Wood cutting board near a sink.

An example of a wisely placed wood cutting surface.

Even a small wood countertop in any kitchen can become a great focal point as well as one of the most functional items in the room.  Not everyone wants a whole kitchen full of wood countertops. Stone and various other surfaces have their place without doubt. But, every cook needs a place to chop and do other food prep that just isn’t compatible with many kinds of tops. Cutting and chopping areas can be integrated into the kitchen as anything from a small piece of butcher block added with stone to an island housing a sink or range. A little or a lot. Wood can be extremely practical or just a beautiful accent.

There are a couple of guidelines to know when planning a wood addition to your counters. Generally, it’s not a good idea to use end grain construction in a top that will be housing a sink. Think of a flower stem and the way it wicks water up to the bloom. The tree your wood was milled from functioned on the same principle making the end grain more porous and susceptible to soaking up moisture. Other wood construction styles don’t have this issue, so if you want a top to house a sink go for plank or edge grain rather than end grain.

The second thing to consider is the type of finish that will be applied. If the top is going to used for direct chopping and cutting the finish should be mineral oil. Other products such as varnishes can be damaged if cut on. Mineral oil keeps the wood healthy, is food safe and is easy to maintain.

round cutting board next to a granite countertop with sink.

End grain circular wood surface placed next to a stone counter top looks wonderful and offers a generous chopping area close to a prep sink.

Rectangle wood cutting board in countertop.

A simple rectangular shaped wood inset makes this island even more practical.

Another example of a small amount of end grain wood countertop in handy proximity to a sink set in granite.

Another example of a small amount of end grain wood countertop in handy proximity to a sink set in granite.

wood countertop with sink.

Edge grain butcher block top adds lots of interest and function to this kitchen island top. If you want a larger area of wood and also need a sink for serious cooking chores, a plank construction top is great for wet areas and fine for chopping as long as the sealer is correct.

 

 

If you want a larger expanse of wood countertop using around a range makes "chop and drop," a lot simpler than carrying the food over from another area.

If you want a larger expanse of wood countertop, using it around a range makes “chop and drop,” a lot simpler than carrying the food over from another area.

Island tops and eat-at bars are popular spots to use wood in kitchen done mostly in other materials. Wood is warm to the touch and adds a welcoming feel to these areas where people tend to gather.

Eat at bars are a good place to introduce some wood into a kitchen.

Smooth and warm, this eat at bar invites elbows and conversation.

Wood eat at bar in large kitchen.

A wood eat-at bar adds a welcoming element to what could be a dauntingly large space. Be it great or small, a wood top on an island brings life to any kitchen.

Be it great or small, a wood top brings warmth to any kitchen.

Sapele kitchen island top

A focal point as well as great spot to serve a casual meal, a wood island top brings a lot of bang for the buck to this kitchen. The simple shape and installation would make this a good idea for a DIY project.

If you don’t have an island, some wood incorporated into a perimeter countertop can be just as effective.

Wood countertop in built in buffet.

A built-in area used as a buffet is one option for a bit of wood in perimeter cabinet tops.

Wood countertop with small sink.

A warm wood countertop with a prep sink tucked along one wall is handy and beautiful.

An area for chopping inserted into another countertop material is an easy and useful addition to a busy kitchen.

Wood countertop in a granite counter.

Different materials complement one another in this wood cutting surface added to a granite perimeter countertop.

No matter what the style of your kitchen or the main countertop material, wood will add a layer of interest and make cooking easier and more enjoyable.

Walnut & Marble Kitchen Island Top 5

Just a small dose of wood can be an eye catching design feature even if it doesn’t serve a practical purpose.

Just a touch or a broad stroke. Wood is a classic and will never go out of style.