Sam’s choice: WOODEN WORKTOPS
Charmed by the natural beauty of timber surfaces? Discover the pros and cons…
Kind on crockery and warm to the touch, there’s a lot to love about wooden worktops. Buying sustainably sourced timber – ask for FSC accreditation – also makes wood an eco-friendly option.
QWhich timber should I choose? Hardwoods – the most commonly available are oak, ash, walnut, cherry and maple, which all boast good stability and tightly knit grains. Iroko is also widely used in kitchens as it has a high level of natural oil, so it’s suitable in wet areas.
QWhat do multi stave and full stave mean and which do I need? Wooden worktops are generally sold in multi-stave format, whereby small sections (staves) of solid wood are jointed together to provide extra strength and rigidity. Bigger staves allow you to appreciate more of the timber’s colour and grain. Smaller staves are usually cheaper, as they are made using off-cuts. Full stave is when the sections of timber are jointed widthwise only and each stave runs the full length of the worktop. The most expensive option is wide plank (sometimes called wide stave) worktops, featuring staves measuring 8-12cm wide.
QAre real-wood worktops difficult to maintain over time? Not if they are well oiled – try using Danish or Tung oil. Worktops need to be oiled on all sides prior to installation to prevent splitting, and then once a week for the first six weeks. ‘We then suggest re-oiling every three months to increase longevity,’ says Hayley Simmons, Head of Merchandising at Magnet. A well-oiled worktop will have a slight sheen and spilt water will bead on the surface. When spills lie in flat puddles, it’s time to re-oil.
QHow can I keep them looking good? The great news is that any scratches or stains can be sanded out to restore your worktops to their original glory. Start with 100grit sandpaper and build up to 150grit (no finer, otherwise oil won’t penetrate properly). An inset sink with a built-in drainer will help protect the timber from contact with water. Never put a hot pan or tray directly onto a wooden worktop – always use a trivet.
QWhat should I clean them with? Warm water, washing-up liquid and a soft cloth is all you need. Avoid using any abrasive and chemical-filled cleaning products and wire scouring pads.
‘Choose a pale wood worktop to brighten up a dark kitchen. ikea ’s karlby in birch is stylish and sustainably made’ paul kenney, kitchen Sales Leader, Ikea
Oak surfaces add warmth to a room