All the Best Wood Ideas for Kitchen Countertops

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Last updated: June 7, 2023

It’s easier to keep up with the Joneses and choose an ideal material like granite countertops. Before you splurge, feast your eyes on an equally durable and beautiful type of kitchen countertop. I introduce to you the wood material.

Wood has both features plus an inexpensive installation cost, eco-friendly benefits, and a warm, inviting, and charming vibe. It meshes well with all kitchen styles and color schemes, acting as a centerpiece or part of the design. You can use it all over the kitchen or mix and match countertop types.

All the best wood ideas for kitchen countertops are right here. I will discuss the best wood species for your kitchen, the pros and cons, the history, and ideas to try. I also talk about local vs. imported wood and custom hardwood countertops.

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All the Best Wood Ideas for Kitchen Countertops

How do you incorporate wood countertops in the kitchen? It can blend in among other woods on cabinets, countertops, and flooring. Contrasting focal points against marble, granite, and quartz countertops are equally stunning.

A  great option would be a suitable species of wood that can offer the kitchen a rich color of red, yellow, or brown. That adds color to a neutral-colored kitchen like white or black. A wood selection perfect for farmhouses and country kitchens is distressed wood.

What I found interesting is that you can mix and match countertop types. Reclaimed wood or butcher block countertops with a concrete or granite countertop slab in the middle are brilliant. The reverse is just as breathtaking; in that instance, the wood can double as a prep board. 

Wood is an excellent choice to dedicate a section of your kitchen island to prep work. Cut a rectangular piece of quartz, granite, or marble countertops. Use that gap to create a prep workspace with the wood.

I found countertops extending from the wood edge to the floor were a good idea. That is called a waterfall edge. The waterfall can be on one side of the counter or both.

The look suits kitchen island tops and peninsulas. Alternatively, the waterfall can go upward and include the walls and ceiling. Only peninsulas can pull off the upward look because one side attaches to the wall.

Stylish light gray kitchen interior with modern cabinets and stainless steel appliances in new home. design in Scandinavian style. green plants decor, wooden kitchen countertop, sink and stove

Pros and Cons of Wood Countertops


There is wood to match all kitchen design styles. The appearance is durable, resilient, and stunning. It makes a great countertop surface for food preparation, cooking, cleaning, and eating.

Wood is warm to the touch and pleasant in appearance. You can repair any damage to the wood without calling a professional. A surprising advantage I didn’t know about is that wood absorbs noise, which makes the work environment quieter.


The primary disadvantage of wood countertops is their high maintenance. Wood is prone to water damage, burns, stains, gaps, dents, scratches, chips, and cuts because the material is soft. Wood expands, contracts, and warps based on seasonal temperatures. 

To keep it from deteriorating, you must add a special coating; traditional cleaners weaken glued seams. I would begin by sanding the wood to prep it for the lubricant. The proper coat (liquid stain, sealant, oil, or finish) depends on the wood type.

Wooden vintage table top or shelf closeup, zen mood, over modern white kitchen in contemporary luxury apartment with parquet floor, retro interior design, architecture interior design

Wood Countertops Compared to Other Materials

Compared to the competition, wood countertop is a popular material that rivals them in durability and aesthetics. The durable surface is easy to repair, install, and clean with or without experts. Most woods need regular sealant or oil to keep them beautiful. 

The same is untrue for the rivals. They need manufacturing to be beautiful and require experts to preserve their condition. 

Most woods are environmentally friendly. The entire piece is renewable, recyclable, organic, and beautiful. Stone and other materials are not biodegradable and usually end up as waste. 

While the cost per square foot depends on the wood material, the price plus installation is still lower than the rest. Most woods are in the low to mid-range. Custom designs, extravagant grains, thick slabs, and imported wood are the most expensive.

Overall, strips of wood glued together, sanded, and oiled are still cheaper than a factory-made countertop slab.

Different Wood Materials for Kitchen Countertops

To get the desired type of wood countertop, understand the variety of woods available. All are durable, but how much punishment it can take varies by Janka rating

Additionally, each color ranges from red to brown to beige to black. The most common natural wood types are:

Acacia woodWaterproof, mold-resistant, termite resistant, and eco-friendly.
BambooAnti-bacterial, eco-friendly, affordable hardened grass.
Beech tree woodA non-porous, affordable countertop material with an orange-pink hue and straight cuts of wood grain.
Birch woodLightweight, blond-colored wood with uniform grain and shape retention.
Black walnut countertopsA black/brown luxurious color with not much work in maintenance.
Cherry countertopA brown-reddish wood; the Brazilian cherry wood’s 2820 score makes it the toughest countertop, and the American cherry’s 950 score is better for light use.
Hard maple countertopAbrasion-resistant and scratch-resistant wood.
HickoryThe most durable American wood material.
MahoganyBrownish red material suitable for light use; however, Santos mahogany can handle heavy-duty use.
Red oak and white oakDent-resistant, scratch-resistant, and easy-maintenance woods with open grains.
Teak woodMoisture-resistant tropical hardwood.
TigerwoodAn insect, decay, rot, and scratch-resistant wood resembling tiger stripes.
WengeA black-dark brown African hardwood that is termite and insect resistant.
Wormy chestnut Naturally rustic and distressed looking antique style wood.

Local Versus Imported

I never thought to check whether the wood in my kitchen was legal. I assumed they were. After all, a law to stop companies from importing illegal lumber in 2008 is in effect.

Shockingly, not all lumber companies follow this rule, and the government needs proof to enforce the law. Some American companies obtain lumber from places like Brazil and Papua New Guinea. The exotic woods seep into the United States through China, where legal and illegal wood mesh into manufactured wood products like countertops.

Because of this, tracing the source of imports from another country is difficult. The lumber contains harmful pests that ruin trees and natural resources. It also carries adverse diseases from wood particles and insects threatening your health.

Therefore, buying American wood from American companies is the best option. It’s even better if it’s local wood from one to 50 miles away. Buying from a local or a “Made in the USA” label means you can trust that the wood is legal and safe.

Low transportation, insurance, and miscellaneous fees give companies more time to inspect the product. By knowing your source, you get healthy wood from a local business at an affordable cost. In summary, local goods are beneficial for everyone.

Customization Options for Wood Countertops

The customization options for wooden countertops surprised me. You can alter its warm color appearance by constructing different wood grains, changing the wood edge, and adding a finish. Additionally, you can make the countertop your own by adding must-have features.

Grain Patterns

Grain patterns focus on wood construction and manufacturing. The design represents the countertop’s appearance and personality in the kitchen. The edge and face grain patterns can choose between a polished and a hand-scraped (rustic) appeal.

An edge grain is one-inch wide long rails covering the countertop length. The finished construction resembles parallel stripes or a cutting board. The process consists of gluing or laminating wood.

A flat grain is a two-to-eight-inch wide plank of wood that highlights the face grain (top piece). Gluing or laminating several face pieces shows off its clear grain. The chunks vary in size but piece together seamlessly.

An end grain butcher block is one inch tall by 1.5 to 6-inch-long wood squares or rectangles. The finished construction resembles a checkerboard pattern. End grains can be contemporary or traditional; both showcase grains more on the ends than on the top. 

Wood Edge

The wood countertop corner affects its appearance and how it handles water spills and food falling over it. The choices are square, cove, beveled, bullnose, Roman ogee, eased, and French design. Other edge types available are wavy, moulding, tabletop, rustic, and faux live edge.

There are square designs with rounded edges such as 1/8 round, 1/4 round, 3/4 round, radius and steps, round-over, and chamfered. Small and large are the Roman ogee designs. French designs are Baroque and Tradition.

Wood Finishes

The best type of finish for your countertop depends on whether the finish supports light or heavy use. A permanent finish is best for light use (i.e., wet bar tops, breakfast bars, and peninsulas). If you plan on using your countertop for cutting and prep, you need one type of oil.

Mineral oil is a good choice for heavy use. Reapply the oil once a month to keep it looking pristine. Alternatives are natural oil or citrus tung oil.

The remaining oil types are for permanent use. They are polyurethane, Waterlox Tung oil, varnish, and hardwax. Those finishes will last a long time.


Adding special features to suit your kitchen’s needs is the fun part. A custom wood countertop may cost extra but reduces kitchen time. The features I found are a knife block, trivet rods, drop hole, drain channel, waterfall edge, and a cutout (to insert a sink, faucet, cooking range, or prep sink).

Historical and Cultural Uses of Wood Countertops

Wood was one of two kitchen countertop options people used before the 1800s. The other was natural stone countertops. In the 1800s, wood gained popularity as a cutting board among blacksmiths and butchers.

Blacksmiths used it as a workstation, and it remained a workstation for a blacksmith’s entire career. It absorbed sound and pounding from the anvils made on top of it. A butcher watched, noticed, and wanted one to use.

The name “butcher block” came from John Boos after he noticed a butcher using his dad’s block. Conrad Boos, the person responsible for making wooden countertops, is the dad.

The butcher block surfaces were smooth sycamore logs. They needed replacement often because they were round and unstable. The meat juice would split the wood and contaminate other meats.

The complaints about sycamore logs would result in a change. After trial and error, sugar maple pieces glued together offered a more lasting meat-cutting surface. As technology advanced, the need for butcher meat cutting would fade, and machine meat cutting would take its place.

That caused the cut wood to find a new use. Frugal homeowners repurposed wood slabs as countertops and tabletops in modern kitchens. Therefore, it became wood tops for kitchen cabinets, islands, wet bars, peninsulas, and breakfast bars.

The natural beauty of wood drives people to use wood as countertops to this day. The popular butcher block tops stayed, but other types of wood emerged too. Examples are reclaimed wood, veneers, bamboo, and finger-jointed tops.

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