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 Oils 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.
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 Premier 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.
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.