December 22, 2020

Wonderful walnut and why we use it in worktops

walnut-worktops

The chocolate hues, the hard finish with a long straight grain; it has to be walnut. The most common species for furnishing is the American black walnut. That’s as close to a misnomer as you can get. There is a great contrast in walnut from its creamy, outer sapwood to its dark inner roasted, coffee bean-like hardwood. Like a chocolate mocha in tree form.

Second only to oak panelling for the inner cladding of stately homes, walnut can be a very grandiose statement. Often used sparingly in modern interior design, it is no longer used as a canvas, but a centrepiece. Along with hickory, it finds itself in handcrafted cabinets and rifle butts. Not only is it unfair to call it black, but our walnut worktop is sourced from the Baltic and is hardly American at all. In fact, the trees take one hundred and fifty years to reach maturity with an average 8-foot trunk width.

With the exception of ebony, which we do not work with due to its endangered status and the issues caused by ebony dust during sawing, walnut is the darkest hardwood, Unlike cherry and maple woods which will darken when exposed to UV light, this hardwood lightens. Its grain is fairly straight and tight, but regions of curly or wavy grain can be included to add character and variation.

Walnut is rarely stained, as darkening an already dark wood would result in losing the grain. But it can be polished to a near mirror shine with a gentle oil and transparent wax. The ageing process of a walnut worktop is more subtle than most wood, especially pine, so you can be assured your worktop is not going to fade or bleach out. Over decades of regular oiling, it will become deeper and richer with its amber tones becoming more pronounced creating a stunning addition to your home.

This use of staining is the biggest giveaway of imitation walnut, where cheaper woods have been treated to give the lustre and dense hues of walnut. To an inexperienced observer, these finishes can be very convincing. The best wood for taking such multilayered staining are highly permeable softwoods, which would be inappropriate for a work surface due to the relatively short lifespan. 

True walnut has a hardness between cherry and oak. For domestic use, it is more than up to the challenges of many years of dicing, carving and mallet tenderising steaks. Its natural give and elasticity makes spitting and cracking very unlikely, even if constantly vibrated, for instance by a washing machine. The dark tone hides many small accidents, and at first glance, scorch marks from hot cookware. As with any solid wood worktops, there’s always the option of a deep sanding and refinishing of the surface to bring your worktops back to their ‘as new’ state. This is the main strength of solid walnut over a walnut veneer, often dressed press board or a medium density fibreboard which would be exposed by a heavy sanding.

We are very pleased to be able to source sustainable groves, log, mature, work and deliver the finest walnut worktop all in house. By not relying on any third parties, we can ensure sound use of walnut surfaces long into the future for our customers like you.


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