(Wooden) kitchen worktops

Having had a reasonable trawl through the archives I can't find any real concensus on kitchen worktops. I have been thinking about getting solid wood worktops (prob. from Ikea, and prob. oak/poss. beech) but have heard that:
a. Wood worktops stain very easily and soon look rough b. They mark if you put a hot pan on them c. They're hard work to fit (esp. corners due to different expansion rates along and across the grain) d. They have terrible water resistance (often causing problems around sinks) e. They require lots of regular maintenance (oiling is required at intervals between 1 week and 6 months depending on whom you believe.)
Our kitchen is going to be used for 'proper' cooking most days - it isn't for decoration, but I do intend to chop/prepare food on a board rather than directly on the surface. I'm quite happy for the worktops to look used, but don't want them to look completely trashed after a short time. Structural damage due to water would not be acceptable. In this respect, I'd be particularly concerned about the narrow area of worktop between the sink and the wall (sink will be inset, *not* undermounted, but has no upstand etc at the back). I can imagine odd occasions when this area might not get wiped down after use by SWMBO.
Has anyone got any comments on this? One compounding factor is that one of the corners of the kitchen is not square, which may necessitate some creative joinery.
Any advice/direction to other resources gratefully received.
Thanks, Jon.
'from' address is a spamcatcher. I can be contacted via user13954 at yahoo dot co dot uk.
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wrote:

Dubious for starters

A disaster waiting to happen.
Wooden worktops are hard work and IMHO more trouble than they're worth. I certainly wouldn't oil them, I'd go for a strong surface coating like Rustin's bar-top. Oak is particularly troublesome for staining.
If you do go for wood, then you need to do it carefully. Decent timber, decent jointing technique to put the boards together, decent framing to hold it flat. Simple finger jointed cheapwood is just asking for it to warp and probably split - so avoid Ikea. If you're going to do it at all, you really have to do it properly or else they're a nightmare. This isn't cheap. Nor is it trivial DIY if you're inexperienced with joinery.
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Andy Dingley wrote:

Nothing wrong with Ikea beech worktops.
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Stuart Noble wrote:

When I was last in IKEA I looked at some of their beech block worktops which they use extensively for their own display and office-type surfaces (where they put leaflets and reps work at when taking orders etc). Even without the benefit of exposure to H2O these surfaces looked pretty tatty and tired, and some were warped.
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Yup the store ones look tatty ok, dirty and dented. It makes you wonder how they sell any.
However you do need to prepare wood for oiling so a marked surface isn't all that a big deal.
As for warped wood, this one is simple, you don't buy a warped one.
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snipped-for-privacy@ntlworld.com wrote:

Tatty and tired equals "natural". If you want a "smart" look you'd have to use a heavy duty varnish, and then they'd look like Formica anyway. Given the method of construction I'd say warping would be unusual
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wrote: big snip

What an emphatic statement ! Your experience of fitting and using a kitchen is ... ? most people, that I've encountered do _not_ have 'a heavy duty varnish' on their kitchen work-surfaces.
--

Brian



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Brian Sharrock wrote:

Considerable, though it wouldn't need to be to understand that you can't seal a wooden surface to the point where it could be classed as "wipe down" without radically changing the appearance.
most people, that I've encountered do _not_ have

Good for them. You either adopt the butcher's block approach where you scrub it down now and again or the hygienic total seal approach. What doesn't work IME is anything in between (e.g. massaging it weekly with nutcase oil)
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Well our experience has not been as you suggest.
We have rubberwood wortops which have been treated with Danish Oil maybe two or three times in their over two year life. They still look good, maybe a little darker overall than they were originally but very little.
They wipe down absolutely fine, just as easily if not more easily than most other worktops I've used.
--
Chris Green


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Andy Dingley wrote:

No, it isn't. You just spill anything on it.
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wrote:

Spill water on it, then have something steel left sitting on it wet.
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On the other hand, they look great and are perfectly acceptable as kitchen work surfaces when properly looked after.

??
Good points. However, i feel the end results are well worth the minimal effort involved. One day to fit a surface and then an occasional (twice a year - takes about half an hour) re-coating of the oil to replace any lost during cleaning of the kitchen.
Just make sure the surface is properly fixed to the units and warping shouldn't be an issue, make sure that there is silicon where there should be silicone (ie around inside of sink hole) to protect against water and discolouring of wood won't be an issue. The thing here is to do a 100% job first time.
We fit our kitchen ourselves and despite it being v.small it sold the house to the first people who looked. But then, we look after our investments. - Hot pans on a wooden suface indeed! :-) This is why it's advisable to use a large wooden work block in a kitchen as it protects the surface.
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We've had our rubberwood worktops for a couple of years now and we don't take very good care of them. They still look good.
To reply to the specific points:-
a. The only things that seem to stain the work top are rusty iron and 'red' things such as wine and blackcurrant juice. The 'red' stains usually gradually disappear/disperse if you keep at them, of course if you remove them when they happen there's no problem. The rust marks can supposedly be removed with oxalic acid, we've had a few and while oxalic acid does work to an extent I had to actually sand a couple of them off and then reseal the surface with Danish Oil. Big advantage of wood, you can remove a lot of material and it makes no difference to the looks.
b. True of plastic as well, not an issue we've suffered from, we have heatproof stands but they're not always used. Most pans are only at boiling water termperature anyway.
c I fitted ours without any problems, easier than laminate in many ways because there's less issue with chipping. Again the fact that the material is solid (wood all through) is an advantage if you damage it, there's still more wood underneath.
d We've had no problems so far after 2.5 years, we're pretty careless about water on the work surface, no marks or swelling yet. The one place we do protect a bit is where the kettle is for coffee making and tea making, the kettle stands on on of those glass 'chopping boards'.
e Ours has been oiled at less than six month intervals (i.e. less frequently) and still looks very good.
I.e. we're very happy with our wood worktops.
I can post some pictures if you like which will show up our general untidiness!
--
Chris Green


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In my case - maple (blocks) to match the maple cabinets and cupboards- but otherwise agree.

although very dubious about the durability of wood. my experience has been that it's easier to care for than melimine-faminate laminate worktops in the previous installation. Most spills are wiped off but occaisionally I've resorted to stainless-steel scourer pads and washing-up liquid.

Concur ;- stands either side of hob, in case a hot pan is put down; big one near the oven - placing hot-oil filled roasting dishes; and under the electric kettle.

The edges on mine are square (preference to match the shaker-style cabinets) so I didn't need to mason-mitre the panels. The panels are butted and glued with the -)----(- shaped joienrs (off screwfix).

Concur - one reason for choosing maple - the wood is tight grained and sensiblet imprevious to water penetration from 'spills'.

Concur
Concur.
--

Brian



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Nottingham Jon wrote:

My wife had a kitchen installed 2 years ago with wooden worktops, against my advice (I wanted granite), and the kitchen looks great. Visitors always express admiration. My wife says the wood is "red alder".
The kitchen was put together by a professional carpenter; I certainly would not try to do it myself. For one thing, the wood is incredibly heavy, as I know from the small pieces left over.
We certainly don't oil it more than once every 6 months, though we did give it several coats of Danish oil at the start.
So I would thoroughly recommend wooden worktops, though not from a d-i-y perspective.
--
Timothy Murphy
e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
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Thanks for all the replies. Considering these, I kept a close eye on an existing worktop over the best part of a week. Even exercising moderate care, it was subjected to standing puddles of water and hot roasting tins, amongst other potential problem points. We've decided to go for el plastico - won't look as nice, but I think it's going to be more practical in our case.
Thanks, Jon.
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