There’s nothing like a custom wood countertop to make a kitchen stand apart from the others on the block. And to make it really stand out from the crowd, how about an end-grain butcher block?
“Most companies will not build end-grain butcher blocks larger than four square feet,” says Paul Grothouse, owner, Grothouse Lumber Co., Germansville, Pa. “That’s because building with end grain, if not done right, it’s going to crack. But it gives you a look that’s incomparable to a plank top.”
Today’s wood countertops are not the same as they were 10 or more years ago, Grothouse says. “Wood technology over the past few years has come a long way and allowed us to offer product that’s not the butcher block builders might be used to. A tremendous amount has happened to make it a more mainstream, desired product.”
Grothouse Lumber’s signature is being the most capable, he explains. “We don’t limit ourselves. We do totally custom, built-to-order. We work with 63 species and can ship in a two- to three-week lead time. We’re building end grains a lot of people say won’t work, but we’re doing it.”
Not sure if it can be done? Grothouse Lumber will work with architects and builders to determine the answer. “We train them so they know how to specify. We work with them so they understand what’s available,” Grothouse says.
“The most important thing to understand is that wood expands and contracts. It expands in width and length, so you must leave room for expansion. We review each order for issues like this.”
Grothouse designs and builds countertops and butcher blocks for residential and commercial projects, but mostly residential. Wood countertops represent the biggest portion of business at 90 percent, he says.
Woodworking is in the Grothouse blood. “When I was an 18-year-old carpenter I was making a lot of money compared to my friends. I went to school and got an engineering degree which opened a lot of doors. My carpentry experience helps me with the product, and my education helps me run the business.”
The company’s products can be seen in mid- to high-end homes, but just because a client is buying semicustom or stock cabinets doesn’t mean the clients won’t want a nice butcher block or wood top in their home. “It’s still a surface you can put in any home and enjoy. We work on many types of homes.”
Wood species not in the Grothouse inventory are no problem, Grothouse says, but the lead time will be longer. How custom can they get? “We did a big job involving a 6-in. thick, 54-in. wide, 20-ft. long countertop. We backed a flatbed into the shop and loaded it with a forklift. It took 20 guys to carry it into the house. It weighed 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.