Wooden Worktop Restoration


14 Dec 2008
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United Kingdom

We have a blockwood beech wortkop when it was installed it was oiled 3 times on all sides and cut surfaces with Danish oil.

I realise from the posts on here that
1. In for a dime, in for a dollar - we should've spent more and gone for granite :)
2. We should've used tung oil rather than Rustins Danish oil

It now has some minor damage including:
-"bleached" areas around the taps/sink
-Black Mould and very slight warping in one heavily used area.

This is of course due to my lack of maintenance, which I am now trying to sort out!

1. Not all of the worktop has been damaged or the oil removed, do I need to strip the whole worktop to get an even finish or can I just strip the damaged areas then re-oil?
2. I would prefer to use Tung oil moving forward, does this mean that I will need to strip the full worktop, if it means less work I guess I will keep goign with the half a tin of Danish oil I have remaining.

3. To prepare the worktop for re-oiling I was going to use the following steps, can you please correct me if there is a better process:
- Wipe back area that requires re-oiling with white spirit
- Lightly sand with 120 Aluminium grit paper using sanding block by hand.
- treat areas affected with mould with oxallic acide to remove staining
- Sand progressively with 180, 240 grit paper.
- Apply liberally with soft cloth
- Wipe off excess after a few minutes
- Re-apply after 4-hours
- Repeat application another 2-3 times
- Expect to re-oil frequently, minimum every 6-months

I actually don't mind re-oiling often its just the surface preparation that I find a bit of a drag. Hence the key question of whether or not I should just follow this process with the whole worktop to ensure an even finish.

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I would try to get one of the scrubbing thingys that butchers use on their blocks, they're steel brushes which have cutters on the bristles. Scrape the surface back with this, then do the bleaching and sanding bit, followed by the oiling.

The preparation is always the most work in a project. Painting or oiling is the easy bit.

You have had a demonstration of danish oil, pure tung oil will give much better protection.

The received wisdom is one coat a day for a week, one coat a week for a month, one coat a month for a year, then as required. It sounds a lot, but 20 coats is well worth the effort.

One problem is that beech is very difficult to get anything to penetrate into.
Thanks oilman for the advice so far.

To confirm my understanding, you are recommending that I
1. Strip back the full worktop with white spirit to get rid of the danish oil on the parts of the worktops where it remains (which is most of it).
2. Use a scraper/cutter thingy to get rid of mould staining
3. Bleach if still necessary
4. sand with fine paper and steel wool in areas required.
5. Treat with Tung oil, 1-coat a day for a week then 1-coat for a week etc .....

Thanks for you help so far, I just want to make sure as there is nothing worse starting a job done the wrong path!
Don't worry about white spirit, the mechanical process will sort it all out. If you have a decent sander, you could do it with that starting with something like 40 grit (or even coarser). Though you will have to use every grit down to the finest to remove the scratches from the preceding one.
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1. Sand the whole worktop to ensure even coverage of oil

Presume that I should use a mechancial sander for efficiency, but shuold I use a belt or orbital?

And what's the best thing to use around the inset oven and sink? Should I use a delta sander or just do it by hand?

2. Start at around 120, 180, 240 finish with wire wool 000
3. Oil alot to prevent this in the future.

I guess with a wood work top its always going to wear unevenly so unless you want to be sanding the whole thing back every 6-months then its eventually going to get different areas depending on the amount of wear and oil that has been applied to a particular area.

Can the counters and sink area be used in between reapplying the coats as suggested?
"The received wisdom is one coat a day for a week, one coat a week for a month, one coat a month for a year, then as required. It sounds a lot, but 20 coats is well worth the effort."
Just to point out - this is a 14 year old thread, the OP hasn't been on the site since September 2009 whilst the respondent hasn't been here since April 2019 which may indicate you won't get a reply from them. So TBH you'd have been better starting a new thread

That said, I also think some of the advice given was completely OTT and simply unnecessary. I mean, who on earth would ever do that, revidtvacjib every week for a year? An omdcwives tale, I'm afraid. When I've installed beech worktops in the past I've always given them 3 coats of oil before installation plus a 4th coat a few days or a week later. You tend to find that the timber literally drinks the first coat or maybe two, but after that you use progressively less oil with each application, so 4 coats is enough. If the job is local I tend to pop back after a month and give it a once over, but other than that I just leave a bottle of oil for the client (generally something like Junckers worktop oil or polymerised tung oil - note the 'polymerised') for them to use once a month or so (just a quick wipe over)

If you intend to strip back the top, white spirits won't make much of a difference to the oil after a number of years because it will be completely polymerised - in other words it has "set" (cured) and won't redissolve regardless of what you use. Even when only a few days old it won't remove a polymerised oil because once the oil has cured it won't readily redissolve.

My advice would be to degrease the top with sugar soap (available from decorator suppliers). Let it dry. The stained areas can be treated with oxallic acid to remove black or dark stains (crystals from the chemist, deco suppliers and even Amazon - mix with eater, hot water works a bit faster). This may require a couple of treatments. After drying the top is then sanded back with a belt sander or random orbit sander (if really bad P60, then P80 and finally P120 grit - start at P80 if it is reasonably good - going above P150 on a beltvsandeevis a futile exercise IMHO). A delta sander, mouse sander or multitool (fitted with a sanding pad) will deal with edges and corners. Vacuum the top off with a brush attachment on the vac (to avoid marking the surface)
then to lift off remaining dust with a white cotton cloth (well washed old cotton T-shirt or cotton knickers will do), damped with white spirits, which acts as a sort of tack cloth (only cheaper). Again deco suppliers can supply bags if washed cotton rag if required. Once dry the oil can be applied as above, but try to apply a coat of oil to the worktops in a single uninterrupted session to avoid 'tide marks' at leastbon the first couple of coats. Just to be on the safe side I'd add another couple of coats around the taps.

At this point the first coat of oil goes on - don't go mad and flood the surface - just make sure that any excess is wiped up quickly and not left to go sticky over several hours. You should be able to get two coats on in a day (possibly even three on warm weather) followed by another coat the next day, and maybe a 4th coat on the second day or the day after. Using the worktop between coats risks contaminating it, so I'd not recommend it (see below,)

Do yourself a favour - don't use the top whilst you are prepping it (stripping back) or oiling it and for maybe 24 to 48 hours after the last application of oil in order that the oil can cure. Grease and oils from pans and dishes will sink into unoiled wood contaminating the surface and possibly leaving marks. Similarly water splashes or spills will raise the grain meaning that you need to let it dry and then resand it before oiling. Dry food materials spilled or accidentally transferred onto oiled surfaces which are still drying will stick to the partly cured oil whilst plates and glasses can leave circular marks in the finish. All this puts your sink and worktops out of action for 2 to 3 days
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