wooden countertop
Perhaps it's because celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse use them, or maybe homeowners are just craving some warmth amid so much stainless steel. Whatever the reason, wood-slab countertops are all the rage, available in exotic new species such as wenge, hornbeam, and cocobolo, and with dramatic profiles like natural, just-off-the-tree edges.

With the fresh look comes the end of its bad rap as hard to maintain and less sanitary than stone or steel. Our research revealed it's often cheaper than granite, the most popular high-end countertop choice. (At John Boos, where Emeril got his, it starts at around $30 per square foot.) While some upkeep is required, pros say a few coats of food-grade mineral oil reapplied every few months takes care of that. Burns and knife marks can be erased with resanding. And, it turns out wood can be as sanitary as any surface. Plus, unlike granite, you can make your own. Just stick to close-grained hardwoods and save the staining for your cabinets.
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