Penetrating Oil Finish which is food safe and fit for butcher and kitchen countertops. John Boos WALKCT has an edge grain with unique colorations for premium quality aesthetics. Like all other wood products, John Boos follows sustainable harvesting techniques. John Boos WALKCT CANNOT be used irreversibly because its underside is marred with slight imperfections that don’t distort the quality of the upper surface. John Boos WALKCT is a lower maintenance surface compared to granite and marble. John Boos WALKCT features 100% solid walnut wood with relatively strong build quality but with shaky durability and visible marring when scratched, or bruised.
ADVANTAGES OF USING WOOD FOR COUNTERTOPS
1• RELATIVELY LOW STRESS WHEN MAINTAINING WOOD COUNTERTOPS
The word relative is important here.
Overall, wood for countertops is a low maintenance surface; the cost and work are significantly small.
Also, some of the quick and common finishes available for example mineral oil are inexpensive to protect your countertop from damage.
However, in comparison with some of the countertop materials available on the market such as quartz which is a maintenance-free countertop material, then in that case wood would be a high maintenance surface material for countertops.
NOTE: When wood is used for countertops in watery spaces, then there is an economically significant amount of maintenance due to the regular sealing without which wood may rot.
2• ARE WOOD COUNTERTOPS SANITARY? COVID-FREE?
Wood countertops are easy to sanitize. You can sanitize wooden countertops using white vinegar + water or salt + lemon.
These solvents and solutes are common ingredients used in the kitchen and as such are extremely inexpensive and available.
Besides, and interestingly, wood can kill pathogens. For example bacteria, salmonella germs and norovirus will find it hard to be endemic to your wooden countertop –unless the countertop is recklessly neglected.
This self-sanitary capability coupled with the ease of sanitation makes wood the best material to work in the days of global viral epidemics such as COVID-19.
3• WATERPROOF WOOD COUNTERTOP
Although achieving constant waterproof status adds an extra cost compared to some materials that are waterproof right off the bat without further sealing required, the ability to add water sealing is beneficial.
One, by waterproofing your wooden surface you are increasing the longevity of your wooden countertop.
Two, you are widening the variety of uses of your wooden surface meaning it can be used near kitchen sinks, bathtubs, or even an outdoor benchtop.
Mineral oils, resins, or waxes can be used to regularly seal wooden countertops.
4• LIMITLESS WOOD COUNTERTOP DESIGNS
Every tree is unique even those from the same species. It is this property of uniqueness in form and characteristics that any woodworking enthusiast can capitalize on to come up with an outstanding piece of art.
The number of design elements in shape, pattern, texture, grain type and direction, color, and other parameters is phenomenal allowing for woodworking craftsmen to beautify spaces with aesthetic interior and exterior design themes.
5• HEAT RESISTANT COUNTERTOP
Wood can withstand a high amount of heat without damage. Even when sealed with sealants, wood rarely disintegrates in medium heat.
Wood as a countertop material is ideal for kitchen service surfaces, food holding bays, outdoor tables, and other high heat areas.
6• WOOD COUNTERTOP PRICE
The price of wood to use for countertop material depends on who is making the wood, what kind of wood you choose to go for, and the type of wood construction.
It’s difficult to select one optimum price point but buyers will appreciate the flexibility offered at price for example butcher countertops typically starting at $10 to $200 per square foot.
Using wood as a countertop material is advantageous due to the favorable designs, price, heat resistance, waterproof capability, maintenance, and sanitary conditions. We chose maple as our best pick given the military-grade durability, walnut if we want a premium feel countertop, or oak when going for the middle between aesthetics and durability.
All the best in your woodworking project!