Before we begin looking at the disadvantages of wooden kitchen countertops, we should first start with their main advantage: price. It is true that for your new interior you can save on your initial investment by opting for wooden countertops, though you should be aware of the drawbacks of wooden kitchen countertops and how time and money can mount up to make the initial savings look less desirable.
In this post, we’ll be looking at how this saving will end up costing you more down the line.
Not all wooden countertops are equal. Some are a clear cost saving alternative using wide-plank heart pine, which is a softer wood that dents easily, other interiors may incorporate hardwood worktops such as mahogany or cherry. In all cases, for use in the kitchen these must be sealed with a Polyurethane, oil or wax. Without a sealant, the countertops will stain incredibly easily which could mean sanding away the stain or in the worst case, replacing the countertop.
The time investment in taking constant care of wooden countertops is a reality; wiping up stains immediately, making sure not to place heavy objects, hot mugs of coffee, pans, hot plates and so on, make wooden countertops a consistent time consuming presence. You have to factor in the amount of time you want to spend looking after your kitchen. If you opt for wood, be prepared to spend the extra time keeping it up to the same standard that it had after installation.
Health and your family
In kitchens, the greater the roughness of the surface, the greater the chance of microorganisms becoming embedded in the peaks and troughs of the surface. In the long run, wood is no more dangerous than other surfaces in harbouring bacteria if left unclean, but the grooves which can trap food mean more cleaning is necessary to make sure there are no dried stains left on the countertops after cleaning.
Even the hardest wood, properly finished with a professional sealant is imperfect. The small grooves can harbour bacteria and it is important to be aware of the health risks over time for your family. This is a key consideration in choosing the right material for your countertops. The more you clean wooden countertops, the sooner they will have to be resealed, so investing more time in cleaning, also means more time in resealing, and it is recommended that wooden countertops are resealed once a year as a minimum. This is a big investment in time.
To be sure that your kitchen is clean and safe, with wooden countertops you need to spend time making sure that the countertops are cleaned after you spend time in the kitchen, left alone they are more likely to harbour bacteria.
For typical use in the kitchen, wood is not ideal. Hot pans will burn circles into both protected and unprotected wooden countertops leaving a very obvious black circle that cannot be removed without sanding. This means taking much more care while you work in the kitchen. Using and storing cooling rack adds more clutter to the kitchen and makes it that bit more difficult when you are cooking for more than one person or using a lot of utensils.
And the very worst, wood is not fireproof. So you have to be aware that there is a risk of fire, especially in a kitchen with a gas stove or an oil pan. If hot pans are left on top of the wood for any length of time, there is always that risk that the countertop could overheat and catch fire.
As anyone with children knows, worktops get scratched, dented, chipped and broken. Kids seem to reject using a chopping board, and instead cut their food directly on the worktop which for wooden countertops is a big problem. Knives will cut straight through the sealant and into the wood, if water gets underneath the sealant it will cause a permanent stain which, again, might mean investing time or money in sanding back the worktop and resealing.
It is not just knives that can damage the countertop. There are many implements in the kitchen that can damage the surface from cheese graters to apple corers. Once the protective surface has been damaged, it needs to be taken care of or things can get even worse.
Some projects do benefit from the aesthetic of wooden worktops which can look great in contrast to stone floor tiling. But this is a big decision, and the time investment that has to be made to incorporate wooden kitchen countertops needs to be offset by the requirement of the design.
If kids live in the house, for the sake of a fluid aesthetic contrast we recommend choosing a worktop that is durable, easy to clean, and versatile, your interior design dreams can wait until they go to university!
Perhaps in an interior used very little, where aesthetics take precedence over function, a wooden worktop is a viable alternative. But in a practical kitchen used daily, there are simply too many drawbacks to make it a worthwhile investment.
If you’re looking for a long lasting countertop that offers aesthetics and durability in the same amount, we recommend surfaces like engineered quartz. Quartz surfaces are non-porous, they have a high resistance to scratches, almost no maintenance and come in a wild variety of designs – some of them look just like natural stone. You can take a look at COMPAC’s website to see all the quartz designs that will make your countertop look fabulous for a long long time!