How to Select Hardwood Countertops that Will Last
Hardwood countertops are both gorgeous and
functional. They add a warmth that natural stone cannot come close to achieving, and contribute a
richness far beyond laminate or solid surface counters. That said, they do require a bit of knowledge
and attention to make certain that you will not only be choosing hardwood countertops that suit your kitchen
décor, but that will also keep their beauty and practicality for many years to come. Use the following
to help give yourself the advantage to know how to find the longest lasting attractive hardwood
Know how you’ll be using your hardwood countertops
Before you shop for any counter, let alone hardwood countertops, it is important to know how it will be
used. If you will be using it as a general purpose surface in your kitchen, for example, for a breakfast bar
or the area that will hold your small appliances, then most hardwood countertops will work very well. That said, if
you are planning to use the surface specifically as a food prep area (for tasks such as chopping and slicing), you
might find that it is more practical to use another surface material, such as butcher block, instead. You may
also choose to combine butcher block with your hardwood countertops. Otherwise, you will risk damaging the
surface of your counter.
Understand the types of species of hardwood countertops
The hardness of the actual species of the tree from which the wood is cut, makes a major
difference to the durability of hardwood countertops. By choosing a harder wood, you will have hardwood
countertops that will have an increased resistance to damage and dents than those made out of woods that are
softer. This means that as you shop around for your new surface, you should pay attention to the types of
wood and their position on the Janka Hardness Scale. The higher the number on the scale, the harder – and
therefore more durable – the hardwood countertops will be. For example, while eastern pine is a relatively
soft wood which scores about 380 on the Janka Hardness Scale, northern red oak scores 1290, meaning that it is
tremendously harder. Though you may like the look of a certain kind of wood, make sure to investigate how
durable it is by finding out its place on the hardness scale with the name of the tree (for example, oak, maple,
teak, walnut, or mahogany).
Find out about the hardwood countertops finishes and treatments
There are two primary finishes for hardwood countertops and there are major differences between the two in terms
of the long term maintenance that will be required to ensure the longevity of the surfaces. The two
types of finish are: temporary and permanent. They work as follows:
- Temporary – these are finishes that will need to be reapplied periodically and include tung oil, mineral
oil, wax, beeswax, or a combination of wax and oil. These are preferable for food prep areas.
- Permanent – these are finishes that need to be applied only once and include polyurethane and other
chemical coatings. These are preferable for general use surfaces.
Both types of finish provide a protection for the hardwood countertops. The main difference between the
two is whether or not the finish will need to be replaced (meaning additional effort from the homeowner) and its
suitability for the desired purpose for the hardwood countertops.
With this information, you will be able to gauge the difference between a countertop that will be easy to keep
and maintain for many years, and one that will take much less abuse and will require more regular maintenance and
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