Are Wood Countertops Durable? (3 Reasons to Avoid Them)

Kitchen countertops handle a lot of heat and water during their lifetime. Most counters need to be at least scratch and stain resistant.

So, what about wood countertops? Are they durable?

Wood Countertop Durability

Wood countertops aren’t the most durable, especially compared to granite and quartz. Wood in a kitchen environment is highly susceptible to mildew growth and constant damage, making its durability quite low in comparison to other materials.

That said, there are certain precautions one can take in case they favor wooden counters over others.

Wooden countertop

How Durable Are Wood Countertops?

Wood countertops are durable to a certain extent.

They’re certainly not the ideal material for a kitchen counter, but they can still handle some wear and tear.

In short, homeowners can consider wood countertops if they don’t plan to use their kitchens as often.

As such, they won’t be subjecting the wooden surface to excessive amounts of heat and water.

The less often you use wooden counters, the fewer chances you’ll end up staining, scratching, or impacting the countertop in any way.

Because most woods are highly susceptible to damage, their appearance doesn’t remain the same over time.

In fact, if you have a wooden piece of furniture at home, you may have already noticed how wood tends to change with the elements.

Wind, dirt, and water can cause the wood to crack or rot. 

So, simply put, wood countertops aren’t that durable.

They serve more of an aesthetic purpose due to their warm colors and various kinds.

Wood is better off in bedrooms for instance, than in the kitchen.

Why Should You Avoid Wood Countertops?

There are multiple reasons why many kitchen designers don’t recommend going with wood countertops.

The high maintenance costs and wood’s short life are just a few examples to mention.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the reasons why you should avoid wood countertops.

1. High Sensitivity to Surrounding Environment

Surrounding elements of your environment or kitchen will directly affect the state of your wooden counter.

You should know that heat, cold, and humidity will cause dark spots to appear on the surface.

Not only that, but these factors can also dry out the wood. As a result, the counter will crack or wrap.

There’s a chance that discoloration spots will appear as well.

2. Constant Need for Maintenance

Wood counters need to be constantly resealed and oiled just so that you can keep them around for longer.

In other words, a lot of lifetime costs go into maintaining your countertops alone.

Common household cleaning products can damage the surface too.

We go into further detail about this point below.

This way, you can wrap your head around how much maintenance and care goes into keeping wood countertops from getting damaged.

3. Relatively Low Scratch and Impact Resistance

Compared to other countertop materials, wood is last on the list when it comes to scratch and impact resistance.

While some types of wood are harder than others, you still need to be careful of what touches their surface.

Knives, for instance, aren’t wood-friendly, and neither is water.

If you want to avoid creating dents in your counter, go for woods that score high in the Janka Hardness Test.

Why Should You Consider Wood Countertops?

Despite the shortcomings of wood countertops, it’s not all bad. There are a few pros to keep in mind as well.

Here are some advantages of wooden kitchen counters.

1. Eco-Friendly Material

Since wood is a renewable source, it’s considered eco-friendly and harmless to the environment.

Wood is also recyclable, which is always a great asset in kitchen design.

Keep in mind though, to make sure that your wood countertop is made from reclaimed wood, meaning, the material has been repurposed and is green.

Go for counters that are manufactured from wood that’s sustainably grown.

2. Elegant Appearance and Wide Variety

Elegant wooden countertop

The main reason why wood still remains a popular choice in home kitchens is the fact that it’s warm and inviting.

Wood goes with almost anything and also comes in a wide variety of options to pick from.

Additionally, wood countertops remain warm throughout the year, unlike granite and stone.

This helps keep your kitchen a welcoming place for you to cook and for guests to stay in.

3. Budget-Friendly and Easy Installation

Due to the multiple types of wood countertops, there’s wood for every budget.

Brazilian Cherry, Maple, and Hickory are on the expensive end of materials.

Oak and Pine, on the other hand, are pretty inexpensive.

Also, wooden counters are easier to install than heavier ones, such as quartz and stone.

Simply put, you won’t spend as much money setting up wood countertops.

How to Take Care of Wood Countertops?

As you’ve probably gathered by now, wood countertops need constant maintenance in order to keep up their durability and shine.

To help you keep your wooden counters for as long as possible, consider the following tips on how to properly take care of them.

1. Sand Down Scratches

One of wood’s unique properties is that you can sand its surface down to get rid of scratches and dents.

This makes wood countertops stand out from other materials because it allows you to start over without replacing the counter.

As a result, this may increase the lifespan of your wooden counter.

Remember to be gentle when using sandpaper on wood so that you don’t damage it further.

2. Regularly Clean the Surface

Unlike marble or laminated countertops, you can’t afford to clean wood counters after you’re done cooking or eating.

With wooden surfaces, it’s advisable that you clean as you go and never let spilled liquids sit on top for long.

Wood is highly prone to water damage and can quickly form mold or mildew spots if not wiped immediately.

3. Limit Exposure to Elements

Sealing your wood countertop is an essential part of installing it.

That’s because it keeps the wood in good shape for longer.

Direct heat, however, can damage this seal and cause instant damage to the wood surface.

Not just heat, but if your city is known for cold weather or high humidity levels, this can also crack your wood.

In this case, you’ll need to purchase a dehumidifier and keep your kitchen warm year-round.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Most Durable Wood for Countertops?

Red Cherry wood is arguably the most durable wood if you decide on wooden countertops.

It’s hard and can endure frequent kitchen activity.

Maple is another great option to consider too if you want a wood that’s less expensive than Cherry.

It’s just as tough, has a clear grain, and is a popular choice for creating durable butcher blocks.

Are Wood Countertops Expensive?

The price of wood countertops varies depending on the wood you’re using and the service company you’re working with.

Typically though, you can expect to pay between $20 to $70 for each square footage.

Since an average kitchen has around 50 feet of countertop space, the end price may range roughly from $1k to $3k.

What to Clean Wood Countertops With?

Be prepared to do a lot of regular maintenance work if you get wood countertops—especially since wooden surfaces aren’t compatible with most common household cleaners.

That’s mainly because wood reacts to the harsh chemicals present in these products.

Instead, use homemade solutions containing vinegar, lemon, or salt to remove stains and spills.

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