Is anyone willing to share their experiences with wooden benchtops?

March 7, 2017
last modified: November 29, 2018

Hi, I am thinking of installing wooden bench tops, I was after personal experiences, tips for what finish to use, what type of wood is best or any other useful information..thanks

Comments (38)

  • bigreader
    Would also be interested in hearing what others have to say....
  • olldroo

    Hi Wuff and big reader - Sorry, no actual experience, but I believe bamboo is extremely hardy and very suited for both flooring and bench tops and it really looks nice. To my mind though you would still need a really waterproof finish on it. For what it is worth though, I had a bamboo chopping board come with my kitchen sink that definitely has a finish on it that has withstood water but the manufacturer advised spraying regularly with Canola Oil. I've not used it to cut on as I didn't want it marred by knife cuts but I've regularly used it to put hot saucepans and dishes on to protect my laminate bench top and it does not have a mark on it.

    Maybe these people could give you more information

  • how2girl
    Hi Wuff, which areas are you thinking of installing the wooden benchtops in?
  • wuff
    Hi H2G all of kitchen benches- I would be looking at light timber to contrast with Jarrah floors..I am really interested in how wood goes near the kitchen sink!
  • wuff
    H2G, I have lost the friends thread, are you able to access it still?
  • olldroo

    Wuff, I think if you have a marine grade varnish on it, it should be OK. Contact Feast Watson on their website - I put a message for them there and they came back to me very quickly and were very helpful.

  • LesleyH
    Have had both a hardwood benchtop and a bamboo benchtop. Both were laminated pieces to add strength. The lighter bamboo showed fewer scratches while the solid timber was more stunning.
  • how2girl
    Just sent you a Hz message.
    We've done wooden benchtops in the laundry & bathroom at the Db house. Used hardwood panels (Acacia & Beech) from the B shop. Did 3 coats of Feast Watson marine grade oil based polyurethane & siliconed well around the sink/basin. They've been in place for about 3 years, still look like they did on day1. I don't let any water sit on the benches & always dry around the sink area.
    The pics are the Acacia wood.
  • wuff
    H2G, the benches look stunning, thanks for the feedback and the photos
  • Jessica Coverley
    Hi wuff, at my last place we had the IKEA wooden bench tops in our kitchen which contrasted nicely against the original Jarrah floors.

    The main advice is to try and keep the area around the sink dry. We weren't strict on this and as a result the wood goes black around the sink.

    Otherwise we oiled the bench top once a year and it was pretty hardy. The good thing about wood versus any other countertop is that (I think) any nicks dents adds character rather than looking like a defect.
  • siriuskey

    Wooden bench tops are great just make sure you use a good sealer on it, a 2 pak works, and careful sealing around sink/water areas. Timber lasts a lifetime in what ever timber you choose, if it gets a bit worn, lift appliances out and re sand, brand new. That's our experience, we now have a single beautiful piece of Plywood which is installed as a shadow line bench top, same treatment to seal but a fraction of the cost of timber laminated or other, comes in large sizes for large Island benches

  • how2girl

    Wuff, here's one that we did using the Beech
    panels (which are very heavy). I used Feast Watson Liming White on this as I didn't want the yellowing that you get with regular polyurethane. It's not in a wet area but if treated & sealed would work the same.

  • olldroo

    Love that Feast Watson Liming White.

  • wuff
    Thank you everyone for feedback, I love the liming White idea H2G and I like the ply idea as well, I could go marine grade to help with black hazard risk around sink, much to ponder, I am down to wood versus engineered stone ? . I like the softer ambience of the wood
  • wuff
    Hi Jessica, thanks your colours similar to mine so great to see contrasts
  • siriuskey

    This is when we were updating our kitchen, and to save money we used normal ply which we very carefully sealed around sink, mind you we love ply for lots of things. I have another photo of the bench top that shows the beautiful grain that Mr Plywood , Colin Newcastle picked out for us, this was approx 6 yrs ago. And you can lime or stain in what ever you want just like expensive timber, I will post another photo tomorrow of the grain when I find it. cheers

  • SueM
    Our Melbourne house has a brushbox timber bench top. We have never had any issues whatsoever around the sink and it's been almost 20 years since we installed it. Provided that the surface is properly sealed, it shouldn't be an issue. As others have commented, you do get scratches over the years, so if imperfections drive you mad, you may want to avoid it. The other thing you have to watch out for is heat marks - either scorching or the white marks that can arise when moisture is also involved. If you use trivets or whatever, then there is no problem.

    We are looking at renovating our kitchen in the next year or two, and think we'll go to engineered stone then. Not because we are unhappy with timber, but mostly because we want a change.
  • wuff
    Thanks Sue and Siriusky, the ply option is very interesting and I hadn't thought of it before, I have always used trivets so that won't be a problem, do you need to use trivets with engineered stone
  • siriuskey

    This photo is highly coloured by the photographer, a lot of architects use ply. and some pieces of ply are cut into approx 2" wide strips and laminated side on to gether, a bit like bamboo, this is form into a benchtop. Ply can be lime washed or stained to what ever colour,

    One large piece did this large island bench 1200 x 1800 with enough for the sink bench under the window plus a tressle table top for the entrance, delivered from 1 1/2 hrs away $450

  • John Henson
    I've got jarrah bench tops and wouldn't have anything else. If you want a lighter colour use blackbutt. I'm building new ones at the moment for our house that is getting built. Do not under any circumstance put a varnish or polyurethane on it or anything for that matter.
    Wuff if you are ever near kings park, ask any of the staff to radio me (grounds 2)and I can show you what to use and why. I have examples of the blackbutt and jarrah, oil and polyurethane. Tomorrow I am starting on a renovation which will cost around $15000 because of the wrong product having been applied. Do not make the same mistake.
  • wuff
    Cheers John, I am in Bunbury, very generous offer, do you use oil on the timber? I have read that oiling is good way to keep timber looking beautiful, obviously needs to be food safe, thanks once again for generous offer of showing the products
  • wuff
    PS! I don't have the budget to correct a $15000 error..eek
  • olldroo

    I did Tassie Oak panelling and finished it with white shellac and then rubbed Scandinavian Teak Oil in with steel wool. I re-oil it this way about every 5 years and it really comes up great and always looks rich and lustrous and has stood up to anything thrown at it. A timber yard recommended I do this. Unfortunately white shellac is now very hard to buy. I had a tiled kitchen bench and finished the edging with the Tassie Oak and again used the shellac and oil but it was just not enough for the constant water - there is no way I would do a whole bench top that way, it definitely needs something waterproof so I would be very interested to know what John suggests.

  • PRO
    Sprig+Co Interiors

    Love Timber tops, we've done a few in kitchens. There are just a few cons with them but this is after a few years. If it has direct sunlight on them they do 'bleach' and change colour, although this can in a way add a bit of character. We had one in our show room that de-laminated but the reason for that was over the summer period when we left few about 2 months and lock everything up it was too hot in there. So there are still ways to avoid that. Hope this helps, good luck with everything!

  • siriuskey

    Wuff I Suggest you speak to a Danish kitchen company re treating your wood as they are very good at it.

    Don't know why people seem to have so many anti stories with wooden bench tops, treated right they are ageless, wood can be re sanded to look brand new and it's quite not like hard surfaces.

    I will check with my brother inlaw who was an aircraft engineer in a previous life, some years ago he had some beautiful wide pieces of aged timber laminated together which he sealed and used as his kitchen bench in an open plan kitchen dining family, it was beautiful the house was a Federation in Lane Cove Sydney

  • PRO
    Sprig+Co Interiors

    @Siriuskey didn't mean to sound too anti timber, I personally love it! I think after working with the clients that we have installed timber tops into, they tend to come out with the negative feedback rather than the positive. It's still so beautiful but I do suggest sussing out a few places to see how the process works and read their reviews :)

  • olldroo

    I think if you are realistic, every surface has negatives, nothing is ever perfect and individual people need individual surfaces for their needs. It really comes down to thoroughly knowing your product, ALL the pros and cons and then deciding what you can live with according to how you live. Like Sprig said too - the aspect of the room plays an important role with what surfaces you can use and so often people just don't stop to think of things like that.

    With this type of conversation, I think all the negative feedback can only be a positive to help wuff or any other poster make an informed decision.

  • siriuskey

    sorry Sprig you didn't, I just don't understand the fuss about timber benchtops, it's a beautiful natural product and yes perhaps to have such a beautiful product you need to look after it but it's hardly much work.

    If you go laminate benchtop and you burn it that's the end of that, you can fix wood. Hard surface granite etc benchtops are very expensive and noisey especially for good sized Island /benchtops

    Speak with Danish kitchen people they have always sealed their wooden benchtops with several coats of oil, which I can't remember the name of , it was applied with one of those green kitchen scrubbers

    My brother inlaw said that from memory, after the sink cutout was done the benchtop was sprayed with a 2 pac Estapol. His benchtop was from recycled australian hardwood and beautiful

  • siriuskey

    well said oldroo, horses for courses

  • wuff
    Yes, pros and cons for every surface my main worry is wood around sink, I have no issue with dents and life in wood, it's the same with our floors, my concern with engineered stone is that it so unforgiving that is why I am trying to get experiences with wooden benches (and they look so lovely) my other concern with engineered stone, is its weight, I am only going to redo bench tops that are currently laminex or similar product. I am unsure if engineered to take weight of stone, they look as though they would but still not entirely in love with hardness of stone, thanks to everyone for their feedback I really appreciate it particularly all the great photos..choosing is the hardest part
  • siriuskey

    be brave and live, give wood a chance, just remember to seal cut edges and sink when inserted. Why don't you try the laminated benchtops from Bunnings, if they will fit your space, keeping any joins away from the sink, look good and cost effective cheers,

  • olldroo

    Wuff, if the engineered stone is that heavy, then you would also need to take your joists and bearers into consideration - the floor has to hold it all too. So many new homes with these bench tops are on slabs these days, that will take any weight.

    Siriuskey - you might be referring to the Scandinavian Teak Oil, it has been around for years now and is for any timber. It is applied with steel wool or similar abrasive product to lift the fibres of the timber and allow the oil to penetrate better. Like I said earlier though, it wasn't enough on the edging I had around my tiled bench, it needed constant doing because of water, probably needed doing monthly, but in those years, I just didn't have the time to keep at it. The timber didn't get ruined or go black or anything, it just lost its finish and always looked unfinished if I couldn't keep the oil up.

  • siriuskey

    Yes olldroo, when I worked with the Danes they used that oil but preferred to use the green scrubbers as the steel wool was inclined to drop particles. I think that the oiling is very good and feeds the timber but does need your attention from time to time. Best you go for the more longer lasting finish for ease

  • legendaryflame

    I have jarrah bench tops in my kitchen. They have been in for eight years and I oiled them with a gloss Tung oil when they were installed. Since then they have had plenty of wear and tear, scratches and water spilt and splashed on them. I share the house with others and we do a lot of cooking. One area gets direct sunshine on it. I have been super happy with the wear. I polish them with a spray furniture polish. I find that helps, especially with the scratches. They are starting to look a little worn now but that's nothing a light sand and re oiling won't fix.

  • Yolita MEitza

    I am wondering why nobody has mentioned tung oil. It's water proof and gives a slightly deeper colour as it penetrates the wood.

  • peaceposter

    We used a farmed New Guinea Rosewood. It is not as hard as our previous Jarrah benchtop but any marks, dents, scratches actually disappear when they have oil applied or a tiny sanding. We use FOOD GRADE Danish Oil and if you want a high gloss you give the wood several coats or satin just need 4 or so. No trouble around the sink as the water is repelled by the oil. Only have to oil the wood every few months. I do all my kitchen tool handles and boards at the same time just before I go away for the night to leave it all dry.

  • Swa Neee

    I have only seen one wooden bench top that has managed, over time, to keep the wet out and avoid that black mouldy creepage where the water splashes behind the taps and around tap inserts. It was built by a carpenter and then the owner applied oil to gain the colour desired before applying several coats of marine epoxy (several = at least 5), sanded back before every new layer.

    It was burn proof and the colour locked in by epoxy coat with no maintenance required (until a visitor put a burning pot on it and left it there while attending to fire on stove, still... only left a black ring. That said, the owner promptly got out the sander and ground back until black ring was no longer charcoal texture, then reapplied oil and layered epoxy until black ring looked like it belonged (can't do that with any other surface I can think of?).

    After 15 years there is no sight of the insidious black mould from water penetration so I suppose it is the same recipe as with most thing successful projects in life, research, research, preparation, preparation, preparation and don't falter at the finish line.

  • polly7818

    Hi I'm from Tassie and i have always had wood bench tops. I'm on my fourth house that we have built and i cannot go past Macracarpa. Especially with a natural edge. In this home i have them not only as a center kitchen bench but in both bathrooms. If it is sealed properly you will never have an issue with staining. If you damage it in any way it can always be sanded and resealed. Even sealed, i find that the patina develops into a beautiful glow over the years. On the contrary side - I am living in a cottage (whilst this house is being completed) It has a bamboo bench - dont talk to me, It marks if you look at it, water oil and and spills soak in even sealed which i don't understand. I had a ceramic pot on the bench with flowers. Because the pot was porous, mould grew IN THE BENCH and i cannot get the mark out. I have been told it also need resealing or oiling every 12 months. Choice is yours.