Water-Resistant Woods

If you are worried about water damage to your timber worktops – a common problem around the sink area – opt for timbers that have high moisture resistance. Hardwoods are best, with teak and iroko being particularly good options due to their high oil content.

Other timbers, which are perfect for worktops, include oak, maple, beech, cherry and walnut — wenge is a popular choice for those seeking a more exotic wood. Do check that any timber you choose comes from a sustainable source though and is FSC-accredited.

Expect Maintenance

There is no point investing in a timber worktop unless you are prepared for a little maintenance work. On a day-to-day basis, spills should be mopped up as soon as possible and you should avoid putting anything hot down on the surface (invest in trivets).

When timber worktops are first fitted they must be sealed with Danish or linseed oil a couple of times. You will then need to repeat this every day for a week, then once a week for the following month, once a month for the first year; And finally, regularly thereafter.

Choosing a Size

Timber worktops are usually sold in 3m lengths. Although the standard width is 600mm, wider pieces are readily available for island units and breakfast bars — just remember that you will require two or more ‘good edges’ either side, which can be shaped as your kitchen fitter or joiner fits them on site.

full-stave-oak-birch

Second Nature’s full stave oak worktop shown with birch end grain and granite reveals how materials can work in harmony. The oak worktop costs from £265/m

In terms of thickness, expect to choose from between 27mm up to 42mm, although thicker options are available. The thicker the better in terms of appearance and performance, however, thicker worktops will cost more.

The term ‘staves’ refers to the individual strips of timber that make up the worktop. These staves are glued together and come in various thicknesses, from 20mm up through 40mm and up to 70mm and beyond. Let personal preference be your guide, but some experts feel that the thinner staves are more prone to splitting.

Getting Creative

Rather than choosing timber as your only worktop material, consider mixing it up with other materials too. This is a great idea from both a practical and an aesthetic point of view. On the practical side, it allows you to use a material more able to deal with moisture and heat around the sink and hob (such as certain stones or composites). From an aesthetic angle, it looks great — defining the kitchen into separate visual areas and highlighting the beauty of each separate material used.

Where to Buy

You can opt to buy your worktop from the same company you are sourcing your kitchen from, but invariably this will cost more. If you are buying your worktop from a different company, you might find you need to arrange the fitting yourself, but this is a job very familiar to most carpenters and joiners.

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