Let's look at some popular styles and types of butcher block islands, and the pros and cons that go along with these.
Freestanding or Built-In? Advantages and DisadvantagesYou will need to decide early on whether or not you want a freestanding or a built-in kitchen island. As you will see, this debate involves more than just a matter of the island having legs, casters, or none of the above.
One of the chief advantages of a freestanding butcher block kitchen island is that you are not required by electrical code to install electric outlets. When you have a built-in kitchen island, you have the obligation to install electric outlets, which can be quite a big issue when you consider the fact that this is the center of the room. Where are you going to find power? You need to bring it up through the floor, and this necessitates bringing in an electrician.
One advantage of a built-in kitchen island is that you can install a sink. Since you are bringing up power through the floor, you can also go the extra mile and have a plumber install supply and drain lines for your island sank.
Butcher Block Kitchen Island: Dimensions, Thickness, and FinishesButcher blocks come in a wide range of size options, from as small as 18” on each side to as big as 60” long and 35” wide.
Pay close attention to the thickness of the butcher blocks because the surface will eventually become pitted and scored by continuous use from the chef. Unlike other cutting boards, which you can toss when they are no longer usable, it is not an option to toss your expensive kitchen butcher block surface.
So, look for a butcher block that is 3 inches thick or even thicker and made of hardwood such as maple, cherry, oak, walnut, or birch. Steer clear of pine or other soft wood butcher block island surfaces as they will not stand up to hard use. Thick butcher block countertops will allow you to occasionally sand down the surface so that you can have again a smooth, flawless, and sanitary surface.
Shopping for Butcher Block Kitchen IslandsWhen you're looking for butcher block counters for your built-in kitchen island, look for manufacturers who sell the detached countertop surfaces. Then, have the remodeling contractor build a conventional kitchen island, but top it with the special-order butcher block material.
Many homeowners report that they buy a freestanding island with the idea of later replacing it with a built-in island; or they think that they are later going to detach the countertop surface and attach it to a built in island.
The best advice is to buy the type of kitchen island that you like in the first place, and just bite the bullet. This is not to denigrate freestanding butcher block kitchen islands, because they certainly have great utility (as well as the advantage of avoiding the cost of installation by contractors). Simply put, buy what you want first time around, instead of looking at the free-standing island as a stopgap before building a fixed-in-place island.
Freestanding butcher block islands are easily found online at relatively low prices. They usually are delivered flat, IKEA-style, but assembly can be completed with basic hand tools. More serious butcher blocks, such as the Grazzi Work Table, of 2 1/4" rock maple, and measuring 28" wide by 60" long.