Do You Smell Sunflower Seeds?

Dakota Burl Renovations
Yes! That’s because Matt just created and installed our new counter top and table. They are made from Dakota Burl, which is compressed sunflower seed shells held together by a soy-based resin. It’s an incredibly renewable resource, as it can be re-grown in four months. I’m so thrilled to have these beautiful and functional new surfaces. I love to cook…so having 2/3 more counter space makes me a very happy girl. He also replaced all of the old, deteriorating plumbing and put in new drains. I am constantly in awe of Matt and his craftsmanship. He did such a great job! There are a few more photos of the process in our “Renovations” photo set here.

We purchased the Burl from the Refuge Sustainable Building Center in Bozeman. It was fun to look at all of the different types of alternative materials available. Here is more information about this particular eco-friendly option:

What Is Dakota Burl®?

  • A unique composite material that utilizes a bio-based technology and exhibits the beauty and elegance of traditional burled woods.

How Does Dakota Burl® Benefit Our Environment?

  • Manufactured from a rapidly renewable agricultural fiber product.
  • No out-gassing solvents are added during the manufacturing process, thus the material emits no VOCs into the atmosphere.

What Does Dakota Burl® Look Like?

  • The defined black outlining complements the natural yellow and brown tones of the fibers creating a distinctive pattern.
  • Natural or stained, the material resembles authentic burled woods, giving a wide range of color options.
  • The burled pattern and natural appearance run throughout the thickness of the material.

How Does Dakota Burl® Work?

  • The material cuts, sands and routes with standard woodworking tools.
  • Traditional wood staining and finishing techniques can be used on the material to create a wide range of appearances.
  • Four foot by eight foot panels are manufactured in 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ thicknesses.

How Can I Use Dakota Burl®

  • Superior panel properties allow for a variety of applications.
  • Table Surfaces, Horizontal and Vertical Surfaces (transaction surfaces and interior decorative wall applications), Cabinetry, Furniture and Architectural Applications are all excellent uses for Dakota Burl®.

Edited to add: We have had some trouble with water damage already on the countertop…and after researching a bit more, we found that it’s not recommended near water sources. So….we will be sanding and sealing it more and hoping for the best!


  1. One word….cool. Your RV looks great! So cozy and homey. I just know that you are so happy with it! The kids and I are headed off the mission field and going Stateside. John will be joining us in a few weeks. Lots of change. I am thinking you are familiar with changes in your family as well.

    Happy Trails….I will be waiting for the next posting!

    Comment by Anna — July 20, 2007 @ 1:07 am

  2. That is just plain awesome. :-)

    Comment by Tracie (boobs on mdc) — July 20, 2007 @ 7:34 am

  3. Nice job Matt! Those look beautiful!

    Comment by Kristin Mayo — July 20, 2007 @ 7:52 am

  4. That looks awesome! I’m still in the process of researching materials for our “green” home that we will either be building or buying/remodeling next spring. I really like the look of the new counters. Can I ask how much it typically costs? What did you use to seal it? Any idea on how it wears?

    Hope your family is enjoying your new home!

    ~Rebecca (celestialdreamer on MDC)

    Comment by Rebecca — July 21, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  5. amazing…once again…this looks so great!

    Comment by Laura O — July 22, 2007 @ 6:59 am

  6. Wow! So very cool! As a counter top, do you have to be very careful about scratches or does it hold up well for that? How about water spills and such?

    I’d love a new counter top… It would be nice to have something made from renewables.

    Comment by Nicole — July 22, 2007 @ 8:53 am

  7. Oh, and my husband wants to know how porous it is. Does it stain easily?

    Comment by Nicole — July 22, 2007 @ 8:55 am

  8. Very nice BUT it would have been better for the environment to leave the original countertop and table as they were! There’s a dangerous trend in America…buying MORE just to be ‘green’.

    Remember the total embodied energy of an object = resource extraction, manufacture, packaging, transportation, storage, utilities for its use, repair/maintenance, and finally disposal. Better to use what you’ve got!

    Comment by Hannah — July 23, 2007 @ 5:13 am

  9. I would love to see these up close. They look so neat! We will definitely keep these in mind when we move if we need to do some renovations (which is kind of a no brainer with the budget we’re dealing with!)

    Comment by Jess H. — July 23, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  10. Your RV looks awesome!! I absolutely love what you are doing with the RV and your lifestyle, very inspirational. I have made some smaller scale lifestyle changes here in our home, but it makes me feel good when I make choices that are good for our environment and our health. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Carol — July 23, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  11. I never cease to be amazed at what you two can do with small spaces! I’m sure organization and decoration are key to living in small places. You do such a great job at it!

    Comment by Nichole — July 25, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  12. I think what you guys are doing is great, so glad people are getting more on board with being kind to the earth God has provided for us. I’ve been following your blog for a while now, I think I’ve only commented once on your Walk Slowly. I have been encouraged and inspired to be more aware of our consumerism, etc. However, my husband and I have been wondering where God is in this journey of traveling and learning to live more sustainably…..
    We will continue to keep up with your travels but hope to hear about what the Lord is teaching you in it. :)

    Comment by serenity — July 25, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

  13. I googled the Dakota Burl because it looked so neat… even though we are years from buying a house. The info from the manufacturer says that it would not be good for kitchen or bathroom counters, although you have it in your kitchen. I will be very interested to see how it holds up. I hope the manufacturer is just being overly cautious!

    Good luck on your tour! I am so inspired by your family. When you visit the Twin Cities, I am a chef at a top-notch independent coffee shop… we’d love to have y’all stop by.

    I’ll be keeping up on your tour via the site and hope to hear more from you on MDC. Good luck and Godspeed.

    Comment by Leah — July 25, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

  14. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Comment by sandrar — September 10, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

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