What Are the Pros and Cons of an Oak Countertop?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

When it comes to choosing the best counters for a kitchen space, the options seem limitless. Choosing the best one usually starts with determining a budget for the project, as well as determining how the counters are to be used. If the surfaces will be used for cooking applications and food may come in contact regularly with that surface, an oak countertop is a great option because like many other woods, oak is naturally antibacterial. The cost of an oak countertop can, however, be higher than other materials, though it is hard to beat the aesthetics of oak.

Wood countertops, especially those made from hardwoods, can be fairly pricey, and an oak countertop is no exception. Paying more for the countertop does have its advantages, however, as an oak countertop is likely to be durable and attractive for many years. It will be necessary to periodically maintain the countertops, however; this can be done relatively easily by applying mineral oil to the wood. Remember that spills from caustic liquids such as vinegar can discolor the wood permanently; this means some care needs to be taken when cooking to avoid damaging the countertops.

An oak countertop can be used as a purely decorative surface or as a more functional one. Some cooks choose to use the countertop surface as a cutting block, since the wood is antibacterial and therefore safe for food. Others prefer to protect the wood for its aesthetic value, and the countertop will be purely decorative. It helps to determine how the oak countertop will be used before installing it to ensure it is the best choice for that particular kitchen. The finish of the wood can be altered to suit a specific aesthetic appeal, and oak can be fashioned easily into various shapes, angles, and aesthetic flourishes.

Another advantage to an oak countertop is the ability to refinish the surface if necessary. Over time, if the wood becomes stained or overly pitted, it is possible to sand off the old finish and stains, repair any nicks or gouges, and then refinish the entire surface. The new finish may be identical to the old one, or a new finish can be chosen; this allows the owner to significantly alter the aesthetic of the kitchen without having to tear up the countertop and replace it with an entirely new surface. Other materials such as granite or formica are incapable of such changes.

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