Wood: The Other Countertop Material

During a kitchen renovation or remodel, the countertop is often the crowning detail.  It’s never the last detail, but it’s something homeowners put special consideration into—and rightly so.  It’s always visible and its appearance can define the entire look of the room.  That’s why it’s important to choose the right material for your countertop.  Now, you already know this article is about wood countertops, but it’s not necessarily because they are the best choice.  Choice comes down to personal preference and granite countertops are a popular choice.


Wood countertops, on the other hand are not nearly as popular, but they can be just as beautiful, if not more so than granite or other similar stone material.  One of the biggest reasons wood gets overlooked is maintenance.  All countertops require maintenance in order to live a long and useful life, but wood gets singled out because, well, it’s wood.  It’s porous and susceptible to moisture, but that’s easily solved with sealant.  Over time the counter will need to be resealed.  Homeowners with wood kitchen countertops will say it’s well worth the slight additional effort.

Like any countertop choice, you’re faced with a large selection of styles and colors.  Finding that look to define your kitchen is a challenge, but it’s important to know some woods are more suited for certain uses than others.  This is especially true for wood used in the kitchen where it will be exposed to varying temperatures, substances, and moisture.   Let’s take a look at 7 types of wood homeowners can commonly choose from.



In commercial-grade products, ash is usually available in a lighter color, such as blond or light gold.  There are several other varieties, ranging from pale white to black, but those tend to not be widely available.  It’s a resilient wood, but when it’s exposed to steam it can bend and warp.


Birch has a similar blond color to ash.  It’s known for having a sweeping or waving grain pattern, giving the wood surface a unique and easily identifiable appearance.  When it’s properly stained, birch wood can be made to resemble mahogany.  This is a huge benefit if you love the appearance of mahogany, but don’t want to pay the higher mahogany price.


Cherry is a kitchen favorite due to the pink hues in the grain.  The pink coloration can range from very subtle and understated to a vibrant, almost eye-popping hue.  When aged, cherry wood takes on a very deep reddish color and, while incredibly desirable, it can prove pricey.  Additionally, cherry isn’t always ideal for countertops—though this can depend greatly depend on placement.  In high use areas, it’s more susceptible to scoring and other damage, due to its softer nature.  Instead, cherry works better as an accent wood.


While it’s known for its rich deep red color, mahogany is available in many shades of red and brown.  The red varieties are similar in color to aged cherry wood, but mahogany is harder than cherry, making it a great choice as a working surface.  The downside to this wood is the cost.  True mahogany is pricey, but it can easily be worth the investment.


Usually available in yellow or blond, maple is a very hard and durable wood that’s ideal for many projects and uses.  It can take a beating, so in a busy kitchen environment, it will hold up to years of culinary abuse and still look good (with a little help now and again.  Plus, it’s quite affordable.


Oak is a hugely popular choice for a kitchen wood (in flooring, cabinetry, and countertops).  It’s slightly darker than maple and can be found in a pale blond.  Oak has a distinct and well-defined grain, plus it’s highly resilient to wear and tear.  It’s regularly cited as great for the kitchen.


Known for its deep and rich brown color, walnut is similar to cherry in terms of its overall resilience.  While it’s categorized as a hardwood, it’s not nearly as hard as maple or oak.  Because of this, it also works better as an accent to harder woods, rather than being used independently.

Jonathon Ensor stays on top of the latest home design trends as a writer for Empire Today.  He loves to get unique furniture and decorations from thrift stores and garage sales.

Erin Emanuel