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Oak Kitchen Worktops {Are They Worth The Hassle?}

Author: Lisa Soeno

The project for 2018 in the Soeno household is a big ‘un: the kitchen. As our house is a new build, when we moved in the kitchen was brand new (the dream), however it wasn’t one that we would have chosen (nightmare. Okay, so maybe not a nightmare but still far from ideal for a perfectionist like me. First world problems and all that). After having lived with it for over three years we have decided to bite the bullet and change it so it’s a bit more to our taste. Stay tuned for a kitchen inspiration post in the next few weeks.

The only problem is, Rich and I are at loggerheads about Every. Single. Detail of Project Kitchen Update. Thank Goodness it’s not a huge space so we don’t have to tussle over layout – that’s just gotta stay as is.

Which brings me to one of the main kitchen features that we are debating: the worktops. We currently have laminate which is so practical but the murky brown colour is just not my bag. I’ve had my heart set on oak worktops since day dot. I love the warmth and texture they bring to a space, and the fact that they’re timeless and shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Rich, on the other hand, is taken by the sleek elegance of quartz.

The Requirements

– The worktops have got to be child friendly. You will often find Lyra sitting atop the current worktops, ‘helping’ to bake cupcakes. Baby Jenson is also a worktop-sitter. When he was diddy I would pop him in his Bumbo at the back of the worktops whilst making dinner, and now he’s weaning (OMG THE MESS), I like to lie him face down on a tea towel so his arms and hands dangle into a sink full of soapy water: much easier and more fun than wrestling with him to get his mitts clean with a wet wipe.

– They need to fit in with the aesthetic of the other end of the room which is very light and bright, with lots of white and wooden elements.

– They’ve got to be relatively easy to upkeep.

The Stuff I’ve Learnt

I’ve done my research and I’m still none the wiser about whether oak worktops will be worth the hassle: it seems that fifty percent of the internet swears blind that oak worktops are easy-peasy to upkeep, and the other fifty percent rue the day they ever chose to go for oak. The general consensus is that you need to wipe away any splash marks pretty promptly, and that you can’t put hot pans directly down onto oak worktops unless you don’t mind a rustic, lived-in look. Other tips which I will be bearing in mind if I do manage to sway Rich are as follows:

– Oiling: I’ve read rave reviews about the Ikea oil. Apparently several coats of super thin layers are needed when the worktops are first installed and then every few months thereafter is key.
– Sanding: I actually quite like the thought of having to sand out any scratches from the worktops. (However this may be akin to the way I used to look forward to revising for exams and when it came down to it, it really wasn’t all that enjoyable)…
– Filling: Any chips, cracks or holes that appear can be filled with oak-coloured wood fillers.
– Boards: I’ve already racked up quite a collection of chopping boards as when they’re propped up upon the worktops they make our decidedly un-pretty kitchen just that touch prettier. These should do the job of protecting from heat marks when whacking down those hot pans.

What are your words of wisdom on the matter? Do you have oak worktops and do you think they’re worth the hassle?

Is there such thing as a laminate that has all the appearance of oak but all the practicality of a laminate?!

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{Contributors}

Image of Rebecca’s kitchen by Adam Crohill

Author
Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
Follow Lisa on instagram @lisa.soeno

96 thoughts on “Oak Kitchen Worktops {Are They Worth The Hassle?}

  1. I had my new kitchen installed about 18 months ago and went for oak worktops. It’s true that I have to be careful, especially around the sink, but when you love something it’s easy to look after it, not a chore.
    I have sanded and re-oiled my worktops once and they still look pretty perfect. I was very lucky that my installer used to work for a company that produced oak worktops and oiled them several times before and after they were in situ to keep them watertight.
    I use Danish Oil and they finish is great, a natural colour and not too dark.
    When I choose my kitchen I too had hoped for quartz worktops at first but I couldn’t justify the cost, now I cannot imagine anything else looking quite as nice as the oak and I still adore the aesthetic as much as the day it was finished.

    1. Hi Lisa, I am also a big fan of oak worktops but am concerned about how much time it will take to keep them looking nice! We are decorating our kitchen later on this year and have come across oak laminate worktops! Check out Wickes range for a taster…seems like a good way of getting the best of both worlds? Oak worktops with minimal care? 🙂 can’t wait to see the finished product!

    2. I totally agree. We had our oak surface fitted 18 months ago. We oiled it again this weekend and it looks so great. I like that it needs looking after, I like that is marks to, gives the kitchen an edge.

  2. My husband chose oak worktops in our kitchen – I knew about it obviously! However I hadn’t actually seen them or done any real research into them. I would not have them again.
    They mark so easily, even putting a tin can on the surface, if there’s any trace of liquid on the bottom of that can your getting a black ring mark, meaning you’ve got to sand it off and re-oil. We make our own bread and cleaning up after kneading is a nightmare. Anything a bit out of the ordinary and it’s stained or marked (for example your visiting mother using some dubious cleaning product she picked up whilst you were at work?!!)
    For me – with small children and working full time it’s a no. I’d much rather spend time doing something else. And I didn’t much rate the Ikea oil, when they several layers they mean Loads of layers! If you have a large amount of worktop, it’s a lot of upkeep (we have about 3.5 meters).

    Anyway I have persuaded my husband we can change it this year and we’ve only had ours just over 15 months. That’s how much I detest the thing.
    That’s my moaning done!!

    1. Eek Claire. I didn’t realise even slightly wet tin cans would mark them! Useful to hear different opinions re the Ikea oil too, thank you x

      1. Tin cans are a nightmare on mine too!! Also, anything with metal feet. Our knife block had metal feet and we didn’t notice until it was too late. The block went straight in to the bin when I saw what it had done to my precious oak! The good thing is that we managed to sand it off. The bad thing is that it needs doing again now and we can’t face taking everything off the surfaces for at least 24 hours. I definitely want quartz in my next kitchen! (Only had this one a year and a half!)

        1. Whaaaat!!
          Having to take everything off surfaces for 24 hours sounds like a hassle that I hadn’t considered either…

          1. I’ve only taken everything off the surfaces once in 2yrs as I’m lazy. It’s only the exposed bits of worktop that get wear, and if you go lightly with oil it’s easy to nip over it at night and it will be dry by morning x

    2. Totally with you Claire. We’ve only had our wooden worktops in our lovely newly installed kitchen for a year and already I’m like….well that was a mistake. EVERYTHING seems to stain them…..the tin can black marks are a constant nightmare. If you don’t clean up a spill the nano second after you make it that’s it a stain until you re-sand and re-oil. Don’t get me started on beetroot juice / egg / red wine these are a nightmare and seem to stain no matter how quickly you wipe them up. Just like Claire, for us as a working family, with a baby, dog and not a lot of time on our hands they seem to be so much more hassle and time consuming to keep looking nice. I would not rush to have them again.

      1. Lol-ing at nano second Alice 🙂

        We had a red wine incident on our cream sofa on Saturday…I’m guessing the white wine trick doesn’t work so well on wooden worktops?!

        1. Oh I’m glad I’m not the only one! I felt bad telling hubby how much I hate it! My mum says it stains because we haven’t oiled it enough? But we put 10, yes 10 coats on when we fitted it and it still didn’t seem enough. I’ve done it again at least 5 times since that so I don’t think that is the problem!!

  3. We had the same debate for our kitchen and ended up getting a square edge oak laminate, all the pretty of a wooden worktop with the practicality of laminate. I was put off real wood at a friends house who spent most of the evening with a load of kitchen roll wiping all the spills and splashes, it was exhausting!! I’m not that clean a cook and def not one for finding a trivet for a hot pan!! The square edge also had the benefit of being able to be cut to match the curve of the kitchen units (bullnose laminate can’t). Maybe something to consider!

    1. I’m a relatively clean cook but Rich most definitely is not!

      Didn’t even know to look into square edge vs bullnose laminate… I clearly have more research to do 😛

      Thanks Sarah x

    2. Sarah, I didn’t know it was possible to get square edge laminate! I will definitely be looking into this when I’m next in the market for a worktop.

  4. We had oak worktops in our previous home which had a new kitchen (a new build Flat) and have just completed a new extension and chosen quartz worktops so have experienced both products. Both are lovely and both have the wow factor in different ways but I would definitely say wood is more “kid friendly” (even though I have a 12 month old).
    Our wood worktops were treated with danish oil when put in and we didn’t actually do anything to them (despite my husband being one of those who loved to tell everyone about the maintenance of wood- he never cracked out the sander or oil again!) and it still aged beautifully. We bought a really good worktop saver from Ikea which fits over the edge of the worktop and protected the wood whilst looking like an extension of the worktop from ikea:
    http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/cookware/knives-chopping-boards/lämplig-chopping-board-bamboo-art-00309829/
    And lots of cheap trivets for pots which could easily fit into drawers:
    http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/cookware/cooking-accessories/lämplig-pot-stand-stainless-steel-art-00186041/
    So a lot of the worktop actually didn’t get much use. We were quite considerate and careful of it on the whole.

    Every quality product has its pitfalls and quartz is the same. It’s can look quite cold and whilst luckily we’ve managed to get rid of any stain which has tried to settle to date, I’m on a knife edge any time someone tries to be ‘helpful’ in my kitchen and make a cup of tea as it sucks up tea stains like anything. But we adore it.

    We never really had that much problem with wood but then I quite liked the character it took on- apart from when I left a can on the side for recycling and that left a big round mark which was not great- but easily sanded out- the bonus of wood.

    1. Just FYI – get yourself some Cif Cream for the quartz if you haven’t already (the original stuff) – leave it on any mark neat for a couple of minutes, then scrub lightly and rinse well. Even tea will disappear. I may have had a small meltdown after some lovely builders didn’t clean up after their tea and discovered the above after much Googling. It works a dream!

      1. Yes my mum worked that out! It’s great isn’t it- I hate that I surreptitiously walk around people in my kitchen with a bottle in my hand and give the worktop a quick swipe, people who visit my house must think I’m a nutter. But then there must be worst things to be known as than crazy cif lady! 🙈

    2. Great to hear both sides Mary and good to hear that in your experienc, wood is more kid friendly. I can imagine it’s a bit warmer on their bums if they are sitting on top of the worksurfaces! x

  5. We have had oak in our new build house for nearly 3 years and our previous home we opted for oak for about 5 years , We have re oiled once in this house and about 3 times previously . Basically wipe any water up with a teatowel immediately and don’t leave any cups , tins, glasses with moisture on the surface . One or two mishaps are easily fixed by sanding down and re oiling . We had danish oil but now it’s Osmo oil all the way for a lovely and not too shiny Finnish . They are so warm and welcoming !
    We too have many wooden boards and I just put them down for pans etc, and always use chopping boards to avoid marks .
    Just be extra careful around the sink …. it’s a beautiful material if that’s what u go for 😀
    Our worktops are boards of oak ( can’t remember the name ) rather than made up of the small blocks !! We love it x

    1. This is the thing Angela, our kitchen can be a bit dark and gloomy so I think oak would bring some much-needed warmth. Thanks for the tips x

  6. We had wood in our first Home and already a bit ruined when I moved in along side the mr. Round the sink was the worst. We did sand back once and recoil which helps but not perfect.
    We fitted a new kitchen last spring in our current home and we went for quartz. I LOVE IT. It’s so fresh and light (we went for a dark cabinet) and really easy to maintain. Hot cloth and fairy liquid is all you need to clean it, no abrasives or stern cleaners. It doesn’t stain, I haven’t put a hot pot on it as our hob is on the island. Even when dirty it still looks good. It was expensive but I felt worth every penny. We had a undermount sink fitted and that looks super sleek. Good luck with your choice!

  7. I love our wooden worktops. We danish oil them every six months. You can tell when they need oiling as the water will sit on them, as opposed to beading. Yes they can make quite easily, but unlike other worktops you can fix them. The nature of wood also means imperfections don’t look out of place. We have nice looking trivets and chopping boards for day to day use and also a supply of cheap ikea cork mats for if we are cooking a big meal.

    1. Lovely to hear Rebecca. And there are some ace trivets out there. I’ve always been tempted by the H&M ones even though we don’t currently have a need for them!

  8. Oh my word DON’T DO IT! We had oak tops in our last house and they were the bane of my life. Granted they hadn’t been well looked after by the previous owner but even with regular IKEA oilings – which stayed wet and tacky for about 48 hours rendering the kitchen unusable – they were awful, I just felt like they were never properly ‘clean’ and couldn’t put anything down or risk spills which is totally ridiculous in a kitchen where the basic purpose involves food and water?! Have 2 kids now and can’t even imagine. We will be going with a granite/marble effect when we re-do our new build kitchen! Can’t remember the name of the stuff but I’ve heard good things 😂 good luck and look forward to seeing the inspiration!

  9. We have oak tops and I HATE them… yes they look good when they’re new but after a week of actual cooking they’re a nightmare. We used white then clear Osmo oil to give a limed effect. My husband just follows me round with kitchen roll when I’m cooking or turning on the taps. Red wine bottles and tin cans are a disaster on the worktops. It’s a no from me!

  10. Ahhhh the Oak worktop debate! I regularly had this conversation with friends – we moved into a house with oak kitchen worktops which were already a bit aged and worn. I loved them as i wasnt precious over them, because they already had the water marks, tin marks, hot pan stains etc etc. They cleaned up pretty nice, but i always said if i had paid good money for them myself i would have been a bit distraught if the irremovable mug stain was caused by one of us.
    They add a lovely warmth i think you dont get with the stone ones 🙂

    1. Yes Laurie you’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s all about the warmth.

      That’s a nice situation to be in – I can imagine I would feel the same if I moved into a house that had rustic worn wood tops, however may be constantly on edge if we pay for new ones! x

    2. I think this is exactly it – we had oak in our last flat, I got them put in and wasn’t precious in the slightest and rarely re-oiled (though if I noticed I’d marked something while I was still in the process of cooking, say, I’d just grab whatever oil was to hand and rub down with a cloth to save the worse of it) but my husband has said firmly never again. If neither of you are precious, crack on, if you are, I’d look at something else.

  11. I like the look of oak worktops but am going for Quartz. I already know I am waaaay too lazy to do that amount of upkeep. And every time I’ve been to a house with wooden worktops that have been there for a while, they are a bit gungy and black looking around the sink.

  12. we’ve had oak worktops for two years and I still love them as much as the day they were fitted. I’m fairly careful with them but my husband and kids are definitely not and they’ve held up surprisingly well. I think the secret is to treat them regularly; my other half runs a letting company and he was adamant that lack of care was the biggest issues with them and I agree. We use Danish oil and I always have a can in the utility room ready to give them a quick wipe down once a month or so. You need to be fairly sparing with it, but a quick wipe over with a cloth and they’re back to beautiful with an added layer of protection.

    I don’t have a drainage rack at the sink or drainage grooves which helps in avoiding black water marks. Most of our dishes go in the dishwasher and anything else is washed then dried on a tea towel (it also has the added bonus of not having a draining rack that always has some random tea spoon and jar lid sitting in it!). Before bed every night I wipe the work tops down with a bit of kitchen roll, but I did that when we had laminate so it’s no different really.

    If you’re generally a clean, tidy person I’d say go for it!

    1. Sara your last comment makes me think they ARE worth it! Really interesting to hear your other half’s point of view too, considering he must see a lot of houses.

  13. We installed oak worktops in our last house and whilst you have to he careful, if you’re disciplined with reoiling they were so easy. We oiled them every few months and it would only take a couple of hours (plus drying) at a time. The oil also took out small scratches and marks. I used lots of glass worktop savers including around the kettle/tea/coffee maker. In our new house, we have inherited a white corian worktop, which is so much harder to keep clean and stain free.

    1. Nice to hear that you found them relatively easy to upkeep Laura. I think if we do go for them I will just have to put a reminder in my phone to re-oil every few months.

      Bet your corian looks swish though!

  14. I am devouring all these comments as it’s a hot topic in the Coleman household too. I’ve never really liked our oak worktops – I’m used to running around with a cloth now and have boards and trivets all over the place but it’s actually the colour I’m not fond of. The natural light situation in our kitchen is a bit odd and I dislike the yellowy glow they seem to give off.
    We’ve been discussing getting a quote for quartz but I know it’s going to be super spendy. I might have to try Victoria’s liming tip to see if it makes a difference.

    1. I had the same view of oak when we moved into our current house but have grown to love it! Happy to inherit your worktops if you go for quartz 😛 x

  15. Firstly I am far far too bone idle in the kitchen to spend time looking after wood properly so have granite. It was already in the house when we moved in, but I love it a lot – and would have through choice again. It takes zero maintenance, I vaguely run a cloth over it occasionally.

    Does covering oak worktops with worktop savers, or trivets, or chopping boards etc. to protect the oak, not cover the beauty of the worktop, and look maybe a little cluttered? Not a criticism in the slightest, a genuine question.

    1. I meant more keeping the chopping boards propped up against the wall to created vignettes and add a bit of interest (insert eye roll from Rich here!). I don’t mind that they’d be used to cover the worktops whilst cooking and maybe look a bit cluttered.

      1. Aaaah i see, not ‘permanent’ fixtures on the tops. We are strictly a no interest or clutter kitchen so less to clean around, chopping boards etc. are washed, dried and put in cupboards

        Reading the post further down about citrus fruits, I have never even really bothered to make sure that I clean up after citrus incidents and no issues so far (10 years).

        I realise that I sound like a right kitchen-phobe (or lazy mare), I’m not, I cook and bake a huge amount, I would just rather do other things than take care of my worktops.

  16. Anything but wood here too. I don’t have the time or inclination to clean, particularly around the sink and like Lauren, we have a LIGHT SITUATION in our cottage and oak would darken unnecessarily.

    I don’t mind the homely feel but I don’t like water swells. Love a cup stain that says ‘family has gathered here’ but not ‘family has spilt here’

    We have laminate now but when we do the big kitchen extension we’re going stone for sure.

    I did see on simplythenest that they had done their own with scaffolding boards which looks bloody amazing and would be a cheaper alternative.

  17. We’ve had oak for two years and haven’t re sanded or oiled once, it still looks pretty much as good as new and we are not terribly careful! We have a thick butchers board which we can put hot pans on, or just back on the hob, I haven’t found water to be much of an issue and my mum sprayed some bleach spray next to the sink a while back which stained at the time but I noticed recently has all but disappeared, with zero intervention from me. We put about 8 layers of Osmo oil on when it was installed but since then haven’t done anything (I do casually mention to my husband every 6 months or so that we should do another oil coat but it has never happened). I wanted something more fancy at the time but couldn’t afford anything else, but actually really like the aesthetic now. We also used off cuts for the window sill over the sink and in our open plan lounge which look great as well and were always planning on having a shelf in the same in the kitchen but again haven’t quite got round to it yet. Look forward to seeing your inspiration soon!

    1. Ooh good call Katie. I’m hoping to incorporate some open shelving so if we do go for oak, an oak shelf would tie in nicely x

  18. Sorry lovely but I’m with your other half on this one. We have oak worktops in our current rental and it’s the most impractical surface I’ve ever seen in a kitchen. You get paranoid about damaging it, you are constantly on edge with wiping up spills. I drive Mike mad because I hover with a tea towel whenever he’s in the kitchen! I’ve also had to get inventive with a drainer for next to the sink to prevent water dripping. It’s honestly been a pain in the backside. It looks beautiful, but I just don’t think it’s worth the hassle, especially with kiddos too. But if you’re willing to do the maintenance and upkeep to keep it looking nice, then respect to you and good luck! xx

      1. Yes, but this is because the owner had freshly sanded and oiled them as the previous tenants hadn’t looked after them. They made it clear that if we did the same, they’d deduct £450 from our deposit. Luckily I think we’ve managed to get away with it but we’ve only been there 9 months (moving out on Saturday!). If we stayed long term, I think it’s inevitable they would have been damaged.

  19. Haha this is one divisive post!!!! Personally I’ve never had oak worktops and it isn’t my thing, but I have plenty of friends who have them. They are great if you can be bothered with the upkeep (and see above about the draining grooves – generally best without them if you can manage to avoid the blackened edges…). We have had composite quartz (Silestone) which was good, and now have a ceramic marble effect which I love, but each to their own. Granite is quite a good option if you decide not to go with wood but want more natural colours, some of it is really beautiful. Although make sure you don’t put any apples or citrus fruit on granite, as that eats away at it. Each surface has its pros and cons so I guess it is just a case of weighing them up and seeing what sort of up-keep you are prepared to do!

    1. I do enjoy reading the comments when opinion is split, as with today’s post. Yes it seems that draining grooves would be a no-go if we did choose oak, although I love the look of them. Just googled granite worktops – you’re right about massive range of colours! But I don’t think they’d have the warmth that I’m after? And I did not know that about citrus fruits!

  20. We went with square edge oak effect laminate – we love the look of oak but heard horror stories from friends and knew we would be far too lazy for the upkeep.
    It obviously doesn’t have the texture of the real thing, but I’ve had several people (including my mum, who has real wood worktops!) mistake it for wood.
    It was so cheap we could replace the whole lot if it starts to look tired, plus we figured if we went off it in a few years we wouldn’t mind shelling out to change for something else. Having shamelessly copied most of your gorgeous lounge area, I’m looking forward to seeing your kitchen inspiration post!x

    1. Aw Hayley, I’m massively flattered!

      Would you mind letting me know where you got your laminate from? It sounds ideal x

  21. Don’t do it!!! We had oak in our last house, hubby convinced me and he was supposed to do the upkeep which just never really happened. We were fastidious about mopping up though but it didn’t help, it’s awful around the sink. And so many marks. We ended up almost covering the whole worktop in chopping boards so what’s the point in having it? In our new house we spent ages debating our new worktops. We were adamant about not getting wood though – never ever again!

    We went for corian, it’s not as on trend as quartz but is friendlier to the hand, plus I like it’s seamless, no grooves for dirt to get stuck in. It’s great around water and cleans up so easily. You can’t put hot pans on it but I wouldn’t do that anyway. What swung it in the though is that friends with quartz dropped a vase and have a big crack now, but with corian any damage can be fixed. There are lots of other composites on the market now if corian is a bit pricey, but I shopped around and got a fab deal too.

    Sorry for such a long post but I’ve been through all this so hope it’s been somewhat helpful!!! Just think about how you use a kitchen and what features are most important for you personally, as there are pros and cons to everything! Good luck xx

    1. I would be gutted if we spent a load of money on quartz and it cracked, what a nightmare! So much useful info here, thanks Agnes x

  22. We changed the worktops when we moved in to solid oak worktop from Howdens which we then sanded and applied 2 coats of clear osmo oil. We’ve been in the house nearly 2 years and the worktops look good as new, as we are NOT careful with them! We have scrubbed dried on bolognaise off them, spilled red wine and left it over night (accidentally) and I even accidentally dripped a turmeric teabag on the worktop and didn’t realise until the next day, but after a wipe even that didn’t stain it! I don’t know if we got lucky though after reading the other responses, but we haven’t had any issues (we don’t put hot pans down on it) We have also used Osmo oil on our oak table which is also unmarked.

  23. I have new quartz worktops after living with rental oak. I’d never get real wood worktops EVER after that experience! Maybe if you are naturally a super clean person and enjoy constantly mopping up water around the sink, but otherwise they are way way way too much effort.

  24. Solid oak is my favourite look for a kitchen worktop. We have had solid oak for the past 4.5 years and I have oiled it every 6 months and it still looks as good as new. However, it does feel like a reasonable amount of work to maintain it to look like new. So in our new kitchen we are thinking of having two different worktops: quartz around the outside (including around the sink) but oak on the kitchen island so that we still get my favourite oak look but in a smaller area and one that isn’t going to get too wet. Maybe that’s an option for you too? You could even do the bit around the sink in something else and the rest in oak. It’s something I’ve seen more and more in my recent Pinterest/Houzz inspiration finding! Good luck!

    1. Mine too Camilla!

      If we had an island this is definitely what we’d do but as ours is a galley kitchen there’s no room for an island.

      Interesting ideas re using different materials just around the sink: I will have to get pinning. P.S have you seen that Houzz have recently done up a London Victorian terrace to showcase all the trends for 2018 which you can go and look around? I’m desperate to go!

  25. Tin can rings by the sink! (Spatone iron supplements also stain it.) And they only look clean for about 10mins. Sanding and re-oiling sounds like such a lot of mess and disruption while real life is jogging along, when it’s probably the most-used area of the house.
    Next door have had granite veneers fitted over theirs; that sounds like a cheaper alternative to a full replacement.

  26. We are currently planning a new kitchen and although I love the look of real oak I KNOW I’m not tidy enough to keep them looking nice and I can’t really be bothered with the maintenance. We’re looking at stone composites like Minerva /Maia etc… more expensive than oak but cheaper than Quartz / granite etc. Anyway, in our last house we put a new kitchen in and had an oak effect laminate from Howdens – I was a bit worried it was going to look rubbish but it honestly looked lovely and pretty realistic! Obviously if you looked up close you could tell it wasn’t real wood but it looked as close as possible. Good luck! Can’t wait to see the transformation x

    1. I’m learning so much today Sarah! Just googled Minerva and Maia and they look great. And I think a trip to Howdens this weekend is on the cards. X

  27. Go for it, We got our kitchen fitted 2 years ago and in the beginning I was really precious about the oak work tops but not now I have put hot pans on it spilled bleach on it and dented it also but I can genuinely say nothing is not fixable with the oak. The hot pan stain disappeared through time and general wear and tear and wet ring stains dry in. The only thing I had to sand away was the bleach stain and it was absolutely fine I am so glad I went for it and I thought at the beginning would be sanding them down often with every mark I find now that little marks and wear and tear add a bit of character to it because the part of the work surface that is used more has gone a tad lighter so if you have to oil it you are only doing those parts not the full thing. I would recommend looks great.

    1. It’s very reassuring to hear that hot pan marks tend to disappear with time! And that oak in general is not too much of a pain. Thanks Gemma

  28. oh gosh the worktop debate in a new kitchen is one I’m very familiar with as spent months deliberating the same thing! I love the look of oak and very nearly went back to them after swearing off them forever due to our experience in our old house but so glad I didn’t. I just hated the constant sanding and reoiling and it just felt like they never, ever were clean. We have dark units and white HI-Mac worktops which although expensive, definitely tick all the boxes (apart from one major disadvantage which I’ll come onto). They have no seams so if you have a kitchen with lots of curves and corners they look particularly smooth and lovely and they are easy to repair if you do mange to damage them in some way as you just ask for extra pieces of the same batch of worktop to be replaced with. As they are white they always look so lovely and clean if a little on the cold side but I managed to combat that through furnishings, a nice big reclaimed wood table and lots of warming accessories and lighting. The major disadvantage of course is the scratching. We have white ones so you can’t see any scratches particularly easily and on the main units there aren’t any really at all but on the kitchen island it is riddled with scratches as it’s where we use them the most. They’ve been in for 18 months so we’re just in the process of getting them rebuffed so they should come back as new but that’s it really. I think darker corian or Hi-mac worktops really show up scratches badly.

    All being said if I was to do it all again I would probably get silestone but that’s only because my friend had some fitted and I thought they were lovely- always nice to mix it up a bit but I definitely would never go marble, granite or wood. They take too much upkeep and can chip easily. If it helps – I spotted on Escape to the Chateau that they had lovely looking worktops in their kitchen and did some research online (unfortunately after I’d had mine fitted) and found they used Cosentino Dekton kitchen worktops which seem particularly brilliant as they do a very convincing wood-effect version with all the benefits of stone and all the warmth of wood bit without all the negatives.

    1. This hi-Mac stuff sounds brill and your kitchen sounds so nice the way you’ve described it! Will also need to look into the Cosentino Dekton worktops that you mentioned (although they sound like they could be pricey if they’ve been used in a chateau?!). Thanks Kate x

  29. Hi I have zebrano wood worktops and they have a beautifully warm look. I oiled them when we had them fitted with danish oil. It looked gorgeous. It does take time to look after it, I sand and apply oil every six months. I do recommend you let it dry overnight and keep everything off it till it’s dry. My advice is use an alternative round the sink, it is a pain I never leave dishes on it so water marks don’t appear. I have a three metre island and is in constant use. My husband uses his computer on it, I don’t find issues with tins but don’t use them much and throw them away quickly. I am very tidy so it’s eaier. They do scratch but you can sand them. Our kitchen is all white and the wood gives it a lovely feel. They are three years old but I don’t have small kids but a teenager who is not careful at all and they survive. So round the sink which is a separate area I would like to change but the island wood will stay. Ours wraps around the cupboards too so looks amazing.

    1. Wow, your kitchen sounds beautiful Julie, especially the worktops-wrapping-round-the-cupboards bit. Yes I definitely need to give some thought to the sink area x

  30. Love this debate. We went with oak in the end and used what I can only call a miracle product to treat the wood – sounds strange but it’s essentially a plastic coating. Five years down the line we haven’t had to re-treat it once and I dread to think how much water etc it’s had splashed on it!

      1. We used Rustins plastic coating and hardener (unsure if there are other brands out there that do the same job) – can’t recommend it enough, especially reading all the horror stories on here! Go for it, oak never dates! x

  31. My recently refurbished kitchen has oak worktops and though many people tried to dissuade against I’m glad we went for it!
    The finish is warm and works with both rustic or contemporary feel kitchens. I would second previous comments in cleaning up wet marks immediately and placing hot items on a board or heat plate.
    In hindsight the friends and family who were against often had inherited wooden worktops already in a bad condition, I had had similar in a rental which is why I was uncertain at first, but when it’s your own, a little upkeep is worth it for sure!

    1. Makes total sense Sara. And I agree they are so versatile…I don’t want to go uber modern but as it’s a new build I can’t do too cottage-rustic either! X

  32. Another vote for osmo oil! It is brilliant, we had beech worktops in our old house and they always looked lovely with it.

    A lifesaver for oak surfaces would be buying a couple of granite chopping boards- whacking great thick ones you can keep close to the stove for putting hot stuff on? Really useful.

    Love the image of Jenson in the sink, great parent hack!

    1. Lucy S I have learnt so much from this post today…Including that osmo oil is a must.

      It’s a necessary hack – he gets angry when I try and clean his hands and don’t even get me started on trying to clean his face! So much easier if he’s distracted by splashing about in the sink! X

  33. We have a oak worktops for 6 month, we have not oiled it once and our kitchen designer told that we will understan when it needs oil. I’m a bit skared that the time has come, and I did not understand. But I need to research how not oiled oak looks like. I always use something underneas hot pans, so for me it was not a problem. Yes here and there appear some skrathes, but the same think can happen with every material exept marbel, I think. About wiping things immidiately – I think I have more problem with white splashback!

  34. I like others have experience of both. Our first house had a new Ikea oak worktop installed. It was a pain and also had the wet can issue. The Ikea oil does take ages to dry.

    We renovated our current whole house and went all out on our kitchen getting it from a handmade place in Kent. We went for granite worktops in the main kitchen and round the sink (not as expensive as I’d thought). We wanted to make a feature of an island around a pillar that remained once we’d knocked a wall down and we had a dresser made to house the washing machine/tumble drier. We also wanted this area to be lighter as it is in front of the bifold doors to the garden. I was very concerned about oak but we went with it. I am amazed at how resistant it is and any liquids just bead up on it.

    We decided to make ourselves some furniture in the dining room (open plan to the kitchen after aforementioned walls knocked down). My husband was keen to match the oak worktops to the kitchen to tie it in. We tried some oils on samples including osmo but it changed the look/colour of the wood too much. So I asked the kitchen company who told me they use Blanchon original wood environment – Natural which is actually for wooden floors!
    http://www.agwoodcare.co.uk/brands/blanchon/blanchonwoodflooroilenvironment/ I can not recommend enough, it dries totally within an hour and you just apply with a brush. Kitchen is 3 years old and hasn’t needed re doing. A little goes a long way!

  35. You couldn’t pay me enoug to have wooden worktops!

    We have glass laminate which was cheap as chips and supposed to be a stop gap measure. However it gets such positive comments including from Friends who have granite/ quartz that we have kept it. When we re do ours next year it will be 10years old and looks as good as the day we got it. Think we are Going for recycled resin next time so we can get a bespoke final ah, but if we decide to spend the budget elsewhere we would def look at laminate again

  36. We opted for oak in our kitchen refit 2 years ago, and swear that something so many people overlook is varnishing the wood.

    I was originally all set for oiling the surface, but one day came back to see the builders had varnished it… I was devastated and had this dreadful image of high gloss shiny wood, which was not what we were after! After a few tears and a phonecall to said builders, they quickly explained that because we opted for a Belfast sink, the edge of the wood needed to be water tight and there they had oiled and then varnished the wood.

    After 2 years, I swear it’s the happiest accident that’s happened in our renovations. Needless to say the glossiness dried back (it only looked glossy when it was wet, seems obvious now but at the time not so much!) and has now dulled back to a matte/satin/undeniably natural finish that almost exactly matches our oak engineered wood floor. It wipes clean, doesn’t stain, and still has all the qualities that I love about wooden worktops.

    Also, top tip, get the builder to save any off cuts off the wood and make them into chopping boards. While I love my fancy ones, I actually have 2 boards that I don’t ever pack away as when oiled, they almost blend into the worktop.

    Looking forward to seeing the end result and hearing what you choose!

  37. Ignore the haters…. Wood is good 😂

    Worktop express offer an oiling service when you place an order so you don’t have to. Really handy so you don’t have to try and find a place to do it at home before you install. Danish oil once a year, put on at night going to bed, paint on with a paint brush forget about the lint free cloth nonsense. If you are sensible and don’t leave puddles of water you’ll be fine. Never had any issues with tins. Always wipe away water around the sink. At least you have the luxury of being able to repair. Can’t do that with some of the stone products. I wouldn’t buy anything else now

  38. We had oak in our last kitchen and honestly I don’t know what all the fuss is about! We oiled it 3 times when it was fitted, and then once after one year after a very light sanding. We are messy cooks and constantly had red oil spitting on them and they never stained. I think though kind of the point of oak worktops is that they eventually get that lived in look…I personally think wood looks better as it ages anyway. I would say the best thing about oak worktops is that, compared to stone, they are flipping cheap! We had 4m of really thick solid oak for just over £200! (Check out DIY Kitchens) at that you could replace it every couple of years if you really wanted to and still be nowhere near what the stone will cost x

  39. We had ours put in 18 months ago and I love them. The builder left loads of coffee stains on one section but I managed to get them all out by gently sanding with an orbital sander and a really fine grit. Since then any little water marks I get out using a wood treatment solution and wire wool I bought from wilko for a few pounds- it even got out a black bleach mark where an insect bite pen leaked. It’s time to resand and ‘re oil again now but I’m looking forward to making them glow again. I really advise getting the orbital sander and very fine grit sandpaper as it will breeze the process. Then it’s just being patient for the oil layers to dry for a couple of days.
    Big tip is to make a really big chopping board fron leftovers for the area you use most- far more convienient than little ones.
    Main thing is to just get in the habit of giving the wood a wipe over to remove drops after you’ve done, it only takes a couple of seconds.

  40. We moved into our new house almost 4 years ago, and have oak worktops from Howdens which came with the kitchen. I have not had any trouble at all! 🙂 As long as you oil/protect them when you first install then nothing should penetrate through. Think I applied between 3-4 coats of clear oil which came with the tops and they are still in very good condition. I’d say go for it.

  41. I’ve just been through the same dilemma. We settled for a very sleek stone effect laminate (Howdens) for the main worktops. It is truly a delight to wipe clean. I was terrified of becoming really neurotic over people putting things down or spilling. However, I really really wanted oak somewhere so compromised and have it on my island. It’s had a couple of coats of Osmo oil (the fitter did this) but I can already tell it will need a lot more. We christened the new kitchen on Saturday with a takeaway curry and I lectured everyone about being careful with their Kormas only to sheepishly notice that I was the only one who’d got some on the worktop. And boy does curry stain! I also very briefly put down a wet dish and it left a ring. It does, however, look beautiful and I needed the balance of warm wood against my pale grey kitchen and “stone” worktops. A close second choice for us was the Linear Oak Laminate from Howdens. I was truly amazed at how far laminates have come. It’s a very realistic option. Good luck!

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