Table top

A guide to choosing a wooden countertop

A wooden countertop is the most traditional of all possible, but at the same time it is not the most demanded. And the point is not only in its higher cost (compared to laminated chipboard), but also in some operational features. And yet, we insist that a wood worktop can be the ideal work surface – easy to clean, hardwearing and durable. The main thing is to choose it correctly and know how to use it, which we will talk about in this material..

About the pros and cons

First, let’s find out the pros and cons of a wooden work surface..


  • The natural beauty and warmth of wood. A wooden tabletop always looks nobler than even the highest quality imitation and is appropriate as in modern, so and in a traditional interior. In addition, the wooden top will be the perfect choice for those who like to photograph their culinary masterpieces and share these photos with friends..

Below are photo examples of modern kitchen interiors with wooden countertops.

  • Modern kitchen interior with wooden countertop
  • Modern kitchen interior with wooden countertop
  • Modern kitchen interior with wooden countertop
  • Modern kitchen interior with wooden countertop

And here is a small selection of photos of the interiors of classic kitchens.

White kitchen with wood worktop

Classic white kitchen with wood worktop

Country style kitchen with wood worktop

Country style kitchen with solid worktop

Provence style kitchen with solid worktop

Also, the pluses include:

  • Possibility to change the tone and finish of the wood.
  • Service life of 25 years or more with proper operation. It is worth adding that the tree only becomes more beautiful with age..
  • Ease of maintenance due to antistatic properties and texture, on which dust, dirt, streaks, etc. are not too noticeable.However, ease of maintenance largely depends on the quality of surface treatment.
  • Possibility of local repair and complete renovation. If necessary, scratches, gouges and stains can be sanded and then recoated with oil / varnish.
  • The ability to easily create a work surface of an irregular shape (for example, for a headset in which narrowed pedestals are built), which cannot be said about natural stone and chipboard.
  • The cost of a wooden countertop is lower than that of an artificial or natural stone (2-3 times) and can often cost the same as chipboard.
  • The ability to perform any milling of the edge of the tabletop.


  • The tree can swell from water, bend and crack from sudden changes in temperature and humidity.
  • Puddles of water, grease, coloring juices from food, aggressive cleaning agents, alcohol and acids from a wooden surface should be wiped off no later than 2 hours, and preferably as soon as possible.
  • A kitchen worktop made of wood needs to be treated with oil or varnish, which requires additional waste of time, effort and money. However, it really is not that difficult..
  • If the wood is not processed in a timely manner or of poor quality, the surface will quickly become covered with spots, dents, scratches and cracks. The worst thing that can happen is wood mold from constant contact with water, for example, at the junction with a sink (due to poor sealant treatment).
  • A massive countertop is more expensive than laminated chipboard.

See also the material: Choosing a kitchen countertop – the advantages and disadvantages of popular materials

9 tips for choosing

Tip 1. If possible, choose a table top made of 100% wood

Wood countertops can be divided into two categories:

  1. Made entirely of wood;
  2. Veneered boards based on chipboard / MDF.

The second type of material is often called “wooden tabletop” – a board based on chipboard or MDF with a thick veneer layer (up to 3 mm) on top. Outwardly, such a tabletop does not differ from a completely wooden one, but it has two significant advantages.

  • Firstly, it costs half the price, and secondly, it has much greater stability during temperature and humidity fluctuations. Moreover, it is very durable and can last up to 25 years..

However, due to its design, the cuts at the place where the slab was cut must be closed with an edge, which means that there is no need to talk about any milling of the ends and curvilinear sawing..

  • by the way, Ikea makes its wooden countertops precisely from veneered chipboard. Unfortunately, the company no longer produces solid wood countertops from the Numerar and Hammarp series..

The completely wooden tabletop consists of wooden lamellas, which are firmly glued and connected to each other with dowels and a parquet device. The advantage of a solid top is its absolute environmental friendliness, and most importantly – the ability to cut out a plate of irregular shape and mill its ends.

Table top made of wood with saws

Solid beech top with complex configuration

In addition, if a veneered countertop has some limit on the number of surface restorations, then a wooden one can be renewed indefinitely..

At the same time, entirely wooden countertops are less resistant to temperature extremes and high humidity..

Tip 2. The most wear-resistant wood species are oak and larch, the cheapest is pine

Of course, countertops made of oak and larch are much more expensive, but due to their density they practically do not have a shelf life, they do not rot, they are less afraid of moisture, temperature extremes, shocks and mechanical damage.

  • By the way, larch is almost as good as oak, but it costs one and a half times cheaper.

If an expensive wood species does not fit into your budget, choose tops that are more affordable – walnut, ash, beech or birch..

  • Pine or spruce countertops are good for a low price, but due to their softness they are not resistant to mechanical shock, quickly become covered with dents and scratches.

Tip 3. Remember, the durability of the countertop largely depends on the processing

Kitchen countertops are most often sold raw or only partially finished. Therefore, having bought a wooden kitchen countertop, be prepared to immediately cover it with a good varnish or oil-wax, and then repeat the procedure once a year. A properly processed wood worktop is not afraid:

  • Short-term contact with hot dishes (but not just removed from the stove!);
  • High humidity and temperature extremes;
  • Spray and juice coloring products;
  • Water (drops and puddles are not absorbed, but remain on the surface).

What is better varnish or oil?

Both types of coatings protect the wood well from moisture and dirt, but oil impregnation has several advantages. First, it is easier and faster to work with oil. Considering that it is advisable to process the top as often as possible for the first six months, this nuance is important. Secondly, oil, unlike varnish, allows for local repair in case of a scratch or stain. All you need to do is to sand the damaged area with “zero” sandpaper, and then cover it with two layers of oil. Thirdly, unlike varnish, oil impregnation does not crack, does not darken and does not exfoliate over time, but simply gradually fades away. In addition, varnishing deprives the wood of its warmth, the feeling of “liveliness” of the material.

  • Remember that not only the top of the tabletop needs protection with oil, but also the ends.

Tip 4. Want a light-colored countertop? Choose from beech, elm, birch or spruce

But a dark top is best made from walnut or oak. By the way, very dark surfaces are not very practical, since crumbs, grains, dust, streaks and water drops are more visible on them..

Dark countertop in the kitchen in Khrushchev

Tip 5. The table top should be combined with the rest of the interior elements

You can choose a kitchen countertop to match the apron, lower cabinets of the headset or other wooden interior elements (floor, window sill or dining table).

  • Light table top
  • Light table top

Also, the countertop can, on the contrary, contrast sharply with the headset, apron and kitchen walls..

  • Dark solid wood worktop Dark solid wood worktop
  • Dark solid wood worktopDark solid wood worktop

Tip 6. It’s good if the kitchen worktop has an increased depth

Most often, the depth of a wooden worktop is 60 cm, but ideally it is worth finding a top with a non-standard depth of 63-65 cm.Thus, the protruding end of the tabletop will prevent hitting the handles of the lower pedestals and the pedestals themselves.

Tip 7. Buy countertops only from trusted manufacturers

Making a wooden tabletop is a complex and multi-stage process that does not tolerate mistakes. Therefore, it is worth buying it only from manufacturers with many years of experience and providing guarantees..

Tip 8. You can save money on buying a wooden countertop due to the reduced thickness

The standard thickness of solid wood / veneered chipboard sheet is 38-40 mm. This top looks very solid and can withstand heavy loads. For example, you can sit on it and even stand up to wipe the top cabinets. But the thicker the countertop, the more expensive it is. Therefore, if you want to save money, choose a tabletop with a reduced thickness of 20 mm as in the following photo example.

Reduced thickness wooden tabletop

Tip 9. The joint between two canvases of the corner table top (and not only) can be made invisible

If you need to create an unconventionally long, angular or U-shaped countertop, the joints between the wood sheets can be closed with metal profiles or connected to inner dowels, masking the seam with wood putty to match the top.

U-shaped table top made of wood

See also:

  • A guide to choosing and planning a kitchen set
  • How to equip a U-shaped kitchen

Care and maintenance instructions

In order for a wooden kitchen worktop to retain its beauty as long as possible, observe the following rules of operation and maintenance:

  • Try not to put hot dishes on it without a support. It is advisable that heating devices, such as a kettle or coffee machine also stood on some kind of substrate.
  • Puddles and drops of water, splashes and stains from coloring juices and products, as well as fat and acids should be wiped off as soon as possible and not left for more than 2 hours.
  • To wash a wooden countertop, it is enough to dilute the soap solution from one drop of Fairey or another dishwashing detergent. But caustic agents with chlorine, acids, alcohol, abrasive particles cannot be used at all. If you are cleaning the stove or oven with a grease cleaner, be careful not to let it come into contact with wood..
  • Oil the countertop once a year. However, for the first six months, it is advisable to do this as often as possible, for example, once a month. It is very simple to understand that it is time to restore the protective layer – the surface will begin to absorb water droplets and become slightly rough and faded.
  • It is necessary to renew the varnish on the lacquered tabletop approximately once every two years..
  • To restore the shine of a wooden countertop, first sand the surface with a fine-grained emery paper (P600 or P800) and then oil with a soft cloth..
  • Under the countertop above the dishwasher, it is advisable to glue / mount some kind of waterproofing substrate.

How to treat a kitchen countertop with oil with your own hands, see this video tutorial.

Photo gallery

Beige tile hog in the kitchen with wooden countertop White and red kitchen U-shaped set with a window in the middle Blue Provence style kitchen with wood worktop

Interior of a small kitchen in the loft style Square island in the interior of a square kitchen Square tiles for majolica Red chairs in the interior of the kitchen with a wooden countertop

Country-style kitchen with beamed ceilings Kitchen Factum Ramshe Patchwork kitchen apron for kitchen with wood countertop Mosaic apron in modern kitchen with wood countertop

Provence style kitchen finishes An example of an apron from a hog tile in a kitchen with a wooden countertop Apron from custom rectangular tiles in a modern kitchen interior Pistachio wall color in the kitchen

Black apron in the interior of a white kitchen Cafe curtains in the interior of a small kitchen