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Solid Wood Worktop Installation for Worktops that have Bowed?

Postby DazJWood » Sat Nov 21, 2015 1:18 pm

We have a 40mm solid wood beech worktop fitted in our U-shaped kitchen. Two lengths and a third breakfast bar.

The kitchen and wooden worktops were bought and delivered a year ago. Due to various reasons (including my own slow DIY skills) we have only now got to the point of fitting the worktops.

The worktops were stored in the garage originally but only for around a month before they were bought inside. On unpacking there was varying bowing / twisting / cupping on all three. Not overly severe but enough to mean the butt joints would not be exactly level in place.

Due to not having the right tools (and also not having fitted solid worktops before) we employed someone to cut and fit the worktops. He has cut all the worktops to length and also the cut-outs for the sink and hob. He initially did this a week ago and agreed he would come back yesterday to tighten up the butt joints after the worktops had had chance to settle and to see if the bowing / cupping would settle. I also weighted down the high points of the worktops over the last week to see if this would allow the wood to relax back to being level.

After a week it is now evident that the worktops have improved and are not as bowed as they were initially. Yesterday our fitter came back and has siliconed the butt joints and bolted them together (should they have been PVA'd?). As there is still some twisting and bowing he used some packers under some cupboards to allow the butt joints to be bolted together. He has not screwed down any of the worktops to the cabinets as I can do that (I have the right brackets with the slots running perpendicular to the grain). Though when I do this I will be either having to put more packers in so the brackets meet the worktop or screwing in and pulling the worktop further away from where it should be.

The butt joints are sort of OK but not as tight as they could be and are slightly raised in places. The fitter suggested they could be lightly sanded to bring them level.

Whilst I sort of understood the reasoning at the time I am now not convinced that this was the best course of action. In one of the worst areas near a butt joint there is a 4mm packer. For one, the worktops are now no longer level as they are packed out differently across the level worktops. Two, surely over time the worktop will potentially move more but because the packers are in place it will mean the worktop moves further away from true not closer.

I would have thought that it would have been better to try and get the worktops back to being level again. So no packers, release the butt joints, weight down the areas that are bowing upwards and potentially where the worktops are cupping upwards screw them down at the back and then clamp the front and slowly tighten them over a few weeks to bring them true.

Is this a good course of action and if so how easy will it be to separate the already siliconed butt joints? Or has the fitter taken the best course of action with the packers and we have the best outcome we are going to get?

I have included a few photos.

I appreciate any advice! Thanks in advance!!

Butt Joint to Breakfast Bar
Breakfast bar
Butt Joint with 4mm packer underneath
Kitchen layout
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Postby thedoctor » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:31 pm

Not sure about the spacers and can't quite see the logic unless they are irrepairably bowed but having said that neither can you expect a kitchen fitter to work with damaged materials and get a silk purse from it.

Repairing and tightening bows in worktops takes weeks if not months and every day the screws and clamps must be tightened a little to pull out the bows. Were he to charge you for this your bill would be so big you would refuse payment so fitters work with what they have and make the best of a bad job. The sensible thing to do is bring the tops indoors and lay them flat on the floor for a few weeks befor fitting. The sealant is fine, its more flexiple than PVA which would not allow any movement at all once it were stuck.

Yes proud joints can be sanded a little but you could try removing the spacers and using clamps and screws from underneath to level the tops up bit by bit. If I were the fitter I would probably refuse to fit them in the condition they were because it is 100% obvious you will never get a perfect job and when fitters fit imperfect jobs it always casts doubt on them whatever the real cause.
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