- Production process details
- Installation, fastening, insertion of equipment
- Island, cutting and dining table tops
- Practical issues, types of coatings
- Maintenance and overhaul of countertops
Natural wood seems a bit archaic for countertops. Nevertheless, the demand for such products is still high, and there is rather high competition between manufacturers. It will be difficult to choose the best option among the products they offer without knowing a number of technical features..
Production process details
The basis for the manufacture of a natural countertop – a furniture board – is a massive wood board assembled from smaller parts by means of toothed gluing. The product, despite its high strength, has a rather specific behavior: it changes its linear dimensions with changes in humidity and temperature. Therefore, the first step towards choosing a high-quality and beautiful wooden countertop is finding out the details of its production, starting with the supplier of raw materials..
The order of gluing the parts is of primary interest. To compensate for linear deformation, a good furniture board is glued with mutually perpendicular grain direction of adjacent parts. For this reason, automated production lines are welcome – the influence of the human factor for a product with such a high decorative value can be disastrous..
The second point of production is the aesthetics of the product. It all starts with wood – it must be selective, not having the slightest manifestation of defects that cannot be eliminated during subsequent processing. Small wormholes and formations can be tolerated if repaired with tinted filler and sanding prior to coating. The optimum moisture content of the tree is no more than 12%, that is, the wood must undergo chamber drying before making the shield.
The visual appearance of the countertop determines not only the quality, but also the type of wood. Pine and spruce countertops display a surprisingly rich appearance with a bold, pronounced texture. Oak, linden or birch countertops look more restrained and noble. The manufacturer can make a shield from almost any material, no exception are noble wood species. You can also be interested in the order of assembly of the panel: in addition to the usual ones, with linear gluing, the countertops can be parquet or, for example, mosaic.
There is one interesting pattern: the higher the value of the countertop, the higher the responsibility of the manufacturer and, as a result, the lower the likelihood of a defect in the hands of the consumer. In addition, by asking questions about the production process and the quality of raw materials, you get the full right to return the product if its type does not meet the agreed conditions..
Installation, fastening, insertion of equipment
When choosing a countertop manufacturer, an important role is played by the ability not to purchase a standard product, but to coordinate production according to your own drawings. In this case, it will be much easier to establish joint work on the assembly of cabinet furniture and the manufacture of countertops for it. In addition, the plate will have all the necessary technological cutouts with a guarantee of high-quality protection of the ends.
But this does not mean at all that the tabletop is not allowed to be cut or processed at your own discretion. With the right woodworking equipment, it is possible to take control of the entire manufacturing process, let alone fit.
Trimming the rear end can be done with an electric jigsaw, but it is better with a circular saw with a linear guide rail – this way there will be fewer processing defects, which means it will be possible to decorate the abutment with a plinth of minimum thickness. By the way, the use of common accessories for countertops (including outlet consoles and joker systems), although it may not look entirely appropriate, is still possible.
Due to its massiveness, the tabletop does not require solid attachment of legs or body parts to it. The density of the wood is high, the thickness of the board is usually at least 25 mm, so ordinary anodized furniture screws 20 mm long will be sufficient. For fastening, you can also use any other methods, if they are more convenient: dowels, glue, ties / fittings, fix systems or overhead corners.
It is important not to forget to restore the protective coating in order to protect the wood from dampness and fungal attack. If the countertop seller did not provide the buyer with a repair kit – the remains of varnish from production – it must be required, at least for the selection of the composition for the next complex repair.
Island, cutting and dining table tops
The most difficult is the manufacture of a tabletop, in which all end sides are accessible for viewing. If the cutting tabletop for the kitchen is made, as a rule, with a smoothly rounded shape of the leading edge, then the tabletops of the island or the dining table have rather steep mates at the corners, where the main disadvantages of production appear – the low quality of wood and milling equipment.
The best machining results are demonstrated by CNC-controlled lines, or specialized milling machines with manual feed. In home production, steep bends will most likely have to be handled by hand – sanded until defects are completely eliminated and leveled with a curly spatula. It is recommended not to reduce the corners at absolutely right angles – in this case, the run-up in the milling contours will be completely obvious and difficult to eliminate.
Practical issues, types of coatings
All practical aspects of a countertop – how it perceives hot and sharp objects, how quickly the gloss wears off and the toning fades – are determined by its decorative and protective coating. Dry high-quality wood has good adhesion, so you can open it with either polyurethane varnish or polyester resin.
But first, the surface of the part is carefully processed. In addition to eliminating defects and processing defects, puttying and thorough sanding, it is imperative to impregnate the tree with antiseptic compounds. After drying, the tree is opened either with a colorless alcohol stain, or with a strengthening soil – this eliminates the uneven absorption of the protective composition.
Depending on the desired surface characteristics, the table top can either be simply opened with varnish, or the surface is periodically sanded during the application process. The first two layers are removed with an abrasive belt of high grain size (R-120 – R-180) until the appearance of wood roughness, which ensures high-quality impregnation of the upper layer of the tree. Subsequently applied from 4 to 10 layers of varnish are periodically polished and degreased, due to which the coating acquires a flat glossy surface resistant to mechanical damage.
However, varnishing the countertop does not provide high temperature resistance. Some types of polyester resins used in natural stone countertops can be a coating option for heat-resistant countertops. In particular, glyphthal resins are capable of withstanding heating of the order of 150 ° C.
Oil-impregnated countertops have similar characteristics. They are not perfectly smooth, but they perfectly take spilled water, and their heat resistance is limited to the temperature that can burn and darken the wood of the species used. The main advantage of oil is absolute environmental friendliness, therefore, it is recommended to process kitchen countertops in this way..
Maintenance and overhaul of countertops
When choosing a coating, it is reasonable to ask the question: is it worth staying at a high-quality and durable one, or is it better to give preference to a more maintainable one? Minor scratches and damage to the varnish are repaired by local polishing. Severe defects – chips, deep scratches – may require cleaning the entire surface and applying one, maximum two new layers, followed by polishing. But all this can be done by yourself and in a couple of days, the situation with polymer coatings is much more complicated. The technology of their application requires a “clean” room, moreover, during the polymerization process, harmful substances are released.
Oil-impregnated countertops are easy to repair, but require periodic maintenance. In particular, it is recommended to clean them from time to time with a special agent and open them with natural wax to increase their hydrophobicity. In a complex repair, the tabletop is cleaned to lighten the wood, and then the cleaned surface is impregnated.