Caring for your Top

Finish Matters!

Depending on which type of finish you have applied to your top, the care instructions can vary. Here are some generic guidelines for any wood surface:

Mineral Oil Care Instructions


Mineral Oil tops need regular maintenance to protect them from damage over the years. The Oil fills the wood pores and saturates them to avoid constant shrinking and expanding; Over time, using the surface as a workspace will deplete the wood of mineral oil. When this happens, the counter will look dry. This is a vulnerable state for the top as any moisture added to the top (usually from cleaning after use in the kitchen) can start to damage the wood seams. While the glue we use is waterproof, the boards can shrink and expand naturally enough for the seams to split. It is, therefore, important to keep them well saturated with mineral oil. We recommend monthly assessment of the surface to ensure it retains a somewhat wet appearance with a dull luster. If the counter looks to be drying out completely, more mineral oil should be applied.

A newly purchased product may shed tiny wood fibers and feel rough after the few washes. This is normal as the product is acclimating and will dissipate over time.

Cleaning and Care

When cleaning a mineral oil surface it is important to remember that it is an semi-sealed product. While the oil is fresh, the pores are saturated and will not absorb moisture from outside sources. When this finish is reduced, the wood can start to absorb characteristics of liquids applied to it. It is important to avoid chemicals for this reason. It is highly recommended to use dish soap and water to clean a mineral oiled surface, and if more potent solvents are necessary, a solution of vinegar and water will suffice. 

Waterlox Tung Oil Care Instructions

The information found in this section is an excerpt from the Waterlox Kitchen, Bathroom and Countertop Guide referenced above.  For more information, please refer to the linked electronic document. 

Cleaning and Care of Waterlox Finished Surfaces

After your surface has dried and cured for at least 7 days, regular cleaning may be performed. To properly care for your surfaces, use only recommended cleaning products and avoid using cleaners/chemicals that can damage your finish. For information on refreshing or recoating a Waterlox finished surface see our other guide.

Recommended Regular Cleaning Products

For small projects such as furniture, jewelry boxes, trim, turnings, etc., we recommend dusting with a dry microfiber dust rag/duster or a lightly dampened cloth or towel. The methods mentioned above can also be used for more heavy duty cleaning of your wood surfaces.

Heavy Duty Cleaning

For heavy duty cleaning, the Waterlox Cleaner Concentrate is a good first step. Follow the heavy duty cleaning dilution steps and use to clean up after parties or other events that require a little extra cleaning.

For very heavy cleaning, such as stripping off cleaner residues or preparing for a recoat, it is recommended to use TSP (trisodium phosphate) or a TSP substitute. Follow the dilution/mixing instructions for your particular brand and follow with a clear water rinse.

General Tips

To extend the life of your surfaces, there are some common tips to avoid more labor intensive repairs.

Absolute DO NOT USE Products

Some cleaners/products can actually damage or completely remove most Waterlox finishes. These should be avoided.

Products to Avoid

¹Murphy’s oil soap and other similar products will usually leave behind a very slight oily residue. Frequent use may cause the finish to look dull and the residue needs to be removed. See the Heavy Duty Cleaning section for more information about removing residues.

Source:Waterlox Coatings Corporation. “Waterlox Kitchen, Bathroom & Countertop Guide.” Project Help for Using Waterlox Processed Tung Oil Finishes to Seal and Protect Wood Bathroom Countertops, Kitchen Countertops, 2020,

***Only use Waterlox time tested original formulas when refinishing your Sprague Woodworking top as their new VOC compliant formulas are not compatible with what we use, final topcoats should be the Waterlox satin finish in their original formulas unless you want a high gloss finish

Repairing Dings, Dents and Scratches

Wood countertops are similar to any other wood furniture that you have in your home.  During the course of everyday life, your wood countertop is going to see normal wear and tear that will include dings, dents and minor scratches.  It is inevitable!  We like to call this "life's patina".   However, sometimes a scratch or dent is deeper and more noticeable than you would like.  Aside from refinishing the entire surface, our suggestion is to try one of the following furniture home remedies.  This suggestion is meant to help hide the ding or scratch as much as possible.  The only way to fully remove a ding or scratch is to refinish the surface area.  

FOR A STAINED COUNTERTOP WITH WATERLOX FINISH - If you have an incident with your countertop that leaves a scratch that has penetrated through the stain and is leaving the natural color exposed, here is our best suggestion other than refinishing the top altogether.  Here at Sprague Woodworking, we use Zar and Old Masters brand stains to stain our wood countertops and after they have been stained, we apply 5 coats of Watelox Tung Oil to seal and protect the wood surface.  Your original invoice would include the stain color you selected when you placed your order.  Once you determine the color, you can order small 1/2 pint cans of the stain online or pick them up at any paint store that stocks those brands.  Using a small artists brush, apply the matching stain carefully to the scratch.  Let it dry for 48 hours and with another artists brush, apply just a small amount of Waterlox to the scratch.  Let that Waterlox dry and reapply only if necessary.   This suggestion is what we recommend for a temporary fix to minimize the appearance of a larger than normal ding or scratch.  Please remember normal wear and tear of wood countertops includes smaller scratches, dents and dings.  The only way to completely eliminate these imperfections is to completely sand and refinish the countertop.

FIXING SPOTS RESULTING FROM A CHEMICAL EXPOSURE (BLEACH, MISC CLEANING CHEMICAL) - If you have an incident where you accidentally left a bottle of bleach or another damaging chemical on your countertop where it has removed the finish the only way to fix this is to refinish the area in question.  To refinish an area on your wood countertop, it requires re-sanding that area of your top with an orbital sander to remove the finish ending up with a final sanding with 180 grit sandpaper and then refinishing.  It is sometimes hard to blend new and old so you may want to want to refinish the entire top to maintain continuity in the finish.   If your top is a very large countertop, and you can isolate the one or two boards that are damaged, sand just those couple of  boards and do not worry about the entire top.  In either case, once the countertop is sanded, you will need to apply the Waterlox Tung Oil finish as directed in the how to videos on the Waterlox website.  Make sure you use the Waterlox Original Tung Oil formula, as this is the product we used to finish your top.   Here is a link to the Waterlox website that carefully describes the finishing process.

Zar Oil Based Polyurethane Care Instructions

The Zar Oil based Poly has very little online in terms of tutorials or care instructions. If you are interested in perusing their saftey data sheets, they can be found on the product's webpage.

For the Zar Polyurethane finish Sprague Woodworking recommends following the same cleaning and care guide lines used for the  Waterlox finish.  Please refer to the care instructions section on the waterlox tung oil for cleaning and care.  Keep in mind however that the two products are different and cannot be used in conjunction or combination with each other during the finishing process.  

Some observations Sprague woodworking has about this finish:


This product can be easily re-applied  by a painter or someone having knowledge of finishingA paint pad and brush are the best applicators for in home finishing. Due to it's self leveling properties, it is highly recommended to coat the entire surface rather than a "spot fix" as this can cause the poly to dry in a puddle shape.