Wood Countertops--IRL usage data discussion

breezygirlJanuary 18, 2013

On another current thread about how a wood counter with Waterlox is not fairing well, a couple of members have started discussing how their tops are wearing. Rather than hijack that thread, I thought we should begin a separate one for this conversation. It might help others thinking of a wood top to know what to expect. I gave a quick answer to Firsthouse when she posted a thread asking me about mine so I think others could benefit. And, we can reassure ourselves that our patina'd tops are "normal." :)

I NEED to sleep so I won't post much tonight, except to say that my Osmo Polyx Oiled Black Walnut counter has scratches and some dents after 14 months. I can't imagine that any wood counter wouldn't do the same, even those with Waterlox. When you drop an aluminum can of stewed tomatoes or have a cocktail shaker full of Lemon Drop yumminess fly out of your hands while vigorously shaking, wood will do what wood does.

Anyone else want to chime in until I can post some other experience and photos tomorrow? It might help to identify your wood species and what product you used for finishing.

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I have a small island (52" x 32") topped with the Ikea Numerar oak butcherblock. It has been installed 2,5 years ago and so far no problems other than some minor sctratches. These get a light sanding and a new coat of Behandla, the wood treatment Ikea sells. It contains Linseed oil, Wood treatment oil, Lead free drying agent, Emulsifier according to the label.
The island gets only light use, as it is used for eating breakfast and lunches and some minor prep work (no sink on the island).
When first installed I put a lot of work in prepping the wood, applying some 15 thin coats of oil, letting them cure well and sanding to an ever finer grit between the first 5 coats. The upkeep is easy, a quick sand and a coat of oil once a year.
The wood works well for me as is, but I am glad I chose a granite for the perimeter where the serious prepping takes place.
I'll add a picture of the island and a link to the reveal of my kitchen (more pics ;-).
HTH, Petra

The island with my backsplash stripe waiting to be sorted:

Here is a link that might be useful: White kitchen in southern Spain

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:16AM
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Petra! You know, somehow, I completely forgot you had a wood counter. I'm embarrassed! My eye always stops to linger over your playful tile, the soaring ceiling beams, that gorgeous wall treatment around the hood, and the great open corner shelf. So many other eye treats that don't see the island top. It looks so great with your other kitchen elements!

I'm curious about a couple of things.

Do you have dents in the Numerar?

Do you think if you prepped more often on the island that you'd have more scratches and/or dents?

And, just to confirm, the oil you use for the yearly touch up is the Ikea product, right?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:56AM
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Our island has an antique pine counter. Pine is soft, but so far (only been 6 years!) we haven't made any dings that are noticeable. There is some day-to-day wear (dents) but I don't notice them either.

It is finished with Good Stuff for Wood. DH recoats it about once a year. Should probably do it twice a year. The only part that gets worn down is to the left of the sink, where wet things are sat (but not left long).

I clean with Lysol wipes and Trader Joe's Cedarwood & Sage multi-purpose cleaner (smells wonderful). The TJ's has essential oils.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our kitchen

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 12:42PM
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I have the CraftArt DIY Walnut top on my island. I finished it with a combination of beeswax and mineral oil that I made. It has held up very well over the past year since I installed it.

I do have a dent from dropping my waffle iron on it, and I have a black oil ring that eventually I will have to sand out. That said, I am truly impressed at how well it has held up. The island is my primary prep area, baking area, and all around 'do everything there' area. I do not cut on the top, although initially I thought I would. Instead I use the CraftArt cutting board that sits atop my soapstone counter for all my chopping needs. I have found a scratch or two, but both are easily rubbed out with my beeswax combo that I apply with 0000 steel wool in a circular fashion. After I did the denting job, I filled it with the beeswax and gently rubbed it in until it filled it. It does eventually wear away, but I know it's safe to use and no fumes in the house.

Prior to this top, in my temporary kitchen, I used the IKEA Numerar beech top with Boos block cream over it. I found it scratched considerably, but for the price and a heavier finish, thought it would work very well.

With my top, I do have to re-apply finish every few months since the soap and water clean up does eventually take most of the finish away. I find it's a small price to pay for the beauty and safeness of the top. It's also an easy fix if I do get a scratch or two, and I never have to worry about the safety of the finish or waiting until it's dry, etc.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 12:56PM
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We had IKEA butcher block sealed with mineral oil only in a previous kitchen. We only lived with it for a little over a year. I cut directly on the surface so there were obviously knife marks. I also had a stain from food coloring dripping on the counter when I was making icing for cookies. I tried to sand that out, but it had penetrated deeply enough that I wasn't able to get it all--didn't want a depression in the counter and wasn't willing to sand the whole thing down for a very small spot.

I liked it quite a lot and would not rule it out for future kitchen remodeling.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:21PM
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We had a poorly made butcher block island top for about 10 years and recently replaced it with a walnut edge grain top from Blockhead Blocktops. Although we never cut right on it, I appreciate the ability to easily sand it and reoil it when necessary as we did with the old one, so we are doing just an oiled finish. I used Boos Mystery Oil and Boos Block cream on it. Since it's only a few months old, we're stil in the "breaking in" stage so I'm oiling it quite a bit and I think it's a little darker because of it.

It's wearing great, with a small dent from the bottom of a wine bottle. Doesn't bother me at all.

I should add that I used Ikea countertops in my office at work for a counter and desk top and finished them with Waterlox. I had some problems finishing them, but when it was over they looked great and they've worn incredibly well, which is impressive since they are abused all day five days a week.

Picture is of my kitchen island top.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Maple butcher block here, I installed in 1986. Never used anything on it but Mineral oil. I do prep food on it, so there are knife marks, but that just adds to the character

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:55PM
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@ Breezygirl: Thank you for the compliments on my kitchen. Please, don't beat yourself up for not remembering every detail.

Do you have dents in the Numerar? * No, I don't have dents in the oak. It has a hardness of 6280 on the Janka scale. About the same hardness as Walnut 4500, Cherry 5780, White Oak 6050, Hard Maple 6500 and Beech 7060.

Do you think if you prepped more often on the island that you'd have more scratches and/or dents? * Yes, I am quite certain of that.

And, just to confirm, the oil you use for the yearly touch up is the Ikea product, right? * Yes, I usually apply the Ikea Behandla oil, although last year I used the Behandla oil-wax combination, to get a nice soft shine. (Can you tell I'm a regular at Ikea? ;-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 2:12PM
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On the other thread, Someone asked how many coats of Waterlox I have. I believe 4. It was only in the cab makers shop a couple of weeks before install and it has only been here since 12/26, so IDK if it was fully cured?

Our Pottery Barn Dishes are ceramic and if you slide them they scratch the finish. It's not horrible, but when the sun comes in you can see it and I just wondered how others were holding up?

Here are some photos. They scratches are really hard to photo!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 2:28PM
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Mine is Ikea Numerar oak, finished with several coats of Ikea's Behandla oil. It's been in use for about 7 months. Very minimal scratches (you have to get down at countertop level and have the light at just the right angle to see them), no dings or dents. DH had an "incident" with beets and the Vitamix the other day; no stains at all on the countertop (the same when I got beet juice all over it making borscht). I am very happy with the top and the finish. I don't cut directly on it.

My kitchen is never in any condition to be photographed, but anyway this is the most-used prep area next to the sink. Sorry so dim -- the countertop has a slight sheen that isn't showing up in this photo.

And here is a Christmas KIA shot.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 5:01PM
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My craft art wood top is finished with Waterlox. It was 2 coats of "Sealer/Finish" and 2 coats of "sealer/finish" mixed half and half with their "original satin finish"

it is holding up really well. i think i got it over a year ago now. gosh has it been that long?

by the sink i think it could use a refresher since water isn't beading up like it used to (i am very hard on it though and use soap and water instead of vinegar to clean it).

i am going to try and take pics and upload from my phone but i've never done it from my phone before. if i can't then i will post tomorrow.

but for the record i ADORE my craftart wood countertop. it is super easy to maintain. in fact, when i sand and reapply the oil i will take and post before/after photos.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:34PM
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My walnut has only been in since the week before Thanksgiving, but it has survived two holidays!! It is finished in Osmo PolyX. At least one coat was put on by the cabinet shop, and last week I put another coat on it. I think this is going to be a regular maintenance project. It looks MUCH better right now, but it had become quite dry, and a little rough, so I sanded it with a 320 block.

No real scratches yet, even with constant cat traffic,


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:35PM
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We have IKEA Numerar beech, finished with three coats of low-VOC Waterlox and topped with 1-2 coats of low-VOC Waterlox Satin (noted in case the low-VOC performs differently--I think the last layer may actually be a mix of the two, but we followed Waterlox's instructions and erred on the side of more coats whenever there was a range). Our counter is not in proximity to water or heat. We've been using it for close to two years, and clean it with a water-vinegar mixture. So far, so good--only dent is from dropping a knife on it (seems fair!) We are actually far happier with the wood than with our main counters. :)

For comparison, though, we also have an old IKEA butcher block with an oak top (I think the same as Numerar oak), finished only with infrequent oilings and used as a cutting surface for about seven years. That one has not aged especially well, although it could likely be sanded down and refinished. That's why we chose to use a more rugged finish on the counter, though, and why we opted not to use it for cutting.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:48PM
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The prep side of our island is fine. It's more where we eat and food bowls get moved around. Also, the kids sit there and sometimes having little toys or whatever. I mean they are NOT pushing little cars around on the top but still is scratching a bit. I'm thinking now maybe they weren't fully cured.

Maybe I should contact Waterlox and show them... I think I can sand down those areas with a high grit block and just rub WL over them again. Is that right?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:54PM
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I have teak that is going on 7 years finished by me in Waterlox Satin. My teak is around the sink and gas cooktop and Miele deep fat fryer that is built in adjacent to the cooktop.

All of it looks perfect after all this time but the area to the right of the sink where DH drains dishes on a cotton towel after washing. I had put on many many coats and sanded when I first did the surface. When black appeared in the wood last year I called Waterlox. The guy was pretty rude to me. He basically said it was my fault...huh...I followed all their directions to a T. So I sanded back to bare wood on that whole area and got rid of all the black in the grain. I then carefully recoated and let it dry and sanded between coats and it looked great. But DH got careless recently and I noted yesterday that the black is coming back. I have no idea why. I am not going to call WL again. DH has promised that he will refrain from soaking the wood/towel while draining dishes. We do use our DW but we both hand wash a lot of things and after 42 years that is not going to change :)

Good thread ...most of you are not subjecting your counters to soaking water day after day year in and year out...it took mine almost 6 yrs to show this. So I am going to start over . c

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 7:15PM
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My craft art walnut countertops finished in 2 coats original 1 coat satin Waterlox have held up GREAT after a year! I have countertops around my induction stove, sink, above dishwasher, and peninsula where we eat every night - with kids. So no light use here! I clean with vinegar/water. The only problem I had - I had a small plant with pink plastic container wrapping paper and my husband watered the plant while i was out of town, got the paper wet, and it stained a pink ring on the countertops. it'll sand out. There are a few dings from where I've dropped heavy appliances but you have to focus your eye to find them and even when I do, the dings don't bother me. I'm surprised there aren't more fine scratches....I was expecting that there would be.

My cabinet installer (who advised me to NOT do wood countertops) came to see them last week and said he was amazed at how good they look - he thought they'd look dried out. It was his first time using Waterlox and the year after results impressed him.

I plan to light sand and reseal this spring when i can open up the house, so we'll see how that goes.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 9:31PM
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We installed the Ikea Numerar Oak butcherblock two years ago this spring. We decided on it since we could DIY it, and it was affordable. We used Waterlox on it and it's held up very well. You can see a few minor scratches if the morning light hits it. We don't cut on it, mainly just eat at the bar, and light prep. I've been happy with it so far :)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:51PM
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2LittleFishies, your wood top is SMASHING! I love the color and lines in it!

We have a mahogany top on our island and have had it for 13 months. All in all I like it, we get a lot of compliments on it, but it isn't a bulletproof material. It will leave hairline scratches if you drag something across it that has a rough bottom so I try to be mindful of that or not serve the kids food in dishes that I know will scratch the surface. It is our island, so I do a lot of work on it. Kids eat at it every morning, do homework on it every day, etc. I don't cut directly on it because it has a shiny surface on it. But it gets used daily and lived in very well :) Honestly, my biggest regret is that we had it stained a few shades from its natural color because I was concerned the mahogany would read too red. I regret that. When the natural sunlight hits it, it's noticeable to me, looks sort of cloudy or not pure...can't really describe it. Maybe its just because I know its been stained?!

I cannot tell you what finish is on it, the woodworker did it for me, all I can say is he recommended it over Waterlox and said it is what they use all the time.

The thing that is nice about wood is that it gets that aged, lived in look, but can also be refinished if you ever want to.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 12:23AM
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I have cheap 2" maple butcher block bought from a place that supplies industrial work benches. The counters are 12 years old. Most are sealed with plain old Minwax eggshell (or was it satin?) polyurethane, two coats, and they have a slight sheen. No staining at all, impervious to water, and only one dent from where I dropped the framing hammer. But there are gajillions of tiny scratches that make it look dull after all of this time, so they could use a good sanding and a few new coats about now. The prep area counter just has mineral oil on it, and I recoat about once every six months. I use it as a cutting board, so it's a little chewed up, especially in the center. Some day I hope it will look like a bread board in a French farmhouse :) We do not think about these counters at all. I absolutely love them.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 1:16AM
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I installed Ikea numerar oak almost 3 years ago, around the sink and along the peninsula. Finished it with 4 coats of original Waterlox. I love them and get alot of compliments on them.

No dings yet, but as others have mentioned, I have several very fine surface scratches. Not noticeable unless you really get down and look for them. The rough bottomed ceramic dishes are the main culprit. I don't cut on the surfaces and always use pot holders/trivets for hot dishes.

I would definitely do more coats of Waterlox next time. There is one small spot by the faucet handle that always seems to have drips left on it and it's starting to look weathered. I plan to wipe on a couple more coats this summer (when I can finally open the windows again).

I only use soapy water to clean and then rinse/dry.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 3:35PM
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Wow, I love how those countertops look... very nice.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 4:13PM
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