From Belinda Carr.
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1:04 How butcher block is made
3:00 How quartz countertops are made
8:48 Hardness and scratch-resistance
9:41 Heat resistance
Countertop trends seem to change every single year and social media is fuelling this movement. Homeowners are encouraged to upgrade their work surfaces regularly to the latest trend to add value to their home. Butcher block and quartz countertops are the two most popular choices right now. Both materials can redefine the look and functionality of a kitchen or bathroom and create a space that reflects your personal style.
Butcher block countertops are made from strips of wood which are glued together to create a solid, durable surface. Butcher blocks can be made from nearly any wood, but the most common ones are maple, walnut, beech, cherry and red oak. They can also be crafted from teak, bamboo and sustainably farmed exotics like wenge, zebrawood, and iroko. The top finish coat not only enhances the natural beauty of the wood but also provides protection against moisture, stains, and bacteria. It’s important to note that using mineral oil or beeswax to seal your butcher block countertop involves regular oiling or resealing to prevent drying, cracking, and staining.
Quartz, on the other hand, is an engineered stone made from a combination of natural quartz crystals and resins, resulting in a non-porous and stain-resistant surface. To make countertops, white and clear quartz or silicon dioxide is ground into a fine powder. It is mixed with plastic resins, colored pigments, recycled glass and metallic flecks. Quartz countertops are a fairly new product. They were invented in the 1960s and have recently become very popular because of their durability, low maintenance and wide range of color and pattern options. The manufacturing process of quartz countertops is more energy intensive than butcher blocks.
Butcher blocks add warmth and natural coloring to a space. Wood mixes well with many other countertop materials, like granite, concrete, marble and quartz. Quartz countertops are usually more minimalist, lighter in color and have uniform designs.
Next, let’s compare their porosity which refers to the amount of voids that allow liquid and air to pass through. Porosity determines the material’s susceptibility to water, oil and food stains. As expected, butcher blocks are very sensitive to liquid so you must limit any exposure to moisture. On the other hand, quartz didn’t absorb any of the liquid and wasn’t affected by the food coloring. They have the same susceptibility to oil. The unsealed butcher block was permanently stained, while the quartz sample was unaffected.
One of the biggest advantages of butcher block countertops is cost. Butcher block is one of the most affordable countertop materials. With installation, it costs $40-$100 per sqft, much cheaper than quartz, which costs $100-$200 per sq ft. Their cost difference directly relates to their DIY-ability. We used basic tools to cut holes for the sink and faucet, route the edge and smoothen the surfaces.
Butcher blocks are also not as heat resistant as quartz. You can’t place hot pots and pans on the wood because it will develop gouges and deep burn marks. Fortunately, sanding will take off a thin layer from the surface and eliminate any blemishes. Quartz countertops are heat resistant, but not heat-proof. You should avoid placing very hot pans on the surface since anything over 150 degrees Fahrenheit can permanently damage the resin in quartz.
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