Butcher Block vs Corian Countertops

eva6in7May 22, 2013

In a heavily-used kitchen with quite a lot of kids and visiting cooks, which do you think makes more sense, butcher block or Corian countertops? It would be a walnut butcher block stained a dark black/brown and oiled as needed. Corian would be a dark black/brown in a matte finish. We'll have white base cabinets and white shelves with a few glass front cabinets for uppers. We eat at our kitchen table, which will be a custom table with a walnut butcher block top, but not stained (only oiled) and probably from a different source as the countertops so we'd have some variation (if we decide to go with butcher block countertops). Any other countertop surface is out, for a variety of reasons. (The ancient counter top oven is being replaced by double wall ovens at the opposite end of the room. The layout stays the same otherwise.) What do you think?

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Neither. A dark granite or quartz would e more suitable than either for a busy family. A dark Corian will show the scratches white and look worn out in no time with hard use. Walnut is too pretty to stain dark and there's no point in paying an upcharge on an expensive wood like that to get worn out at the hands of kids either. A dark granite or quartz will be bulletproof and stand up to all but the worst abuse.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 2:36PM
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GreenDesigns, thank you for your post. I definitely understand your points. We've had granite before and, personally, I can't stand it. Things break easily on it, it always feels like there is a layer of grit on it, and the edges can (and in my experience, do) chip. Maybe we just had cheap granite. As for the butcher block, I love the idea of my family and I putting our own "stamp" on the butcher block with signs of use. I just obviously wouldn't want it to look trashed and dirty. Our contractor is bringing us samples of each, so I'm definitely going to live with the samples and let the kids have at it before I make a decision. Thanks again for your response--I do understand the benefits of quartz and granite.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Sorry, also meant to say that one of the reasons we're not considering quartz is because of the price (for what our contractor can get, he says it's more expensive). I'd rather oil butcher block than seal granite or stone (crazy, I know). We're in the Dallas area and our contractor has done residential and commercial work. He's installed Corian in the staff kitchens of the mansions around here and in many cafeterias and kitchens for Fortune 500 companies headquartered around here. He's only had good feedback so far. Granted, they were light/white colors of Corian, but that's why we're checking out a sample of a black Corian first.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 3:29PM
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We have 3 little ones and have walnut countertops and flooring. So far, we only have surface scratches in the poly on the floor. The countertops are oiled except for right around the sinks, although I've yet to cut on them, I could if I wanted. They are a bit less forgiving than the floors, but in no way would I consider them delicate. If you stain the wood, you won't be able to oil, but will have to go with something like waterlox or poly, meaning you won't be able to directly cut on them. If you weren't planning on cutting directly on them, that would be no big deal. If you were, you will have to go natural. The nice thing about wood, if it starts looking terrible, you can sand and re-coat/re-oil.

I don't have any experience with Corian, other than just looking at it in stores and showrooms. I would assume that it's low maintenence and a bit more forgiving of wear and tear.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 4:21PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Corian can be a nice choice in the light colors. In the dark colors, unless you don't really use your kitchen, it will be a nightmare. The acrylic shows the scratches much more in a dark color than a light color. And, as previously mentioned, the scratches show up white. That looks pretty dark bad pretty quickly on a dark surface.

Uba Tuba was the first thing that came to mind when you mentioned the conditions that the counter would endure.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 4:34PM
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We had a lighter corian countertop in our last house (Corian was all the rage then). It didn't take long before it got terribly scratched all over, and we have no children. At night and when the blinds were closed it looked beautiful, but when the sun or natural light hit it, you could see all the scratches. It looked terrible. We had a Corian representative come out and he buffed out all the scratches. He told us this was a free one-time service offered by Corian. I'm not sure if they still offer this service, but it should tell you something about how easily Corian scratches for them to offer this for free. I wouldn't recommend it for a busy kitchen. In our current house we took the standard vanity top in the master bath which is a white corian. It looks great because there are no windows in the bathroom, so the scratches are not that noticeable (but they are there). If you get a lot of natural light from a lot of windows in your kitchen, you will see the scratches and you won't have to look hard. At least that was our experience.

This post was edited by ruthie51 on Wed, May 22, 13 at 21:45

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:08PM
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mrsmortarmixer and hollysprings, thanks very much for your responses. hollysprings--I'm hearing this more and more about the dark colors of Corian. I'm very curious to see what happens when we get our black sample!

mrsmortarmixer--I don't plan on cutting on the countertops. I am in the habit of using cutting boards and hot pads and plan to continue doing so, even if we have butcher block or anything else. What do you do with the butcher block around your sink? Or do you have a different material altogether around your sinks? I'm not necessarily set on staining the counters. I just wanted there to be some contrast between the table and countertops. Our contractor suggested just getting the walnut from two different places and then they'd look different enough that the kitchen wouldn't be overwhelmed by the same wood everywhere. I think I'd rather have lighter colored countertops than deal with a polyurethane that can wear off over time. And, truth be told, while I say I use cutting boards, I do for cutting and chopping many things, but, if I'm only cutting one apple, I have been known to do it directly on the counter (we do have one of the ugliest laminates in the world right now though!) Would you be able to post a picture of your countertops? I'm so curious to see the color/patina after they've been used for a while. I totally understand if you can't though. You've already been really helpful--I'm so excited to know of a person with little kids that uses butcher block counters. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:17PM
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I have a very busy kitchen that I am not at all gentle with and have had a lighter corian with speckles for the last 9 years. It was in this house when we moved in and would not have been my choice but it has been a great counter. It still looks new. Tiny scraches are there but only if you look super close in the right light.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:25PM
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I like "living" surfaces like wood and soapstone, which I have both, and wouldn't trade them for the world...

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:37PM
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We had a medium colored pebbly Corian for many years. It survived three kids and two adults with heavy and not-so-gentle use. They were maintenance free and basically bullet-proof. There were some scratches, but those were not at all noticeable unless you looked closely at eye level with just the right light. Also, it was fabulous for kneading and rolling out dough, if you do a lot of that, with easy cleanup. I highly recommend Corian!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:41PM
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I have matte finish Tumbleweed Corian and polished Uba Tuba granite in different areas of my kitchen. Both are perfect for their specific work areas. In my old house I had a chunky-speckle Corian that I loved. Occasional polishing with a slight abrasive kept it looking perfect. (By occasional I mean once a year, with a scotchbrite pad and some soft scrub or even comet/bonami.) I can wash it with anything, and can bleach out stains. The Uba Tuba granite is extremely durable and doesn't require sealing. I am extremely happy with these two materials.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 1:04PM
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I would go with oiled counter tops so they can be refinished. Do you think you would like the look of a white or cream Corian top as a contrast?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:53PM
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I will try to get a picture taken here in a couple days. We've got the countertops off right now so we could cut out the sink holes on the router table. Another beautiful thing about wood. They are light enough that I can move the perimeters by myself, and two of us can move the island top. I think it weighs around 90 lbs. We've had them out a few times now for construction projects so they wouldn't get dented and scratched with tools and such.

We used a marine varnish (can't remember the name off hand) just right around the edges of the sink where we thought water might be an issue on top, bottom, and edge, no problems when we took the drop in sink out, but will be doing undermount with the new sinks. If it looks like we might start having problems, we'll do something other than oil over the entire top, but I don't see it ever being a problem. I'm pretty religious about oiling in the most used area. Less often on the seating side. I think there are 3 different logs in our kitchen, and the darkest was kept for the tops, but walnut fades unlike most wood, so my floors are already lighter than when they went in a little over a year ago. I haven't noticed a significant change in the tops yet. I do believe oil makes for a deeper darker finish than the polyurethane which brings out the oranges and reds more. The knotholes in the floor are by far the darkest and prettiest areas. I took a picture of the most used area of the kitchen floor, where we had the table and chairs. We moved them to the kitchen when we ripped out the dining room floors and just now moved the table back to the dining room (procrastination is what we do best). Now that the table and chairs are out, I will probably lightly sand and recoat that area of the floor. All scratches seem to be in the finish (oil based polyurethane) and not into the wood itself. I can't feel any of them when I rub my fingers over them anyways. Not to bad for 5 chairs being scooted around every day. I'm sure there are thousands of tiny scratches that aren't noticeable to the naked eye, but if I can't see them with the sunlight beaming in, they don't exist lol.

The countertop scratches aren't as noticeable, most likely do to the fact that the oil actually soaks into the surface, whereas the poly sits on top of the wood. I'm sure there are probably knife marks where I've neglected to reach for the cutting board or where I've slid a heavy cast iron pan, but I certainly don't go looking for them and none are big or deep enough to draw attention. I'm pretty sure at one point I found a child's drawing somewhat imprinted into the top, but I've either forgotten about it, or it's gotten enough abuse that it blends.

I circled the biggest scratches in the picture, because I'm not sure how big it will be when it posts. They are where the two chairs that were unknowingly missing a pad on a leg sat. There are other smaller scratches that don't pick up in the picture, but again, not noticeable unless you get down on your hands and knees and look for them.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:07PM
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And just for an extra, this is my favorite board in the entire kitchen. And sadly, it's hidden behind the island. I had just mopped over it, so it's a bit streaky, but it reminds me of scrunched up satin, almost metallic looking. I don't think it will show in a picture like it does in real life.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 11:12PM
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You have beautiful floors, Mrs Mortarmixer!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Butcher block all the way!!! I have a corian sink and when brand new it was beautiful. It stains easily and unstains painfullly slow. Stick with butcher block it is much more forgiving.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 3:03PM
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I am with you on the granite thing.....I hate to say it but my 30 year old ivory formica countertops are still going strong - no stains and only a couple of very minor chips. II know it isn't stylish but it it so easy to keep clean I am having a hard time wanting to "update" to something less practical. I am considering putting soapstone in our master bath but it would be sooooo expensive in the kitchen!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 5:31PM
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I have a light corian (no clue if it has a name) its beige with brown speckles. Its very easy to use for a messy cook. The only stain I have had an issue with is yellow curry sauce (I ended up leaving a baking soda paste on it for a couple of days and it was removed with a bit of elbow grease). Wine, marinara, chocolate all have come out undetectable. Scratches are not visible.

All that being said, I would get a second opinion on price when comparing corian to quartz. It may not be as far off as you think. Just make sure you get what you want within your price range :0)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 6:06PM
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