Monday, 5 November 2012

Wood countertop from IKEA

I just love the look of wood countertops. They are soft to the touch, don't clank each time you put a plate on them and give such a warm feel to the kitchen. They also add some "country" to the modern country look we are going for. Their affordability is an added bonus.

I researched extensively the practicality of wood countertops around sinks. As you might guess, most of the sources do not recommend to use wood counters around the sink area. It requires regular care and maintenance. However, I also found that as long as wood is regularly oiled and cared for, it provides a long lasting beautiful feature in the kitchen, even around areas that come into contact with water.

Despite several people's discouragement, including an IKEA sales person and a countertop installer, we decided to go for it. After figuring out the countertop length we needed, we bought IKEA'S NUMERAR oak countertops. As we unwrapped the countertops we were suprised to find that they had been pre-treated with IKEA BEHANDLA wood treatment oil. After a few phone calls to IKEA and some quick research we found out that IKEA applies one coat of BEHANDLA oil on the wood. It  contains linseed oil, lead free drying agent and emulsifier. We were not happy about this as we couldn't find out exactly what the drying agent and emulsifier were made of and how safe they were. IKEA said the oil was food safe but would not give us details. I wanted a food safe oil with no additives so the BEHANDLA had to go.

Misha sanded the surface with 120 grit sandpaper to remove the BEHANDLA oil, re-sanded with 220 grit paper and re-oiled it. After the first application of oil he then sanded with 320 grit paper to aid in absorption of the next layer but found this too much work and gave it up quickly. He applied 5 layers of unrefined tung oil to the bottom; the same oil we  used on our hardwood floors. For the top, the side that comes into contact with food, he applied 4 layers of food grade walnut oil that we picked up at the Big Carrot You might find walnut oil at other grocery stores as well. Walnut oil is the traditional oil of wood workers and it does not go rancid easily like some other vegetable based oils.

NUMERAR countertop from IKEA being oiled before installation. 
For the installation, we ended up taking the counter pieces to a local countertop manufacturer to cut them to length and make the 45 degree angle cut for the corner joint. Once cut, our general contractor installed it for us. See the finished look HERE.

We will update you on how well they are holding up. So far we can't get enough of them :)



  1. Looking around for good ways to finish wooden countertops. Glad I found this. Your kitchen looks great. Although not sure I want to have to keep oiling around the sink area. Might not be possible if we end up letting this property. I've been a tenant in a house with this type of countertop and it doesn't hold up well to being mistreated. How has the sink area held up for you? I'm sure if you're living in your own house you'll take good care of it :-)

    I must point out that you seem to have a typo in your website title. I assume it should be 'healthy', not 'healhty', unless there's a pun I've missed.

    -- Carl

  2. When wooden materials get wet often, they rot over time. The same exact reason it isn't recommended to use wooden countertops around a sink area. But you are right. It is the religious upkeeping of the countertop that extends its purpose for years. I am glad you still went for it despite the debates in using wooden countertop for your sink. Curious what your it looks like now after a year.


    1. I too was concerned about the wood countertops around water - I live alone so I can experiment with this - I went to Home depot , got one of their glued up "faux " butcher block made from pine . I had already torn out the counter tops - I used several pieces of this around the sink - I soaked the heck out of them with Walnut oil - Ikea Brand (Really good price ) Both sides - Flooded then let soak in , wipe off the excess and let dry - 2 years later , absolutely no rot ( under side either - which I might add is over the dishwasher with no moisture barrier . exposed end is butted up to the sink - no rot - still water repellent - I even scrub with a sponge etc -