Kitchen counters can drastically change your renovation budget. They are a huge part to the aesthetic and functionality of your kitchen life so make sure to give them a good thought first. I had to renovate two kitchens at the same time in my house - we have two "apartments" - so I really didn't want to blow the bank with my counter selection. I see tons of amazing counter materials through work and I knew that I couldn't afford any of them, but I didn't want to compromise having a solid material. I had considered making concrete counters, but the time and effort that were required to go into them wasn't fitting into our schedule. Ikea's Hammarp Countertop was available quick, the price was right, and it's no secret that it's one good looking counter. Here are some things to know about butcher block counters.
Cost Effective For a Solid Surface
You can get butcher block counters many places. I got mine from Ikea who sells their Hammarp solid oak counter in two sizes (98"x26" and 74"x26") for $265 and $295. You can get laminate counters in the same size for a fraction of the price, but they definitely don't hold the same wow factor. Ikea also sells "fake" butcher block counters. Their Möllekulla Countertop is made of a 1/8" oak veneer adhered to particleboard. The "wow" might seem to be there, but it is not quite the same as having a solid surface. By solid surface I mean a material that is the same throughout. No veneers or adhesives necessary. The bonus to working with a solid surface is that you don't need to worry about finishing off the edges that you cut. Cutting a veneered product will leave you with an edge that shows the different layers. This will require more adhesive to cover those unsightly ends with more veneer. What's my problem with adhesive and veneers? They don't last. Liquid, food, or whatever will eventually weasel its way in or the bond will weaken, and then you're left with a peeling counter.
Other solid surface countertops vary a lot in price, so I don't feel confident to do an exact price comparison with the butcher block. BUT, I will say that because the butcher block is wood is it a lot easier to cut and retrofit to your kitchen's need. Which can save money by being able to do it yourself rather having someone fabricate it. In my case my dad did it... but it saved me money!
**Side note: both of my counters arrived warped. When they were stood up straight there was a definite bend in the middle. I'm not sure what was the cause of this and where it happened, so it might not happen to them all. My dad solved the problem but cutting "slits" in so that he could bend it slighting and then wedged slivers of wood in to keep it in place.
Needs Some Attention
You will have to treat your counters, let's say... once a month. I can't promise that's how often I do it, but I pay attention to when they looking thirsty. Most hardware stores should carry a butcher block condition (see what I use below). You want to make that you're using a natural product, because you know... food. The most annoying thing about treating your counters is that you're forced to clear everything off of them. Other than that it's just like wiping them down (and then waiting 20 minutes to wipe again). You'll notice that water will sit on top more when your counters are nice and conditioned. Giving you time to clean up!
Character is Good
With anything new it is difficult to see its first scuff, mark, dent or whatever. For me it was a can of soup that had gotten wet and left a black ring behind. It was not please at first, but I didn't freak out and try to find remedies to remove it. It faded with time, and naturally it wasn't alone for long. Wood is one of those materials that can become more attractive with wear and age. Keep your counters clean like you would with any other material and keep them hydrated with conditioner. A few rings and burns won't hurt anyone. Although it's not a bad idea to keep around a piece of flat, smooth stone to receive things like hot pots or overflowing messes.
Choosing a Sink
Rings and burns won't hurt anyone, but water damage can. Some would advice to use butcher block counters in areas away from your sink (like on an island). I think that you can get away with it if you choose the right sink. Undermount sinks aren't necessarily the best decision if you're going with wood. The edge of the counter is exposed inside the sink, making it impossible to stay dry. You also want to think of where water travels outside of the sink. Reaching for your dish soap and other dishwashing tools while in action will trail water with your every move. This is why I've found the Ikea Domsjö Double Bowl Apron Front Sink to be a great solution. The porcelain sink is one unit that goes all the way to the backsplash. Giving you a happy home for your wet sink accessories. Your butcher block counter can slide right under the lip of the sink, protecting its edges. This also makes for so an easy install because no sink cutouts are required. The sink is so large that I've found it the perfect fit to use one of the bowls for my drying rack, which avoids dripping water off dishes.
I haven't had my counters for too long, so I wouldn't say I'm an expert. These are just some helpful tips that I've collected with my experience this far. If anything drastic happens I will try to add on! But for now I will enjoy my charming counters.