All about Sapele Worktops: A Worktop Express® Nutshell Guide
Sapele solid wood worktops are one of the most recent additions to our wide range of kitchen surfaces. In this information guide you will find all that we could find about this exotic African timber, including the history; details of the sourcing and manufacture; and how it is constructed.
Sapele (or “sapelli” as it is sometimes referred to) is a hardwood timber with a rosy hue that – whilst darker – has an appearance that is reminiscent of our iroko worktops. The sapele timber will get even darker over time, becoming a rich chestnut colour once treated that is commonly used in place of mahogany.
To see more examples of our worktops, visit our Worktop Image Gallery. We hope to add examples of sapele worktops soon.
TYPE OF WOOD AND GRAIN STRUCTURE
This African timber is a dense and very hard-wearing hardwood, which is an ideal surface for withstanding wear and tear in a busy kitchen. The timber is heavier and more dense than oak, and can be sanded to an incredibly smooth finish.
Sapele timber has a wavy grain and uniform texture with a pleasing natural lustre; large pores appear randomly throughout the timber. Knots are uncommon in the staves used to construct our sapele worktops, though sometimes natural mineral deposits can show up as light brown marks.
Though not quite as hard as zebrano or wenge this exotic timber is still very dense and resilient, experiences minimal shrinkage in the drying process and is easily worked, making it ideal for wooden worktops and other home furnishings.
SOURCING AND MANUFACTURE
Here at Worktop Express® we always take great pride in sourcing and providing sustainable solid wood worktops that are manufactured using the best quality timber that is available. Despite this, we are confident that our worktops are still incredibly affordable when compared to high-street kitchen retailers.
Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum) is one of the most commonly exported and economically important African wood species, and is commonly found in areas of Tropical Africa such as The Republic of Congo.
Whilst it is a high priority to source timber that is both hardy and attractive, we also take great care in ensuring that our sources are environmentally sound. African timbers are not currently certified by a body equivalent to the FSC or PEFC, but this has not deterred us from setting up our own rigorous protocols and specifications that ensures our timber is only taken from sustainable, legal sources. We always demand a clear chain of custody for all African timber imports and only ever deal with suppliers that promote ethical environmental practices.
You can find out more about our environmental credentials on our Environmental Policy page.
Worktop Express® has supplied in excess of 240,000 orders in the UK as well as various other parts of the world, which allows us to stake a claim as industry experts in the field of solid wood worktops.
We think that it is of great importance to take the time needed to visit our suppliers in Europe and other parts of the world every 3 months, so as to ensure that those in our chain of supply and manufacturing are closely adhering to our high standards.
You can read our impressive environmental credentials on our Environmental Policy page, whilst further details regarding the sourcing and manufacturing process can be read in our ’Sourcing and Manufacture’ guide.
Our sapele worktops are constructed from a number of 40mm wide ‘staves’. This is the name given to the individual sections of timber that are jointed together to construct a larger work surface. Each stave is hand-picked from the best parts of the tree so as to ensure a consistent colour and grain, although (as with any organic product) there may still be slight variations that adds to the worktop’s unique natural appearance.
Each individual stave is jointed to the next using ‘finger’ joints which are both aesthetically pleasing and very strong – a small amount of waterproof glue is also used to hold the stave in place. The joint derives its name from the resemblance it bears to two interlocking hands that creates a tight grip using only friction. Multiple staves together create a large timber plank that is then cut-to-size to manufacture a variety of different worktop sizes.
To find out more about the construction of our wooden worktops, read our ‘Construction Types Explained’ information guide.
- Tree Size: 30-45m tall, up to 1.5m trunk diameter
- Density: 640 kg/m3
- Average Dried Weight: 670 kg/m3
- Janka Hardness: (6280 N)
- Modulus of Rupture (bending strength): 110 MPa
- Elastic Modulus (‘stiffness’ of wood): 12 GPa
Sapele is now used for a wide range of furnishings including worktops, flooring and veneers. It was first imported from tropical Africa as a substitute for mahogany, and has since become very popular as a timber of choice for creating musical instruments.
It is widely used for the manufacture of the back and sides of acoustic guitar bodies, as well as the solid bodies of some electric guitars. It is also used in the manufacture of the neck pieces for ukuleles, frames of harps and a variety of percussion instruments.
In the 1980s and early 1990s it became the fashion to use sapele veneer on interior doors throughout the United Kingdom, which though widely adopted at the time, is less common now.
Sapele trim is used by a variety of luxurious brands, and can be found in high-end Cadillac cars and on very expensive Forte Audio headphones.
In recent years Worktop Express has become the industry leaders in solid wood worktops, which allows us deliver worktops at very competitive prices, offered by a very experienced team that can provide excellent customer service.
We commonly hold over 7,500 worktops in stock at any one time, in depots spread across the country. This allows us to deliver our worktops directly to customers quickly and using our in-house 2Man delivery.
We are able to dramatically reduce the amount of unallocated stock we hold using advanced online stock ordering systems. In bypassing unnecessary middlemen, our direct-to-public business model means we can maintain much lower prices than our competitors.
Available from only £150 for a 2m sapele worktop, with matching upstands from £30.
Sapele is an ideal alternative timber to iroko and other darker timbers such as black American walnut. It can suit both contemporary and traditional kitchen settings, and beautifully complements lacquered solid oak kitchen cabinets and drawers.