Grothouse Brings Beauty and Innovation to Your Home
November 11, 2023
Text by Maria LaPiana
When you think of wood countertops, do you picture well-loved butcher blocks? Or distressed bars in old-timey pubs? Or kitchen islands that have never seen the bottom of a water glass?
Think again. The craftsmanship, resilience, and sophisticated good looks of today’s wood surfaces may surprise you. This, according to Paul Grothouse, founder of Grothouse, who has been perfecting the production of beautiful and durable wood countertops for more than twenty-five years.
When Grothouse left a career in corporate manufacturing to launch a sawmill and lumber company in 1997, he did it out of a lifelong passion for the art and craft of woodworking. His father made faithful reproductions of fine period furniture. “I grew up around wood and learned to appreciate it,” Grothouse says. “It always evoked a strong emotion in me.”
In time, Grothouse (the company) grew, and with it a demand for high-end wood surfaces—from counters to bar tops to tables. Almost immediately, its founder started to innovate, to look at manufacturing through the eyes of the engineer he was (he studied at Virginia Tech). His countertops had to be more than stunning; they had to be functional.
“I wanted to change people’s perception of what you can do with wood, how you can live with it—and how we deliver it,” he says. That translated into endless opportunities for customization and incomparable customer service (including shorter lead times).
Natural stone has been the material of choice for kitchen designers and architects for decades. So, why wood? “A well-designed kitchen has a variety of materials in it, even my own,” says Grothouse. A bread-baking area may call for marble, a commercial kitchen needs stainless steel. “But nothing beats the warmth and functionality of wood, especially for gathering around an island with friends” he says.
Wood is more durable and resistant to dents, stains, and scratches than you think. It requires maintenance, but one of the advantages of solid wood is that it can be sanded down to reveal a flawless surface. Is wood safe for food prep? Grothouse likes to cite a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin’s Food Research Institute. It showed that wooden cutting boards naturally kill food-poisoning bacteria left on them overnight, while the same bacteria thrives on plastic boards.
Grothouse works with sixty-three different wood species, seventy-five percent of them native to North America. The company will make pretty much anything you like out of wood—exactly to measure, with the edge and precise finish you want. It also manufactures a line of proprietary materials:
Durata Wood Finish
The Durata® wood finish was developed to protect and preserve the look and functionality of wood surfaces. The maintenance-free finish is food-safe, waterproof, durable, and impervious to most household chemicals. It’s available in satin, matte, or semi-gloss and is ideal for commercial kitchens.
Anvil Metal Countertops
Anvil™ metal countertops mimic everything we love about the industrial-chic look—but they’re more durable and versatile than sheet metal. Made by suspending real metal particles in epoxy resin, Anvil™ is used to finish wooden countertops, however curved or complex they may be. It allows wood’s natural grain to show through. Just like real metal countertops, Anvil™ surfaces develop patina over time. Or you can apply a Durata® finish to keep a counter from developing a patina. Anvil™ is exterior-rated when combined with exterior substrates.
Custom Floating Shelves
Grothouse has created a better floating shelf. It’s beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. It’s also a smart and stylish way to use a piece of leftover countertop. Everyone loves the floating shelf. Except installers. “We’ve heard it all: the brackets aren’t level, the holes don’t line up. So, we took matters into our own hands,” says Grothouse. “We engineered a bracket system that allows you to measure, level, and install a floating shelf directly into the studs.”
The system isn’t just easy to install, the process is seamless, and the weight capacity is 100 lbs for every two feet of shelving, ensuring the shelves won’t sag. Grothouse has also integrated LED lighting options for clients who want illuminated shelving.
A countertop charger may be the one phone accessory you didn’t know you needed, until now. The company’s Qi Inductive Hidden Charging System was designed to pair luxury wood surfaces with highly functional, completely hidden, wire-free charging. A charger can be installed anywhere on your counter; Grothouse will engrave a signature diamond mark to help you locate it.
Pigmented oils can complement any palette. This line of products was driven by design pros and homeowners who prefer flat, less-than-matte finishes on their wood. The oils penetrate the surface of every species of wood differently for a one-of-a-kind look.
Grothouse is pleased to offer his customers fine wood surfaces (and the products you need to preserve them). Everything he does today harks back to his formative years (it took his parents twenty-five years to restore the period home he grew up in). He’s the current caretaker of a clock that’s been in his family for five generations. “I learned how to build heirlooms. And I know what it means to take nature and transform it into something beautiful,” he says. “For me, this has always been a labor of love.”