Wood countertops have long been known for their aesthetic appeal, but not for their quality. As every homeowner probably knows, wood doesn't hold up well against water, heat, or cold – all the things a countertop is expected to deal with. That is why for most owners, stone or tile countertops are far better options.
But Lyptus is slowly changing the fate of the wooden countertop. In fact, Lyptus wood is becoming the countertop of choice for designers and homeowners alike, and for a number of good reasons. It combines the classic beauty of wood with the durability of stone and tile. The result is a countertop that's not only stylish and elegant, but strong enough to last years of regular use.
What is Lyptus?
Lyptus is the trade name for a type of wood made from two species of eucalyptus. The hybrid wood is very similar to hardwoods such as cherry, oak, and mahogany. Its main advantage is that it is environmentally safe – it does not deplete forests like other naturally obtained woods. Most of the supply is grown in plantations in Bahia, Brazil, operated by pulp manufacturer Aracruz Celulose S.A. In the US, the biggest distributor is Weyerhaeuser, a pulp company based in Wisconsin.
The Lyptus plantation in Bahia is designed so that the trees are properly spaced, so that the soil remains healthy for other plant species to grow in. It also ensures that each tree gets a fair share of moisture and nutrients, has enough room to grow freely, and that the whole plantation occupies as little space as possible.
Because the wood is grown specifically for commercial use, harvesting it has no harmful effects on the forests and surrounding ecosystems. The trees are grown along with indigenous species, allowing them to grow naturally while developing desirable traits such as hardness, color, and density. There is little to no engineering involved in the process, which reduces manufacturing costs.
Other woods are cut from a single tree, which have to be replaced after harvest to keep from depleting forests. Unfortunately, these trees take years to grow, and the rate of harvest keeps falling behind rates of growth. As a result, commonly used woods are becoming rare, and thus more expensive.
Lyptus wood is grown in a renewable system,;wherein a single tree can be regrown and reused. The seedlings are planted and allowed to mature, then cut down just low enough to let it sprout again. A single Lyptus seedling can be reused up to five times, ensuring a constant supply throughout the year. This way there are no peak seasons, where the supply is low and prices are high. Lyptus wood is available all year round, which is one of the reasons it has become so popular.
Lyptus has all the properties of oak, but it is much harder, denser, and more durable. Combined with its closed grain structure, this makes it an excellent choice for flooring, millwork, and all types of furniture. It holds up well against moisture because of its tight consistency, especially when finished with lacquer or other protective coat.
The only drawback is because it's so sturdy, it can be hard to work with. For instance, the dense grain makes it extremely heavy, which can make shipping and handling expensive. It also doesn't work as well with machines as other hardwood varieties. Unless heavy-duty machines are used, the finished product may be prone to tear-out and uneven surfacing.
Lyptus comes in various shades from light salmon to a deep purplish red. That means there are enough varieties to suit practically every kitchen décor, whether you want a classic or antique theme or an edgy, minimalist one. It also goes well with other materials such as glass, stone, tile, and metal.
One of the most popular designs for Lyptus wood is the butcher block, a thick, sturdy countertop that doubles as a cutting board. Not only is it more functional, it is also space-saving and makes a striking focal point to any kitchen. There are also other construction options such as laminate, where it can be combined with other woods such as maple, purpleheart, and mahogany.