Just had an oak worktop installed? A guide to maintaining your new kitchen top

When it comes to purchasing something as large as a wooden work surface for your kitchen, you will want to know that you have invested in something that is high quality and will last.

But, if you are like many people who are new to DIY or renovating, it can be a bit puzzling to identify that the wooden worktops you have purchased are top quality, but also how to maintain them successfully.

Firstly, it will depend on the wood from which your kitchen worktops are made; most workshops will have a set of woods that they can offer you, but each one will have its own unique care instructions. In this article, oak worktops from the UK will be focused on, to help you care for this timeless and beautiful wood.

Water tests- is it still sealed?

When you purchase an oak countertop from the UK, it will be sealed with a clear varnish to protect it against staining and water damage. Depending on how often you use your kitchen countertops for cooking, chopping etc, this varnish or seal will wear away, exposing the oak to spills. While this is not an immediate issue, to keep your worktop looking its best and not succumbing to rot, it will need sealing. A way to test this is to drop some water onto the top- if it beads, then it is fine; if it sits and is absorbed, then you need to reseal the surface.

Sanding

Scratches and dents often occur with an oak countertop and so, to keep the surface looking smooth, you will need to invest in a handheld sander to keep your kitchen surface workable.

This will also mean that you will need to apply the varnish, sealant etc afterwards, but leaving a scratch exposed can cause rot to spread through the oak. As a handheld sander, varnish and sealant can be purchased from your local Hardware Store, it requires no excessive additional costs.

Oils

And so, if you have sanded down your worktop, which oil should you use to protect it?

Most craftspeople would suggest either linseed or Danish oil. These are both readily available at your nearest hardware store (or online) and are affordable. They need to be applied in thin layers and each one requires an overnight drying period to be effective. Once applied, your worktop will be sealed against water, bacteria and other debris.

Keep it dry!

In relation to water, juice or coffee, even when your oak surface is freshly sealed, you should still aim to keep it dry; as soon as there is a spill, wipe it up with a dry cloth. This will keep the sealant intact for a longer period and will also prevent slips on the surface.

Heat protection

Yes, oak is fairly heat-resistant and scorch-proof. But if you want your oak work surface to maintain its natural beauty, it is worth investing in some trivets, or heat-absorbing protectors to place pans and frying equipment on.