The wooden worktop
that you have purchased is a natural, quality product that has been made to the highest standards made from renewable and environmentally sound sources. We find that the appeal of timber is due to its warm texture and the natural variety of colour and grain pattern. To enhance the timber's appearance and to protect the wood surfaces from wear and tear, ongoing care and oiling of the timber is needed to ensure it looks as good as it can. We have drawn up this guide to share our expertise and explain how to use and look after your wooden worktop. This guide also gives some background information to explain why and how to maintain the worktops for a lifetime. We recommend reading the guide and can assure that the effort that is put in now to care for your worktop will be more than repaid in the long term.
Construction & Appearance
Wooden worktops are made from strips and staves of solid wood. These are then cut, selected, graded and kiln dried to make sure that the moisture level is suitable for domestic interior use and then are glued up into one equal panel. This process is known as the lamination process, and leads to a construction that is durable and stable. It also reduces the defects of the wood that occur naturally and ensures that there is a more consistent grain pattern and colour. A normal and valued characteristic of wooden products are the fact there will be some pattern, grain and colour differences over the timber surfaces.
New timber surface do tend to weather over time due to exposure to light and items left on top of the worktops. In order to rectify this, items placed on timber worktops should be moved regularly from place to place in order to stop the shading from occurring.
Timber Moisture Content & Cross-grain Movement
Timber is a natural material that responds to changes in humidity and moisture within the environment throughout its life. It's a material that adapts to its surroundings and will absorb or give up its own moisture to adapt.
When the moisture within the timber increases, the piece of wood itself expands and when it dries, the timber then shrinks. This movement occurs across the grain only and a worktop will become narrower and a little wider. As this is a normal characteristic of timber, your supplier will have ensured that the design and installation of the worktop will be with slotted fixings and gaps to accommodate this expansion and contraction. As the wood needs time to adjust to change, it's important to avoid sudden changes in environmental humidity and moisture as this can put stress on the mass of timber on the top.
For example: -
When the room heating is switched on seasonally, it should be turned up to temperature gradually, over a period of days. This will allow the timber worktops to acclimatise properly.
Wooden worktop should be wiped down with a sparing amount of water - not liberal sloshes of soapy water - and water should never be left to stand on wooden surfaces.
Guidelines for good use
Here are a few simple guidelines that need to be observed if the wooden worktops and their surfaces are to give a lifetime of good service:-
Always mop up spills of water and other liquids straight away. Do not allow liquids to stand on wooden surfaces for any period of time. (The finishing oil is water resistant, not waterproof).
Always use pan stands and trivets to protect the timber from rough, hot, wet, dirty pots and pans. Direct contact from iron, steel or copper vessels can also stain the timber surfaces.
Always use cutting boards to chop and slice food. Do not cut directly onto the worktop surface.
Clean the tops with a sparing amount of warm water, a drop of washing up liquid and a well-rung cloth.
It is important that a real wood surface is re-oiled at regular intervals to remain in the same condition as when it was installed. The time span between oiling is dependent on the degree of use and wear it receives. For example, a highly worked surface will need re-oiling more frequently than a showroom piece, possibly once a week once installed, gradually working into once a month (see surface care below). At the very least timber work surfaces should be re-oiled every three months.
The surfaces of the timber worktops have been finished with a specially formulated oil which is supplied: there are 3 coats on the faces and 5 coats on the end grain.
The oil that we use is formulated for many different aspects; to be safe for the preparation of food, to enhance wood colour and to enhance the grain pattern. The oil we use also helps to provide a durable, protective surface over the natural timber structure whilst also being easy to look after and restore when the surface becomes worn.
When a top is oiled and the surface is in good condition, it will have a sheen to it and splashes of water will form into properly defined droplets that will stand up clearly.
A clear sign to look out for when the worktop will need re-oiling is when the finish becomes worn and the sheen on the surface becomes dull. Using the same water test as above, you will see that the water won't form into droplets as readily as before but will spread out and wet the surfaces. Ideally it is better to re-oil your surface before this happens as the time taken for wear to occur depends on the amount of use of the surfaces. In a kitchen there will be high and low wear zones where the former will preferably need more attention than the latter.
We recommend that the kitchen surface be re-oiled on a regular basis at least every 3 months.
Applying Worktop Oil
When it comes to applying the oil, we recommend re-oiling at the end of the day then the re-oiled surfaces can be left overnight without any disturbance
Tops should be clean and dry.
Apply the oil with a lint free cloth that is folded into a pad. Dispense the oil from a bowl or saucer onto the areas to be treated.
Apply the oil liberally at first, so that it stands and can soak in. Pay particular attention to, and work the oil well onto areas which will have had repeated wettings in use, e.g. edges and ends, around sink cut outs, into drainer grooves, the water stop and the areas around taps.
After 30 minutes, wipe off the surplus oil with a clean cloth and leave it to soak in and dry naturally, overnight. Several thin coating applied in this way are far better than one liberal application.
Parched areas may need successive oiling like this to restore the surface finish and sheen.
If the surface develops any roughness after oiling it can be smoothed using a de-nibbing pad which is supplied. Work lightly, only in the grain direction.
Wipe clean before re-oiling.
Re-smoothing the surface
From time to time the surface may become roughened as successive coats of oil are built up on low use areas. The build-up can be removed by using a fine nylon abrasive pad and a little worktop oil, worked lightly in the direction of the wood grain until the surface is smooth Wipe clean with a dry cloth and apply a coat of fresh worktop oil as above. Replacement quantities of the worktop finishing oil can be obtained from our store.
It's inevitable that over time, even with the most careful use that the surfaces of the timber worktops are going to acquire some cuts, chips, stains and scrape. Minor ones will be blended in under successive coats of worktop oil during normal maintenance.
More serious blemishes can be smoothed out and re-finished It is imperative to make sure that the worktop is totally clean and dry. Use 100 grit abrasive paper, then 150 grit paper and work in the direction of the grain only, with long, firm strokes to gently sand the damage out. layer of wood to leave a lighter coloured, dished area. It's also important to take care not to sand deeper or farther than is necessary. The worktop's mature colour will start to come back when the oiling process is started, (3 coats on faces and ends, 5 coats on end grain) and will continue to recover within a few months to blend with the overall weathered colour of the timber.
More severe damage which can be judged to be too deep and extensive to sand out can be repaired in a variety of other means. Asking an experienced cabinetmaker or joiner about how thy could repair the damage or by cutting it away in order to let in a fresh piece to restore the surfaces and edges can be used as another solution. We provide additional pieces of timber and these can be obtained from us as a worktop sample.
In usual cases, the upper surface of the worktop reacts first to changes in moisture as it is more exposed. In extreme scenarios, this can cause it to go out of balance with the underside and cause the worktop to 'cup'. The top can rise in the middle if the upper surface is consistently wetter. If it is drier than the underside the top can then 'dish'. The flat shape will recover when these two surfaces come naturally into balance with each other. If the cupping persists, this is a sign that something is seriously wrong and will remedying. Possible causes of this are:
the top surface is being kept too wet
the top has been installed over a heater
moisture is leaking from a pipe or built-under appliance
the slotted fixing brackets and screws have not been fitted or have failed.
In all likelihood the top will recover gradually once the cause of the cupping has been solved, provided that the worktops have been specified, handled and installed in line with the specifying and installation guides, with use of the correct installation materials and fittings and adherence to the care & maintenance programme here. If not, it is advisable to contact a joiner or cabinetmaker to help with any rectification.