Kitchen - oak work surfaces Yay ot nay?

(64 Posts)
WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 17:21:29

They look nice but they seem to need maintenance in contrast to other surfaces are just wipe clean.

If I did plump for oak is it a case of the thicker the better? Because the 27mm thinnish ones do look good to me

Some seem to ne oak stave - is there anything I should look out for?

Thank you

doglover Thu 29-Aug-13 17:32:07

You either love 'em or hate 'em! Most people on here seem to fall into the latter camp - I do - simply because of the maintenance issues. You WILL need to look after them in a way that other surfaces don't need. Having said that, they look lovely smile

Probably because I'm a poor, lazy bugger (!) , I've opted for wood laminate which will cope with just a wipe-down!

StillSlightlyCrumpled Thu 29-Aug-13 17:44:25

Love ours. You do need to oil them twice a year but honestly it takes about fifteen minutes & it looks brand new again.

I am careful about putting hot pans etc on surface savers but other than that I'm really pleased with it.

Our kitchen units are blue (think great British bake off) & the oak looks fab.

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 17:48:06

I had to use Danish oil to seal the oak thresholds. The smell was overpowering? Is that what you have to do with the work surfaces twice a year?

I'm sorely tempted.

Would the installer be able to cut the sink hole or should I get the oak work surface supplier to do that?

27mm or 38?


Rooners Thu 29-Aug-13 17:56:43

Actually I find them surprisingly low maintenance.

Don't use Danish oil. It's crap.

Use a hardwax oil. Unica make something, I used that and it sets hard so it's almost a varnished finish - I have only had issues with a couple of small areas that got a bit wet before I used that. Everything else is great.

To answer your q's, get 38, it is much stronger - esp if not supported entirely all along the length with cupboards. Also your installer should cut the sink hole - I cut mine using a very good jig saw but it was hard work.

Also make sure you have some other type of surface (I have a Victorian butcher's block I found on ebay for £30) for cutting stuff.

I have a rule of no cutting, be it sarnies or fruit or anything else on the oak. We have to use the cutting table as it is known. It works fine like that, it's a small kitchen, you may want to rethink if you need a larger area for food prep.

Rooners Thu 29-Aug-13 17:57:58

Btw I installed ours a few years ago now and have not had to sand or reseal apart from a month or two in when I used the hardwax.

Rooners Thu 29-Aug-13 18:00:34

And if I could have anything I'd have a mixture of marble and old wood. Not oak again - not caos it isn't good, but because I like something I can chop stuff on, you know, something really solid and I find marble more attractive.

We're renting so couldn't afford marble, but in my forever house I'll have it smile

TerrysNo2 Thu 29-Aug-13 18:12:39

no no no. but I am a bit of a slattern

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 18:15:42

Thanks Rooners. That's given me a lot to think about.

My kitchen is small. It has beech effect laminate at the mo, which I like. I trained the kids never to chop directly on it so after 23 years blush it only has a few small cuts.

New kitchen will be ivory shaker style and oak wood surfaces look gorgeous on it in the showroom. Alternatives are laminate - which don't look really fake, granite and the cor-thing that are out of my price range. Perhaps treating myself once in 23 years is not too much of a deal grin

Have noticed a big difference between getting them from kitchen supplier and ordering them on-line. Huge difference in cost.

Tizwozliz Thu 29-Aug-13 18:19:44

I've found them fairly low maintenance if you do all the prep right at the start.

Our worktops came from worktop express which worked out almost as cheap as laminate. We got a couple of samples before we picked one, you pay for the samples but get that cost back when you order.

Our kitchen is off white shaker style with oak worktops, see photos below

Kitchen renovation

myron Thu 29-Aug-13 18:34:45

Nooooo! Actually, that covers anything porous which includes marble/granite for me. Think black bits around the sink area from water splashes plus oil/water penetration.

Tizwozliz Thu 29-Aug-13 18:41:44

We have no black bits round the sink

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 18:47:25


Thanks for sharing your photos. Wow! Your kitchen looks good. It's actually identical even down to the handles to the one that I'm planning. Only difference is that I'm going to have a grey floor. It seems to be a pretty classic design that should not age.

Oh dear - people seem very polarised about this oak work top thing.

georgedawes Thu 29-Aug-13 18:48:36

I've just ordered a kitchen with an oak worktop. I've been warned to oil it more often than 2x a year, monthly or quarterly, but hopefully it will be OK. We're having it with a belfast sink which is a little impractical but hey we will have a dishwasher. Not entirely sure what I will do for a draining rack though!

Weegiemum Thu 29-Aug-13 18:49:57

I LOVE mine. Sand and oil annually, and they're great!!

Tizwozliz Thu 29-Aug-13 18:55:40

I had to be sold on mine, always liked the look but I was put off by stories of high maintenance. We had beech worktops in a rental house which were awfully marked but I don't think they'd ever been treated properly and oak is much more hard wearing anyway.. OH persuaded me that if we sealed them properly they'd be no problem and it proved to be right. Really glad we didn't go for something else.

lalalonglegs Thu 29-Aug-13 19:24:50

I bought a 4m length for the flat I'm renovating today - it looks fantastic (and it won't be up to me to maintain it as I am selling on). I bought from Top Worktops and found the staff really helpful and the price amazing (£150).

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 20:34:13

You can get grooves etched into the oak work top if you have a Belfast sink - I noticed that earlier when I was looking.

DS say 'Absolutely not!'. I said 'They're not negotiable - I shall have what I want' grin

My holiday cottage this year had a Belfast sink. It was dreadful! There wasn't enough dirty dishes each day to warrant putting on the dishwasher so we washed the few by hand. 10 minutes stoopping over the belfast sink and I had backache. There was also a huge splashback each time the tap water hit the bottom of the sink - and I was putting the water on gently. I'm wondering if they had it set too low?

I saw their offer lala. They're cheaper than the mainates I've been quoted for.

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 20:34:33

duh! laminates!

lalalonglegs Thu 29-Aug-13 21:56:01

Yes, that's what I thought. I was planning on buying a laminate but found it really difficult to find someone that stocked anything longer than 3 metres and, those that did, had a 4-5 day delivery period. So I just drove over to them this morning and they were great.

georgedawes Thu 29-Aug-13 22:29:26

Yes I've seen you can have grooves cut in for drainage, but it's decorative really. If you use it like that I think you'll knacker the wood. To be honest, we won't really use the sink, all that goes in that is some le crueset pans, everything else is in the dishwasher. I'm tempted to sell them.

Capitola Thu 29-Aug-13 22:35:54

We have solid oak, it's a year old. It had a clear plastic coating painted onto it and so we don't need to worry about water left on it etc.

It still looks as good as new and we love it.

alreadytaken Thu 29-Aug-13 22:38:46

38mm but ours are some other sort of wood that is tougher. They may need a little care but they look like new afterwards and our non wood worktops didnt last.

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 22:53:37

Just watched a youtube video showing how they epoxy resin wood to give it that plastic coating. Labour intensive!

AlwaysOneMissing Thu 29-Aug-13 23:01:19

We have been debating this too as we are having an ivory shaker style kitchen.

We are starting to chicken out of wooden work tops since we stained our current laminate one with red wine. We might go for granite instead.

myron does granite really suffer from water damage? I thought it was pretty indestructible.

fossil971 Thu 29-Aug-13 23:20:45

Hardwax oil (Osmo, etc) is the business. It is not like any other oil like Danish oil where you have to oil monthly. 2 or 3 coats give a waterproof, wineproof coating. No sanding needed for re-oiling if you need to.

I would say, if your worktop supplier uses any other oil/tries to flog you Danish oil, buy them unfinished & do them yourself. Or ask them why they don't use hardwax oil.

I can't see how the grooves really work as the flat bits between collect water and often the grooves aren't sloped. I saw a worktop once where a whole rectangular section had been machined to a slight slope like a drainer, which seemed a better idea.

greyvix Thu 29-Aug-13 23:22:24

Always, granite is pretty indestructible- I love mine- but it does have limescale round the taps. I think wire wool gets rid of it, but too scared to try.

WetAugust Thu 29-Aug-13 23:39:08

I'm going to be scared to use them when they're brand new no matter what they are made of!

Beetroot is banned! grin

I found the trouble with oiling wooden worktops isn't the oiling itself, it's having to move everything off the worktops and leave it off while the oil dries. That's microwave, toaster, breadbin, breadmaker, kettle, mug tree, etc., and in a small kitchen there's nowhere else to put that stuff.

WetAugust Fri 30-Aug-13 00:17:15

it would include cats in my kitchen too. Buggers insist on jumping up on the units

PolterGoose Fri 30-Aug-13 07:45:30

Love my oak worktops. We had a few mishaps at the beginning but they sanded out and looked good as new. I'm not especially careful round the sink so mine has gone a bit black but I have an old shabby cottage so it's in keeping, I never wanted mine to stay perfect. I've got a double Belfast sink and the cutout is huge so I use that as my main prep and serving area. I've used a hard wax oil supplied by he fitters for the worktops but I just use rapeseed oil on the big cutout and it looks good still. Re-oiling is strangely therapeutic.

Rooners Fri 30-Aug-13 08:54:06

George, I tried to post yesterday but it was down. There are some great drainers you can get, by simplehuman - they have a hole in the plactic underneath that drains into a single moveable channel/spout thingy so you can put it on a flat worktop and angle the spout into the sink.

We have got one on a normal draining board (ceramic) and the drips just go off the spout into the sink.

Pannacotta Fri 30-Aug-13 09:01:17

I have just bought 400mm from Worktop Express and it was cheaper than good quality laminate.
I also have Osmo hard wax oil to treat them with having read up on here.
They look lovely and I like the fact they are much less clattery than solid worktops.
For me that is worth a little extra tlc...

uggmum Fri 30-Aug-13 09:01:24

I had oak work tops. They looked lovely. But overtime they warped, especially around the sink. I did oil them regularly. So mine just could have been poor quality.

I had them changed to granite which I love. I've had no water damage with the granite. It looks as good as new even after 6 years. I do polish it a few times a day though.

We have just got a fab granite, it looks quite mottled and doesn't show marks at all - in fact, to the point where I have to peer really hard to make sure I've wiped up all the crumbs and spills. Perfect for the lazy cleaner like me...

LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 30-Aug-13 13:21:33

I have gone from hating our oak work tops to really liking them. The kitchen was new (by a builder who had renovated the property) when we moved in and the oak was dry and clearly not oiled at all. Initially I used a work top oil and it was rubbish, black bits started to develop round the sink, black marks appeared where I put a tin down etc, it looked a mess. Then I read on here about hardwax oil, so sanded out the marks and applied that and it has solved all the problems. No marks, no water damage (water beads rather than sinking in) and now I'm completely happy with them and would probably install them again.

I do think it depends on how careful you are with them though. Even when I had laminate tops I always wiped up water round the sink, never put hot pans straight on work tops and never, ever cut directly on the work top (yuk, how unhygienic is that?) so it doesn't require any more care for wood. You can't use aggressive spray cleaners on them, I just wipe mine with warm water and washing up liquid. And I use a glass surface protector under the kettle/teapot area to prevent stains.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 30-Aug-13 13:30:18

I have work area with Granite and Island with oak. I loved granite and would have it again and again. ExH was a twat and despite being told not put certain things on wood (sometimes moments before) he did it is irreparably stained by some of the things he did.

WetAugust Fri 30-Aug-13 14:32:43

...and that's what worries me. If it was just me living here I'd have wood like a shot! But DS uses the kitchen and I would hate it if he damaged the surfaces carelessly.

I can't exactly ban him from the kitchen unfortunately.

alreadytaken Fri 30-Aug-13 15:48:08

you have 38mm because it's less likely to warp and there was something else the carpenter said/ did that reduces the risk. I think that was treating both sides of the wood and putting something over washing machines but it was a long time ago.

CinnabarRed Fri 30-Aug-13 15:58:06

Where can I buy hardwax oil from? Would a B&Q type place stock it?

myron Fri 30-Aug-13 15:59:15


Granite is definitely more functional than marble. The latter is more porous and not suitable for worktops. I would always choose a non porous worktop which is the reason I chose quartz rather than granite in my own home. If budget was an issue, I would consider stainless steel or laminate. At the end of the day, it's personal choice - I wouldn't want to expend daily energy/vigilance maintaining a less practical worktop material.

However, I do acknowledge that wooden worktops look good and are cheap but personally, I think it's a false economy, you'll be changing the worktop 5yrs down the line - unless, you never use/splash the worktops with water, oil, cooking sauces, etc. I would consider a wooden worktop if I was refurbishing a property to sell on immediately but not for my own home. I am always amazed that people are prepared to spend quite a lot of money on their kitchen units and then seemingly run out when it comes to the worktops and their appliances. imho, it should be the other way round.

Chocotrekkie Fri 30-Aug-13 16:06:57

We get the oil from ikea - its like a milk and it goes on really well. It's ikea oak work top as well - been in 8 years now, it still perfect. We are quite careful with hot pans, water etc.
Kids scratched it quite badly with knives (I told them to get their own dinner cause I wasn't making anything else!) but a bit of sanding, couple of coats of oil and good as new.

We now only treat it every few months or when mil is coming to visit as she told us it was a stupid thing to buy

LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 30-Aug-13 16:38:00

We got the Hardwax oil online, from an eBay supplier I think. Ours is Fiddes Hardwax oil.

fossil971 Fri 30-Aug-13 17:03:54

AG Woodcare supply the Osmo hardwax oil (buy Top Oil which is a worktop version of the one for floors Polyx oil). If you have a lot to do you could buy the special brush. You can get all these things from ebay too.

CinnabarRed Fri 30-Aug-13 17:19:54


RedBushedT Fri 30-Aug-13 17:32:46

I have oak worktops and love them. They are beautiful and actually pretty low maintenance. I oil them once a year and they look good as new. I also have a Belfast sink. For fish draining I use similar to this from Lakeland [[ ]]
Which works great for me. It catches the drips and then I just to it down the sink and wipe the drainer down. smile

Billwoody Fri 30-Aug-13 17:52:07

We have oak worktops as desks in our office. We used Osmo Polyx oil to seal them. Put on two coats and we need do nothing again.

Tizwozliz Fri 30-Aug-13 18:01:34

If the worktop is treated properly splashes of water etc are no problem, they just bead on the surface to be wiped away.

We sealed both sides of our worktops and all cut edges and then have an additional foil barrier on the underside over the dishwasher.

We turned our worktop offcuts into large chopping boards. I'm surprised at people stating they want a surface they can cut straight onto, I'd never do this no matter what type of surface and have always considered myself fairly slatternly.

Pannacotta Fri 30-Aug-13 18:11:38

Where would I get a barrier for my dishwasher?
I forgot I needed that, presume it prevents warping?

Tizwozliz Fri 30-Aug-13 18:18:03

Yes, dishwasher gives off a bit of heat/damp so an extra layer of protection. We bought a sheet of stuff from B & Q.

georgedawes Fri 30-Aug-13 18:41:13

Redbush I was really confused about your fish draining for a minute til I realised it was a typo! Doh. That rack looks great, I will buy something similar.

Thanks also for the tip about the dishwasher and offcuts, wouldn't have thought of those!

RedBushedT Fri 30-Aug-13 18:50:01

Oops! Sorry, I didn't even notice the fish/dish typo! That is rather confusing.. blush

Jaynebxl Sat 31-Aug-13 05:54:01

I started a post recently about this because I was hating our worktops. I discovered from the thread that I was using the wrong oil and am now waiting for a delivery of the hard wax stuff. Hoping that changes my opinion.

On another note I see people on here have referred to a Belfast sink. Is that the same thing as a butler sink?

primallass Sat 31-Aug-13 08:25:01

They are not hard to keep looking nice at all. Once a year-ish we give them a sand and a few new coats of oil. It's like having a new kitchen. This is our third kitchen with wooden work tops.

WetAugust Sun 01-Sep-13 15:05:06

Those of you who say they are easy to maintain..

what sort of sink do you have?

Because the sort of sink I am planning is not an under the surface level sink/ It's an inset sink and I can imagine having difficulty getting the oil under the stainless steel.

Capitola Sun 01-Sep-13 16:03:44

What is the difference between Belfast and Butler? We have one, don't know which.

primallass Mon 02-Sep-13 13:32:54

We have an Ikea Domjso sink.Just use a brush or wrap the cloth round a flat screwdriver to go under the sink edge.

MummytoMog Mon 02-Sep-13 13:53:04

I put the cheapo beech worktops from Ikea into my last kitchen. Oiled it with the Ikea oil once a year or so (and chucked a bit of olive oil on any bits that looked dry). Was completely fine. Burnt a bit with a hot pan - sanded it back, oiled and it was fine half an hour later. Same with careless knife cuts (although why the heck you would cut on a work surface I don't know). We're going to put the same worksurface into our new kitchen as well, although I had not realised you need to protect near a dishwasher! Good catch Mumsnet.

Tizwozliz Mon 02-Sep-13 17:04:50

We just oiled under the sink and the cut edges before putting the sink in. The sink is siliconed in place so don't need to oil under it when re-oiling.

(assuming I've understood what you mean by inset sink right)

WetAugust Mon 02-Sep-13 19:27:42

Thank you all.

Jaynebxl Mon 02-Sep-13 22:33:48

Capitola I've found the answer to the question both you and I were asking! A Belfast sink is a butler sink with an overflow in it!

WetAugust Mon 02-Sep-13 22:58:09

^^ Good quiz question grin

Jaynebxl Tue 03-Sep-13 04:23:43

Ooh yes! Now imagine if any of us turn up at our local pub quiz this week and that comes up as one of the questions. We'd all be looking around for the MN scarf and asking if they stock pom bears!

WetAugust Tue 03-Sep-13 12:04:47

LOL grin

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