Kitchens – Are butcher-block countertops appropriate for a very hot and humid climate


I am thinking of ideas for furnishing a kitchen – my first home – and I am thinking of using a butcher-block top for my counter.

I have a few questions:

  1. I live in Singapore where it is very hot and humid. Will the butcher-block top be subject to warping or is there any concerns I need to look out for?
  2. Is the butcher-block top high-maintenance? I see that using a mineral oil on it will help keep it in good condition, but is regular cleaning just a matter of a damp cloth across the surface?

Best Answer

In my opinion, wood is a very poor choice for kitchen counter tops. Any wood is dimensionally unstable to some extent, how much depends on several factors such as moisture content during installation and method of construction. It can be relatively stable or a complete disaster.

My main objection is wood is porous. Ideally, kitchen countertops should be impervious. Most materials have pores to some extent, but they should be as microscopic as possible. Wood pores are relatively gigantic. While oiling is helpful, wood will get stained from food and other products that come in contact with it. Some may say this gives it character, but to me, it just looks unsanitary.

Speaking of sanitary, despite the moniker 'butcher block', meat should never be processed on a wood surface. It is impractical to properly sanitize wood in the home. Chop all the fruits and vegetables you want on it, but only cut meat on a dedicated impervious cutting board that can easily be sanitized.