“How do I stop my wood worktops from warping?” Question Of The Week 15.05.16
“How do I stop my wood worktops from warping?”
Our third ‘Question of the Week’ for March was emailed in by Diana in Croydon. Having recently discovered the beauty of solid oak kitchens, she has just purchased her new oak worktops from us. Aware that wood worktops can warp if not properly cared for, Diana emailed in to ask our advice on how to prevent this from occurring.
“I’m really pleased with the oak worktops I bought from you – they look beautiful in my new kitchen! I love the look of natural wood, and I’m anxious to keep them in prime condition. My main concern is that they might warp, is that common? How can I stop them from warping?”
Thanks for getting in touch, we are really pleased to hear you have purchased from us and love your new worktops! They really are an excellent companion for any kitchen, and will only grow more beautiful as the wood matures.
Wooden worktops are immensely robust and will certainly stand the test of time if cared for properly. The warping of wood work surfaces is therefore not a common problem; in fact, it tends to occur in cases where essential maintenance and installation instructions have not been followed.
Warping is caused by a fluctuation in temperature and moisture levels in the air. We source all our timber from suppliers with only the highest standards, and submit all wood to a kiln-drying process that ensures it is evenly dried (thus reducing the likelihood of warping).
If you are not installing your worktops immediately, it is important that they are stored correctly. Rather than simply propping them against a wall, your worktops should be laid flat in their original packaging and separated by battens, in a room with a consistent humidity. If you have not taken advantage of our pre-oiling service, we recommend oiling your worktops as soon as possible.
Of course, in the kitchen environment, the temperature is likely to fluctuate frequently, which causes the worktop to expand and contract. Therefore, the worktop should not be fitted directly to the wall, and a 5mm expansion gap should be allowed. When fitting your worktops to cabinets, slotted angle brackets should be fixed parallel to the direction of worktops grain pattern, allowing the timber to expand lengthways without resistance. When joining two worktops together, we recommend using butt joints rather than mitre joints.
If you are installing your worktop over an appliance such as a fridge, dishwasher, tumble dryer or microwave, we strongly recommend the addition of a moisture barrier, as these appliances can release moisture during use (which can damage the timber if absorbed). For more information on this subject, please read our guide to installing moisture barriers in oak kitchens.
Similarly, if a wooden worktop is to be installed adjacent to a source of heat – such as an oven or hob – it is important to ensure that your worktop is fitted with end caps (a service that is provided through our sister supplier Worktop Express). End caps run alongside the oven or hob, so that the end grain is not directly exposed to the heat, which also helps to prevent warping.
Finally – and we have saved one of the most important points until last – be sure to follow the recommended aftercare process. We always advise our customers to use Rustins Danish Oil, a special blend of oils and resins that protects the timber and provides a natural-looking, low-lustre finish. Worktops should be oiled as frequently as possible within the first six weeks after installation to build up sufficient protection, and then every 3 to 6 months afterwards to keep your worktops in the best condition.
We hope you find this information useful, Ross, and if you require any further guidance, please feel free to get in touch again!
The Team @ Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets
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