How to care for a wooden worktop

Keep your kitchen looking its best by making sure your wooden worktops are oiled regularly. Here’s what you need to do…

If your wooden worktops are varnished or lacquered, consider sanding and oiling them to get the best finish. Oiled wood not only has a richer, more natural patina, but the oil also helps to seal the surface, making it more durable and protected.

1. Do the water test

Test oiled worktops to see if they need re-oiling by dripping water onto their surface. If the water forms a bead, it’s fine. If the water sits flat on the surface, you should re-oil as soon as possible.

2. Sand them down

Use a hand-held electric sander to resurface the wood and remove any varnish, or simply to refresh previously oiled worktops. Concentrate particularly on any stains, scorch marks or areas around the sink that have rotted.

3. Apply the oil

Use linseed or Danish oil (available from DIY stores) and a lint-free cloth – microfibre works well. Pour a little oil directly onto the worktop and, using the cloth, spread it over the surface until you have a very thin and even layer. Keep going until you’ve covered all your worktop, then apply another coat.

4. Leave it to dry

The oil will take a few hours to dry the first time you apply it, but up to eight or more hours for subsequent coats. Adding several thin coats is far more effective than just one thick coat – you can’t over-oil a wooden surface.

5. Test them again

Try the water bead test once again and, if required, repeat the oiling process. If your worktops are brand new, it’s advisable to oil them at least twice over (preferably before fitting), including the edges and underneath, where they might be seen from certain angles.

6. Protect them from heat

To prevent your worktop getting stained or damaged, use trivets or glass surface protectors under hot pans so they don’t scorch the wood. Always use a chopping board to avoid damage and take care with pigmented spices, such as turmeric, which can stain the surface.

7. Keep sink areas dry

Try to keep the area around your sink dry, or the wood will begin to blacken and rot. Re-oil surfaces every three months. Take care with linseed or Danish oil as soaked rags can burst into flames as they dry.

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