7 Butcher Block Islands for Kitchens Big and Small

“Butcher blocks made with end grain are better than edge grain,” Lichy explains. “The difference is that edge grain runs along the outside and end grains are where the wood fibers are exposed at the end. End grains are way more resistant to cuts and scarring so they simply last longer.” She also recommends buying a piece that feels more durable than a standard island. She adds, “If you’re buying a freestanding butcher block, you want to make sure it has some weight to it so it’s not moving around. It will also look more luxurious if it’s sturdier.”

Here are several other considerations to keep in mind:

Material: Remember, butcher block islands are designed to double as food prep space (for chopping veggies, rolling dough, or pounding meat), so opting for a material that is extremely durable and scratch-resistant is key. All chopping blocks are crafted from wood, but which type is best? Our expert says go with maple, cherry wood, and walnut.

Size: The size you choose depends on the space you can spare in your kitchen. If you have a large space in which you spend a lot of time whipping up complicated delicacies, you may want to go with a large butcher block island. Otherwise, feel free to go with a smaller square shape (think 20 by 20 inches). Any smaller won’t give you much space to actually prep.

Storage: This is more of a personal preference than it is a necessity, but if you’re working in a small space, opting for a kitchen chop block with clever storage is nice. For instance, some come with drawers and shelves while others come with compact knife holders. Some, however, are too small to fit any storage.

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