Wood countertops have a beautiful and natural look that appeals to homeowners since ages ago, when they first started being used for cooking. Many advancements have been made over the years, even with new materials for countertops like stone and marble becoming very popular, but wood never lost its charm and place in a cooking setup despite being one of the oldest countertop materials.

But wood does need a bit more care than other countertop materials, which is what we’re discussing today. Maybe you want to install a brand new wood countertop in your kitchen, or maybe you already own one – either way, you’ll know how to properly care for it!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. – Mark Twain

Something you have to know from the start…

No countertop, regardless of material, is maintenance-free. Some need it more regularly than others though, and that’s what you need to know about wood countertops – they need regular care and maintenance to ensure a decent lifespan.

And again, any countertop will suffer with enough neglect, and wood is no different. But if you don’t clean it often, oil it regularly, and so on, you can expect a much shorter life span.

But let’s be clear that this is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, everything needs maintenance in one way or another. 

The moral of the story here is:

If you’re looking for a new countertop and you want the most maintenance-light alternative, then wood is not ideal. But if you love the look of natural wood and don’t mind the regular maintenance it requires, you’ll have a reliable and beautiful kitchen countertop that will last years!

Oil regularly

One of the most important bits of maintenance you must perform regularly is oil your wooden countertops. You can expect to do this at least once a year, but perhaps when the countertop is brand new, two or three times in the first year is good for it’s overall durability.

But you can get a feel for when it’s time to oil again by checking if your wood countertop is noticeably dry in places. 

The best way to apply oil is to pour a generous amount on the surface and allow it to soak on the wood. In half an hour or so you can remove the excess with a soft cloth and it will be ready to use again in no time.

Wood countertops can shrink or expand slightly

When measuring how big the countertop has to be to fit in a certain area, it’s important to consider wood expands and shrinks naturally when exposed to higher or lower temperatures. Not by much, but a few millimeters that are noticeable if you’re going for a perfect fit.

Protect it from high temperatures

Wood is not as resilient to high temperatures like stone and marble countertops – you can easily burn the wood, which will result in dark spots, stains, and even cracks (given how wood expands and shrinks with temperature changes, as mentioned before).

The best way to protect it is simply using potholders as a protective layer when bringing hot pans to your countertop. That way you can keep things close to where you need them, but  

Easy and frequent cleaning

If there’s one thing you should do as often as possible is cleaning your wooden countertop. Every time you’re done using it, clean with simple soapy water and wipe it – avoid strong chemicals since those can damage the wood.

Stains and scratches are no reason to panic

Wooden countertops are prone to getting scratches every now and then, but that’s no reason to panic. The simple act of sanding and polishing can be done by yourself with a little bit of practice and will easily remove any minor scratches or stains.

The only PSA here is that whenever you pour anything in your wooden countertop that can stain it, clean it right away. This will prevent the wood from absorbing the substance and if a stain does happen, it will be superficial enough that sanding will remove it.

If you happen to sand your countertop, it’s a good idea to reapply some oil as well!

Avoid coating

Coating might seem like an easy way out of maintenance – polyurethane is used to cover the entire surface as a way to protect the wood, but in most cases, this does more harm than good.

First because it “smothers the wood, preventing you from properly applying oil and sanding it if necessary (which defeats the purpose of coating entirely). And if the coating itself gets scratched or stained, you will now have to reapply the entire thing, which is a lot more work than if you’re maintaining a wooden countertop properly.

Need more help with a countertop project? Talk to a countertop expert today and get free quotes in your area!


The Pros and Cons of Concrete Countertops
5 Low-Cost Ideas for a Kitchen Remodel on a Budget
Here’s Everything You Should Know About Tile Countertops

Join the conversation