All About Oak Worktops: A Worktop Express® Nutshell Guide
Welcome to our oak guide. On this page there will be information about our oak worktops – a bit about the science, sourcing, and manufacture of this kitchen worktop – plus a brief history of this glorious timber.
First things first. Now, I’m sure we’re all aware that oak is remarkably resilient and hardwearing, but one of the most important reasons for introducing this timber into your kitchen is how it looks. The delicate, golden colour and natural features make this an eyecatching, innately attractive worktop material. Please take a look at our oak worktop gallery for further insight.
And best of all, each of our worktops is truly unique, with a distinctive grain pattern that sets it apart from the rest…
TYPE OF WOOD AND GRAIN STRUCTURE
All Worktop Express timber worktops (i.e. all worktops except for the bamboo and caramel bamboo, as bamboo is an evergreen perennial plant, not a tree) are made from hardwood. Contrary to the name, some softwoods are just as ‘hard’ as hardwoods; however, what really sets many hardwoods apart from the softwood category is the unique cell structure, which plays a huge part in creating a fantastic grain pattern. For example, hardwoods possess a type of cell known as vessel elements (which are absent from softwoods). These longitudinal cells are larger than the other surrounding cells and when cut leave little cavities in the wood called pores. The dispersion of these pores is what gives hardwoods their distinctive look and characterful grain pattern.
Size of pore also has a bearing on the appearance of the grain. Our standard oak has large pores and an open, coarse grain (as opposed to our Prime Oak, which favours a tight, closed, linear grain). Open grain patterns are more visible to the naked eye and give the surface a textural quality, adding to the rustic charm of the worktop.
Though worktops in both oak and its ‘prime’ variant share much of the timber’s ‘innate’ appeal, there are important differences to consider when it comes to grain structure and pattern – and as such we felt it was only fair to offer both worktop types. Suppliers that only offer one grade of wood are not giving their consumers a choice. We offer a specific selection for customers looking for a welcoming, pastoral look (oak), or a more sophisticated, uniform look (prime oak). The characterful grain of an oak worktop, its multitude of natural features, and the naturally occurring colour variation, creates that great ‘country’ finish that is highly sought-after in both traditional and modern design schemes.
SOURCING AND MANUFACTURE
As with all genera of timber-bearing trees, some species are more adept at being used for construction than others. Here at Worktop Express®, we source only the hardiest and most beautiful timbers for our oak block worktops.
European Oak is widely held to have a richer grain pattern than its American counterpart and also has the distinct advantage of lesser quantities of sap.
Our oak is sustainably sourced and is manufactured solely in its place of origin (Europe). This has the distinct environmental advantages of promoting sustainability and saving airmiles (thus reducing carbon footprint), while allowing us to use a truly robust, attractive timber for our rustic oak worktops.
Our expertise in sourcing and manufacture also allows us to keep our prices at a highly affordable level. We are extremely experienced in this field – having sold over 200,000 worktops since inception – and deal directly with manufacturers so that there is no middleman. Furthermore, we only purchase the highest quality lumber and have devised efficient, accurate process to reduce wastage and ensure minimal loss. For a more detailed discussion of our sourcing expertise and manufacturing processes, please visit our Sourcing and Manufacture information guide.
To learn more about the affordable prices of our cheap oak kitchen worktops, please visit the pricing section of this guide. For more information on our environmental policies, please visit our environmental page.
The wood for these oak kitchen worktops is specifically chosen for its verdant charm and natural colour variation, allowing customers to benefit from oak’s innate qualities alongside the characteristic strength and hardiness of the timber.
All standard worktops are constructed from individual staves which are 40mm wide. Staves – or timber sections – are high-pressure bonded and fingerjointed in a pleasing formation so that each individual timber section is clearly visible.
The finger-jointing process is important for aesthetic charm, economy and maximum durability. This attractive joint is made by cutting a set of complementary cut-outs in two pieces of wood so that these two sides fit together (almost like interlocking fingers, hence the name). These are then glued to create a visually appealing join that is exceedingly stable, is more economical with use of timber and is stronger than a butt or lap joint – perfect for use in the kitchen, whether your surface will be used as an oak breakfast bar or an oak wood worktop.
For more information, please view our ’Construction Types Explained’ information guide.
Tree Size: 24-35 m tall, 1-1.5 m trunk diameter
Density: 720 kg/m3
Average Dried Weight: 680 kg/m3
Janka Hardness: (4,980 N)
Modulus of Rupture (bending strength): 97.1 MPa
Elastic Modulus (‘stiffness’ of wood): 110.60 GPa
One of the most recognisable trees worldwide, oak is internationally renowned, boasting a killer combination of natural beauty and resilience against both age and the elements. Due to this versatility in the world of woodworking, oak has been a staple of many carpenters and builders since the medieval era.
Image courtesy flickr.com/graniers
Initially oak was most in demand straight after felling. This fresh timber – otherwise referred to as “green” oak – was used in constructs before it was allowed to dry, allowing it to be manipulated into a wider array of shapes and angles to fit the needs of the time. The most prominent examples of this still exist today in the curvature of medieval barns and the hammerbeam roofs of churches and cathedrals throughout Europe.
Building bylaws established following the Great Fire of London in 1666 prohibited the use of wood for the construction of inner-city buildings. The conflagration’s aftermath demanded that brick and mortar should take the place of timber, ushering in an era of fireproof structures. The carpenters and joiners adapted, however, leading to a rise in both solid oak flooring and furniture that would evolve over the centuries that followed.
This trend continued until the latter half of the 20th Century where vast technological advancements gave life to CAD systems – computerised design focused on precise measurements and cutting.
Fast forward to the present day and it’s not difficult to see how the tables have turned (pun intended!) In a world where plastic is a common commodity, solid wood has become the perfect statement of uniqueness. With superior standards and sustainability programs to ensure you’re getting the most out of your wood, it’s never been a better time to experience the wonders that await with solid oak worktops!
Worktop Express® reduce costs through high-volume purchases and efficient processes; we hold over 5,000 worktops in stock at our depots and deliver direct to the public and the trade with our own in-house delivery service. Our advanced online stock systems minimise the amount of dead stock and eco-friendly policies also eliminate wastage (and cost in the long term). Efficient processes and our ‘direct-to-the-public’ e-commerce model drastically reduces overheads, allowing us to market up-to-date products at lower rates than any other e-tailer.
We are proud to be specialists in solid wood and leaders in our field. Cutting out the middleman and building an expert network of internal support at every level of the business enables us to deliver high-quality timber to our customers at an extremely competitive price. There are no agents; we visit all suppliers at least every three months to ensure standards are maintained. Worktop Express® are currently the largest importers of solid wood worktops to the UK, and will be expanding into other European markets in 2014.
At these prices, the quality of our wood may need to be seen to be believed – but we are confident you will be delighted in the finished product! Please give this wonderful timber a try through our sample service and see for yourself.
Available from £90 for a 2m oak worktop.
One of the most versatile furniture materials around, oak worktops lend a certain flair to country kitchens with duck-egg blue cabinet doors, or when paired with unpainted frontals for a truly natural, ‘cottage’ look. Accessorise with an oak chopping board or oak upstand for a consistent and charming finish.
Please visit our solid oak worktop page for more information on how to purchase these wonderful work surfaces.