How to Maintain Solid Wood Countertops
If you intend to use your countertops for cutting and chopping, you’ll want to finish them with a food safe mineral oil rather than a synthetic finish. Mineral oil preserves the wood and helps it not to harbor bacteria. Cutting on a synthetic finish can damage the finish and expose the wood beneath. Work surfaces treated with mineral oil need to be cleaned often and re-oiled every 4 to 6 weeks.
However, if you would prefer the beauty of wood without the required maintenance, you can choose a countertop with a non-permeable finish. This is especially important near sinks where mineral oil can’t provide the protection your wood top requires.
In either case the countertop manufacturer will have recommendations on the care and maintenance of the specific kind of countertop you purchase.
By following these guidelines, your Thomas Creek solid wood countertop will enjoy many years of service. This product of nature, when properly maintained, will endure many years of normal usage, bringing a healthier and more satisfying life to those using it.
- Make sure that a clean dry cloth that you use is free of any loose fibers. This will be used later to apply the oil to the surface of the countertop.
- Use a fine grade sandpaper pad or a fine grit sandpaper to scour the surface of the countertop.
- Apply a small amount of oil to the clean cloth making sure that the oil does not saturate the pad.
- Using a light pressure, spread the oil evenly over the surface of the countertop. Adjust the amount of oil on the cloth so that the surface of the countertop is uniformly covered with a light coat of oil.
- Maintain a wet cloth as you move across the surface of the countertop, working from where the last application of oil ended, working into the non-coated surface, blending the oil coverage evenly over the entire countertop.
- After the entire surface has been coated with oil, use a circular buffing motion over the countertop to speed the drying process and smooth the surface to eliminate the need for additional sanding.
- Allow the surface to then dry for approximately 10-15 minutes. Then wipe the countertop completely with disposable towels to remove any remaining finishing oil. If additional coats of oil will be required, store the clean cloth in an airtight bag to prevent drying between coats.
- Allow 24-hours for the oiled surface to dry before exposing countertop to water.
- Properly dispose of oil rags if used to avoid the risk of fire.
It is important to realize that the greater amount of treatment a countertop receives, the greater its resistance to dirt and staining.
Occasionally light sanding may be required followed by oil application as previously described. Generally, the manner in which the wood countertop is maintained during its first several months of use will determine, in large measure, the life expectancy of the countertop.
The following steps should be followed during the first eight-weeks of use:
- Priming – Before installing, follow the directions for Oil Treatment above for cutouts, edges, and the reverse side of the countertop.
- Finishing – After the last oiling, wait 12 hours to sand the countertop lengthways (direction of the wood grain) with a fine grade sandpaper pad or a fine grit sandpaper and remove any dust. Then oil the countertop with a final coat, letting it soak for 15 minutes followed by wiping with a clean, dry cloth. Wipe all excess oil to avoid blotches. The countertop is ready for use 24 hours after the last application.
- Follow-Up Treatments – Treat the countertop every other day for the first week and then bi-weekly for approximately two months to increase its resistance to water penetration. Subsequent treatments need only occur when needed. Preservation is improved when countertop is not exposed to water or wet objects for extended periods of time.
Countertops finished in natural oil should be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. Always remove any excess water from the routine cleaning of the countertop.
If more aggressive cleaning is required, use a scouring pad. If this does not properly clean, then use a fine grade of sandpaper and re-oil the top according to the procedure outlined above. Avoid using Salammoniac, (which can discolor the surface) or scouring powder.
If you choose not to treat the countertop, be aware of the following conditions that probably will result:
- Grease and dirt will be much more visible.
- The countertop will rapidly absorb moisture resulting in expansion of the surface and subsequent cracking of the surface.
- It is more likely to warp.
- The supplier’s warrantee does not apply to untreated countertops.
Create a healthier environment in your home with Thomas Creek solid wood countertops.
- Solid wood is a more hygienic surface than either plastic or granite countertops
- Wood furnishes the safest cutting surface available.
- Wood is nature’s natural bacteria fighting substance.
Science has disproved the old myths that wood harbors bacteria.
- A 1993 University of Wisconsin-Madison study revealed that homes using a wood cutting surface were 50% less likely to contract salmonellosis.
- Wood creates an undesirable surface for bacteria to grow. Science has demonstrated solid wood surfaces kill 99.9% of illness-causing bacteria, including Salmonella and E-Coli.