Cutting boards are a staple in most kitchens these days, known for their effective ability to keep your benchtops safe from cuts and scratches as you prepare food. They’re also useful for keeping your knives sharp, as an abrasive surface can blunt their edges and make them useless.
Traditional cutting boards were either made from a simple wood or plastic, but with other factors becoming important to home chefs such as affordability, durability, and sustainability, there are now numerous types of cutting board material used.
When selecting a cutting board the material is the most important factor to consider. However, you’ll also need to consider the size, shape, and weight of the board and how it can work with the type of meals you prepare.
As your cutting board will be used almost daily in your home, it’s essential to choose one that will last for years and assist you in the productive preparation of your food. These boards need to be durable but also relatively soft to keep your utensils and benchtop free from damage, so selecting the right material is crucial.
Glass Cutting Board
Most glass cutting boards are crafted from tempered glass, and they can be stained or decorated to cover a range of designs. These boards are easy to clean and are resistant to deep scratches like other nonporous materials.
Tempered glass is a popular material choice for cutting boards due to their hard surface, however, there are a few disadvantages to using these boards.
The main issue with glass cutting boards is how their surface can damage your knives. While they usually have rubber stoppers on the bottom to keep it secured to the benchtop, the area of concern is how it’s affecting the blade. As glass is so abrasive and tough, this will quickly dull your knives and make them unusable.
If your ears are sensitive to harsh noises, a glass cutting board may not be for you. Some people find it comparable to nails down a chalkboard, and it can be quite hard to chop things quickly without making quite a racket.
Finally, safety can be a concern with glass cutting boards too. Thanks to their slick and hard surface, a knife can easily slip as you’re cutting and cause a potential hazard in the kitchen.
If one comes away from the bench top or table surface they will shatter instantly, so extra caution must be taken. While they may look decorative and feel durable, glass cutting boards are likely going to do more harm than good.
Marble Cutting Board
Marble cutting boards are known for being one of the most hygienic forms of cutting boards. Thanks to their non-porous material, they’re able to keep the bacteria and germs from penetrating through the surface.
Another of their advantages is the ease of cleaning, in part due to this non-porous quality. With a marble cutting board, you’ll simply need to wipe it down after each use to keep it clean. It doesn’t need any extra maintenance as wood varieties can, so it is handy in this area.
Aesthetically, marble cutting boards are stunning to look at. Having one of these on your benchtop can add an instant touch of class to your kitchen. However, they do have their downside as well.
Due to their tough surface, similar to glass, marble cutting boards can do quite a bit of damage to your knives. In most cases, your cutting board will outlast the life of your knives as it can dull them significantly with each use.
Although visually pleasing and long lasting, marble may not suit all types of kitchens. While the board won’t need maintenance, your knives will need to be constantly sharpened which can shorten their lifespan considerably.
Granite Cutting Board
Granite is another visually pleasing material choice for cutting boards, and one on your benchtop can add elegance and charm to the kitchen. As many people already have sturdy benchtops made from granite, it seems that it should be an obvious choice for cutting board material.
This is a popular modern option for cutting boards, and they have been known to last for many years. However, as granite is another form of stone, it does have the same issues as glass and marble in dulling your knives.
These cutting boards are easy to keep clean, and you can give them a simple wipe or wash them with warm water and detergent for a more thorough clean without doing any damage. Because they’re non-porous they won’t soak in any nasty bacteria the way a plastic cutting board might.
As they’re quite hard to the touch, granite cutting boards can be noisy. If you like to cook meals with quite a lot of fast chopping actions, you may find them irritating to use after a while.
While they add a touch of elegance to your bench top, their practicality compared to other materials does not measure up. For the best option, a granite benchtop with a wood variety cutting board placed on top is the most elegant look.
Maple Cutting Board
Maple has long been considered one of the top wood types to use for a cutting board. Wood cutting boards have many advantages over the harder and abrasive materials, and maple is an ideal example of this.
With a maple cutting board, you’re ensuring that you keep your knife and its blade as sharp as possible. Unlike the harder stone and glass varieties, these boards won’t do any damage to a blade and will help to prolong its life significantly.
Cleaning a maple cutting board is relatively simple, and the non-porous material of these harder woods such as acacia and maple mean that fewer bacteria and less water can seep through. They will be prone to some dents and scratches, but often this builds character to a chopping board that is important to some people.
Price is one of the major disadvantages to maple, though, and these boards can be quite expensive. Of the higher quality wood boards available, maple is certainly the most expensive. If you’re looking for a wood cutting board and want to stay within a reasonable price range, this might not be the option for you.
Bamboo Cutting Board
Bamboo has long been a popular alternative for wood in many areas, not just with cutting boards. Although commonly grouped with wood materials, bamboo cutting boards are not actually constructed by any form of wood.
One of the main selling points of bamboo, in particular with cutting boards, is the sustainability of the material. Compared to most woods, bamboo has a very fast regrowth rate making it ideal for a range of products.
However, according to How Stuff Works, there is also a downside to this material’s sustainability. As most bamboo is sourced in China there is an issue of questionable labor practices and the energy spent to transport the product to our country, cancelling out the sustainable factor.
In terms of cutting board quality, bamboo will require some maintenance. As it isn’t technically a wood, it can be quite hard to the touch and is prone to splitting and cracking. While it’s very tough on the surface, this can also be a downfall as it might also do damage to your knives.
Bamboo is an affordable option for those looking for the appeal of wood without the price tag. However, you will get what you pay for if selecting bamboo as this product won’t last as many years as a wood variety board will.
Acacia Cutting Board
Another of the most popular wood varieties of cutting board, acacia is often labelled as the top choice for this kitchen item. Acacia is a high-quality wood that features all of the important aspects one looks for in a cutting board.
As a highly sustainable wood, it has the appeal of bamboo but without the need for international export. The rich grained dark wood gives a mix of rustic charm and elegance to your kitchen, making them ideal to use as a serving platter for guests as well as a durable cutting board.
Just like all wood cutting boards, there is some maintenance required from time to time with an acacia cutting board. These boards need to be oiled every so often to prevent them from splitting, but they will outlast most items in your kitchen if cared for correctly.
An acacia wood board is ideal if you’re concerned with hygiene. Most people assume that wood can harbour dangerous bacteria just like plastic, but according to research, wood cutting boards don’t receive cuts as deep as plastic. This means the bacteria cannot become trapped and will dry out eventually.
The main selling point of these cutting boards is the affordable price tag attached, which cannot be found with the other high-quality timber boards. Coming in at around a third of the price of maple, acacia offers a dense and rich material with the same standard of quality, at a fraction of the cost.
Walnut Cutting Board
The most expensive of the wood cutting boards, walnut is a strong and durable material ideal for this application. With a dark and rich design, it looks stunning on your kitchen benchtop as you prepare daily meals with it.
Walnut cutting boards require some maintenance with oil regularly, otherwise, they can develop deep cracks. When these cracks appear, it’s easier for bacteria to enter through the surface making it unhygienic for preparing meals.
A walnut cutting board will be one of the best options for protecting your kitchen knives, as they are durable enough to sustain the blade but also soft enough to prevent it from blunting it. The thick timber is heavy and won’t move around on your benchtop, making it one of the safer options for cutting boards.
Caution needs to be taken if purchasing a walnut cutting board as there are some varieties sold which are constructed from endangered walnut wood. Always ensure that your product specifies its sustainability and where it was sourced from before buying.
While walnut does offer all of the benefits that the other wood varieties do, its price can be a turn off for some. There are other wood types available in cutting boards which can live up to all of its benefits without spending such a lavish amount.
Teak Cutting Board
Teak is known for being a very durable and water resistant form of wood, and for this reason, it’s a popular choice of cutting board. A teak cutting board can be a little pricey, though, but you will be guaranteed a long lasting product.
Visually, teak is a stunning wood. Due to its density, there is minimal scarring and scratching done to it when used for cooking. This is one of the standout features of these cutting boards and one that appeals to the sanitary advantages as well.
Teak doesn’t require the maintenance of some of the other hardwood varieties. A simple wash is all that it needs to stay clean, and there’s no need to oil it if you don’t wish. If you’re looking for a low maintenance type of wood cutting board then this might appeal to you.
The major downfall of teak is its sustainability. Teak has had many sanctions placed on its trade and import over the years, due to the harsh conditions in which it’s farmed in some countries. Before purchasing a teak cutting board ensure you’ve checked out all the relevant information relating to its origins and how it was sourced.
Another point of concern when purchasing a teak cutting board is the many misleading materials claiming to be teak. There are cutting boards made from African Teak or Rhodesian Teak, which despite the name, are not made from the same species of wood.
Cherry Cutting Board
A cherry cutting board is another popular wood variety, known for being durable but not too hard to the touch. This softer texture will be helpful in protecting your knives from damage, but it may also cause more damage to the wood itself.
Cherry has a nice red appearance to it and a beautiful grain that will make your benchtop look amazing. Many of these cutting boards have been constructed with a mix of another wood so that their vibrant colors can be highlighted.
Extra caution needs to be taken with cherry cutting boards to ensure they don’t come into contact with too much liquid as this can warp the wood. These boards should never be submerged in water or placed in a dishwasher, just like the other wood varieties.
As another thick quality timber, cherry won’t move around on your bench top or table as you’re preparing meals. Provided your cherry cutting board has been crafted from end grain wood, this variety will last for many years.
If purchasing a cherry cutting board never go for anything less than 2 inches in thickness as they can crack. These boards will require regular oiling and washing, so ensure that you are keeping up with maintenance to give it a longer life.
Stainless Steel Cutting Board
Stainless steel cutting boards are not as common as the previously mentioned types, due to a few factors that brand them unpleasant to use. As a material, though, stainless steel is extremely hygienic and simple to clean, making it somewhat attractive as a cutting board.
The main selling point of stainless steel cutting boards is their hygiene factor. As there’s no way for bacteria and germs to enter through scratches and holes, a stainless steel board can be washed and wiped down to be completely cleaned of harmful elements.
Cleaning your stainless steel cutting board is simple, and these can even be placed in the dishwasher. They won’t warp or swell like some wood varieties can, and there’s no need to oil them or perform any other maintenance.
There are quite a few disadvantages to these boards, though, namely the clashing of your knife against their surface. As such a tough material, these boards can damage your knives significantly and also cause them to slip on the surface during use.
The sound of a knife against stainless steel, particularly when chopping quickly, is not very pleasant. So while this material might be durable and hygienic, it’s not a smart choice for a cutting board.
Polyethylene Cutting Board
By far the most popular of the plastic varieties, polyethylene cutting boards have been around for many years. These are the cheapest types of boards available, and while they may be effective enough for chopping, they are in many ways inferior to the tougher styles.
Many homes have a polyethylene cutting board somewhere in their kitchen, as they’re extremely cheap to purchase and serve a purpose. These boards can be washed with your other dishes or placed in the dishwasher and they won’t become damaged from the water.
Just like all plastic chopping boards, extra care needs to be taken to ensure they stay free from bacteria. As knives can do a lot of damage to these boards it makes it easy for bacteria to harbor in the cracks and dents, so they should be replaced quite often.
Some households like to have a plastic chopping board kept away just in case, as they can come in handy sometimes. However, for style purposes, these would never be displayed in your kitchen or as a serving platter as they look cheap and flimsy.
Acrylic Cutting Board
Acrylic cutting boards are a popular choice for those who want to steer away from wood varieties. If you’re looking to purchase something cheap and effective, an acrylic cutting board will likely be your second choice after polyethene.
Acrylic and other plastics are great at keeping your knife sharp as they take on most of the damage themselves. They’re simple to clean and it won’t matter if they’re submerged in water or even washed in the dishwasher, so they can be very easy to maintain.
According to the FDA, using a plastic or nylon cutting board can be dangerous if there are deep grooves or cuts where bacteria can live. Where plastic and acrylic cutting boards fall short is that they are far more likely to receive these dents compared to wood due to their less durable surface.
If you’re not concerned with style and design, an acrylic cutting board is an effective way to cook your meals. Ensure they’re kept clean and sanitised to prevent from bacteria build up, and be prepared to purchase a replacement board every 12 months or so. These are a little more expensive than the standard plastic board, but they should last a little longer as well.
Wood cutting boards stand out as the best option for cutting boards, thanks to their rustic charm and long lasting quality. While some of the wood options can be a bit pricey, there’s no need to spend up big just to get a high-quality wood cutting board.
Although stone and glass cutting boards may last for many years, the damage done to your knives will significantly shorten their lifespan. So while your cutting board might stand the test of time, you will need to purchase and sharpen new knives constantly.
Plastic, nylon and polyethylene may be practical, but they can look cheap and flimsy in your kitchen. Not only are they inferior quality compared to wood and stone, but they are also more prone to harbouring harmful bacteria which can make you and your guests ill.
For a cutting board that ticks all of the boxes, acacia wood is the clear choice. These cutting boards are water resistant, affordable, durable, and stunning to look at. With an acacia wood cutting board, you’re not only keeping your benchtops and knives safe from damage, but you’re also getting an elegant serving platter for when entertaining guests.