Sam’s choice: WOODEN WORK­TOPS

Charmed by the nat­u­ral beauty of tim­ber sur­faces? Dis­cover the pros and cons…

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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

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