Worktops are made from various materials ranging from granite, quartz, acrylic polymers and more. These materials come with their own set of merits and demerits, and differ in terms of appearance, shades, textures, finishes, density, durability and strength. However, one option that is arguably the most popular one among discerning homeowners is solid wood worktops. And there are more reasons than one why wooden worktops remain the worktops of choice for both modern and conventional/country-styled kitchens today. If you wish to install a new worktop in your kitchen or replace an existing one, here’s what you should know.
Solid wood worktops are today the most widely used alternatives in kitchens. This is attributed to a number of factors. They are made from natural wood – a renewable resource – which makes them eco-friendly. They have a beautiful, natural appearance and look even more appealing with age. They are hard-wearing and extremely durable. If properly and regularly maintained, these worktops will last longer than most other countertops. They are lightweight, and thus, easy to install. Best of all, wooden worktops are the least expensive of all other options.
Today, homeowners have the luxury of an extensive range and variety of choices in solid wood worktops. While the ones considered most practical and suitable for busy kitchens include beech, cherry, oak and teak, you may choose from several others. These include exotic hardwoods such as ash, apple, maple, mahogany and walnut, or those imported from Africa such as iroko, ebiara, wenge, and many more.
Beech worktops are the most versatile alternative. They are soft-grained and have a natural light tone and finish which is a mixture of ash and maple in color and texture. Cherry worktops are the most elegant option around. Their subtle, autumn-like reddish coloration usually darkens beautifully over time.
Oak worktops are exceptionally strong, durable and long-lasting. This is what makes them the most practical and economic choice among all options. An oak worktop also creates an atmosphere of old world charm in kitchens with their timeless appeal.
Like all wooden products, solid hardwood worktops need good maintenance to retain their original appearance, condition and longevity. Remember, all species of natural woods have pores, which often absorb moisture and bacteria into their surfaces. Moisture can damage the wood while food can be contaminated with bacteria contact. Although most wooden worktops are pre-oiled, coated with a transparent laminate or painted, they will still be susceptible to stains, cuts, scratches, cracks and other forms of wear and tear over time. This makes it imperative to wipe, clean and disinfect them soon after use.
Re-sanding, repainting and re-oiling are advisable at least once every six months. Linseed oil or pure lemon oil are ideal for cleaning. To learn more about regular cleaning and maintenance of your solid wood worktop and the products needed for both, consult a qualified kitchen countertop installer.
Blue pearl granite is a popular choice for modern kitchen countertops, mainly because of the granite’s durability and the blue pearl color’s beauty. Normally, these countertops can be ordered pre-cut to suit most applications. However, if you want to have a more unique shape for your granite counter, then you may need to cut the blue pearl granite down to size. Here are the things you need to make it happen.
Like all construction projects, it comes down to preparation. The main tool you will need is a cutting instrument. You have three choices here: a grinder with a diamond blade, a circular saw with a diamond blade, or a laser-sided saw, the one which uses a short-pulse laser for cutting. After obtaining your cutting instrument, you will also need a vacuum to suck up the granite dust particles as you cut. Ideally, this vacuum will be an attachment to your cutter, but it can also be separate equipment. To protect yourself, you will also need a mask and goggles.
Before the actual cutting, you need to do very careful measurements first. You need to measure the final location, as well as any cutouts you need to fit in (some faucets, for example). To make the job easier, you can fit pieces of plywood over the final counter location, glue them together, and place the thing on top of your blue pearl granite as a template. Now you can trace the outline with a piece of chalk to serve as your guide for cutting.
Now, turn on the vacuum and begin cutting. As you cut, you need to work slowly and cautiously, keeping the saw steady at all times. You should also ready the different blades for your saw, to cut the edges and curves as you go along. Check the manual to see which blades are appropriate to use at any given time. When you finish a section, smooth them out with a small grinder. Then, when you are finally done, clean and polish those areas you have grounded.
Now that you know these steps, you should select a good location to do all the cutting. The process is very, very messy, so somewhere outside the main house is most ideal. But needless to say, it is best if you have some cutting experience beforehand, because a steady hand is very crucial to the final beauty of your blue pearl granite. That being said, however, there is always a sense of fulfillment in doing it yourself, and some trial and error should not deter you from this project.
The most commonly used wood in a butcher block top is maple due to it’s durability and beauty. But you can also get it in walnut, teak, cherry, mahogany, oak, etc. This makes it easy to match it to your existing finishes in your kitchen. Now, you may think that a butcher block counter is just one solid piece of wood, but this is not the case. It is actually lots of strips of wood that are glued together. This is what makes it possible to have multiple types of wood on one kitchen worktop.
In my opinion, a butcher block should be your number one choice for a countertop for one reason – functionality. You can set a hot pan on it and it doesn’t damage it in the least. And obviously, you can use it for all your prep work. Try to do the above two examples on a granite or ceramic tile counter and you have made a very expensive mistake, to say the least.
The average cost of a solid slab granite countertop is anywhere from $60- $120 per square foot. Ceramic tiles can range anywhere from $5- $100 per square foot depending on whether you get a simple solid color or opt for a patterned tile. Also, this does not include the price of grout. The average butcher block can go for $30- $100 per square foot depending on the type of wood chosen and other variables.
We should also address maintenance of the butcher blocks. If you follow a few simple procedures, you can extend the life of your butcher block by many years.
After every use, scrape the surface used with a metal scraper or spatula and thoroughly dry it to ensure proper sanitary conditions. You should also treat it with mineral cutting board oil about twice a month to make sure it is properly sealed against bacteria. And last but not least, you should periodically flip it over to ensure even cutting distribution. If you follow these simple steps, then you will have a beautiful centerpiece in your kitchen for many years to come. Enjoy!