I have a narrow kitchen with a window only at one end & I'd like to
create a bright/light impression -- my thoughts are circulating around
a maple worksurface (because of the colouring) with some decorative
darker elements here and there (around the hobs, for example).
The intent is not a food preparaton surface directly; I will have
chopping boards etc for the rough stuff. Nonetheless, it's a tough life
for a kitchen work surface.
The questions, of course, are ones of practicality and durability:
1) is there a practical, and food safe, finish for maple that is
suffciently water proof ?
2) how well will maple resist food and liquid stains if finished this
3) or is the whole idea just plain stupid and best buried in the woods
outside :-) ?
With thanks for your expert opinions,
Probably not, unless you want to consider one of those epoxy-type "bar-top"
finishes, which basically looks like hell unless it's actually on a bar.
Pretty well - find a bar and look at the top - I bet most of them get
FWIW, I will be putting a beech butcherblock top as an island in my kitchen.
I plan on giving it no finish other than periodic coats of mineral oil, and
an occasional (every 2-3 years) scraping or sanding to remove dings and
stains. I won't be doing a lot of chopping on it, but wood finishes on a
countertop don't last long, so I won't bother.
I've had purpleheart bullnose edges on the countertop in my current kitchen
for three years now. All they've ever recieved have been a couple thin
coats of mineral oil. They show no stains, no damage, and are still bright
purple. I never even filled the nail holes because I can hardly see them.
The rest of the counter is burgundy-colored tile. While I'd never, ever,
not in a million lifetimes put tile on a countertop again, the wood edge has
held up amazingly well and I'd not hesitate to do that again.
Committing the ultimate usenet sin and following up to myself, I have
just realised that this is a seriously often asked FAQ.
Please disregard, and I'll browse all the previous times this question
has been asked.
Sorry, forgot to check first ......
No problem with your wanting a maple work surface, but do you really expect
much in terms of lightening the kitchen? If you really, really want to do
some good that makes a huge difference in a dark kitchen, paint the cabinets
white. My wife grabbed the panel off our appliance white dishwasher and
took it to the dealer and said "match this". She specified oil based
high-gloss enamel. It doesn't chip, wipes clean with a warm soap and our
kitchen is a cheery, happy place to work. To keep it from looking too much
like a hospital, we did the countertops in 14" Italian stone tiles.
I was vacationing with my father, who is an avid woodturner, in Hawaii this
last summer. He called up Ron Kent http://www.ronkent.com/ a world famous
turner and my dad invited himself over. (This will get to counter tops
soon.) Any way we had a great time in his shop and then he invited us in
and showed us his house. It was beautiful. I got to talking with him about
furniture making etc.
So finally he shows me the counter tops he made for his kitchen out of OSB
sheet goods. He tooks OSB and riped into 1.5 inch piece glued them together
so that the edges facing up and finished them with Danish oil. They were
very attractive. Here's a picture
I think I might put some edging on it but it really looked nice!
We once made 22 desks for an ad agency from OSB. We did not cut them and
glue them up, we laid them out and sanded them until they turned white and
then sprayed lacquer. They looked great. We then made some other items using
glue lam beams cut in to 2 inch chunks (we started with 4x6) and then glued
them in to surfaces They looked great and help up well. You can't cut on
them or scrub them because the lacquer is not that durable.
We went through two units (66 sheets) of OSB.
It can be done easily enough but I think maple (or any hardwood)
counter top is pretty high maintenance. Wear and tear on the surface
and the normal changes in humididy can cause problems that require
sanding or re-finishing. They look very good initially but come back
a couple years later and if they haven't been taken care of they are
not very pretty. Of course if you don't use your kitchen, the
surface should last a lot longer.:)
I have a bar top made from an old bowling alley approach. The
material is 2" thick maple with the lane markers still in it. I
sanded it and finished it with several coats of poly. While the
finish is still good after 8 years you can now feel some of the seams
where the boards come together. It doesn't bother me on the bar but
if it was in my kitchen my wife would have had me refinish it by now.
I have seen some 1 1/2" thick maple tops available from a flooring
supply that are pre-finished with some kind of food-safe poly but are
not made to use as a chopping surface.
The larger butcher block type cutting tables are normally just treated
with mineral oil.
We have 5/4 maple counter tops in our pantry. They've been used as
food preparation surfaces, including, apparently, some chopping and
cutting, for 95 years now, and are still in pretty good shape, but
they do look "distressed" -- on the other hand, it's an old house, so
it ought to look old. If they were ever finished with anything, it
wore off decades ago.
What would happen if you did the hot beeswax or paraffin treatment?
Not too badly, if they get wiped up right away. Probably better if
oiled. This may be some kind of super-maple that isn't available any
Allen Windhorn (507) 345-2782 FAX (507) 345-2805
Kato Engineering (Though I do not speak for Kato)
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