Long before engineered quartz, laminate, or solid surfacing came on the scene, there was the original countertop material: wood. “Wood is the only countertop material that is fully renewable and sustainable,” says Suzy O'Neal, who founded Atlanta-based Craft-Art (www.craft-art.com) with her husband, Ken Williamson, in 1998. Though the company began with Ken crafting chopping blocks and cutting boards in the couple's basement, today the staff includes 25 employees who operate out of a 32,000-square-foot facility to create custom kitchen counters and bath vanity tops.
Craft-Art's standard wood selection includes more than 20 species, from the popular American cherry, Brazilian cherry, hard maple, and black walnut to the more exotic wenge, iroko, teak, zebrawood, and tigerwood. The company recently added elm, an American wood known for its light-toned color variations, and spalted maple and sycamore. Spalted wood is created by introducing a naturally occurring wood fungus into the maple and sycamore, which creates decorative color and grain variations, resulting in a dramatic look.
“We are finding that consumers want more than just granite countertops, and they are using wood to give their kitchens that added bit of individuality and natural beauty,” Williamson says.
As a finishing touch, tung oil is rubbed on by hand. This bonds with the wood fibers to seal the wood and lock out water, making Craft-Art countertop surfaces waterproof and stain resistant. They are also durable and safe for food, and hot pots can be set on them. Scratches can be removed using fine sandpaper.
Countertops are custom-made to the client's specifications. Each top is made with full-length pieces of wood, some as long as 18 or 20 feet. A variety of widths — from an 8-inch-wide shelf to a 60-inch wide island —is also available. The countertops are sold by kitchen and bath dealers and are shipped in 47 states.
Wanda Jankowski is a design and building industry journalist based in New York.
Dark wenge is a choice well-suited to Asian-influenced and contemporary-styled kitchens. Craft-Art's production process has been fine-tuned to automate tasks that are best done by machine and to focus on using skilled people for the large amount of hand-work involved in finishing each countertop.
Each countertop (huntwood shown) is custom-built. More than 30 standard edge profiles and a virtually limitless array of custom profiles are available.
Craft-Art offers more than 20 wood species, but will source other exotic and domestic woods upon request if they are not endangered. Shown are counter-tops in zebrawood, which, like all Craft-Art counters, have been hand selected.
Countertops, like this one in maple, are custom-made to the client's specifications. Sink and cooktop cutouts are done at the factory to ensure the best fit. Wood countertops should be treated approximately once a year with tung oil to protect them.