When it comes to commercial countertops, there are many popular options: formica, composites, stone or slate, for example. Wood is one of the most elegant, earthy, and practical.
For businesses that need to consider appearance as well as functionality, butcher block countertops may be the answer, specifically maple block countertops. Here is what you should keep in mind as you consider maple block for your restaurant or facility:
Pros: Why Butcher Block Countertops?
Butcher counter spaces are most popular in restaurant settings. The hard wood can maintain functionality while providing customers with the high-end atmosphere that they are paying good money for. Butcher block countertops are also a favorite in commercial kitchens.
Chefs love them because they muffle the sounds of chopping and food preparations. In an environment that is already bustling and loud, it is nice to have anything that helps mute noise.
Finally, butcher block countertops don’t offer just a quiet surface; they offer a safe surface. The wood grain helps to grip slippery vegetables so that they don’t slide away from a hurried prep-cook who is holding a sharp knife.
Speaking of sharp, this lab grade countertop won’t dull a blade as quickly as stone, composite, Formica, or even plastic surfaces. Finally, butcher block countertops are an enduring aesthetic that high-end real estate investors and restaurateurs have come to expect.
Pros: Why Maple?
The most common form of industrial kitchen wood is hard maple. It comes from the sugar maple tree and is known for having a tight grain that can withstand knocks and scratches.
This tight grain also makes hard maple particularly resistant to water damage and staining. This is a very big plus when it comes to cleaning up. Most spills on maple surfaces can be handled with soap and water.
This impenetrability also makes maple a traditional favorite with meat cutters, because the blood or juices don’t penetrate quickly or deeply into the surface. Maple also has a natural antibacterial component.
Maple block’s ability to mitigate bacterial development may stem from the fact that it is harvested from sap wood and not the heartwood of the tree.
The sapwood often has a gorgeous blonde coloring. In addition, some sugar maple trees will occasionally produce an exceptionally beautiful version of sap wood called birds eye maple.
It is called this because the spotty nature of the grain resembles many birds’ eyes. This special wood is unique, unusually beautiful, and highly prized. Cementing chunks of hard maple into a wood block form makes for a counter of chopping blocks that is all the harder to scar.
This is because the end grain of the wood is used as the surface. End grain means the wood is cut across the direction of growth. From this position, the wood accepts the impact of a chopping or slicing blade by taking it right into the grain without any residence.
This is what allows the blade to remain sharp. This also allows the wood to essentially self-mend when the blade is retracted.
The Price of Beauty
A plus about maple is its cost. While natural surfaces are harder to come by and more labor intensive to produce, maple block is generally pretty affordable. As far as natural surfaces go, there is nothing more economical than hard maple block countertops.
Sugar maples are hardy and abundant trees. In fact, they comprise 15 – 20% of all trees in many heavily forested areas. Incidentally, their abundance helps keep the price of their wood relatively low.
How much it will cost will depend upon several factors. For example, are you looking at unfinished or finished wood? How much material will you need? With that in mind, maple block countertops will usually cost somewhere around $83 per square foot.
Another cost factor is that sugar maple is a wood that is often reclaimed from second-hand sources when available. This is specifically done for creating butcher block and countertop installations.
Potential Cons of Maple Block Countertops
Hard maple is a very resilient form of wood, but it is still wood. And a natural product is subject to dings, scars, and burns. Maple is usually easily repaired by sanding.
But it is not staining or waterproof. You can’t leave a puddle of chicken blood standing on it indefinitely like you can with plastic or Formica.
Polymer surface is going to be more hygienic. So, while hard maple is not porous for wood, plastic composites are going to be almost completely non-porous by comparison. They are also much easier to clean and sanitize.
Maple block can last a good twenty years with proper care. This is a testament to the wood’s durability. Even so, you will still have to oil it on a bi-weekly basis and refinish it as needed.
Not to mention, you have to weigh this against the fact that there are composite products that will outlast any wood without any care whatsoever. Also, unlike stone or artificial materials, maple block countertops are not designed for the outdoors.
Maple wood needs a drying off period, so it can’t just be left out in the rain. It will expand and contract with the changing temperature which can affect its composition and mounting.
So, if you are running an indoor/outdoor business, you need to either pick a different material or create a design break in your all wood, a break in your aesthetic as the flow of your operation moves outdoors.
Your counter space is where the real work gets done. It can be a make or break proposition. Let us at OnePointe Solutions help you find the right countertop for your commercial space.
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