How to Clean and Maintain Your Wooden Benchtops

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Josh and Charlotte's vanity bench

Have you decided to make timber the hero material in your bathroom or kitchen? You will want to know how to clean and maintain your wooden benchtops so they look as good as the day you had them installed. 

Wooden benchtops are a popular choice in the kitchen and bathroom. It’s not a look for everyone, nor is it one that will suit every home.

They can look amazing when just installed, but after time their appearance can deteriorate due to watermarks and fading from consistent use.

It’s important to know how to clean and maintain your wooden benchtops to uphold their appearance and so you don’t have to replace them prematurely.

Here are some tips on how to clean and maintain your wooden benchtops.

1. Clean up spills straightaway

Any splashes of water around the basin on the vanity bench need to be mopped up with a towel. The same for kitchen benchtops. No matter what the finish is on a wooden benchtop, water still seeps through and if left for a prolonged time, it will damage and has the potential to swell the bench top.

2. Reseal the vanity or benchtop yearly

If you have a natural matt finish, an oil will be needed to recoat the benchtop. If the vanity is high varnish or polyurethane check with your installer on how often the benchtop will need to be sanded and re-varnished. It may only be required every couple of years or when it starts to look like it needs to be freshened up. Resealing the benchtops will make them resistant to moisture and stains. It also makes them easier to clean.

3. Use warm soapy water to clean the tops

Don’t use vinegar or acid based cleaners as they will eat through the glue that holds the benchtop together.

4. Choose your vanity basin wisely

An inset or semi-recessed basin will be easier to clean around as opposed to an above counter basin where the space between the back edge of the basin and splashback is difficult to reach. If you do choose above counter basins, make sure there is enough space behind the basin to reach any water spills.

Undermount basins are a no go with timber benchtops as it will be too hard to prevent water damage to the benchtop cut-out

Timber vanity with above counter basins
Contemporary Bathroom by Melbourne Photographers Urban Angles

5.  Opt for finished timber as opposed to unfinished

The finished timber is more protected to water damage, but unfinished has a tendency to absorb any water that is splashed on them. Unfinished timbers were a trend for kitchen benches and vanities a few years ago due to their natural rustic look. While they may come back on trend in the future, they aren’t a durable product in the bathroom or kitchen.

6.  Mix your benchtops

Use a wooden benchtop for an island bench and a hard wearing, water resistant material near the sink. This means you get the best of both worlds in terms of design and maintenance.

Use timber as a island bench and a different bench around the sink
Traditional Kitchen by Chatham Architects & Building Designers JAMES DIXON ARCHITECT PC

If you know you won’t be able to keep up with the maintenance that’s needed, it’s best you avoid choosing it. But if you can maintain your wooden benchtop and look after it well, it will add character and warmth to your space for a long time.

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