Blog

January 04, 2018

Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces earn DECLARE label

By KC Eisenberg

By selecting the DECLARE product transparency label for our solid surface countertops, Sustainable Northwest Wood has become the first solid wood surface manufacturer to take this important step toward disclosing the ingredients used in wood adhesives. DECLARE is a transparency platform and product database developed and maintained by the International Living Future Institute that is changing the materials marketplace by making public the ingredients used within products. 

Our Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces are one of just a few products lines we are currently offering that aren't made of solid, 100% natural wood. In addition to the wood, which makes up more than 98% of them, these solid surfaces include adhesives that hold the individual staves of wood together. By declaring the adhesives in these products, we are taking a step toward informing our customers about the ingredients that make up these adhesives.

At this time, due to the proprietary nature of our supplier's formulas, we are not able to list with certainty all of the ingredients that make up these adhesives (the supplier isn't even able to disclose this information, simply because they don't know). This unfortunately is an industry-wide problem, and at this time there are no suitable alternative adhesives that can be used. But the DECLARE label is a step in the right direction, and has opened up a frank conversation with our supplier about their ingredients. 

By completing the DECLARE process, our solid wood surfaces have become compliant with Living Building Challenge projects.

Today, we can’t say that our solid wood surface countertops are Red List Free, but we see the DECLARE label as a step in the right direction. We will continue to advocate for the use of wood adhesives that can offer 100% transparency, and as soon as we and our suppliers are able to find an effective, high-quality Red List Ready adhesive that we can use for these tops, we look forward to employing it.

September 28, 2017

New larger sizes of butcher block slabs now in stock!

By KC Eisenberg

We're adding a larger size to our selection of in-stock, ready-to-go butcher block slabs: 1 1/2" x 40" x lengths of 4' through 8'.

This larger size is a quick and economical solution for island tops, tables, and other areas that need more coverage. They're in the side-grain style, unfinished, with square edges. They're all made of solid, kiln-dried, locally grown wood.

We're still offering the standard size of 1 1/2" x 26 1/2" x lengths of 4', through 10'. And we can make many custom sizes and styles as well!
August 02, 2016

New Plank-Style Solid Wood Surfaces

By KC Eisenberg

We're loving all the butcher block-style solid wood countertops that are showing up in kitchen and bath projects. Wood surfaces add warmth and texture, and so much color

Plank-style surfaces are another way to add warmth and texture, but show off more of the unique grain patterns and figuring that make each type of wood special. The plank-style tops are made with much wider pieces of wood, up to 8" wide; butcher block is traditionally made of thinner staves, smaller than 1 1/2" wide.

Plank-style tops really highlight the beauty, color, and grain patterns of our local wood species. Check out the options below, shown clockwise from top left: FSC Douglas Fir, Pacific Madrone, Tanoak, and our Willamette Valley Walnut.

We can craft these surfaces in any of our local wood species, and in any custom size to fit countertops, table tops, island tops, or other creative applications. Please contact us for pricing information.


July 25, 2016

What is the best finish to use for butcher block countertops?

By KC Eisenberg

Butcher block and wood solid surface countertops are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms these days. And for good reason: The wood adds warmth, texture, and natural beauty to the space in a way that other materials just can't.

But wood needs to be well protected to keep water and wine from staining or damaging it. There are, of course, many products available to help complete this task. So many products. Too many products! 

We break down the pros and cons of some of the most common choices.

Poly Vs. Oil

Polyurethane is a liquid coating that dries into a plastic film. This is great for sealing the countertop, but then there's a layer of plastic between you and your pretty new wood. Also, poly finishes generally have to be removed entirely before any scratches or worn spots can be repaired. Yes, the countertop will need to be sanded entirely clean before any new finish can be reapplied. Ugh!

Oil finishes penetrate down into the wood, bringing out the color and luster of the wood, and allow you direct contact with the warmth and distinctive texture of the wood. Oil finishes can also be spot-repaired without sanding the entire surface -- a huge benefit -- but they will likely require more frequent maintenance than poly finishes, especially in high-impact areas like around sinks or in food prep zones. 

We generally recommend a natural oil finish for the butcher block tops we sell to homeowners due to the ease of application and maintenance. We sell the full line of Rubio Monocoat products and can include them with your butcher block order. Contact us to get pricing for your butcher block project, and check out the full line of standard and custom butcher block options that we offer, all made with locally sourced, sustainably harvested Northwest wood species.

What product to choose? 

We've used lots of products over the years on our samples and displays, and we've polled our woodworker clients on their top choices. We generally recommend modified natural oil finishes for our solid surface and butcher block products because of the ease of application and maintenance. Here are some of the common choices, and the pros and cons of each:

April 21, 2014

How to Care for Your New Butcher Block Countertops

By Tamra

So you've chosen a new countertop or work surface.  It's beautiful, all natural, and adds warmth and color to your space.  But now what?  What can you do to keep it looking fresh and clean?

Here are a few tips to help:

PRIOR TO INSTALLATION:
Your butcher block countertop will arrive unfinished with square edges and corners and needs a week to acclimatize to its new surroundings. Do not
put finish or oil on your countertop or cut it until it has had time to adjust to the humidity in your home. Your new countertop needs to rest flat/horizontally with air flow around all sides for at least one week to adjust fully and evenly.

Once installed, wash your block by hand using dish soap and warm water. Allow the butcher block to dry completely after washing. Always wash your  butcher block completely before finishing or reapplying finish.

FINISHING:
Be sure to properly dispose of all oiled rags to prevent household fires.
Always follow the finish manufacturer’s instructions for specific finishes.


There are a number of food safe oils that are approved for use on wood that comes into contact with food. Always read the labels. Any oil that comes in contact with food should be labeled “Food Safe.”

A butcher block countertop with oil finish will require ongoing oiling to protect the piece and will develop a deep rich patina over time. For natural plant oils or mineral oil, spread an even coating of oil over every part of the butcher block. Let the oil soak in for as long as possible, an hour or more, and then wipe off the excess. Allow the butcher block to continue absorbing the oil overnight, then apply a second coat. The number of coats the wood needs depends upon the species of wood and how dry the butcher block is upon installation. As many as three to five coats of oil may be necessary to seal the wood properly.

MAINTENANCE:
Periodically oil the butcher block with your choice of food-grade plant or mineral oil. Letting the butcher block dry out because of a lack of oil is the top cause of problems with butcher block. A good rule of thumb is once a week for the first month and then a minimum of monthly thereafter.

The frequency of oiling will vary by the species, the amount of use, and the harshness of detergents used to clean the butcher block. If the wood appears dry, it is time to oil.

Keep your wood countertop dry and away from direct heat. Do not allow liquid to stand on the block for a long period of time; it can stain the butcher block and cause the wood to expand, which may result in damage to your butcher block.

If light scratches occur, sand the surface gently with 220-grit sandpaper and reapply your food-safe oil.

July 30, 2013

Custom or standard, our butcher block is a quick and easy solution for your countertop needs

By KC

Ever since we introduced our line of hardwood butcher blocks last fall, they've been flying out the warehouse and into homes and businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest.

And it's no wonder! They're available quickly and easily, in standard stocked sizes or in custom dimensions to suit your unique project.   Plus these countertops are as eco-friendly as they come: They're made from locally-harvested wood that is either FSC certified or comes from salvaged sources.

Quick and easy: Our in-stock butcher block is available in five different local, sustainable wood options and is sized to fit a standard kitchen cabinet.

Super affordable pricing: Contact us for current pricing.

High quality: Our butcher block is built to last with kiln-dried hardwood and is glued up with FDA-approved, non-formaldehyde adhesives. 

In-stock sizes: 1 1/2" x 26 1/2" x lengths 48" to 120"

Photo at top: FSC Big Leaf Maple shows off tasty pastries at Miss Zumstein's in Portland.
Photos at bottom: FSC Big Leaf Maple was customized for this retail space; an extra-long madrone slab adds a warm touch to this restaurant bar.