Are wooden kitchen worktops really a high maintenance choice for kitchens?

(72 Posts)
reastie Fri 04-Jan-13 13:04:48

Would appreciate any input from anyone who has wooden work surfaces or has experience of them. They look so lovely, but we're put off by the potential staining/looking mucky after a few years. Any advice to keep it in good condition or whether to steer clear entirely?

mothersmilkandherchickenseggs Fri 04-Jan-13 13:32:19

hi there, my dh makes bespoke solid wood kitchens i have one in oak with oak tops. It does depend entirely on the finish if you go for. For example if you go for oil (which is most widley used) there is a lot of up keep and you do have to be very clean they will stain and it does tend to go orange with age imo. however we tend to use a matt or silk extra hard floor laquear for most of our kitchens its great repels everything even red wine and curry and up keep is low iv had mine in for three years only now am i thinking perhaps the tops could do with a very light sand and another coat but i have a busy kitchen and am quite obsessive cumpulsive when it comes to wiping down surfaces so they have proably worn quicker. hope that helps

trixymalixy Fri 04-Jan-13 13:35:00

I wouldn't have them again. Far too much hassle.

Boomeringue Fri 04-Jan-13 13:55:00

They are hard work to keep looking good. DH managed to burn ours with a pan taken from the hob. We'll bear with them,but never again!

reastie Fri 04-Jan-13 14:14:36

mother that sounds like good advice to keep in mind. Thank you.

So it seems the juries still out in general though hmm . I wonder if some of it also depends on what type of wood you have.

Mynewmoniker Fri 04-Jan-13 14:17:32

or how much time you have to devote on upkeep. hmm

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 04-Jan-13 14:25:31

Hated ours.

Never again, not if they came free.

PigletJohn Fri 04-Jan-13 14:26:55

wooden worktops are absolutely fine in a showroom.

hattymattie Fri 04-Jan-13 14:30:31

I agree with piglet. Great to look at but on a practical level not so great - mine have gone black around the sink where water has infiltrated. To be honest I wouldn't have them againsad

NotAnotherPackedLunch Fri 04-Jan-13 14:47:03

I love ours.

They still look good after 8 years hard wear. They are occasionally oiled and we do take care to dry up around the sink and taps. So far no blackening of the wood.

As well as looking good, I think they sound much quieter when you cook compared to granite. Much calmer sounding.

50BalesOfHay Fri 04-Jan-13 14:51:22

Love my oak worktops, you just have to be disciplined about drying them and using mats etc. They're fine if everyone's tidy with pots and careful with water, but if you go for them be careful about letting guests wash up; I always check discreetly for water if anyone who's not used to them washes up

JanuaryJunes Fri 04-Jan-13 14:54:40

Never again.
Bolognese sauce, water, wet cups are all mark making. You need to be constantly sanding them.
Got laminate now. Love love love my new work tops.

reastie Fri 04-Jan-13 16:59:22

Well, we are relatively careful, but I also cook alot, and I don't want to spend my life worrying about staining/ruining the work surface when cooking hmm . Maybe wood is not such a good option, even though it does look so lovely in the showroom . Wood effect laminate just doesn't do the job as nicely visually though. Will have to think.

mirpuppet Fri 04-Jan-13 17:19:25

ditto --

I wouldn't have them again. Far too much hassle.

never again

mummyflood Fri 04-Jan-13 18:00:48

wouldn't go for them again personally. Looked gorgeous when first put in, but quite shabby now 5yrs down the line. Have recently sanded and re-varnished, but they still look quite battered. Echo all the comments re;water damage round sink. Pretty much impossible to remove.

LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 04-Jan-13 18:09:39

I thought I hated ours then I read a recommendation to use hard wax oil on them instead of finishing oil and what a transformation. It's much harder wearing and looks good. I now think I would have them again but they do require a lot of care, wiping up water round the sink, no hot pans or metal so it depends how careful you are.

So if you go for it treat them with something much more robust than oil!

applecrumple Fri 04-Jan-13 18:17:03

Our kitchen is 3 years old & has wooden work tops. They still look brilliant. You can buy mineral oil for them from ikea & just rub it into the wood once every 3 months. No watermarks round sink at all. We even had a cat who peed shock on the work tops & didn't even mark them

PigletJohn Fri 04-Jan-13 18:19:23

If you really want it, look for a "sit-on" sink like an Astracast Bistro which goes right back to the wall and is not set into the worktop, so taps will not easily get water on the wood.

kaumana Fri 04-Jan-13 18:20:24

Have a look at the top range of laminates. Expensive, almost as much as the real thing!

reastie Fri 04-Jan-13 18:33:18

Piglet you are a wealth on knowledge on everything! I've found some white ceramic (my sink of choice) sit on sinks which could work.

We went to Howdens and they have a new worksurface material - more expensive than laminate but cheaper than granite. It was solid whatever it was made of and apparently it can all be cut and shaped on site so it alot cheaper to install. Can also have grooves cut in for draining board and have a belfast sink with it. Apparently it's very new though so I'm not sure how durable it is, or even what it's called. It looked a bit like granite (well, it didn't look like granite but it looked like it was trying to give that sort of effect). This might work better.

Leoni we always use chopping boards for everything and never put hot pans etc on our worksurface now anyway, so things like that should be easy.

Hard wax oil seems to be the only way to go if I get wood then. Tbh I'm not sure I like the idea of doing that 4 times a year and then also having to sand them down and re prepare it periodically <lazy bones>

PigletJohn Fri 04-Jan-13 18:39:31

yes, I've recently seen worktops that look like reconstituted stone, and are moulded. If you look underneath you can see that the topping material is not as thick as the edge suggests, and has chipboard backing.

I don't know if they're made of crushed stone and cement, or crushed stone and plastic. They were very smooth but low-gloss.

reastie Fri 04-Jan-13 18:44:28

I don't know if that's what it is piglet . We saw what you mention in homebase when we went a couple of months ago but this stuff in howdens is different - she said it was solid. I'm not sure it's made of actual stone at all. You could tell to feel it it wasn't stone but it also didn't feel like laminate.

squaredog Fri 04-Jan-13 19:03:16

I've had wooden worktops, and call me silly, but I was expecting them to look kind of rustic....

All they look is shiny.

Anyone know how I can get a shabby chic look to them, you know dull wood and gradualy picking up marks over the years in a natural way......

niminypiminy Fri 04-Jan-13 19:12:50

I have Iroko wood worktops and they are both extremely beautiful and surprisingly practical. We cook a lot and our kitchen sees a lot of heavy use, but we are reasonably careful about putting hot things on the worktop and wiping up round the sink (no dishwasher so we also do a lot of washing up). They don't stain and we have very few marks of any kind, in fact they are much easier to clean and keep clean than the laminate we had before - eg bread dough from after kneading on the worktop comes off with water whereas before I used to have to use cream cleaner.

We use Danish oil. When it was installed we oiled it every night for about 10 days, then after that once a week for a couple of months, now every few months. It's not really a huge hassle, and even now 3 years later, I still think it is really beautiful every time I go into the kitchen.

It was bloody expensive - though I think worth every penny. I would certainly have it again.

judefawley Fri 04-Jan-13 19:16:46

We have got solid oak.

I have said this on here before, they have been painted with a hard plastic coating. This means they are a bit shiny but we can leave water on them with impunity.

They were only fitted in August so it's still early days, but so far, they look gorgeous and unflawed.

Mynewmoniker Fri 04-Jan-13 19:30:35

Squaredog. Perhaps you could swap your new looking ones with many of the posters on here. Otherwise it seems like wet cups, water, hot pans and juice will give them the lived in look. grin

thirdfromleft Fri 04-Jan-13 19:38:10

Wood and water don't mix. Life is short and has enough worries especially with kids. which is why we replaced our wooden countertops with granite. What a relief - pans, water, you name it... no worries. smile

whataboutbob Fri 04-Jan-13 19:58:02

We have one out of thriftiness because my husband's college was chucking out a lab room worktop. It's Iroko. You should treat it monthly with Danish oil (which I've neglected to do) and not let water sit on it. Otherwise I like it, it looks good and has a nice organic feel. However it doesn't look pristine- it came pre used and I guess it does age, shows knocks and cuts etc. I do wonder though if we do move out and rent our place lout (a vague plan) what kind of a state will it be in after a few months of hard use from tenants.

Another one who wouldn't have wood again. smile

ceres Fri 04-Jan-13 21:10:41

we have oak worktops and they are great. we are far from careful - i put hot saucepans on them all the time, things get spilled etc.

they are coated in osmo polyx hard wax oil which has made a big difference - used to use danish oil but it didn't last well between oilings and turned the oak a horrible orange colour.

i'd have them again, they look good and are very practical imo.

reastie Sat 05-Jan-13 06:31:49

People who wouldn't have it again because it looked mucky quickly - did you oil it regularly? I'm wondering if I just am prepared to oil it all the time it will be fine or if regardless it will look a bit rubbish over time

ceres Sat 05-Jan-13 06:44:22

if you use osmo polyx hard wax oil it won't need re-doing that often. maybe once or twice a year.

the osmo is so easy to use compared to danish oil or linseed oil. you don't need to sand back to re-coat and for areas that need more protection - e.g.around the sink - you can just apply more regularly in that area if you are so inclined.

also much, much nicer finish that danish or linseed oil. it comes in a satin or matte finish.

reastie Sat 05-Jan-13 06:54:52

ceres so you just paint it on the worktop when needed and never sand it down? That doesn't sound too bad.

LeonieDeSainteVire Sat 05-Jan-13 09:35:43

The hardwax oil is really easy to use, I use Fiddes Hard Wax Oil but I understand the osmo one is superior but it was more expensive and as I wasn't sure it would work I went for the cheaper option.

Honestly it has transformed how I feel about wooden work surfaces, I think if I'd had it from the start I wouldn't have any marks at all.

If you do go for wood, and it sounds like you want to, it's good to get and understanding of what will mark too, I have found metal to be bad (possibly not through the hard wax oil, I did it before) tin cans, skewers and a metal tea caddy have all marked my surfaces (they sand off but it's hard work) I hadn't expected that at all.

Can't wait to get rid of mine.
Blackened with mould round the taps and draining area. Wood and water don't mix!

MN216 Sat 05-Jan-13 09:56:29

Hi Ceres that's very interesting about the Osmo stuff. Have just looked at their website and they suggest using Wood protector first on the brand new wood, both sides and alle dges so before it's fitted, then the hard wax oil. Did you do that? Very grateful for advice as we are having a new kitchen fitted next month with oak worktops.

Is there any way of getting rid of the blackened wood? Ours was like that before we moved in- can I sand it off?

lauriedriver Sat 05-Jan-13 10:04:44

I've got oak worktops & I love them. Wouldn't have anything else now.

As long as you don't mind having to do a little sanding every now & then & regular oiling they will look lovely. I find oiling them very theraputic/ rewarding.

Everyone who visits comments on our worktops, set off nicely with slate wall & floor tiles. Very rustic.

LeonieDeSainteVire Sat 05-Jan-13 10:18:53

stairsinthenight there is a chemical you mix to a paste and it bleaches the black stains - but I can't remember what it is. I expect someone else here knows or do an advanced search on 'wooden worksurfaces' and it'll come up on previous threads.

PigletJohn Sat 05-Jan-13 10:44:34

Oxalic acid.

Thank you. Will get into b&q today and try and get some. That Osmo stuff does look great, but £££!

reastie Sat 05-Jan-13 12:44:44

Went to kitchen shop this morning. He said hardwoods like oak and teak are great work surfaces but beech etc do stain and mark easily and are much harder to keep nice. So maybe that's why there's such a divide - it depends on the type of wood. We are looking at a teak work top - it looks lovely and apparently not that much work and is very resilient compared to other woods [hopeful]

hattymattie Sat 05-Jan-13 17:17:59

My crappy ones are beech if it's any help.

Oak is one of the worst woods for going black according to the carpenter we use, so I'm not sure that makes sense to me reastie?

NotAnotherPackedLunch Sat 05-Jan-13 19:45:07

My (still) lovely surfaces are birch. No blackening after 8 years.

so i can put this floor lacquer on top of previously oiled worktops? just sand them down and then paint it on?
I like...mine have been in six months and already stained and black round the sink and I am quite careful with them sad

It's funny how different people have such different experiences. We've had ours over 3 years, they weren't expensive (just Ikea) but they've lasted really well. I'm useless at remembering to oil them and when I do I just put more oil on top, certainly never bother with sanding or wire wool. I am reasonably careful in that I never put hot pans on them, wipe up water spills etc. OTOH my cleaner sloshes water round without wiping it up, she uses bleach in the sink and uses the gets it on the work top (nearly had kittens when I saw that!) but the work top seems to cope with it all fine.

reastie Sun 06-Jan-13 09:37:08

Oh mrs that's a really good point re: bleach - I use bleach all the time for cleaning <slight obsessive> - does this damage the wood then?

It doesn't seem to have damaged mine, but I can't think it would do it any good. I always thought that with wood you should really just use a damp sponge, possibly with a bit of washing-up liquid, but no kitchen sprays, bleach etc.

ItsIcyOutsideIThinkINeedThorin Sun 06-Jan-13 12:50:28

Hate, hate, hate my oak worktop section and would NEVER have it again. Can stand anything metal on it without it going black. The rest of the worktops are good-quality laminate (Duropal) and that is fantastic. Looks as good as new, almost 5 years on.

gobbin Sun 06-Jan-13 22:00:53

Mum has wood, too much faff imo having to reapply oil. We had new kitchen 2 yrs ago and had Silestone tops. Not cheap but better than any surface in my opinion. If we hadn't have been able to stretch to this, we'd have just had a good quality laminate, our last one lasted over 25 yrs.

Springforward Sun 06-Jan-13 22:52:38

I don't have them, but the kitchen fitter i was talking to last week reckoned that oak worktops finished in danish oil need to be re-oiled at least monthly to stay in good shape.

JustJes Tue 09-Apr-13 10:43:58

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SingBrit Thu 16-May-13 00:22:35

Oak and Beech are high in tannins and tannins will react with iron based metals which will cause the wood to blacken. Do not place damp iron based metal objects on un-sealed wood surfaces. Many fitters discourage people from using wood because they do not know much about the product. They continue to use Teak oil/Danish oil/Linseed oil but there are other products such as Osmo Hardwax and Rubio Monocoat that can be applied to wooden tops. These finishes offer better protection for wood surfaces. You can also ask a carpenter with a spray booth to spray a lacquer on the worktop to give it a hard finish that is durable and water resistant. My associate in York has a spray booth and has sprayed worktops with a sealant and a lacquer. The lacquer can be AC or PU. Many people buy Oak worktops that are natural quality with a high percentage of sapwood (creamy white juvenile wood between the heart wood and the bark) on the surface which is more prone to staining than the straw coloured heartwood.

Oak is not the only wood specie used for worktops. You do not have to stain oak to achieve a darker colour. There are other wood species available such as European Walnut (Milk chocolate brown), American Walnut (dark chocolate brown), Teak (mid brown), Iroko (yellow brown darkening to a dark brown) Rubberwood (yellow), Ash (grey white), Wenge (black with partridge breast figuring), Elm (red brown with partridge breast figuring) and Maple (cream)

All products will require a certain amount of maintenance. At any rate, I always tell people to keep their kitchen surfaces dry no matter what type of worktop they use because a warm, damp kitchen is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Contact me if you need any further information on timber worktops.

ursulariches Tue 28-May-13 15:13:09

Try Fiddes online from woodfinishesdirectcom online. It is almost identical. The price is very different.

ursulariches Tue 28-May-13 15:17:04

sand it down and oil and oil and oil every day and keep drying it. If after some time yu get really fed up with oiling you can used FIDDES hard wax oil

ursulariches Tue 28-May-13 15:20:47

if you move out try putting Fiddes hard was oil onto the worktops before you leave.

Gailybelle Mon 10-Jun-13 23:50:00

We inherited an oak block worktop. We were planning on redoing the kitchen, so haven't looked after it at all. I now really like the way it has weathered our neglect. I may be kidding myself, but the slight burn marks, stains, etc add a patina of age and fun times, which looks good as long as the units are in contrastingly good condition. I wouldn't go back to pristine new oiled wood, lest it resemble the in-laws'... they spend their life oiling and wiping it (as well as rinsing their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher). We use it as a chopping board, dough kneading surface, and put reasonably hot pans on it. Clean with mild kitchen spray and occasional bleach. It is a different view of the beauty of the wood.

Janine1081 Tue 18-Jun-13 10:07:29

What did you decide in the end Reastie? We're having the same dilemma at the moment. I love the look of wood vs laminate, but am unsure about the upkeep with 3 boys (+DH :D)(especially on a breakfast bar).

I was told that Oak and beech were bad because of the tannins, but Iroko and Walnut wasn't so bad?

We're going for an open plan kitchen/lounge/diner, so I really want it to look nice, and wood looks so lovely.....

TheThickPlottens Tue 18-Jun-13 10:21:08

I got mine from ikea and I can't remember what wood they are. I've had them 4 years now and oil them about twice a year.

I don't find them troublesome at all. I'm not meticulous about them and they still look good. I am careful about putting pot holders down first and use chopping boards. Watch out for strawberry juice and blueberry juice staining though. That thought me quickly.

clb Tue 18-Jun-13 13:56:42

I have cherry wood work surfaces in my kitchen. Installed about 15 years ago. I think it still looks lovely, with a warm gleam to it which was why I initially chose it, though there are marks and a few little stains. I don't mind them at all.

It gets that Osmo stuff put on it perhaps twice a year - I agree that it works much better than Danish oil.

It's never been sanded. We do have one of those drop-in ceramic sinks which includes a draining board, so there's no particular problem with blackening around the sink. Incidentally, we were warned off oak because the tannin in it blackens easily. I wipe up any spills and never put hot pots down on the work top (but I was brought up never to do that - we had formica work surfaces in my childhood home). I'm by no means a super-careful housekeeper and cook daily.

In my next kitchen (we're moving) I think I may well have cherry again, but perhaps with slate on either side of the hob, for putting hot pots on.

IWipeArses Tue 18-Jun-13 15:21:05

They're a fucking nightmare. I'd never had thm before and landlord hadn't mentioned anything about them and I'd ruined them before I realised they needed special care. Restoring them is going to be hellish work. Avoid unless you enjoy tending carefully to counters, drying them, putting mats all over them etc.
they're probably ok if you have a dishwasher or don't cook though.

valiumredhead Tue 18-Jun-13 15:27:44

I would never have any thing else I love our wood work tops!

valiumredhead Tue 18-Jun-13 15:32:34

Square dog-sand them down and use ikea mineral oil every now and again, it soaks in instead of sitting on top.

I'm stunned at the stories on this thread of black and damage etc. Had ours 6 years and no problems whatsoever apart from when I dropped a heavy sauce pan and chipped a bit which easily sanded down and I was very grateful I didn't have laminate.

valiumredhead Tue 18-Jun-13 15:34:21

I would never put a hot pan down on any work surface so that has never been an issue.

valiumredhead Tue 18-Jun-13 15:36:50

Oh I use that fiddes ex for the oak furniture in the front room, will try it on the work tops.

valiumredhead Tue 18-Jun-13 15:37:43

Wax not ex!grin

IWipeArses Tue 18-Jun-13 15:59:48

It's not hot pans that's done ours in its wetness. Black rings. I've got sandpaper, wood bleach, wood oil. Just need several evening with nothing better to do to actually make some progress on it.
The tiles here are a pain in the arse too. Lino and plastic counters all the way as far as I'm concerned. Kitchens should be functional and easy to use.

sophiecentaur Sun 18-Aug-13 23:52:53

We have recently fitted iroko worktops and they look absolutely smashing. Lovely to touch and stroke, too! For people who don't want to tidy up as they go, in the kitchen, then they are probably not destined to last well. But there's 40mm of thickness of the same stuff beneath the surface so you can always get below any discolouration. Cost-wise, timber is cheaper than anything else that's got any class at all. Hot rods and some cast iron trivets are the answer to protecting from hot pans.

hilary2312 Fri 27-Jun-14 16:34:55

I have recently had a new kitchen with an oak worktop that my builder wanted me to have. I failed to read about the maintenance required before it was installed and was heart broken after the installation feeling I had made a major mistake.

However after thinking about getting a loan to replace it with a granite work top , I found recommendations on the Internet - including here on Mumsnet- for an oil product called Osmo.

My builder kindly came back and re-sanded the whole worktop to remove the Danish Oil he had used and between the 2 of us , we applied 4 coats of Osmo Top Oil (clear Satin-Matt) and wow.......the surface is amazing.

The water does not seep through into the wood - it looks and feels fabulous and I honestly can say I would never have Granite again!!

I know I have to re-oil it (not sure how frequently but am guessing maybe every 4 months or so)...but having done it now , it is so easy to do and actually quite fun.

So if you are like I was , in despair and feeling I had ruined a lovely new kitchen by having an Oak worktop - just buy and try Osmo and you will never look back.

Thank you Mumsnet for suggesting it , I am so grateful - and you have saved me about £3-4,000 (in fact even Granite Transformations which I also considered would have been £2,500)

DTM218 Sun 25-Jan-15 11:10:23

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