CARING FOR AND OILING YOUR NORFOLK OAK WOODEN WORKTOPS
150/180/240/320 grit sand paper, soft rag or cloth, and 1 litre of finishing oil (covers 3 metres of worktop).
Arriving in perfect condition, your worktops will ready to be oiled immediately. We recommend that the oiling be undertaken within 24 hours since wood is an organic material that is strongly affected by heat and moisture. Not oiling it correctly and immediately may result in bowing or cupping. These instructions will guide you through the oiling process to ensure your worktop lasts a lifetime. With our method, your worktop will not only look stunning, but will also be much easier to maintain throughout its life.
If you have any queries please contact us; we are more than happy to answer your questions.
Storing worktops can be difficult. If you think that you may have to store them, just ask us to delay delivery until you are ready to work on them, otherwise we still recommend oiling them as soon as possible, even if you are then going to work on them later. Worktops should be kept in a warm and dry environment at all times and laid flat. Storing them in a garage is a definite no-no!
Give the worktops a final finish sanding (although they come to you well sanded, they still need a final going over with a finer paper). Start with the 150 grit paper and sand down the whole surface, including the exposed edges. Then repeat with the 180 grit paper. Always work sand paper along the grain, otherwise scratches will show. This final preparation is important, as it will define how the worktop will look and feel later on. You can use electric sanders for this, or do it by hand.
step 1: prep, prep, prep...
Once you are happy with the finish obtained from sanding, you are ready to oil. The worktop needs at least six coats of finishing oil on both sides prior to installation. Try and do this in a warm environment otherwise the oil will be slow to dry. Make sure the floor is covered as oil will drip from the underside, and wear old clothes once the oil is on clothing it will go hard and spoil them. It is important to oil the worktops on both sides in the same sitting to keep the worktop in balance.
step 2: edges first, followed by the rest, then a tea break!
Turn the worktop so it is face down. Put a small amount of oil on to your rag, and oil all the exposed edges first. If you don't do this, then any drip marks will show later on. Once the edges have all been oiled, you are ready to do the first coat. Put plenty of oil on the underside of the worktop, and work it around the entire surface. Try not to apply so much that it pools or runs. Once you have covered the underside, turn the worktop over immediately. Some oil may run off at this point hence the reason for the floor covering and old clothes. Run the cloth around all the edges again, this time with a little more oil. You are then ready to oil the top. You need to cover the whole top, but without any pooling once again. Work the oil around for a few minutes, then retire for a much needed cup of tea. Come back in 15 - 20 minutes, and with a fresh clean cloth, wipe off the excess.
At this stage, it is important to allow the oil to penetrate the worktop, leaving a thin layer on top. Our worktops have been dried to around 8 percent - much lower than mass produced worktops, so they will absorb a lot of oil. Make sure you wipe the edges off as well to avoid drip marks.
step 3: play the waiting game...
You then need to leave the worktop to dry. Depending on how warm the room is, this can take as little as 30 minutes (since the wood takes so much in), however don't be tempted to jump on it and oil it again until it has felt dry for at least a couple of hours. The reason is that oil doesn’t just dry, it hardens as well. You can oil it again quickly if you really have to, but then it will take much longer to harden. The next coat is similar to the last really, except you don’t have to worry about doing the edges first this time.
step 4: end grain requires some special attention.
During all of this, the end grain requires special attention as it absorbs much more oil than the surface. We recommend you oil the end grain twice as often (you will find in the beginning it gets absorbed like a sponge anyway) and, if you can, oil it every time you walk past, just not leaving any excess to drip.
step 5: 'smooth operator'...
Leave the worktop to dry again except this time it will take a little longer. Again, once properly dry i.e. a couple of hours after it felt dry, you will need to de-nib the top of worktop. All this means is that the worktop needs a gentle sanding BY HAND. Do not use a machine or you will remove the oil you have just put on. Use a 180 grit for this first sanding. What you are trying to do is just smooth the surface of the two coats of oil you have already applied as the oiling will have raised the grain very slightly, making it feel a little rough. This is entirely normal and to be expected. It is just the way the timber reacts with the oil. Do not bother doing this to underside, except for the areas where it overhangs the units, and again don’t forget the edges.
step 6: making the difference.
Oil it again as before. One small point is to never leave the worktop face down when the face is all wet. You can do it for a few moments if you have to, as long as you turn it back over as soon as possible and then wipe the oil again. If you leave it face down, it will mark. Again it will take a bit longer to dry. After another couple of coats of oil, you will need to rub the worktop down again; this time we recommend you use a 240 grit or finer. As before, work the sand paper along the grain. You are not aiming to take a lot off, just to make the worktop the smoothest it can be.
step 7: handy advice for the d.i.y-er.
Once you have at least 6 coats on, the worktop will be ready for fitting. You can do this before you cut the worktop to size if you want, although be aware that there may be a few small tool marks where the runner of the saw or router may rub (you can minimize this by putting on low tack masking tape). Also, any fresh cut areas will need re-oiling. If you are doing any work yourself, make sure you use very sharp tooling.
step 8: finishing touches, and a little extra tlc goes a long way...
Once the worktops have been fitted, they will then need another 6 coats on the top surface to make a really good finish. You can use the worktop, you just need to be very careful with it at this stage – no hot mugs, no wine rings, no water etc. We recommend a coat a day, and if it feels a little bit rough then a gentle hand sand with 320 grit or finer. Once you have about 12 layers on and they have gone hard (add another 48 hours) you have a properly functioning worktop.
step 9: Maintaining
Oiled worktops will need regular maintenance. We recommend a coat of oil every six months. Simply lightly sand the worktops, then apply another thin coat of oil. If the worktop looks dry, then it is in need of more oil - in this case we would recommend another two coats. A good test is to allow a bead of water to sit on the surface. If it sits up in a fat bubble, then the worktop is well oiled. If however it splays out, then more oiling is required.
Thank you for reading - enjoy your Norfolk Oak worktops!
Jamie Everett, Norfolk Oak
We supply our own Norfolk Oak finishing oil, please read our oil safety information page before using the oil. If you would like the reassurance of a professionally treated wooden worktop, we offer a two pre-treatment services; the organic Installation Oiling service, or our innovative nano-coating treatment.