Do you baby your vanity wood countertops?

overmyhead08February 25, 2010

Those of you with wood countertops in your bathrooms, do you wipe off every water spot as soon as you finish using your sink? If not, how well has your wood countertop held up with respect to deterioration of the finish?

I already have wood countertops in a powder room and the guest bath, and I obsessively wipe off the countertop after I wash my hands. (And like a Singapore Airlines flight attendant, I'll also go into the bathroom after a guest has used it and wipe up after him or her.)

Now it looks like I'll be getting wood countertops (actually oak-veneered MEDEX) for my master bathroom because the Corian color I'd originally picked out doesn't work with the undertone of my stone tile (but the Corian is already in place as my shower curb so I don't want to introduce yet another color of granite, quartz, or other material). I'm not too keen on having yet more wood countertops to obsessively maintain, so I'm now wondering if I can relax a little bit around them and allow the water droplets to just air-dry.

Also, do you think it will hurt resale to have so many bathrooms with wood countertops? There is another full bath with a marble countertop and a second half bath with a china pedestal sink.

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I have wood in our master bath, but I put a film finish on it (several coats of spar urethane) so it really doesn't have to be babied.

Wipe it up today, or wait until water spots, no raised grain, no damage. We don't use an abrasive cleaner on it, if it ever needs cleaning it's a simple wipe down with a damp cloth.

They've been in for years and they honestly look as good as the day I installed them.

FWIW, my tub deck is the same, and it's fine too.

On the flip side, in my kitchen I also have wood countertops, with an undermount kitchen sink. On them instead of a more protective film finish I use mineral oil. We do wipe up after using the countertop, and maybe every 6 months or so I'll take five minutes and renew the mineral oil which refreshes the look of the wood.

While the kitchen tops do have a few dings, after renewing with mineral oil to enhance the color back to the original reddish-brown, overall the countertops pretty much look as fresh as they did way back when they were first installed.

With oak, which is an open-grain wood, how are you going to finish it? Using a pore filler will give it a more refined look, though I'm not sure of the thickness of your veneer so it's tough to say if a pore filler would be needed. I definitely recommend a film finish with oak, especially a veneer.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 2:22AM
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collins design

We have a cherry island countertop in the kitchen, finished with Waterlox, and we don't wipe up small spills, nor baby it at all. It looks fine aside from some scratches.

In the bathroom my DH used a poly finish on the vanity top. Again, I don't wipe up every single little drop of water (though I do wipe up bigger splashes if I notice them) and I'm certain DH doesn't ever wipe anything up. granted we've only been using it for a month or so, but it looks "as new" so far.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 7:32AM
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I have wood counters in the kitchen (treated with tung oil) and an antique oak washstand with a vessel sink in the powder room. The antique has whatever finish it has always had, beats me. We didn't do anything special to it. I do wipe spills and splatters right away, but I'm just anal that way. When I haven't though, (or rather, the boys or guests haven't) it's not been a problem. I think lots of standing water is what you really have to worry about.

No idea about resale.

mongo: any chance we could get a peek at your kitchen? I didn't know you had wood counters in there also!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:38AM
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Goodness. What else do our houses have in common? LOL!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:44AM
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We had a wood vanity top prior to our current reno. Never had to baby it after I put marine grade spar varnish on it. That said, I do wipe up spills, simply because it is the right thing to do. :-)

You mention that you are considering a veneer finish. That is another animal altogether. I am not sure veneer could withstand the type of moisture a vanity top gets. But then, it all depends on the finish. I have a varnished plywood canoe my father made over 60 years ago and it is as good as new.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:04PM
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Strange to me, in that I zero photos of my kitchen on this computer, and only one kitchen photo on any of my online photo hosting sites.

I have so many progress/construction shots of the master bathroom and my daughter's "mousehole bed" bedroom because those were done for magazine photo shoots.

The only one I have of my kitchen is a very limited shot, but it does show the end-grain teak butcher block that I made for our island endcap. It's roughly 4' square with a clipped corner, and 5" thick. West Systems epoxy to hold it together and a mineral oil finish.

This thing was soooooo heavy.

In the background you can see a bit of the remainder of the teak countertops, the countertops are 2" thick and 30" deep.

My wife is 5'1", you can see an elevation step in the countertop, it was lowered to suit her. To the left it's a bit lower, it's a run about 12' long that has the sink. The higher elevation is about 6' long, it covers the dishwasher and a few banks of drawers.

Design-wise we love the layout, it's always worked well for our family. Construction-wise, this was my first foray into woodworking and cabinetmaking. No disasters, which was a relief!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 9:14PM
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Thanks to all for saying I can relax around my wood countertops. Mongo, I'm sure my cabinetmaker will coat the rift oak veneer with spar urethane -- unless Waterlox would be better. Also, your teak butcher-block is stunning.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 10:40PM
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Mongo, I see everything you're saying and it's really a beautiful, fantastic job you did! Thank you so much for sharing your pics. From what I can see, the kitchen is gorgeous aesthetically too.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 12:13PM
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I am seriously considering bamboo for countertops in a lake cottage kitchen. These posts are encouraging in terms of maintenance and performance. Any experience with bamboo countertops?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Engineered bamboo is pretty tough. As part of the manufacturing process it has a lot of resin in it so it works out to be a very hard surface. Harder than most natural woods.

It can still be dented by a dropped object and the surface can be cut with a knife edge, so it's not like it's completely bulletproof.

I've made bamboo counter tops but I haven't lived with them. But no one has called me up and complained.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 12:55PM
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No, we don't baby our wood countertops. I wipe them down with Windex once in a while - use Windex on the sinks (copper). That's it. They were treated with liquid glass, though - that was done in the factory, although there is a diy kit available as well.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 10:10PM
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