butcherblock vs granite

lotsofkidsJune 13, 2014

So we are doing a kitchenette/project/craft/party food serving in the basement. The cabinetry is white-ish. The floors are walnut. I wanted to do dark walnut butcher block countertops (there won't be a ton of food prep there, so not lots of water exposure). I was led to believe that the countertops would be very inexpensive. As in less than $1000 for 66 SF. We are not chronic remodelers, so i like to choose classic things on the expensive/permanant stuff and do trendy things with the easy to change details. But for that low of a price point I figured if I got sick of it in a few years, I could swap them out.

Then we got the first bid. $5k. What? No. Now we are down to Maple for $2880. Or we could do granite (a level one option) for $4k. I love the warmth, texture and contrast of the butcher block. I also love that not a lot of people have it. But if we went with granite, what color would I do? Black? Dark gray? I decorate in cool colors. That is what I've always liked. I suppose a granite color like suede could approximate the color I was looking for in the wood, but it doesn't have the texture and warmth. Is $2880 inexpensive enough to be disposable in 5 or 10 years?

Is butcher block something trendy that will date my house a few years from now? We are sooooo close to being done with this whole thing. This has been the latest big glitch holding everything up. the cabinet guy can't finish his install until we get these countertops dealt with.

I would love some input.

PS I already looked into Ikea countertops and they are indefinitely out of stock.

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That's a big kitchenette - more square feet of counter than my kitchen!

Why can't the cabinet guy finish? In our kitchen remodel, the counters and sink were the last thing to go in, and there was a month lag time from template to install.

Good luck with your search.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:00PM
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Lumber liquidators sells butcher block. If you DIY, you should be able to do it for ~$1000. I would imagine that a decent carpenter would be able to install them for you in less than a day.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lumber liquidators butcher block

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:19PM
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Keep checking IKEA. The solid butcherblock counters sell out quickly but you can check stock daily online for your store and then make a run for it when they do come in. I did that with mine and didn't have to wait more than a week or two. I think the website does say something like it's sold out indefinitely but I'm pretty sure that has to do with them not wanting to say exactly when they get shipments in, for whatever reasons. Someone at the store told me that.

That said, their butcherblock does need finishing---as in belt sanding, really. I got the solid beech and the surface is ever so slightly wavy, I guess due to uneven shrinkage of the various strips of wood in it. If you want a super-smooth counter, you will have to add in the cost (or time and energy) of belt sanding. You can get it smooth with a pad sander but it will still have that slight wavy feel. Though at $10/sf vs the $100/sf that I was quoted for custom oak butcher block, the belt sanding is still way worth it.

I love granite to look at but it's too cold and hard to be my countertop, even if it was within my puny lil' budget.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:21PM
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The cabinet guy can't finish bc some oh the cabinets sit on the counters. He has installed what he can.

I am putting in a call to lumber liquidators to see what they have.

The Ikea employees looked in their system and it said no delivery date (when they were out of stock for something else I wanted it had a likely delivery date). They said they haven't had any in stock for some time. We also have family coming in town in July, and we have to et this done. This basement has been a year and a half in the works, and I am so ready to be done.

Although if they did get some in stock, I do have a question. If you cut them are they solid wood? My contractor put some in another house, and when he cut into them they were pressed wood. We are doing an arch on one of our counters, and we need something solid that can be shaped.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:53PM
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>Although if they did get some in stock, I do have a question. If you cut them are they solid wood?

Are you asking about ikea or LL? Ikea numerar should be solid. However, they seem to be being replaced by this horrid thing called Askerby, which is wood-wrapped MDF. If you go ikea be sure to get numerar.

There have been a lot of reports of big holidays in the LL maple butcher block. I don't know if the archives here have those posts but look for poorowner's threads about this, for example.

And to be fair, there were a few complaints about numerar towards the end of the time when ikea usually had it, so possibly it was QC issues that are making it harder to get now.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:34PM
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Have you checked out craft-art? Their prices were quite reasonable for real black walnut, considering, if you check the DIY section of their store site.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:36PM
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at Floor & Decor

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:43PM
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Close up of the pricing, Walnut $438 for 12 feet, it looks beautiful, I have been trying to find a place to put it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:46PM
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My neighbour got butcherblock that was designed for workshop worktops - cheaper than kitchen stuff but just as good. I think it could be odd to have maple tops and walnut floors though.

My other neighbour is getting stainless counters, which I think would be great for your space - though I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. It's a cheap and durable option.

The cabinet guy should be able to install the cabinets, except that he has to plan for stone tops if additional support/reinforcements are needed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:50PM
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I wish we had a floor and decor in my state! It looks perfect! I'm assuming it would be cost prohibitive to ship.

I sent my contractor the link to craft art when I first told him I wanted butcher block. I will double check that he did check with them.

I'm confused about this comment, "There have been a lot of reports of big holidays in the LL maple butcher block. " Can you clarify? Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:52PM
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I'm confused about this comment, "There have been a lot of reports of big holidays in the LL maple butcher block. " Can you clarify?

Not sure what you're asking. Holiday means a missed spot, a gap, if that's the question (also used for painting when spots get skipped). Poorowner's LL BB had so many holes that the consensus was that it was probably actually bowling alley flooring (which has holes to make it springier). They did take care of it eventually for him.

That floor & decor BB does look great. Has anyone here used it?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 5:58PM
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Where do you find butcherblock for workshops?

"I think it could be odd to have maple tops and walnut floors though." I don't know. I think of it like not having to match my purse to my shoes and belt. I admit I'm no design expert though. I would like walnut, but from the prices I've been quoted so far, it is outside of what I'm willing to spend on something that seems fairly trendy.

Stainless steel counter tops look really awesome in some spaces. It doesn't really work with the look I'm going for. We are doing a combo craftsman/French cottage look.

The cabinet guy definitely can't finish this portion without counter tops bc they are floating columns supporting an arch. No wall to attach them to. Just the counter and the ceiling.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 6:04PM
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Google reclaimed boxcar wood. I saw this in a restaurant in Denver and is a great look if you like a little more rustic. I found a site with some pics: http://www.reclaimedboxcarflooring.com/photoalbum.html

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 6:17PM
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here's a peek at our walnut end grain butcherblock which was custom designed and made by a local cabinet shop. It is gorgeous and everyone who sees it thinks it's amazing. It was not cheap. About 3600 for 100" wide by 42" deep. But there was extra expense because it had to be designed around support columns.

it's still covered after oiling but just a peek:


and here's the rest of the bar area (not completed):

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 6:35PM
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Holiday is a term I was not familiar with in that context. I learned something new today!

Illinigirl that looks awesome! Is that a wet bar or a kitchen? We are doing something sort of similar except two levels, and between our two columns is arched, and the cabinets are white.

That reclaimed boxcar wood looks really cool. And really expensive. The cool stuff always does. *sigh*

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 8:52PM
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I have dark oak floors, currently weathered oak and antique cherry cabinets. I built my own BB countertop, 16' + a 24" piece next to the stove, for about $50. Took a while but Oh, so worth it. I haven't decided what finish to use, nor whether or not I'll stain it. So far the different woods just look eclectic and/or "bespoke." But that's me. Eclectic.

As far as it looking "dated" I think that's kinda silly. "Dated" would be Formica BB. Read BB of any wood becomes more and more lovely the more patinaed it becomes. I know I have never seen an older BB without thinking how gorgeous it is. BB has been around for centuries. "Dated" really doesn't enter the picture. Your other selections, i.e. cabinets, fixtures, etc., are more likely to look dated faster than a BB countertop.

It sounds like you have a great space. I really look forward to seeing pictures of your end result!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:09PM
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illinigirl, your walnut is georgeous! Can't wait to see the reveal.

I'm in the middle of a Craft-art DIY walnut plank countertop. Very reasonable for DIY, but custom gets pricy. If you do not need custom sizes and don't mind to apply the finish it is quite reasonable.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 12:58AM
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Thank you lotsofkids! This is a wetbar in our lower level family (media/TV) room.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 9:04AM
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I just got a 6 ft walnut butcher block that was finished for $380 made by Wood Welded and sold by Andersen Plywood. LOVE IT! I also priced LL but it seems that it needs a lot of finishing. I found a specialty wood lumber place that would fabricate for me and I think that they wanted $650 for a 6 ft long plank style top unfinished.
On the Kitchen forum I've seen Perfect Plank recommended but I think they do finger joints and that left me a little disinterested. Anyway, hope that helps a little!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 10:25AM
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Perfect Plank ... get the alder and stain it dark brown

It needs light sanding and sealing.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 10:29AM
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My sister did walnut from Lumber Liquidators. Took a week to get the slab and her handyman put it in. She sanded and finished it. Looks amazing. She spent less than $500 for about a 6' run. I am going to do it for sure in my laundry refurb.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 11:26AM
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CEFreeman- I'm curious about your DIY countertops. We're about to embark on this ourselves. Did you do planks or strips like true BB? What wood did you use? Any pictures to share? Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 11:47AM
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bbtrix, that countertop is fabulous!!!! Just beautiful.

sweat-tea, I got 10-12' sticks, roughly 1.5 - 2" from a reuse center. I think they were actually part of some kind of laminate beams at some point, because one side of them looks like it has glue on them. So, that side went to the bottom. And I think I paid about $2 - $3 for each stick.

I think I've decided to put General Finishes dead flat matte varnish on them. I won't be cutting on them, so mold or mildew in a broken finish won't be an issue. Plus, I have a lot of wood going on, so something "raw" would give the eye a break. I think I've decided! :)

Here's a the long countertop at row 10. I think they're 12 sticks deep:

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 2:32PM
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For anyone wanting to DIY the finish on countertops, I recommend trying Rubio Monocoat. Many colours, and lovely soft matte finish. I have tried samples and it is really easy to apply and the finish can be refreshed without re-doing the entire countertop. Just a single layer required!

Oil colours:
You really have to try the samples with the exact wood you are using to see the effect - varies a lot.

Here are the countertop instructions:

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Thanks everyone! Wow these countertops are gorgeous! I just love them! Now I really want butcher block even more than before. I sent this thread to my contractor to help me decipher my best options.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 1:52PM
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@lotsofkids - what'd you end up going with? (if you already picked that is) I found this thread when looking up some butcher block info & got curious what you ended up with! (I've used Craft Art before, actually)

@bbtrix - I AM OBSESSED with your island. wow. is there a thread somewhere with more pics?!! I had to use all caps and a bunch of exclamation points becuase I love it that much : )

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:30AM
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I decided on the butcherblock. They are gorgeous, but I havne't been able to use them yet. We have been stuck in installation mode for 2 months. Drama drama. I had pictures in my phone but there was a juice pouch explosion last night and the couple of trickles that landed on my phone seem to have done some mega damage. As in, it is dead. So when they come next week to finish install for the third time I will take pictures of the finished product and share.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:06PM
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