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
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.
'from' address is a spamcatcher. I can be contacted via user13954 at
yahoo dot co dot uk.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
They wipe down absolutely fine, just as easily if not more easily than
most other worktops I've used.
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
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.
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
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'.
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.
e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
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.
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