Re stained and re oiled oak worktop disaster!

Discussion in 'Kitchen Fitters' Talk' started by Rufus14, Nov 1, 2018.


Re stained and re oiled worktops gone patchy and ashy

  1. What have I done wrong

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  2. How to fix

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Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Rufus14

    Rufus14 New Member

    Hi! I had my oak worktops stained a lovely dark colour and oiled about 2 years ago. They were showing signs of wear, so I re stained and then re oiled. The worktops are now patchy and in some places are a little 'ashy. I also can't wipe them down with a damp cloth without the stain coming off! Help! What have I done wrong!!
    I used the same stain and tung oil that my builder left here (so a couple of years old) could that be the problem?
  2. rogerk101

    rogerk101 Well-Known Member

    You MAY be able to scrub it all way back with sugar soap to get to a unified appearance. It's hard to predict what colour it'll turn out, because the stain could react in many different ways to the sugar soap, but at least it should be unified and not as patchy.
    If it's oak and if it had only ever been treated with tung oil, then it is likely that you have some black stains on it from where you have left opened cans or other iron-based items. The best way to remove those is with oxalic acid. Buy some in powder form, make a paste of it with water, smear the paste on the black stains, and leave for a day or so before rinsing off really well. Do this after the sugar soap activity but before putting on any new oil.
    Leave the whole thing to dry for at least a week.
    You're then back to more or less where you started, so you can restain and reoil as necessary.
    If it is not completely uniformly dry before the restaining and reoiling it will be patchy again.
    KIAB likes this.
  3. KIAB

    KIAB Well-Known Member

  4. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    It may be that the builder made up a cocail to stain the worktops with the stain, tung oil and possibly turpentine with some other additives like linseed oil. It is unlikely that the tung oil would have "gone off" but the stain could have gone off by now although some can last for a very long time.

    The problem you have experienced is that the more worn parts have absorbed some of the oil and in other places it hasn't and has sat on top of the surface so it comes off when you wipe it.

    I would try and get it back to a more even colour first before trying more extreme measures. Try rubbing the surface with a cloth soaked in turpentine. This should dissolve the tung oil. You may need to rub the surface gently with some fine wire wool to remove the more stubborn parts. Don't leave the wire wool on the worktop as you probably have found that some metals leave black marks.

    It is best to practice on the underside of the unit and to test your new finish.

    As Kiab and many others on here will say Osmo Top oil is one of the best and simplest finishes to use and is recommended by a lot of manufacturers and professionals
    KIAB likes this.
  5. KIAB

    KIAB Well-Known Member

    Use brass or bronze wire wool on oak,will avoid the black staining due tannic acid reacting with steel wool.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  6. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    Was thinking that but hadn't seen it for years. Probably still available on the web
  7. KIAB

    KIAB Well-Known Member

    Brass wire wool is readily available, but bronze wire wool (not cheap here) was harder to find,got my last lot from the states.

    We are ripped off by the prices here.
  8. Astramax

    Astramax Well-Known Member

    I find a stainless steel pan/sink scourer works a treat with the grain of course.

    Did you let the stain thoroughly dry before applying the oil?
  9. Rufus14

    Rufus14 New Member

    I let the wood dye dry for 24 hours before I used the oil, was that long enough?
  10. Rufus14

    Rufus14 New Member

    It seems to be the worn parts that haven't absorbed the oil and left it streaky and a little white!
  11. Rufus14

    Rufus14 New Member

    Will try the turps, thanks for the tip!
  12. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    Using stain and oils does require a lot of practice and knowledge of the products.

    Some people prefer to mix the stain with the oil others prefer to stain and then overcoat with oil.

    The problem is that you already had light and dark patches on the worktop where you have worn and unworn areas. Putting more coats on the unworn areas will darken them even more magnifying the difference.

    I would remove as much of the dye and oil as possible to get back to as even a colour as possible.

    Then apply the wood dye. Leave for 24 hours or until dry. Then rub over with some paper towels until no dye comes off.

    You may find it feels rough when you run your fingers over it in which case you may need to rub over it with a sanding paper 220 grit or higher.

    I would then give it a coat of oil diluted with 50% solvent. You can get specialist solvents for Tung oil. The motion / application is to be almost polishing it into the wood until it becomes dry.

    It may take several coats to get a depth of colour and protection
  13. Rufus14

    Rufus14 New Member

    Thanks for this! The wood dye seemed to come out evenly when I applied it, the problem seemed to be when I applied the oil!. What would you recommend I use to take the oil and dye off?
  14. Rufus14

    Rufus14 New Member

    I left the stain to dry overnight, and the colour was good and even, the problems seemed to start when I applied the oil. I can't rub even a damp cloth over the worktop without the colour coming off
  15. Richard_

    Richard_ Active Member

    Where the worktop was worn the wood was exposed so the new stain and oil soaked into the wood. Where the worktop was not worn the old oil was intact so the new stain and oil are sitting on top of the old oil.

    Oil should be applied with a rag and rubbed in. This means any surplus that is not absorbed is rubbed off. I suspect what you are experiencing is surplus oil on the surface waiting to be removed.

    Regarding stains they are really hard to patch even when new. Stain is not a solid colour, you can see the wood through it. So areas with extra layers of stain will be more opaque than those with fewer layers, which is why coating over worn patches can make them more obvious.

    So the idea is that you get an even colour the first time and the coats of oil are a protective layer. If you keep the oil replenished then the stain won't get exposed to wear so you won't need to re-stain. If you do re-stain the only way to get an even colour is to sand the surface to a uniform colour. If you start with a uniform base then you'll end up with a uniform finish.
  16. Astramax

    Astramax Well-Known Member

    To be honest you have wrecked them, the tops will require skill and expertise to totally re- finish them.
    kitfit1 likes this.
  17. kitfit1

    kitfit1 Well-Known Member

    The problem you have OP in all honesty is, don't mess with nature. Oak is oak, so under no circumstances try to make it look something different. Oak isn't dark, so if you wanted a dark top, that is what you should of had in the first place. Maybe you inherited the tops after moving in ? Even so, solid wood worktops are what they are. As Atramax has said, they need to be totally re-finished. If you don't have the skills or equipment to do it, then you will have to splash the cash i'm afraid.
    Astramax likes this.
  18. Astramax

    Astramax Well-Known Member

    Sorry to be brutally honest but the truth does sometimes hurt. :(
  19. ajohn

    ajohn Active Member

    You would probably need to thoroughly clean off the old stain and oil to allow restaining. Sounds like the oil has soaked in so the fresh staining wont dry properly or be taken up by the wood.

    The normal approach for maintenance is to re oil periodically before any problems show. I'd guess tung oil just like linseed on parquet really should be done every 12months. Maybe more often on kitchen work surfaces.

    Staining can be tricky as well. Not much of a problem on new timber as it can be tried on an offcut etc. Good idea too as the results can be unpredictable. Even the brand of stain can make a big difference - not many about these days. Oils may not be all the seem as well - may have driers in them, if so long term storage might not be a good idea much like it may not be with paint.


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