Walnut Wood is Popular for a Reason

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As a classic in woodworking, walnut wood stands as a testament to its enduring popularity. Known for its rich color, wood grain, durability, and versatility, walnut has become a favorite choice for restaurant furniture, flooring, and more.  Our 15 years of hands-on experience with over 1,000,000 board feet of walnut wood contribute to this comprehensive exploration of the walnut wood’s unique characteristics and numerous reasons.    


The walnut tree is known for its prized wood and edible nuts. In most cases, walnut refers to a hard-shelled seed, and the terms “walnut” and “black walnut” are often used interchangeably. Native to North America, black walnuts are mostly found in the eastern and central parts of the country, where they thrive in well-drained soil.  “English Walnut” is a species that originated in Persia and was extensively cultivated in Europe before being introduced to North America. The wood color, grain pattern, and nut characteristics of American black walnut and English walnut differ.  This is like comparing apples to oranges—even though both fruits are from the same family, their physical characteristics and flavors are quite different.

The walnut burl (on the far right in the above photo) is highly sought-after in woodworking because of its unique grain patterns. The irregular growth patterns of walnut trees result in stunning, unique wood formations, making them ideal for furniture.  It’s best to ask what kind of walnut your tables are made from now that you know there’s a difference between English and Black Walnut.  We only use Black Walnut to create Walnut restaurant table tops, bar tops, community tables, and enhancements at TimeWorn.

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Walnut Color

“What color is walnut?” is one of the most common questions we receive from customers.  They usually refer to the final product, but in order to get there, the existing variations blow most people away.  There are solid red walnut boards, white ones, purple ones, or the much-loved brown ones (as seen in the picture to the right), and often times they are a combination of these colors. Those colors are highly pronounced immediately after the log is cut into lumber, especially if it has not yet been steamed.

We are very particular about the wood we use ensuring it’s always steamed before receiving it. As walnut wood is exposed to controlled steam the fibers swell, absorbing moisture and getting a deeper color and more pronounced grain pattern. Walnut wood gets a uniform and richer look with this process.

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Kiln Drying Hardwood

It’s crucial to kiln dry walnut wood and any hardwood.  In a kiln, moisture is rapidly removed from walnut without developing defects associated with air drying, such as warping and checking. Walnut wood is carefully stacked and subjected to specific humidity and temperature conditions in the kiln, which are monitored and adjusted as needed. As a result, the wood dries evenly and reaches the proper moisture content for indoor use, where wood stability matters. By preventing staining and fungal growth that can happen with slower drying methods, kiln drying can preserve walnut’s rich color and desirable grain patterns.

Moreover, kiln-drying walnut wood saves time, making it a popular method in commercial woodworking. The same results can be achieved in weeks or months with kiln drying versus the 2+ years it can take to air-dry thick walnut slabs. This process not only speeds up production; it also kills any insects in the wood, making it more durable and long-lasting.  You know, when you see manufacturers brace the underside of a restaurant table top, that’s either because they don’t know how to dry their lumber or they don’t know how to finish it.  As long as the products are appropriately dried and finished, as we do, we can ensure they won’t fail in any of the climates you’ll find in the U.S.

There are several risks associated with using black walnut in restaurant table tops without proper drying. Wood that’s not dried well or is improperly dried tends to warp and change shape as it adjusts to environmental moisture levels. It can cause structural instability, making it less durable and potentially useless. The moisture in wood also encourages mold and mildew growth, which not only damages the wood but can also pose health risks, especially indoors. A third problem is shrinkage, which can lead to cracks and splits, compromising both aesthetic appeal and structural integrity. Moreover, uneven drying makes it tough to get a smooth, uniform finish on restaurant table tops. It’s therefore crucial that black walnut wood is properly dried before being used for restaurant table tops, wood bar tops, or community tables.

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Walnut Hardness

Walnut wood is renowned for its balance of hardness, beauty, and workability.  The Janka hardness test measures the force required to embed a .444″ steel into the wood until it reaches .222” in depth.  The scale used to represent this is pounds-force, and Walnut has a Janka rating of 1010.  While not as hard as some other hardwoods, walnut’s moderate hardness allows for ease of working and machining, making it an excellent choice for various applications. Whether crafting flooring or restaurant table tops, walnut’s Janka hardness strikes an ideal balance between durability and versatility, contributing to its widespread popularity in woodworking. 

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Walnut Prices

Unless you’re purchasing a truckload, the cost of walnut wood typically falls between $8 and $12 per board foot. To measure lumber, a board foot is defined as 1″ thick by 12″ wide and 12″ long.  For instance, a bundle of walnut measuring 98″ long x 48″ wide x 48″ tall calculates to approximately 1,568 board feet. At $8 per board foot, the lumber is valued at $12,544, and at $12 per board foot, it’s worth $18,816. When buying in bulk (10,000 b.f. at a time), we often opt for #1 Grade at a current range of $5.50-$10.00 per board foot. Crafting a single square foot of 2″ thick table top requires about 4-5 board feet. This explains why our Walnut table tops range in price from $55-$85 per square foot and increases with additional features like staining or distressing.  When we create large walnut slabs or bar tops, pricing can be much higher. 

Due to its high cost and ease of workability, Walnut stands out as one of the few products we are happy to accept in trade. Using salvaged lumber that has already undergone processing proves to be a valuable approach, significantly saving both time and money in crafting new restaurant table tops. This practice aligns with our commitment to sustainability and resource efficiency.  

The extended maturation period of Black Walnut trees compared to other domestic trees contributes to their higher cost. Using prematurely cut raw lumber, such as that from a 50-year-old tree vs. a 100-year-old tree, results in mostly sapwood, which is white. Generally, the older the tree, the darker, more consistent, and defect-free the lumber will be.  This is also the primary reason why Walnut has increased in price by 8% a year, for the last 30 years!  

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Species Competition

Walnut restaurant table tops undeniably stand out in terms of beauty, and while they excel in aesthetics, we acknowledge that preferences may vary based on factors like price and hardness. For those seeking a harder option, we have multiple choices, such as our Maple table tops, boasting a hardness rating 40% higher than Walnut. Another excellent choice, with a 30% hardness advantage, is our Oak butcher block table tops or any of our solid Oak table top products. Additionally, for customers drawn to the Walnut color but with budget considerations, we have Walnut-stained Mixed Plank Oak or Walnut-stained Mixed Plank Poplar. Despite being made of poplar, the similarities in aesthetics to actual Walnut restaurant table tops is so striking that it’s challenging to differentiate between them.

As it is with just about any purchase a person or company makes, you have to consider all the variables to make the right decision, and with Walnut restaurant tables, it’s no different.  You need to factor in hardness, color, and appearance.  Here are links and photos of some of the alternatives to Walnut, in both price and hardness:

Mixed Plank Poplar – Walnut Stained, Wood Restaurant Table Tops, Almost Identical Aesthetics, and Less Expensive

Our Mixed Plank Oak Walnut Color tabletop is simply gorgeous and has a warm brown hue suitable for various dining environments.

Mixed Plank Oak – Walnut Stained, Wood Restaurant Table Tops, Less Expensive and Somewhat Harder

Mixed Plank Oak – Walnut Stained, Wood Restaurant Table Tops, Quick-Ship, Less Expensive and Somewhat Harder

Reclaimed oak standard plank restaurant table top pecan stained. 100% reclaimed and made in the USA!

Reclaimed Oak – Pecan Stained, Wood Restaurant Table tops, Similar Color and Somewhat Harder

Communal Tables

There’s nothing more impressive than witnessing a fully intact and finished walnut slab. The rich, chocolate-brown hues of the wood are adorned with intricate grain patterns, creating a visual symphony that narrates the tree’s growth and history. The swirling figures, knots, and burls add character and uniqueness, turning each slab into a one-of-a-kind work of art. When finished properly, you can enhance the wood’s depth, allowing light to dance across the contours and revealing the true richness of the material. It’s impossible not to be enchanted by the wood, inviting anyone to touch it and connect with the organic warmth it exudes. In both form and function, a live-edge walnut slab captures the essence of timeless beauty, bringing the natural world into the heart of any space it graces.  A live-edge walnut slab should be thought of as an investment that will add a statement to any space. Its natural beauty will bring a sense of peace and organic tranquility to any restaurant. 

Walnut Bar Top

A Walnut bar top exudes elegance and natural beauty, making it the centerpiece of any pub, fast-casual, or upscale restaurant. Crafted from the finest Black Walnut wood by TimeWorn, these bar tops are a blend of rich, dark tones and intricate grain patterns. The Black Walnut bar top, with its deep chocolate hues and smooth finish, adds complete sophistication to your bar area, creating an inviting ambiance for patrons to enjoy. For a truly unique and rustic touch, consider a Black Walnut live edge bar top, which preserves the tree’s natural contours, resulting in a stunning piece that showcases nature’s artistry. Whether you opt for a classic Walnut bar top or the distinctive Black Walnut live edge bar top, you’re sure to elevate your restaurant’s aesthetic appeal while providing a durable and stylish surface for patrons to gather around. 

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Restaurant Table Tops

As highlighted below, our collection of Walnut table tops offers a diverse range of options. While a single-slab preference might be ideal, cost considerations and design concepts often necessitate variations. Our range of Walnut Table Tops accommodates different budgets, color schemes, and textures, including rustic or distressed finishes. We are confident that within our Walnut selection, you’ll find the perfect option to suit your specific requirements, whether it’s a tight budget, a specific color palette, or a desire for a unique texture.  Since everything we offer is crafted in-house, we have the flexibility to experiment with various options. If you have a particular variation you’re aiming for, feel free to share your ideas with us, and we’ll work to bring your vision to life.  Here is a full list of our current Walnut Table top offerings:

Solid Walnut butcher block restaurant tabletops voted the best tables in America by Timeworn customers!

Walnut Butcher Block Chocolate, Wood Restauraunt Table Tops

The darkest black solid Walnut wood butcher block restaurant tables, Voted best restaurant tables.

Walnut Butcher Block Espresso, Wood Restaurant Table Tops

Walnut Butcher Block Original, Wood Restaurant Table Tops

Rustic Texture Walnut wood restaurant tabletops custom shape and size.

Rustic Patina Walnut, Wood Restaurant Table Tops

Distressed Walnut, Wood Restaurant Table Tops 

Mixed Plank Walnut Original, Wood Restaurant Table Tops 

Standard Plank Walnut Original, Wood Restaurant Table Tops

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost of Walnut Restaurant Tables?

The cost of Walnut Restaurant Tables can vary based on factors like size, thickness and the number of tables ordered.  On average expect to pay between $50 to $70 per square foot.  It could be less if you are ordering a large number of tables (over 150 s.f.) or more if you are ordering a Walnut slab or a Walnut Bar Top.

Walnut wood on its own is very durable, however, with our finish applied, it is extremely durable. Walnut restaurant table tops perform extremely well against scuffing, chemical resistance and heat resistance.

Typically, our lead time to complete a custom order for walnut restaurant table tops is 4-6 weeks, but that timeframe can be more or less depending on the complexity of the design.  Be sure to let us know what your timeframe is when you submit your inquiry, as there are often times that we can accommodate a tight schedule.

Yes, you can use a custom stain on our walnut restaurant table tops. Please allow 2-3 weeks of additional time for us to color match and create samples for your approval.  We also ask that you provide a color code from the manufacturer you are trying to match or a sample you are trying to match.

Walnut tables come in various colors and textures, including natural, stained, distressed, or rustic. Each finish offers a unique look, allowing you to find the perfect match for your restaurant.

Regular cleaning with a mild, non-abrasive cleaner is usually sufficient for maintaining your Walnut table tops. Should you need to, we have tested our finish to withstand cleaning with almost any cleaner, including diluted muriatic acid should our product be located in a hospital or similar.

Walnut wood is a natural and renewable resource, making our walnut restaurant tables a great choice for any restaurant. We prioritize sustainable practices, and if you would like a reclaimed wood product, we might suggest reclaimed oak or reclaimed pine with a dark stain.

Yes, currently all our walnut table tops are made-to-order. We can accommodate your restaurant table tops in any size, shape, or thickness.

Solid walnut is crafted entirely from walnut wood, while walnut veneer tables have a thin layer of walnut over another material. Solid walnut is all we use, will always be more durable, and can be refinished should you need to after 10 or 20 years.  Veneer tables have only one advantage: they are cheap, very cheap, and you should only expect to get 4 or 5 years of use from laminate tops under normal restaurant traffic.

Walnut, maple, and oak restaurant table tops are extremely hard, and with our finish applied, they do an excellent job at chemical, heat, and scratch resistance.

Our minimum order is 50 square feet. Unfortunately, the set-up time to do one table top and the shipping cost prevent us from doing orders any smaller than that.

While we don’t offer installation services, our table tops are designed for easy assembly. Clear instructions as well as several videos we have created are provided.  Our support team is also available to assist with any questions during the process.

We have a full 2 year warranty! We stand behind our product, so if there’s clearly something that has failed due to our workmanship, we will stand behind it for much longer than the 2 years we provide.

Yes, our Mixed Plank Poplar-Walnut Color Table tops or Mixed Plank Oak-Walnut Color Table tops are affordable alternatives to Walnut while still achieving that walnut look

Walnut table tops will fade if they are placed in direct sunlight or have high exposure to indirect sunlight. We recommend selecting one of our stained walnut options, as the applied stain will never fade and will ensure you maintain that walnut color for a very long time.

To read more frequently asked questions, please visit our FAQ page.

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