Tuesday, March 16, 2010
WOOD TOPS IN THE KITCHEN?
As a kitchen designer I am frequently asked about the wisdom of installing wood countertops for food preparation. The warmth and natural appeal of wood tops can be both a focal point as well as a functional advantage for the heart of your home. Just as with anything else there are a few things to be aware of if you decide to go this route.
Many people wonder if wood surfaces are sanitary. Laminate and solid surfaces such as quartz and Corian, due to their non-porous nature, are considered safe for preparing meat or vegetables. Wood, because of its porosity is commonly thought to be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. However in the 1990s researchers discovered that wood naturally exhibits strong antibacterial properties. According to these studies, and to others that followed, bacterial populations disappear quickly and without help on wood surfaces, while on plastic surfaces they persist and actually multiply. In fact the term “butcher block”, another name for wood counter tops, was coined because in days past it was the popular choice for butchers! Although these bacteria resistant properties vary among wood species, wooden cutting surfaces are gaining popularity especially with the advent of the green movement.
In general wood countertops are more expensive than laminates. The price can vary widely depending on wood species, thickness, how the wood sections are arranged and which grain of wood is visible. Keep in mind that nicks or damages can always be repaired by resanding and resealing.
Some wood top fabricators will include a durable safe sealer finish or some prefer a natural mineral oil finish. A good countertop finish should retain the moisture of the wood and keep food residue and surface moisture out within reason.
You don’t have to install wood tops throughout your entire kitchen. Sometimes a wood top in just one area such as an island (as in the picture above courtesy of Holiday Kitchens) is a popular choice creating a pleasing focal point and gathering spot for your family. Next post: Art in the Kitchen