Which is the Best Oil For Wooden Worktops?

Kitchen worktops come in a huge variety of materials and styles, from man made laminate and composite materials to natural materials such as stone, granite, quartz and wood. All of which give a very specific look and feel and while some worktops can be relatively cheap, others can run into the many thousands.

One of the more popular kitchen worktop materials, both traditionally and today, is wood. In terms of durability, wood is up there with the best but unlike, stone, slate and granite worktops, it’s less likely to get chipped, lose a corner or suffer from a jagged or damaged edge. Even if it does, repair is usually quicker, easier and cheaper.

When it comes to wooden kitchen worktops, there’s a wide range of woods to choose from with the more common being Oak and Beech, other woods such as Walnut, Iroko and Bamboo are also available as are other more exotic and rare wood types but these usually come at a higher cost.

Wooden Kitchen Worktop Care

Although wood is a great material for kitchen worktops, it does require some care to keep it looking great and functioning well. Wood oils have been used for centuries to protect and preserve wood and although the same is true today, new types and blends of oils are more commonly used.

The pros and cons of wooden kitchen worktops?

By its nature, wood is porous meaning that if left untreated, liquids, juices and bacteria from meats and other sources can seep into the surface grain, discolouring and staining the wood. More importantly, the unsealed wood can create the perfect environment for germs and bacteria to collect and breed.

A common issue with poorly maintained kitchen worktops is black mould around taps and sinks. This is usually caused by water damage and mould spores growing in the surface of the timber, encouraged by warm, damp conditions. Although this sounds serious, as long as the work top hasn’t been varnished, it can usually be remedied by scrubbing the black areas with a mould and mildew cleaner. This will remove the black staining and kill off the bacteria and spores responsible. In severe cases, a second treatment may be required. Once the wood has been successfully treated and cleaned it’s ready for oiling.

The great news is that wooden worktops can look fabulous and even if they’ve been neglected and abused, left with stains, marks, discolourations and stains, it’s usually a fairly easy process to get them looking amazing again with little more than a light sanding, some white spirit and the all important worktop oil.

Why Does Oiling Wooden Worktops Work?

Simply speaking, oiling wooden worktops works by filling the surface grain of the timber with natural oils and waxes, that dry and harden in the surface fibres of the timber. This acts as an effective wood preserver and sealer, helping to prevent moisture and bacteria from entering the wood grain.

Wooden Worktop Oil – Old v New

A question that we’re often asked is “Which is the best oil for wooden worktops?” Wood oils such as Tung, Linseed and Danish Oil have always been used to protect and preserve work surfaces and other types of timber, and are still commonly used today. So why use a modern worktop oil? Which is best? We hear you ask. The difference between traditional wood oils and the newer ranges of wooden worktop oil products comes down to several key differences.

Ease of use – Application and drying times

The number of coats can depend on the type and condition of the wood, many of the traditional oils may require anything from 3 to 7 coats to be effective and with drying times of around 24 hours between coats, oiling a wooden work top could take as long as a week. In comparison, most modern top oils require just 2 thin coats and are dry in 4 to 8 hours, depending on the oil brand and environmental conditions.

Worktop durability

In terms of durability, traditional wood oils tend to require maintenance on a more regular basis as they dissipate in the wood and evaporate from the surface of the worktop more quickly than their modern equivalents. Modern purpose made worktop oils are made from specially formulated blends of waxes and oils, that harden in the surface of the wood, to form a durable, protective barrier.

Oil penetration in the worktop surface

Modern kitchen worktop oils are highly refined and are blended with solvents to thin and aid penetration into the surface of the wooden work top. In many cases, especially on denser woods, traditional wood oils will not penetrate in to the wood as well unless they are first thinned with turps.

It’s true to say however that even with modern top oils some are better suited to specific wood types than others depending on how dense the wood is and how thin the worktop oil is. Some products such as Manns Top Oil and Osmo Extra Thin 1101 are especially great for denser timbers such as Beech, Bamboo and Walnut worktops. While Holzol Worktop Oil is a great all rounder.

The great thing with an oiled wooden worktop is that they look great, are easy to maintain and repair even if they do become stained, scratched or worn looking. For more on the subject, we’ve created a great video that shows how easy it is to apply a solid wood worktop oil.

 

An additional bonus of top oil products is that because they are completely food and child safe when dry, they’re perfect for rejuvenating and restoring wooden chopping boards and other wooden kitchen utensils.

Top Tip

Applying a top oil to a kitchen worktop will enhance the natural colour, grain and character of the timber. If you’re installing a new or renovating an old worktop by sanding, wipe over a small section with a slightly damp (not wet) cloth or sponge to get a good indication of how the worktop will look when oiled. See our full range of wooden worktop oils here

Worktop oil help and advice

Need some help with your wooden kitchen worktop surfaces? See our worktop FAQ page that answers many of the most common questions and issues. Need specialist help and advice? Contact our resident experts, who are on hand to provide free advice on how to clean, maintain and restore all manner of wooden worktops and worktop finishes.

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34 Responses to “Which is the Best Oil For Wooden Worktops?”

  1. Stewart Smith Says:

    I have new beech worktops which I want oil with your Danish oil.

    Do I wash them down with white spirit before I apply the first coat to remove dust?

    Do I apply oil to where sealant will be applied for sinks and upstands or where joints will be made using glue? If so how long should final coat be left to dry?

  2. Sam Says:

    Hello Stewart,

    Thank you for your inquiry,you can wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust. White Spirits is only necessary if the wood already has some oil on it or to remove grease or stains. As the oil is designed to soak into the wood it will need to be applied before any sealer or glue and you should check all products are compatible by doing test areas. Once the oil is dry you can then apply any sealants. Although if you are using the Osmo Interior Gap Sealer then finishes can be applied after just one hour.

    I hope that helps and if you need any further advice please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Kind Regards Samantha.

  3. Johna Says:

    Hi We have an IKEA worktop which is wooden and I assume it is a laminate, but not 100% sure. Can I us the same product to treat it as if it were Oak say?

    Also I have been told if it was originally treated with a solvent based product I cannot then treat it with a oil based product, and visa versa?

  4. Sam Says:

    Hello Johna,

    If the worktop is laminated then it likely that it is not suitable for treatment with wood finishing products and should have a protective coat on it already. Its worth trying to find out what the worktop actually is so that I can advice on the correct products to use if the worktop needs it.

    It would be true to say that many products will not be compatible with each otehr, but this will depend on the products and brands involved. If you are able to get back to me with more details and I will be happy to advice further.

    All the Best Samantha.

  5. Oliver Says:

    Hello there,
    My mother has just moved to a new house which has a wooden worktop in the kitchen. The previous owner was using Finishing Oil every few months to treat it.
    When my kitchen was recently redone our builder recommended one of the newer oils for our new wooden worktop as it formed a better protective layer over the wood.
    Should i recommend my mother to use one of these newer oils instead and are they compatible with a worktop that has previously been treated with Finishing Oil?
    thank you
    Oliver

  6. Sam Says:

    Hello Oliver,

    Yes for sure you could recommend a Hard Wax Oil for your mothers work top. It is a durable finish that will need less maintenance over time and give better liquid repellency. It is food safe and should go over a previous oil treatment with no problem. A test area should be done first and the surface may benefit from a wipe over with some White Spirit before application.

    We also have some very helpful videos on our You Tube Channel >>> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-tgwbsUxm73aVnAjLGHRA that give hints and tips on application methods.

    I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch or call our friendly team on 0800 7818 123.

    Kind regards Samantha.

  7. Laura Says:

    Hello,

    We have just bought a new solid oak worktop and we are wanting to treat them but we would prefer the finished colour of the worktop to be quite light coloured. We have been told about white oil. Is there anything you can recommend to us for us to achieve a lighter colour and the order of how and what we would treat them with?

    Thank you

  8. Sam Says:

    Hello Laura,

    Are you able to send me a photo of the worktop to wood@finishes.direct ? Applying a White Oil to a darker wood is an option, a test area is strongly advised however as the wood that you are applying to will have an impact on the colour that can be achieved. This product is available in a sample size to enable you to carry out a test area first.

    Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.

    All the Best Samantha.

  9. KATH BECKER Says:

    Hi I have a Howden oak work surface and have used the varnish they supply. However, I hate the shiny varnishy finish and have found it difficult to reapply. I use osmo oil on my bannisters and love it. Can I use an oil as opposed to the varnish. If so, what should I do to prepare etc. and what is the best oil for my work surface?

    Many thanks
    Kath

  10. Sam Says:

    Hello Kath,

    The Osmo Polyx Oil is suitable for use on a kitchen worktop, it is food safe and durable. You would need to remove the existing varnish first however, as this will prevent the oil from penetrating. A test area should always be done and if you have any further questions please feel free to get in touch.

    Kind regards Samantha.

  11. Steve Says:

    Hi

    I have some pine worktops, which I am going to burn shou sugih ban style, my experiments give a great finish, but now looking for a suitable top treatment in a super matt finish, any recommendation?

    Kind regards
    Steve

  12. Sam Says:

    Hello Steve,

    Thank you for your enquiry. Its not a subject that I know a great deal about, but the usual recommendation for this technique is to finish with Tung Oil the technique you are using of burning the wood will help to ensure the wood lasts for many many years to come and applying this oil every 10 years or so can help to make it last even longer and also make cleaning easier.

    I would love to see the results of your project and if you wish to share our Facebook Page is https://www.facebook.com/woodfinishesdirect/

    If there is anything further that I can help with please do let me know.

    Kind Regards Samantha.

  13. Ellen Says:

    I have a blackened oak (burnt oak) kitchen worktop. Do you have a black or very dark oil that would refresh it?

  14. Sam Says:

    Hello Ellen,

    We have a tinted oil, onyx that could be suitable for your project. It is a very dark brown. And is available in sample sizes to allow you to do a test area first.

    It does need to be applied to bare wood, if you have a read up of the product and let me know if you have any further questions.

    Kind regards Samantha.

  15. Steve Says:

    Hi,

    I have Iroko worktops in my kitchen that are patchy due to people wiping down the tops with cloth that has been in liquid detergent water, or I’m assuming that this is the cause.

    I am planning to take them all back to wood and would like your recommendation as to what I can use to:

    1 – Enhance the colour of the wood
    2 – Protect against soapy dish water that my kids always seem to use to wipe up their mess.
    3 – Doesn’t fade when cleaned but ages gradually

    Appreciate your response.

  16. Sam Says:

    Hello Steve,

    Thank you for your enquiry. You could look at the Work Top Oil from Holzol. It is a natural finish that will be durable and protective. Like any oil it may effected by detergents that are not PH neutral and this may be where you previous issue has come from.

    For cleaning the Osmo Spray Cleaner is a good option and will not damage the finish.

    If you have a read up of these products and feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions.

    Kind regards Samantha.

  17. amanda marsh Says:

    Hi we brought a oak block solid wood work surface my husband puts linseed oil on but we don’t think it’s doing that good help pls

  18. Sam Says:

    Hello Amanda,

    The Linseed oil will give limited protection and you may be better considering a Worktop Oil such as Holzol which will be far more durable then the the Linseed. If you wipe the surface with White Spirits to remove the excess linseed oil and then carry out a test area with the Holzol, to ensure you like the finish that will be achieved.

    You can then maintain this by simply applying a fresh coat when you feel the wood needs it, usually every 1 to 2 years. Its also worth having a look at our You Tube Channel >> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-tgwbsUxm73aVnAjLGHRA as there are a number of helpful videos on worktops.

    All the Best Samantha.

  19. Chris Says:

    Hi,
    I have new oak worktops which are pre-oiled. A couple of splashes of water are already showing. I was told to remove them with steel wool and lemon oil.

    Two questions: can I just use worktop oil instead of lemon oil? To prevent further staining, so I use a seal or an oil? I was planning to use Rustin’s worktop oil but also have Osmo Polyx Oil.
    Thanks for letting me know!

  20. Sam Says:

    Hello Chris,

    The benefit of having an oiled surface is that it can be patch repaired. Simply sand back the stained area and clean and then re apply some oil, the Worktop oil or the Osmo is likely to be suitable but a test area is always recommended. You may find some helpful tips on our You Tube Channel >>> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-tgwbsUxm73aVnAjLGHRA

    And if there is anything further that I can help with please do let me know.

    Kind Regards Samantha.

  21. David Hocknell Says:

    Hi I have just had a European walnut butchers block and I’m looking for something that will bring out the natural colour of the wood but not make it to dark. It is its first time being treated so has nothing already on the surface, many thanks.

  22. Sam Says:

    Hello David,

    Thank you for your enquiry. The Top Oil from Osmo. It will be ideal for your butchers block. It is food safe liquid repellent and easy to apply and maintain. The clear will darken the wood slightly and highlight the grain of the wood. The Natural will leave the wood looking as untreated as possible.

    If you take look at this product and feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions.

    Kind regards Samantha.

  23. Deborah Says:

    Hi
    I have inherited pine wooden work tops and cupboards tops that were previously treated with a diamond seal varnish that is peeling off.
    What is the best way to remove the varnish and do I need to take it back to bare wood in preparation for using a top oil. Wish to avoid a pine yellowy finish and looking to slightly darken the colour, I see osmo do a top oil in acacia colour, would this be appropriate on pine wood?

    Many thanks

  24. Samantha Taylor Says:

    Hello Deborah,

    Thank you for getting in touch. We have a great stripper on our website called Paint Panther its gel like substance that makes the varnish bubble up to be scraped off with a Filler Knife

    Once back to clean, bare wood you can think about applying the Top Oil and we have some very helpful videos on our You Tube Channel >>> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-tgwbsUxm73aVnAjLGHRA with hints and tips on the application process.

    A test area should always be carried out first to ensure that you are getting the colour and finish that you want.

    Kind regards Samantha.

  25. Fiona Says:

    Hi, I have wooden kitchen worktops that have been finished with a Swedish wood oil. I did about 6 coats.
    However, I find that it is staining really easily and marking, red wine, oil etc. Can I just re oil over the top, or do I need to sand first? I’m wondering if it is the product or I have done something incorrectly?

    Many thanks in advance,
    Fiona

  26. Samantha Taylor Says:

    Hello Fiona,

    Oils are designed to soak into the surface of the wood. They normally require 2- 3 coats maximum, but this does depend on the type of oil you are using and I am not familiar with the Swedish Oil that you have used. The wood will become saturated at some stage and will no longer accept further oil and when this happens the oil sits on the surface of the wood and dries. This oil will be easily marked or stained as it is unable to protect effectively. Its worth checking on the packaging to see what the recommended number of coats are.

    If you find that you have over applied, removing the surface coats can be done by wiping down with White Spirits or light sanding.

    I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to let me know.

    All the Best Samantha.

  27. Nick Says:

    Hi,

    I have a Howdens oak worktop which I have been treating with the “oil” (more like a varnish) from a yellow tin they supplied and have been treating for the last 10 years. The last treatment (done over a year ago) is a bit sticky in places. I like the idea of trying something new, but don’t want to go to the trouble of stripping back to bare wood – have you any suggestions as what I could use?

    Thanks

  28. Samantha Taylor Says:

    Hello Nick,

    You may find that the tacky/stickiness that you have is the result of the wood being saturated with oil. Oil soaks into a very thin layer of the the surface of the wood and there will be a point where it accepts no further oil and so any subsequent applications will sit on the surface and be ineffective.

    My best advice, although I know it not what you want to do, is to sand back to bare wood and start again with a product such as Top Oil this is along lasting oil that dries hard and gives a water repellent protective finish, which should only need a top up coat very two to three years depending on use of the worktop.

    I hope that helps and always try a test area first.

    Kind Regards Samantha.

  29. Mark Says:

    Good afternoon,

    We’ve not long since moved into a house with lovely wooden work-surfaces in the kitchen, but there are places appearing where some re-oiling is required. This feels like a daft question, but do I need to sand before I re-apply the oil? If yes, how much sanding is required – i.e. am I trying to get back to the bare wood, or is the aim simply to roughen the surface a bit?

    Your advice would be very welcome.

    Many thanks MH

  30. Samantha Taylor Says:

    Hello Mark,

    For re oiling a surface it may not be necessary to sand back although it will benefit from a denib with a Finishing Pad this will help to improve any finish. It will depend on the condition of the surface. We do have some very helpful videos on our You Tube Channel >>> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-tgwbsUxm73aVnAjLGHRA?view_as=subscriber with hints and tips for application.

    Do you know what oil you have on the surface and I will be able to offer a suggestion of an oil should you need to purchase one.

    Kind Regards Samantha

  31. Ultan Says:

    Hi, we have solid walnut worktops that are in need of oiling. I used Danish oil the last time i did it and the result wasn’t brilliant. The worktop was left a bit streaky. Recently the wortop has become tacky to the touch ( hence this post!)
    I contacted our kitchen suppler who advised that a product with a hardener would be a good idea and a more permanent treatment. I’m vary of undertaking this as I don’t want to permanently affect the look of the worktop if i do it wrong.

    I was hoping that you might advise on an appropriate product? From reading the other posts Work Top Oil would seem a good option, does this have hardener in the product?
    How should I prepare the surface as it already has several coats of Danish oil applied?
    What application method do you find gives the best results?

    Thanks
    Ultan

  32. Samantha Taylor Says:

    Good Afternoon Ultan,

    Thank you for getting in touch. The Work Top Oil is definitely a good option and will be more durable than the Danish Oil. I would recommend removing the Danish Oil first however, as the worktop oil requires very thin application to bare wood, any oil already applied will reduce the saturation levels and impact on how of the work top oil will be absorbed effectively.

    Once applied the finish should last for a year minimum but potentially longer depending on use. And then you can simply re apply a fresh coat when you feel the wood needs it. Feel free to get back to me if you have any further questions.

    Kind Regards Samantha.

  33. LilFrank Says:

    We are having our kitchen redone. Our old wooden worktop was finished with Danish Oil and while this looked good,it is too dark for what we now have in mind. I also found the Danish Oil wasn’t so hard wearing in the areas of high traffic.
    This time we are hoping for a more ‘scrubbed’ look. We would like to keep the wood as blonde as possible. Can you recommend anything colourless and non shiney that will be durable and resilient?

  34. Samantha Taylor Says:

    Hello,

    Yes I can recommend a product for your worktops. The Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural this is a much more durable and hard wearing oil than the Danish oil. It requires just two thin coats for application and because it contains a minute amount of white pigment it will leave the wood looking as unchanged as possible.

    I would recommend removing the remaining Danish Oil form the wood by wiping down with White Spirit or sanding back. A test area is always recommended and if you have any further questions I am happy to help.

    Kind regards Samantha.

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