The first wood countertops were solid blocks of wood, roughly sawed into shape and placed on top of a counter or work area. Over time, as manufacturing technology improved and aesthetic quality became an important consideration, solid wood countertops became time-consuming and impractical to make. Today, commercial wood countertops are made from strips of wood glued or laminated together to create a single solid block.|
Wood countertops can be made from oiled wood planks, butcher blocks, or lacquered wood.
Oiled wood planks
Oiled wood planks are made by gluing together several wood planks or strips of wood composites. The pieces are usually laid in a single direction, parallel to each other, and interlocked on all adjacent sides for a firmer construction. A special oil is applied to the wood to serve both as a sealant and a glossy finish.
A smoother and more consistent finish can be achieved by rubbing the oil by hand rather than brushing.
The wood strips used are seldom in the exact same shade, so the resulting countertop often has a beautiful striped pattern. You can sometimes order oiled wood countertops without the stripes, but not all manufacturers offer them, and those who do usually charge extra for customization. Single color countertops also take longer to make, so if you are paying for construction by the day, they may cost a great deal more than regular oiled countertops.
Butcher blocks are made from large pieces of wood, usually hardwoods such as oak or maple. The blocks are nailed or screwed together rather than glued, since most adhesives cannot support the weight. Unlike oiled wood countertops, butcher blocks are cut in uniform lengths. Irregularly sized pieces distribute the weight unequally throughout the block, but the difference is not felt much if the pieces are lighter. With larger pieces, slight differences in size translate to large differences in weight, which creates strong and weak spots in a countertop.
Butcher blocks are usually made of end grain, the end of a piece of lumber that has been cut across. End grains are known to absorb finishes and dyes better than other wood parts, making them great for wood countertop construction.
Lacquered wood countertops are made of thin pieces of wood, such as plywood or wood substitutes, laminated together with a plastic or melamine coating, and sealed with a hard lacquer coat. The lacquer is usually sprayed onto the finished block and left to dry. As it dries, the lacquer hardens into a rigid shell, which provides a glossy finish and acts as a protective layer.
Lacquered wood countertops can be made of light woods, either with a soft or hard composition. Spruce is a commonly used soft wood for home countertops, while commercial countertops often use red meranti and lauan.