Everything You Wanted to Know About Wooden Worktops
Renovating or choosing a new kitchen can be incredibly overwhelming and confusing; gas or induction hob? slab style doors, or matte finish shaker styles? And then there’s the worktop! If you’re at the design stage of your kitchen project, the chances are you’ve looked at solid wood worktops as a choice and the chances are, you’re probably none the wiser on whether solid wood counters are worth buying.
Are they durable? Are they easy to maintain and clean? Are they better, or worse than quartz or composite? Don’t worry, we feel your pain! That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive solid wood worktop buying guide, looking at the styles and the most important things to consider before you commit to choosing wood as your worktop material.
Want to skip ahead? Click any of the links below:
What’s the Difference Between Solid Wood and Solid Surface Worktops
Why Choose Solid Wood Worktops
Are Solid Wood Worktops Practical
Wooden Worktop Styles
How To Treat Solid Wood Worktops
How to Clean Solid Wood Worktops
Solid wood work surfaces are made using staves of separate timber, all of the same type which are finger jointed in length. After this, the work surfaces undergo butt jointing to create the width. In most cases, wooden worktops are then oiled to create a water repellent finish, however, some wooden worktops can be supplied unfinished.
Solid surface is the term used for any stone such as quartz or granite worktops, or artificial solids such as acrylic. In general, solid surface worktops are used in contemporary kitchen designs, whereas wooden work surfaces can be used on both traditional and contemporary kitchens alike.
If you’re looking for a tactile and high quality finish, a wooden work surface is unmatched. It may not have the full durability of a corian or quartz top, or be as cost effective as a laminate, but a solid wood worktop is unrivalled in adding natural beauty to your kitchen.
We love how wooden worktops age, mature, lighten and darken, giving you a kitchen feature that evolves as your house does.
Unique & Diverse
With so many differing wood grains available and no two samples being the same, a wooden worktop can provide a truly unique focal point for your kitchen. The variation in staves and grains will have a major impact on the overall look of your kitchen.
The range of colours available also guarantees that you’ll find something perfect to compliment your design.
Water Resistant & Hard Wearing
Many hardwood worktops have naturally occurring oils, making them water resistant and as they have solid edges, they are ideal for high water areas, such as when using Belfast sinks.
Although they do need treating on a quarterly basis, solid wood worktops are surprisingly hard wearing, requiring minimal cleaning. Small dents and scratches can be covered with danish oil or wax and particularly deep scratches can be sanded out during the treatment stage.
As with all natural materials, solid wood requires some love and care to keep it in perfect condition. Although they may not be as hard wearing as quartz worktops, or as versatile as laminated tops, they do bring an element of class to any kitchen design.
On a daily basis in a family home, solid wood worktops are entirely practical; simply clean away spills and stains using damp cloths. Another benefit of solid wood tops is that they can be sanded, unlike laminate for example, meaning a chip or scratch isn’t necessary the end of the world.
Solid oak is probably the most versatile of all wood worktop finishes, complimenting a modern kitchen, but most ‘at home’ when coupled with a traditional kitchen style such as a neutral toned shaker.
The oak grain is an extremely hard wearing one and will darken and mature when used, making it ideal for the evolving family home.
Walnut work surfaces are both robust and delicate, marrying rich colour variation with a slightly curved grain to give a naturally decorative finish. Choose walnut worktops for an ever-popular, stylish addition to your kitchen.
Walnut worktops are the ideal choice for creating high contrast with lighter cupboards, providing an ultra modern and contemporary look.
The deep browns and curved grain can add interest to an otherwise subdued design, making walnut worktops a feature in their own right.
Beech worktops are possibly the most popular of all wood grains thanks to their robust and versatile appearance. On the whole, they provide a range of rich tones from bright oranges to deep reds.
Variations in staves and wood grains give beech work surfaces a charm and diverse finish that is unmatched and as the worktop ages, it will only get better.
Cherry worktops bring warmth to any kitchen with their deep, warm red tones. The butchers block cherry worktop has become a popular choice over recent years as it is one of the more versatile wood grains available; fitting in any kitchen style and maturing over time to add interest.
Couple cherry worktops with cherry door knobs to achieve that perfect country kitchen look.
The lighter, subdued tones of maple worktops make them ideal in farmhouse kitchens and complimenting more traditional designs. We recommend coupling maple tops with matching door knobs and flooring, with contrasting door finishes for a striking but coordinated look.
If you’re looking for something a little darker than walnut with an exotic twist, wenge is the perfect choice. A light grain and very dark brown pattern makes wenge particularly striking when contrasted with lighter cupboards such as a gloss white slab or oyster.
What’s more, wenge is known to have a density 50% higher than oak, making it incredibly strong and resistant to dents and scratches.
A tropical hardwood, teak is incredibly dense and hard wearing, but also incredibly characterful and rich. The grain on teak worktops tends to be a little more apparent than on more reserved surfaces such as oak or cherry, making it an ideal choice for adding interest to a pared back kitchen design.
Due to the natural oil fibres in teak timber, it is fairly resistant to water without treatment (although we do advise treatment to make doubly sure), giving it an advantage when used with Belfast sinks for example.
With a distinctive cherry colour and characterful striped grain, there’s no mistaking a sapele wortkop. The colour lends itself well to a multitude of kitchen styles, contrasting well with darker cabinets, but also complimenting a softer cream or light grey design.
We recommend treating your wooden worktops every three months, to ensure they stay hard wearing and well protected.
Danish oil is perfect for treating your work surfaces, as it dries quickly, is water resistant and provides a safe finish for preparing food. Avoid using food based oil such as cooking oil (you would be surprised how common this is) as they effectively cause bacteria build up long term.
To apply the oil, simply rub it into the surface with a lint free cloth, applying even coverage throughout. We recommend applying multiple coats, leaving each to dry thoroughly, this helps the oil ‘seep’ into the surface, ensuring it is fully absorbed, giving extra protection. Remember to pay close attention to areas that will be prone to scratches and marks, such as sink edges, corners and areas near the hob.
Small scratches and dents should be less noticeable after applying a new coat of oil, however, if you feel they are too deep, lightly sanding the area before treatment can help remove larger blemishes.
Lacquering provides a glossier finish than danish oil, which can give wooden worktops a more modern look. Beware of using a lacquer that is too ‘glossy’ as this will remove the natural appearance of the surface.
To apply lacquer, the first treatment is just a case of spraying lightly and evenly and leaving to dry. However, ongoing treatment requires the base coat to be sanded prior to reapplying.
Wax has become a popular alternative to oil in recent years as there are a number of finishes available and generally, it can be easier to apply.
Again, use a lint free cloth to apply the wax, ensuring an even finish throughout. As wax is less hard wearing than danish oil, it is worth applying three to four coats, giving peace of mind that your worktop is well protected.
Daily cleaning can be done using warm water and washing up liquid. If you want to make sure you have removed bacteria and do a ‘deeper clean’ of your surfaces, mix washing up liquid with white vinegar and water into a spray bottle for a soft anti bacterial solution. We also recommend avoiding harsh chemical cleaners, although some anti bacterial cleaners are fine to use.
- Don’t be tempted to leave spillages, clean them up immediately as natural materials such as wood are more prone to staining than laminated or acrylic tops.
- Avoid using an overly wet cloth, always ring out cloths before use.
- Make sure you only use soft cloths as more coarse scouring pads for example can scratch the surface.
Hopefully, you’re a little clearer on whether or not solid wood worktops are the right choice for you. If they are, why not have a look at our extensive range of solid wood worktops, including walnut, beech, maple and many other styles and finishes. Have wooden worktops in your kitchen already? Leave a comment with your care and treatment tips below!