How to Treat Real Wood Worktop Surfaces: A Nutshell Guide
It is hard to beat the unmistakable beauty of solid wood worktops. They radiate a natural beauty that cannot be equalled by other worktop materials. This material’s aesthetic is only enhanced by coating in a suitable protective treatment – either oil or lacquering. In this guide, we look at the different coatings available to treat real wood, and which will best suit your worktops.
We recommend Danish oil as the best treatment to finish a worktop, as it will bring out the natural lustre of the wood whilst offering excellent protection.
As standard, all DIY worktops from Worktop Express® are provided unfinished, but if you choose to make use of our fabrication service, your worktops will have been sanded to an incredibly smooth finish and coated with commercial-grade HABiol oil on the top, bottom and edges of your worktop.
If you choose to purchase worktops without any fabrication or finish, then you will need to apply the oil yourself before installation, and regularly thereafter.
All worktops are supplied pre-sanded, but you may want to perform additional sanding to the worktop for a smooth 120 grit finish (read our ’How to Sand Solid Wood Worktops’ Nutshell Guide for more information). After sanding, fully clean the worktop using a damp cloth and allow it to dry before applying oil.
We recommend using Rustins Danish Oil for all worktop oiling and aftercare. We advise applying at least two – three coats on the top and bottom of the worktop, 4 coats on the edges and up to 6 coats on the end grain. You will need to leave up to 8 hours between coats for the oil to be fully absorbed into the surface.
If regularly maintained, oiled worktops will look good for many years, and Danish oil gives the timber a food-safe, water-resistant finish. It is suggested that you regularly re-apply oil to the worktop during the first 6 weeks after worktop installation. After this period, you should then re-oil your worktop every 3 months to ensure the surface remains resilient and hydrophobic. To find out more about keeping worktops clean, read our How to Clean Wooden Worktops Nutshell Guide.
Danish oil is a mixture of polymerised linseed oil, varnish and drying agents, which combines to create a very hard-wearing and water-resistant finish. Danish oil is recommended as it cures quickly, and provides a satin, food safe finish that is perfect for food preparation areas and utensils.
As an alternative finish, worktops can be lacquered for a hard-wearing finish. Keep reading to find out more.
Whilst we don’t offer a lacquering service in-house as of yet, we can offer an outsourced lacquering service to create a worktop with an incredibly hard-wearing, waterproof finish that is ideal for bathrooms, offices and other high-wear environments.
Whilst oil gives wooden worktops a low-lustre appearance, lacquering can give worktops a very shiny finish. As standard, we specify a 30% sheen semi-satin lacquer for all worktop lacquering. This finish is considerably shinier than oiled worktops, but not so much as to make the material look false. Whilst offering full moisture resistance, lacquered surfaces are also resistant to scratches and abrasions.
Lacquering does not require the same amount of maintenance as an oiled surface but it will need to be kept clean. Simply use a warm, soapy solution to clean the surface, and then use a dry cloth to wipe away any excess moisture.
If you ever need to re-lacquer your worktop, you will need to sand it down first. We recommend seeking professional assistance to ensure the lacquered surface is even, smooth and clear.
Our recommended lacquering service is available on request with a 4 day lead time. Please contact our fabrication team to discuss this option further.
Tung Oil: This product is formed from the pressed oil collected from the nut of the tung tree. It is a penetrating oil that has a wide variety of uses as a hard-wearing finish, curing to a satin look that sometimes adds a golden tint.
Sometimes – because of the nut content – tung oil can cause allergies, and so it is not entirely food safe. This is a primary factor in our choice not to use this kind of product on our wood worktops.
Linseed Oil: Otherwise known as flaxseed oil, this product is created by pressing the seeds of the flax plant, and is used both as a wood finishing products, and as a nutritional supplement, due to its sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is a penetrative oil that on its own does not cover the surface like a varnish or Danish Oil.
We choose not to use Linseed-only oils because sometimes they can retain a sticky quality and take a long time to permanently dry. This oil type also does not harden particularly well, so is not a hard-wearing protective product that would suit wooden worktops. Lastly, it can also encourage mildew growth, meaning worktops would require more regular maintenance.
Wax: There are a variety of wood waxes available, but when referring to waxes suitable for worktops, it is often a hard wax oil that is being referred to. Wax does not provide a finish that is as hard-wearing as oil or lacquer, and creates a matt surface that requires regular polishing to buff into a more attractive sheen.
Please note: this guide was originally posted on January 28th 2015, and was updated on 11th January 2018 to include additional information.