Worktop Finish FAQ's

Can I use a worktop oil or varnish on a commercial bar top?

Commercial bar tops are subjected to extreme wear and tear. the only products that we can confidently recommend for these conditions are Sadolin PV67 Heavy Duty Varnish and Manns Trade Bar Top Lacquer. Both are extremely durable but also extremely smelly during application, due to their high VOC content. Good ventilation is essential when applying these products.

Can I use Danish Oil on a solid wood worktop?

Danish oil is perfectly fine for kitchen worktops as it's made from natural ingredients and is both food and child safe when dry. Dedicated worktop oils offer better durability, longevity and require less coats (typically 2 for new worktops or 1 for previously oiled worktops. They also require less maintenance than Danish Oils. Dedicated work top oils are also food and child safe when dry with some offering anti-bacterial properties. Worktop oils also tend to change the colour of the wooden worktops less than Danish Oils

I have black staining around the taps and sink of my worktop. What can be done?

The black stains around the taps and sink are likely to be mould spores in the work top as a result of prolonged water ingress in to the wood. If left untreated, this will ultimately lead to wood rot and decay. The affected areas should be sanded back to bare wood and treated with a mould and mildew cleaner such as Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner, several applications may be required if the discoloration is bad. Once fully dried the whole worktop should be treated with a worktop oil to prevent further water ingress and future mould. For additional protection, a coat of Osmo Wood Protector (4006) can be applied prior to oiling. This product offers excellent water repellency.

Can I stain my kitchen worktop to a different colour?

In simple terms yes. This can be done by either applying a wood stain then sealing the stain in with a wood oil or varnish, or by using a pigmented or coloured wood oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil Tints or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints, both of which are ideal for kitchen worktops, are food and child safe when dry and are easy to maintain and repair.

Can I apply a wood oil to a kitchen worktop that is always wet?

In short, the answer is no. for the wood oil or worktop oil to penetrate and cure in the surface of the wood, the work top needs to have been dry for at least 3 or 4 days. Chances are that if the wood has been wet for an extended period, it may have or will develop black mould and algae stains. Once the worktop has fully dried, we recommend treating the wood thoroughly with a mould and mildew cleaner and then allowing it to dry again. The surface of the wood may require a light sanding if it no longer feels smooth to the touch. Once the work top has been dried, treated for mould and algae and sanded, it can then be oiled with a worktop oil to prevent future water ingress. It's worth remembering that areas such as around the taps where water often collects should be wiped dry where possible and re-oiled as and when required to retain the woods water-repellent properties.

Which wood finish should I use on an untreated Bamboo Worktop?

For kitchen worktops, we tend to recommend using a wood oil or specifically a wooden worktop oil. Wood oils are durable, liquid and stain resistant, easy to maintain, patch repair and to keep looking like new. Osmo Top Oil is perfect for bamboo but needs to be applied very thinly as the grain will be tighter than softer wood work tops made from Oak, Beech and Ash.

How can I remove metal tin stains from an oiled work top?

Metal tins and cans can stain oiled finishes if the bottom of the tin has been or is sitting in water. The oxidisation of the metal can stain the finish or the wood if left long enough. The benefit of an oiled finish is that they are very easy to repair and when done will blend in with the surrounding area with no sign of a repair being done. Depending on how bad the stain is, it may be possible to remove it by lightly sanding with an abrasive pad such as a Woodleys Finishing Pad and then re-oiling the affected area. If the stain runs deeper into the actual wood, sand the area with a p120 grit sandpaper sheet until the stain has been sanded out and then re-oil the affected area.

What is the best way to prepare a worktop before oiling?

If the worktop is bare wood, little preparation is required. It can be wiped down with methylated spirit to clean and degrease the surface if required. This will clean and remove any surface dirt or grease that has marked the surface during installation.

Many new wooden worktops are supplied having already been given a thin maintenance coat of oil to protect the surface. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before treating but most are ready for oiling with a dedicated work top oil.

Is there a better alternative to Danish Oil for a Kitchen worktop?

Danish Oil is perfectly fine for kitchen worktops and has always been one of the more traditional oils used. Wood oil technology has moved on over the years with new types of oils that are much more durable, longer lasting and only require 2 coats, as apposed to Danish Oil, Teak Oil or Tung Oil, that require more coats and more frequent re-application to maintain the finish.

Our recommendation would be to look at the range of 'Worktop Oils'. They are extremely tough, durable, stain, scratch and water resistant. They are very easy to apply, maintain and patch repair if a particular area becomes worn or damaged.

An alternative to 'worktop oils' are the range of Hardwax Oils. Hardwax oils are as durable and long lasting as top oils, are available in clear and a range of colours, are also food and child safe when dry and equally as easy to apply, maintain and repair if required. If unsure about a particular colour try one or more of the Hardwax Oil samples.

To prepare the wooden worktop it may be necessary to strip the old Danish Oil finish by either lightly sanding the surface or wiping down with a clean, uncoloured cloth dampened with white spirit. Once the worktop has been prepared as above, simply apply 2 thin coats of Top Oil to the surface following the manufacturers preparation and application instructions on the tin. If the worktop is made from a dense exotic hardwood such as Teak, Mahogany, Ipe or Iroko, it may require an extra thin oil like Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin (1101) to achieve maximum penetration.

Is Danish Oil the best option for wooden kitchen worktops?

Danish oils have always been one of the more traditional oils used for kitchen worktops. This said, Danish Oils do require regular maintenance with additional coats and depending on the brand, can add a warm or slightly orange hue to the wood.

The modern alternative to Danish Oils are Hard Wax Oils. These modern oils are made from a blend of oils, waxes and resins that require just 2 coats on new, bare wood. They are highly durable, resistant to scuffs, scratches, water and other liquid spillages. They require little maintenance and when maintenance is required, simply require one thin maintenance coat.

I have a worktop outside that I use to serve hot food from. It has already been painted yellow and I'm looking to protect it without changing the colour too much. What would you recommend?

Polyvine Decorators Varnish is an exterior-grade clear, water-based acrylic varnish for use on wood, paintwork, wallpaper, fabric, plaster and much more. It contains UV filters to protect coloured surfaces from fading and biocides that protect against algae, mildew and fungal attack.

Oils would not be suitable as they need to penetrate into the wood and cannot if the paint has formed a coating on the wood. They are also more likely to discolour the finish due to the nature of the ingredients they are made from.

We can never guarantee one manufacturers product over another and a test area is essential to test product suitability and final finish.

Is it okay to use Sikkens satin teak wood stain on the work tops around my sink?

If you are referring to the Sikkens Cetol TSI Satin Plus, then this is not one that we would recommend for use on kitchen worktops, it is far more suited to flooring, skirting, doors and architraves.

For worktops, we have a wide range of products that include varnishes such as Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish which offer a long lasting protective seal.

Alternatively, for a finish that is easy to maintain over time, we recommend using a work top oil such as Manns Premier Top Oil or Osmo Top Oil. For additional protection, a coat of Osmo Wood Protector (4006) can be applied as a base-coat prior to applying the top oil but this is not necessary. It is however a good combination, particularly for sink areas that require more protection against moisture.

Hi, the wooden table and wooden worktops on our boat were treated and finished by the previous owner so we don't know what they were treated with. We want to refurbished them but don't want to sand back to the original wood. They both get white cloudy rings when damp/wet, but this fades back to normal again once dry. The worktops are a dark wood with a gloss finish, potentially mahogany, and the table is possibly oak with a more satin finish. Both items are on a classic boat. Any ideas what the finish is and what we can apply on top of it?

It can be really difficult when you inherit/move into a new property and you do not know what the wood is or what the current finish is. This also makes it very difficult for us to advice on a suitable way to move forward with your project. There are some small tests that can help, but ultimately sanding back to bare wood and starting again is the best option and the most likely to get an even well protected finish for your wooden surfaces.

A glossy finish may be an indication of a varnish, however the fact that it marks so easily could also be an indication of a wax or soft oil, so it's really difficult to advice on what to use. Moving forward, worktops and tables need a finish that is durable and that will repel moisture.

If you do decide to sand back to bare wood I can recommend any of the worktop oils we offer. These penetrate the surface and enhance the natural character and feel to the wood, whilst offering a very durable and easy to maintain finish.

I have an outdoor hardwood worktop although not sure what type of wood (I know is nothing exotic). Last year I oiled it with a few coats of ruskins decking oil, but after winter the oil seems to have come off in a few patches even though it had a tarpaulin covering it. I think this is because despite my best efforts, some water sat on the tarp for a while and must've seeped through. I just want to know the best way to deal with this. Do I try to get all the oil off and then apply a good marine varnish for example? If so, how do I go about this? I tried to sand a little but I think this would take an age with my wee detail sander. Should I put white spirit on first, then sand. Alternatively, should I just lightly sand around the damaged patches and put on more oil? Which option will provide better protection? Which is easier?

Wood oils are a good option for exterior wood care projects. They are easy to apply, maintain and repair, should the need arise. They will also not crack, flake or peel off the surface.

The quickest and easiest approach for your worktop is to clean the surface by giving it a wipe down with a clean lint-free cloth dampened with methylated spirit. Once this is done simply re-oil the surface with a thin coat or 2 of oil taking care to remove any surplus from the surface. This should restore the worktop back to its former glory.

In terms of maintenance, a thin application of oil in spring and autumn and/or if the worktop is starting to look tired or worn should keep it protected and looking great all year around.

Can I oil IKEA oak veneer kitchen worktops and if so, what's the best I to use? Have heard oiling can delaminate the surface.

Always check the information leaflet or literature that came with the worktop to see if it advises against any products that could impact the worktop guarantee.

A good option to consider for your worktop is Osmo Top Oil. This oil will enhance and protect the worktop whilst giving a natural look and feel to the wood. A normal feature of most wood oils is that it will give the wood an almost damp like appearance making the worktop darker and enhancing the natural character and grain of the wood.

Hi. I am in the process of making a kitchen worktop from scaffold boards. I am wanting to stain the boards to a darker colour, teak or mahogany. Then seal the boards to stop any water ingress. Can I just use a normal stain i.e a ronseal stain, then apply a suitable product. What would you recommend?

Sounds like an interesting project. Scaffold boards can be great for making things and we've seen them used for decking, flooring and to make furniture such as storage boxes and more. One thing to be aware of is that scaffold boards can be prone to shrinkage and warping so care should be taken to ensure that they are suitably dry, planed, sanded, secured and finished to protect from moisture.

In terms of wood stains, we wouldn't recommend a water-based stain where there is likely to be a lot of moisture. For kitchens and bathrooms, we tend to recommend solvent-based stains such as Manns Trade Light Fast Wood Stain or a coloured wood oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil Tints or Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints. If a tinted wood oil is used a top oil is not necessary.

Worktops take a lot of punishment and are exposed to lots of moisture and water, especially around sink and tap areas. Although varnishes can be used, the ease of applying, maintaining and even repairing oiled surfaces makes them the preferred choice. Although varnishes can work well, if the surface becomes chipped or damaged, water can penetrate into the wood and beneath the varnish. This can ultimately lead to the varnish de-laminating from the wood and eventually cracking or peeling off. Some varnishes are better suited to wortops than others and if its a varnish you prefer, we recommend that you contact us to discuss the various options.

Osmo Top Oil is a popular choice for kitchen worktops and is available in a range of sheens and colours to give a variety of effects. Top oils are tough, durable and will protect the worktop from water, stains and heat (plates and cups but not the underside of saucepans or frying pans straight from the hob). For an additional level of protection worktops can be treated with Osmo Wood Protector (4006) prior to oiling. This product however is not recommended if using Osmo Top Oil White 3037.

When doing a project like this we always recommend that a test area is done to assess product suitability and final finish. If the wood is to be stained and then over-coated with a top coat, the test area should include both the stain and the top-coat.

The wood should be correctly and evenly sanded to ensure a consistent colour. Where possible, stain and oil / varnish all surfaces including edges, ends and underside to provide the best protection and resistance from moisture.

We've just had an iroko worktop installed in a new kitchen (one run of 3.2 m and a 3 m x 1 m island). The installer has treated it with two coats of teak oil but I am concerned that this may not be enough or that it is even the best option, particularly around the sink area. Having looked through your FAQ and product overviews, Osmo Wood Wax Extra Thin seems like it may be a good option. Should we consider changing to this kind of treatment or is it better to stick with the teak oil and just apply more coats? As mentioned above, we're particularly concerned about the sink area (an under-counter "Belfast" sink with grooves cut in the worktop). Are either of the treatments (Osmo or teak oil) capable of providing sufficient water repellency or is something additional needed (e.g. Osmo Wood Protector followed by a suitable oil/wax)? There is also an "up-stand" on the sink run with a very small gap between it and the main worktop but there is no seal currently applied to it. Should we be sealing this edge as it seems prone to water ingress, particularly around the sink. All of the above is complicated by the fact that we've had to move in before everything is completely finished so are now using the kitchen.

Teak Oil is ideal for hardwoods such as Iroko, because it is thinner in viscosity and more suited for use with tropical hardwoods with a tight grain. Teak oil provides a reasonably good level of protection but will likely require more regular maintenance.

The Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin (1101) that you have seen on our site is ideal for exotic hardwoods. The main benefit with Osmo Extra Thin Oil is that it's more durable and longer lasting than Teak oil meaning less maintenance.

As the worktops have already been oiled there are a couple of choices.

  • Allow the teak oil to wear for several months then re-oil with the Osmo Extra Thin once the teak oil starts to loose its water repellent, protective properties.
  • Wipe down the worktops with methylated spirits to dissolve and remove most of the teak oil from the wood surface.

Option 1 means just leaving the worktops. Areas that get used the most will wear quicker than those that don't. Option 2 is the quick way of re-doing the worktops but will be smelly and messy. You will require several Woodleys Microfiber Cloths to mop up the meths and the dissolved teak oil. Good ventilation is also essential when removing and/or applying any oil.

Used cloths and rags should never be thrown directly in to the bin. They should be soaked in water and stored in an air tight container to prevent the risk of spontaneous combustion. They can be disposed of in the bin once they have dried.

The area around the sink will simply need a little more maintenance than the rest of the worktops. As soon as it starts to look tired, worn or loosing its water repellent properties, simply clean, dry then apply a thin application of oil to the affected area.

It's always a good idea to seal any gaps where water could penetrate, especially around wood. for this, we recommend Osmo Interior Gap Sealer, a waterproof, flexible gap sealer that is available in a wide range of colours.

If your up stand is also wood then yes it should absolutely be treated as well.

In terms of day to day cleaning, household detergents and cleaners should never be used. These products tend to contain detergents that are designed to breakdown oil and grease and could potentially strip the oil from the wood. Always use a dedicated worktop cleaner that's suitable for oiled surfaces. These will clean the worktop surfaces whilst maintaining the oiled finish.

I've used some old joists to make an island worktop. It has been sanded but is still a little rough and rustic. What do you recommend I use to finish the top to make it wipe able and anti bacterial?

If the finish is still quite rough then you may need to consider further sanding. We recommend sanding with a 120 to 150 Grit abrasive. If you find that cloths or sponges are catching when you wipe over and there are still lots of cracks or crevices, you will have trouble keeping the surface clean and germ/bacteria free. A wood filler may be required to fill and smooth out any deeper cracks, splits and surface imperfections in the wood.

There are two options when it comes to worktops, Oil or Varnish. Oils soak in to the surface of the wood to give a natural look and feel. They provide good durability, are easy to apply and maintain but you may find that the oil take-up is initially high for this wood as it is aged and textured.

The alternative is a Varnish. A varnish will seal the surface of the wood better including any minor surface imperfections. A varnish will also produce a smoother surface. Although varnishes are more durable than an oiled surface, they cannot be easily maintained or repaired. This means that if the varnish gets damaged, it could allow moisture and water to penetrate into the wood. This could eventually lead to the varnish lifting, cracking, splitting or flaking over time.

We always strongly recommend doing a test area to ensure you get the finish you want and to see how the product looks and performs on the wood you have, and especially so with reclaimed or re-purposed wood.

Some products to consider are Manns Premier Top Oil or Osmo Top Oil for an oiled finish.

For varnishes, consider Manns Extra Tough Interior Varnish or Fiddes Clear Glaze.

Can varnish be used on wooden worktops?

Varnish can be used on wooden worktops with some containing anti-bacterial properties. Our advice however is to use a worktop oil as they are easier to maintain and repair. Varnishes are fine all the while they remain intact. In kitchens however they are subjected to sharp objects that can break the seal between varnish and worktop allowing moisture penetration. Over time, this can lead to cracking, peeling and flaking, a situation that won't happen with a worktop oil.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to provide product information that is as accurate as possible, it's important to clarify that trees and the wood that they produce can be affected by many factors. For example, the same species of tree grown in the same wood, even in close proximity, will be affected by age along with the amount of sunlight and water they receive. Other naturally occurring biological and environmental factors will also influence the density and grain of the wood as well as the moisture and oil content of the timber. No two trees are the same, meaning each piece of wood has the potential to look and react differently to the same wood finish. For example, product adhesion, colour variations, absorption rates and sheen levels. It is for this reason that we always strongly recommend carrying out test areas before starting any project