All about Prime Beech Worktops: A Worktop Express® Nutshell Guide
We’ve picked our range of Prime Beech worktops to be manufactured from specially selected staves to ensure that the worktops have a consistent, even finish. In this guide you’ll find all the information that we think you’ll ever need to know about Prime Beech’s origin, science, history and more.
Beech is easily distinguished from other timbers by its vibrant colouration with smooth grain and notable figuring. As well as looking fantastic, it is very hard wearing, environmentally sound and also tremendous value for money – whether you’re using it for a kitchen, or any other worktops you may require.
Prime Beech staves are hand-chosen to be more aesthetically consistent than our standard beech worktops in both grain and colour, for a more premium grade worktop that will look great in both traditional and up-to-date settings.
To see some close-ups of our Prime worktops, take a trip over to our Worktop Image Gallery.
TYPE OF WOOD AND GRAIN STRUCTURE
All the worktops you’ll find at Worktop Express® are manufactured in Europe from hardwood (apart from Bamboo). Despite some of the softwoods actually being just as hard as hardwoods, the distinction that makes hardwoods different is in the grain structure. Cells known as ‘vessel elements’ which aren’t found in softwoods, leave pores in the timber that help create a distinctive grain when quartersawn.
Beech is very strong, hard and heavy with very small pores and large ‘medullary rays’, which make it quite similar in look to its other relations – oak and chestnut. These rays are radial sheets or ribbons which extend vertically through the tree and throughout the growth rings. When quartersawn, the timber has a shiny fleck to it, with a taut and straight grain pattern and very tightly closed pores to create a fine and even grain.
SOURCING AND MANUFACTURE
At Worktop Express® we’re continually taking great strides to ensure that the timber we use is the most attractive and resilient available, whilst being from ecological and legal sources. Beech thrives underneath the canopy of taller trees in forests along mountain slopes and rich-soiled uplands, making it a great indicator of fertile land.
Through the process of steam bending, beech is highly adaptable but manages to retain its strength – making it excellent for woodworking. It’s ideal for use as worktop surfaces because it doesn’t impart flavour, odour or colour upon contact.
All the beech we use for our Prime Beech worktops is manufactured in Europe, and is always sourced from FSC-certified forests. We can therefore ensure that we’re able to promote ecologically sound practices that allow us to deliver consistently robust and attractive surfaces. Visit our ’Environmental Page’ to find out more about our eco-friendly policies and practices. We have delivered over 200,000 worktops since inception, and are now experts in sourcing, fabricating and delivering only the highest quality worktops at exceptional value. We deal directly with our manufacturers – cutting out the middleman – and make regular visits to our manufacturing facilities to ensure that our high standards are being met. Please visit our ’Sourcing and Manufacture Guide’ page to learn more.
For all of our standard and Prime worktops, we use 40mm wide staves that are joined together to create a larger plank of wood suitable for worktop construction. For Prime Beech kitchen worktops we go through great lengths to ensure that the timber chosen for individual staves is aesthetically consistent, with a priority placed on regularity of grain pattern and colour.
Staves are finger jointed under high pressure to create a blemish-free surface that is more constant than our standard beech worktops, whilst still retaining all the character of solid wood. By using this joint we can be sure that our worktops are constructed in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing, but also provides the highest resilience with minimal wastage to create the join. The join is finished with a small amount of glue to keep it stable and more resistant to wear.
For further information, visit our ‘Construction Types Explained’ information guide.
- Tree Size: 40-50m tall, up to 2-3 m trunk diameter
- Density: 700-900 kg/m3
- Average Dried Weight: 710 kg/m3
- Janka Hardness: (6460 N)
- Modulus of Rupture (bending strength): 110.1 MPa
- Elastic Modulus (‘stiffness’ of wood): 14.31 GPa
Since The Middle Ages, beech has been prized for furniture construction, though its use as a literary media dates back to far more ancient times. Prior to the invention of paper, the pliable bark of the beech tree was used to carve words in to; these carvings would then be cut out of the bark and were referred to as a “bok”, which eventually led to the modern word “book”.
Beech is now commonly used for a variety of furniture and flooring as well as our solid wood worktops, though it has a wide range of historical uses too. It’s been used to create everything from chairs, staircases, parquet flooring and a range of smaller items such as pestle & mortars. In the early 1800s, beech trees were planted very widely around the Chilterns to support the burgeoning furniture production industry. Locals known as ‘bodgers’, who were accomplished wood workers, generally made chair and table legs from beech logs.
As the dominant hardwood in southern Britain (more prominent than oak or elm), individual beech trees have been recorded at hundreds of years old, with coppiced stands having stood for over 1000 years. Historians believe beech seeds were originally brought over to the British Isles after the last ice age. Early settlers used the beech tree for its edible leaves and fruit as well as a variety of uses for its timber.
In more recent times, beech has become very popular for any storage or utensils that are intended for food storage or preparation because beech does not transfer any taste or smell to anything it touches. It is widely used for furniture and architectural construction and is also a popular fuel to smoke cheeses, hams, sausages and even some German beers!
We’re considered leaders the solid wood trade for a reason – we go through great lengths to ensure that we can offer our Prime Beech and other hardwood worktops at competitive prices through efficient processes and high-volume purchasing. We hold over 5,000 worktops in stock at any one time, which means we can deliver directly to the public and trade very efficiently through our own in-house delivery service.
We use an innovative online stock ordering system to reduce the quantity of dead stock and wastage, which helps us save costs. Through ‘direct-to-public’ e-commerce we’ve been able to drastically reduce overheads, and we’re often the first in the market to implement new practices and the most up-to-date products.
We visit our suppliers at least every three months ourselves (we do not use agents) to ensure that the standards we expect are continually implemented. With this level of commitment and expertise, we’ve become the largest importer of timber worktops to the UK, and plan to expand into other European marketplaces throughout 2014.
Beech’s beautifully smooth finish naturally lends itself to use in the kitchen and its food-safe credentials of being flavourless and odourless make it an ideal timber for a work surface. Consider matching Prime Beech with pale blue or lemon cabinet doors for a fresh look.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: