For financial reasons I have de- and reassembled a used kitchen in my apartment. Said kitchen - as I arranged the elements differently than before - needs a new countertop and I can't really see myself not using wood, just because it's haptically superior.

Thing is though, the kitchen I got has fronts made of a cherry wood veneer that has either darkened a lot over the years or was just coloured that way, in any case it's of a deep red-brown almost like mahogany. The other parts of the kitchen are white. Obviously I want my countertop to harmonise with the rest of my kitchen, but a countertop made from cherry or a similarly reddish wood (say Iroko) will run me close to 500 € which makes little sense to spend on a kitchen I got used for free.

Typically, kitchen countertops where I live are made of beechwood and I can get fitting plates for acceptable prices, but the very light colour of beech would seem out of place in my kitchen. Unfortunately, the typical coloured stain for wood isn't intended for kitchen use where food safety is a concern.

I have seen some very few topoils that are available in different wood colours, but have yet to find a fitting one I can actually buy. Thus my question: is there an affordable and food safe method to colour a beech countertop to adopt a darker, reddish colour and what is it?

  • I guess you're going to pick what you're going to pick but for my money solid-wood countertops are more a hindrance than a benefit in a working kitchen. I'd just go for melamine-coated chipboard. Tried and trusted for kitchens and other challenging environments, relatively cheap, stable and can be very long-lived with minimal or no maintenance. The last kitchen I used that was replaced in my time the counters were this type, 30+ years old and barely had a mark on them, with zero damp stains around the sink. That would be next to impossible with any wood, even something as resilient as iroko.
    – Graphus
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:46
  • "the typical coloured stain for wood isn't intended for kitchen use where food safety is a concern" Try not to get distracted by the food-safety thing. This is consistently overblown in woodworking circles by people who mean well but don't know what they're talking about. The truth is there's actually no evidence that there is anything of concern, literally no evidence at all. "is there an affordable... method to colour a beech countertop" That sort of depends on what you consider affordable. And what kind of finishing regimen are you comfortable with (time and effort involved)?
    – Graphus
    Jan 13, 2020 at 15:56
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    I'll second the suggestion to just use quality man-made stuff for the counter top. You can easily fashion a drop-in, replaceable wood cutting board insert for knife work, But modern melamine is just so much superior for a working kitchen.
    – jdv
    Jan 13, 2020 at 22:04
  • I know that an MDF with a decent coating is the expedient solution and easy to get in different colours. I just like the way wood feels, I grew up in a house with all wooden floors and furniture (built by my dad). Im terms of cost, going by the price of the beech parts around 200€ and one can of topoil being aound 20€, I'd say around 60€ would be a fitting limit. I can put in time as needed, but I don't have many specialised tools.
    – Pahlavan
    Jan 14, 2020 at 10:55
  • Sorry didn't see you'd responded until just now. I understand the appeal of wood believe me, I'm a woodworker after all :-) but wood is simply not a great material for countertops in a working kitchen. Paraphrasing something in a thread I read once, you can fit wooden countertops and then worry about them for the rest of your life or fit melamine and just get on with your life. Anyway, like I say if you want wood you're going to go with wood. But 2 things, that €20 can of topoil, I can virtually guarantee that will not waterproof the wood, and it doesn't address how to colour the beech [contd]
    – Graphus
    Jan 18, 2020 at 7:58


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