Butcher block laminate — a ’72 classic

formica butcher block“Fake butcher block countertops” are another one of those original vintage house features that I often hear called “hideous” on other websites. (Crikey, how I have come to despise that word — it is overkill, please refrain.) I, on the other hand, not only have “no problem” with butcher block laminate, I am 100% on its side, especially for late 1960s and 1970s homes. I even put some in my house. I asked Formica, and they report that their butcher block laminate — the pattern shown at the left — has been in production since 1972. How is that for enduring! I did some research, and found only two manufacturers that still make 1970s-era butcher block laminate:

formica butcher block countertopIn fact, I ordered butcher block laminate for the countertops in two areas of our house. Now, don’t be put off because neither place is glamorous like a kitchen. But, first, we ordered butcher block laminate to make a countertop in my husband’s basement workroom. It sits on top of two old Ikea playroom storage thingies that weebit no longer used — as I recall, we paid $75 or less for this piece of countertop from Home Depot. I’m kind of fuzzy on the details, but as I recall, at the time we put this in, Home Depot carried this countertop as a stock item — you could walk right out the door with it. (Everything back there is faux granite.) I’m also fuzzy on the maker of this laminate. I’m thinking it’s Pionite. Reason being: When I was finishing up our kitchen, we had aquamarine cabinets left over that I installed in the garage. We needed countertops made to size for those, and, yes: We ordered butcher block laminate, again. I’m pretty sure they were Pionite, for some reason that’s what’s stuck in my brain, and I tend to be good remembering silly details like that. For the two sections in the garage — manufactured to our size specifications and including a corner turn — I think we paid around $150.

butcher block countertop

As we know from trying to buy Formica boomerangs: Anytime you can buy laminate or laminate countertops for the Big Box stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, etc.: You are going to save big bucks vs. going to a specialty place.

wilsonart truss maple butcher block laminate And above: Wilsonart Truss Maple 7972 appears to be a sleeker version of butcher block. 

Hey: Butcher block laminate is “authentic” — and the price is right. Don’t let anyone else sway you because it’s “dated.” Didn’t you hear: The ’70s are B-A-C-K.

Tip: Are you researching laminates?
See my story about all the manufacturers to check —
8 companies that make and sell laminate in the U.S.

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Comments

  1. George K. says

    It’s nice to know butcher block laminate is out there. I’m looking for what appears to be the wood “end-piece” (shorter end) not the strip side view ( long view, as in your photos) butcher block laminate for my 1966 brown tone kitchen. I want a much darker brown. I haven’t really begun my search yet but found two great examples: the tables in a newer restaurant in my hometown which has a bit of a 60s/70’s vibe, and a commercial where the macaroni product is placed on a background of short-end butcher block. I had a hard enough time looking for darker parquet-design linoleum because “It’s not in” or “That’s what the brothers buy”–salesmen quotes–REALLY! I finally found commercial grade parquet with a lifetime residential use guarantee. Hopefully I’ll find the laminate I want.

  2. says

    Oh how I love the ’70’s. But I wasn’t really a big fan of the faux butcher block until a few years ago I found a liking for it in certain circumstances. I bet it looks great with the color of your cabinets! Maybe that’s what it is….just pairing it up with the right ‘furniture’.

  3. Eliza Jane says

    The great thing about the faux butcher block is that it is so smooth and easy to clean. And easy to see what needs to be cleaned. Then when you’re done you have a nice, smooth, light colored stretch of countertop that is easy on the eyes. Heh. We have ceramic tile countertop in our 1965 kitchen and it is a huge pain to clean (all those grout lines) and several tiles have chipped. If we ever replace it I am going with good old faux butcher block.

  4. says

    I have sort of a love-hate thing with butcher block laminate. In fact, I’ve just replaced the butcher block in my 70s-era kitchen for two reasons: 1) after 40 years, it does get worn, and 2) I was tired of looking at it after 40 years (not always in the same house).

    The good news is that I replaced it with another lovely, smooth laminate!

  5. Gerry says

    I saw a wonderful dining table on Craigslist last month. Walnut legs with a cool harp-like decoration and a fake walnut laminate table top. Someone bought it before I could. But how practical – laminate top so you can set drinks, etc on it and not ruin it. A local restaurant has tables with fake maple laminate and I think that is
    the way to go. Now if I can just find my practical dining set!!

  6. MCM is Grand says

    We have this in our 1970s kitchen…some water has creeped up into the corner, where the sink met the seam, swelling the “pulp” in the midsection of the laminate. Other than that that it is easy to clean and maintain…. BUT…our ultimate goal is the restored 1950s kitchen for our 1955 house, so the butcher block is going to go…Here’s the question: will retro renovators years from now say: “I can’t believe she removed that great laminate butcher block? What was she thinking?”

    Ah, fateful decisions. :)

  7. Elizabeth Mary says

    In 1975 I was one of the first people to move into the new apartments on Roosevelt Island in the East River of Manhattan, facing the Manhattan skyline. It was a great place to be in those days. The galley kitchen was one of my favorite kitchens ever — so easy to work in. And, the counter tops were the faux butcherblock laminate and I loved them.

    After 7 years there, things changed, and I moved to a pre-war building in Jackson Heights, Queens (my last stop in NYC before escaping upstate in 1985 where I remain). The kitchen was teeny tiny, but had a breakfast nook with table and built-in benches. I needed work space, and never ate at the table, so I went out and found someone to make me a faux butcher block slab to install resting on the backs of the benches, providing me with the needed work space, with storage on the table and seats below. Never even considered anything other than the butcher block laminate. Loved that too, but as Cindy said, I am a lover of laminate.

  8. Annie B. says

    To me, butcher block laminate is just as representative of the ’70’s (and ’80’s) kitchen countertop as the boomerangs are of the ’50’s.

    If the solid almond color laminate of the early ’80’s ever returns as a retro kitchen design trend, I am set! Actually, if you accessorize the almond color creatively (and close one eye), it can look very MCM.

  9. Leslie says

    I currently have butcher block laminate in my 1963 Ranch home. I remember it was the cool new upgrade in 1973 replacing the original turquoise laminate. I live in my childhood home, so I know the history! For about 10 years I’ve wanted to replace it, but I’ve actually have started to love it again. I still have the original sink with the hudee ring and the butcher block laminate still looks great after all of these years. If this is considered hideous, I’m a huge fan of hideous laminate!

  10. says

    I had this in the house I just left. The house was built in the mid-80s but since it was built by a single older man the finishes were more 70s than 80s (which I was thankful for). That laminate was in perfect condition when I got there and perfect condition when I left! I don’t know who made our laminate but it wore like iron. I am not a careful person, I prepared a lot of meals in that kitchen, my kids spent a lot of time in that kitchen, but there wasn’t a single injury to that laminate anywhere. I wasn’t crazy about it against the wood cupboards (not enough contrast in color for my taste) but both were just so well constructed, so sturdy, I couldn’t bring myself to change either of those things.

  11. jeanne says

    Confession time. I never wanted to admit this on this here blog, but here goes…

    The first house my husband and I bought (in 1981) was built in 1948. We replaced the red (not sure if it was linoleum or laminate) countertop that had metal edging with a fake butcher block laminate counter top. *blushes* I wallpapered the kitchen in a modern/country plaid wallpaper (wedgewood blue background). I hung a pot rack on the wall above the stove. “Country” decor was popular in the early 80s, and the butcher block sort of went along with that style.

    On a positive note…you sure cannot beat the wearability and longevity of laminate!

      • MCM is Grand says

        Before becoming a convert to MCM, I tore out and disposed of a perfectly good NuTone Bathroom fan…….Pam, I think “confessions” could be a stand-alone post on this blog!

  12. lynda davis says

    We built our contemporary house in 1977 and most of my friends used the laminate butcher block counter. We decided to install a real 2″ maple butcher block counter. Our kitchen designer thought we were crazy and so did my friends. Well…the friends have all replaced those laminate counters and we still have our real wood counter. I say go for the real wood, it is a 70’s look. I got the idea to use wood from a popular magazine.

    • Elaine says

      I have had real wood, in my case it was pine in a completely knotty pine house, and I loved it. The wood was durable and repairable, and it always looked good.

  13. Joe says

    What’s amazing to me is the amount of memories brought back by just a glance of a butcher block formica sample! As a kid growing up in the 70’s, I spent a ton of time in a lot of homes in the then-new subdivisions and nearly every kitchen had this. It reminds me of how much more FUN and COLORFUL things were back then: kitchen appliances in coppertone, avocado and poppy; Sears’ Merry Mushrooms and Corningware Spice O’Life kitchenware; Armstrong and Congoleum no-wax vinyl sheet flooring in wild and colorful patterns; people made “sun tea” and homemade yogurt; and, last but not at all least, EVERYONE had something cooking every day in a Crock Pot sitting on their butcher block formica countertops. Today, I know far too many people who mock and ridicule the use of formica in a kitchen; all they know is stainless steel/granite/subway tiles/laminate flooring and decorating the rest of the house in shades of greige. I’ll take daring to be different any day over doing what everybody else is doing. It’s very entertaining for me, when my friends who hate laminate and fake butcher block tell me how much they LOVE my marble countertops, and I have to tell them that it’s Wilsonart Laminate in the Italian Marble pattern, circa 1987 (which still looks brand new despite daily heavy kitchen action).

  14. Kelly says

    I’m a big lurker here and this is my first post. I just wanted to thank you for posting this! My husband and I bought our first home a few months ago – a 1966 raised ranch. The previous owners were the original owners so we have a lot of vintage decorating in our house. The kitchen counters are exactly this butcher block laminate! I don’t know if it’s original to the house, but before your post I had no idea what the name for it even was. So, thank you for educating me once again! I *love* this blog! ;o)

  15. mobile_home_dude says

    Responding to one of Joe’s comments: Isn’t laminate flooring simply a version of formica that we walk on? My mom had it installed in her kitchen about 7 years ago and I’ve never told her that it looks almost like her formica butcher block counters. Even mom has commented how slippery it is, She had to get rubber backed rugs to prevent the rugs from running all over the floor. My first thought when I heard of laminate flooring was “Formica on the floor? Won’t that be slippery?”

  16. JKaye says

    I like the faux butcher block. A few years ago we looked for a piece at the ReStore. Couldn’t find any, but we did find a piece of the almond from the 80s that Annie B. referred to, and it now is on top of the 60s era wooden cabinets in our kitchen.

  17. cynthia says

    in the late 70s i loved faux butcher block (i’ll call it fb block for short). i had a set of fb block bookcases in my first apartment as a very young newlywed, bought from the “door store” – remember that chain of mod rta furniture? and used fb block counters for the kitchen remodel of my first house,(paired with medium oak slab door cabinets from merrillat, and almond appliances – very “in” back then! all in laminate, of course. since beige, brown and other earth tones were all the rage back then, fb block was a “natural” match for 70s color schemes by the way my first sofas were parsons style done in haitian cotton which was super popular in the late 70s!

  18. jacque says

    I have this countertop and it is INDESTRUCTABLE!!! I have put burning hot pans on it with no scorch marks left behind and I even slice and dice and the counter and no scratch marks! I am completely blown away by how nice they still look for having been installed in the 70’s!

  19. Mrs Canada says

    My mom has had these in her kitchen since 1973. As a child I thought they were “hideous” compaired to the McMansion granite expanses of my posh school friends. Now, I am shocked that after 30 years of kids and dogs and dying clothes and rinsing paint brushes and truely apathetic treatment, they still look perfect! Real butcher block is so high maintenance that I personally think these are a great choice for any style of home and am considering them if i need to replace countertops in our next home.

  20. nicole says

    I have butcher block laminate countertops complete with the built in glass cutting board that you featured in another story.Even tho it has seen better days,I have always thought it was charming.I also love the herb identification pattern thats under the cutting board.We are sadly moving soon but in thinking of taking that darn thing with me!

  21. Terri says

    My knotty pine kitchen has a circa 70s butcherblock laminate counter. I like it and can certainly live with it until I can do a 50s makeover (then the countertop will be free to a good home.) All these years later it is still very pretty and functional and doesn’t clash or look outdated with the knotty pine.

  22. TappanTrailerTami says

    Just a reminder, at least for the Formica brand butcher block counters: a slight improvement (at least I think so) is that Formica now does Ideal Edge so that the dark brown seams at the counter edge do not show…so it looks a bit more “real”. They show the butcher block being available on page 2 of the gallery photos :-)

    http://www.formica.com/en/us/products/idealedge

  23. Denise Yaeger says

    We bought our 1940’s Bungalow home back in 1991. First, we painted all the cupboards a country blue, painted the ceiling & trim ecru, put up ecru with country blue & burgundy hearts wallpaper, & then we replaced the ugly countertops with butcher block laminate ones. They looked great then & still look great 23 years later!

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