A cutting board is a true kitchen powerhouse. Not only do you use it to chop up your meats, herbs, and produce, but it has tons of other functions that don’t involve any knife action at all.
For this reason, it’s important to invest in something that will do the job right every time. And it all starts with choosing the best material for your cutting board.
Read on to find out whether your next cutting board should be made out of wood or plastic.
How Are Cutting Boards Made?
Since cutting boards are kitchen staples that virtually everyone uses, knowing how they’re made can make you appreciate their simple design and give you something to think about when choosing your next cutting board.
It’s common to assume that plastic is one and the same material. However, there are actually many different types of plastic.
When it comes to cutting boards, only two materials can be used: polyethylene plastic or high-density polyethylene plastic—which are both lightweight and durable materials. These plastics are melted and poured into molds, after which they can harden. While these materials can be toxic at extremely high temperatures, they are completely safe for chopping up food.
It’s kind of the same story with wood. While there are over 60,000 tree species on earth, only a select few are used to make cutting boards. The most popular types of trees—maple, walnut, and oak—provide just the right amount of hardness to be used in cutting boards.
The selected wood is cut into large blocks, which are sanded and waxed for a smooth surface. This makes them ready to come in contact with all kinds of messy ingredients.
The Showdown: Wood vs. Plastic
Now that we have an idea of how wood and plastic cutting boards are made, let’s dive right into how they stack up against each other. Here is how wood and plastic compare in five major categories.
In essence, durability refers to how long a cutting board will last you. For our purposes, we’ll look at two factors: how much the cutting board gets scratched up by your knife and how likely it is to warp when exposed to moisture.
It’s possible for both plastic and wood cutting boards to warp when exposed to high heat. For this reason, warping has a lot to do with how well you take care of your cutting board. That said, wood is a bit more sensitive to moisture and humidity, which is why it requires a bit more TLC.
The story is a little different when it comes to scratches. We know that a cutting board should be thrown out if it develops too many scratches—as this can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Well, it just so happens that wood has naturally self-healing properties, which allows it to close in cuts all by itself. Plastic doesn’t have this ability, which can make it the less durable option.
As we mentioned above, the scratches that your cutting board develops due to knife action can be automatic breeding grounds for bacteria. Although scratches are natural and don’t mean that you have to automatically sack your cutting board, it does become a problem when the cuts get too deep and hard to disinfect.
If your plastic cutting board begins to develop these deep grooves, then there’s not much you can do to salvage it. In that case, the safest thing to do is to throw it out.
But wood is special in this regard: it has natural antiseptic properties, which means that it pulls bacteria away from the surface where it can cross-contaminate your food. For this reason, a wood cutting board can be kept for decades without any threat to your safety.
Part of the appeal of a plastic cutting board is how easy it is to clean. A plastic cutting board can comfortably be thrown in the dishwasher or soaked in a bleach solution. Aside from that, it doesn’t require any type of maintenance.
Wood is slightly different. Not only does it need to be cleaned gently, but it needs to be dried and oiled in much the same way. This can make maintaining a wood cutting board a bit more time-intensive. But in the end, it’s an investment into a kitchen tool that will last you ages.
Whether you think wood or plastic looks better all depends on your personal taste and your kitchen’s aesthetic.
Plastic cutting boards can come in a variety of fun colors, which can be great if you want to invest in multiple cutting boards and color-code them. Plus, it’s easy to find plastic cutting boards in all sorts of funky hues and patterns that match your home’s aesthetic.
Wood, on the other hand, has a more sophisticated appearance. Although it comes in various light and dark hues, wood tends to look more traditional. But we see that as an upside. After all, it’s the classic hues that we’ll want to own for years to come.
A high-quality cutting board is definitely an investment. For this reason, we want to get as much out of it as possible.
While a wood cutting board is sure to last you ages, we also want it to serve other purposes. This is the one area where wood cutting boards deliver perfectly. The right wood cutting board not only looks stunning as much of your kitchen decor but it can be put to other uses (keep reading below!).
As far as plastic cutting boards are concerned, their main (and sometimes, only) purpose is for chopping up food. For this reason, we think that a wood cutting board will give you a much higher return on your investment than one that’s made out of plastic.
Other Ways To Use a Wood Cutting Board
All in all, it seems to us like wood is the clear winner when it comes to cutting boards. Not only does it look stunning, have the ability to self-heal, and contain natural antimicrobial properties, but it can have a variety of purposes. Here are five unconventional uses for a wood cutting board.
Use It As a Cheese Board
There are very few differences between a wood cutting board and a wood cheese board. While we love having a personalized cheese board that we use just for entertaining, there’s no reason why you can’t put your cutting board up to the same job. After all, a high-quality cutting board is something you’d want to show off every chance you get.
To assemble your cheese board, all you need are a few varieties of cheese, crackers, and fruit. Of course, the more elaborate a cheese board, the more excited we get. But it can totally be something you throw together in minutes when you invite your friends over for a glass of wine.
Use It as a Serving Tray
Anything that you serve on a tray will look right at home on top of a cutting board. You can serve food such as sliced bread with olive oil, crudités with a cup of ranch dip, an assortment of mini pastries, and even barbecued meat.
What we love about this option is that you won’t have to invest in a separate serving platter. Aside from that, using a cutting board as a serving tray can elevate your dish with a rustic appearance.
Use It To Serve Hot Dishes
Unlike plastic, wood can safely withstand high temperatures. This makes it the perfect material for serving dishes that came straight out of the oven. And if you have a large cutting board, then you can even accommodate multiple hot dishes at the dinner table.
Use It as Wall Décor
A cutting board can be personalized in dozens of ways, which makes it the perfect addition to your home décor. And if your wood cutting board has a handle with a loop, you can even hang it up on your kitchen wall!
The options for personalizing your cutting board are endless. You can go for a simple option such as an engraving of your name. Or you can have your grandma’s favorite recipe etched into the cutting board which you’ll see every time you cook. You can even have a family photo imprinted for a quirky way to be reminded of your loved ones.
Use It as a Message Board
Last but not least, you can turn your cutting board into a DIY project. Our favorite idea is to turn it into a message board. While it might take a bit of work, you can eventually start using your cutting board to write down to-do lists, recipes, and sweet messages to your family members.
A Cutting Board Sure To Last You Ages
While a plastic cutting board definitely has its benefits, we’ll go for a cutting board made out of wood every time. Not only does it look stunning, but it has a variety of uses that can make it one of your most-used kitchen tools. For your next wood cutting board, Sophistiplate has your back with all kinds of unique options.