Laminated benchtop product and install guide
Important notice to all installers/customers of laminated timber products
Laminated products are for non structural internal use only – unless otherwise noted.
Read this section if nothing else
Seal the end grain immediately
Keep away from moisture direct sunlight, heat or wind ( including from windows )
Store wrapped in plastic up, but not tightly sealed ( leave room for ventilation ), up off the floor in a sheltered situation.
Bench tops must be stored on edge
Seal all faces and edges ASAP
If you have any doubts or concerns about the grade, moisture content, quality aspect of the product, or the situation you have to install it in DO NOT INSTALL IT call for advice.
Correct installation of the bench top is vital. We strongly recommend you read this guide fully before starting installation of any bench top or wide laminated product.
The moisture content of timber will vary due to the movement of moisture into and out of the timber. Natural humidity (dry and wet), air conditioning, machines that dispel heat or moisture (eg. dishwashers, cooking appliances, electric kettles etc.) will effect the moisture content of timber. As moisture in the air increases it is absorbed by the timber and the timber will expand. The timber contracts as moisture in the air decreases.
Laminated timber products being a natural timber product, will expand and contract across the grain with these changes in humidity. This movement is quite normal and should be allowed for during installation (see Figure 3).
The amount of movement across the grain will vary with timber species, but a rule of thumb allowance is 1mm per 100mm.
Good sealing is essential to prevent an abrupt and excessive change in moisture within the timber. All laminated timber products must be envelope sealed ie. top, bottom, edges and ends. Pay particular attention to the inside of cutouts, or anywhere where end grain is exposed.
If you cut the bench top on site after coating – reseal the cut area with at least four coats of suitable sealer.
Only minimal fixing is required as the piece will be held down by self weight, plumbing etc. Ideally, fix into the underside of the bench top, on the same laminate along the length.
The following diagrams show examples of correct & incorrect fixing.
Fixing through framework into the underside of bench should be via a 12mm clearance hole and an 8 gauge screw with washer, allowing movement between fixing points. Holes should be predrilled.
BENCH TOPS SHOULD NEVER BE GLUED DOWN
CAUTIONARY NOTES: EFFECTS OF SERVICES ON TIMBER BENCH TOPS.
Dishwashers, floor mounted vents, hot water systems & cooktops
Where appliances have heat acting on the bench top, polystyrene or similar insulation should be installed to cut down the heat transference. Provide adequate ventilation.
Electric Kettles / small appliances
Use a heat pas with an air gap underneath. Quick heating kettle, often 2400 watts, will cause timber to heat up too quickly and split.
Sinks, cooktops, cutouts for posts etc.
The fitting of sinks, basins, cooktops etc. must not restrict the bench top from expanding and contracting. Ensure that there is at least 5mm clearance all around the appliance. Insulation should be installed around cooktops. Rubberised joint sealant should be used for sink and basin applications.
Where vegetables or other material that are likely to give off moisture are stored under the bench top, insulation should be installed and adequate ventilation provided.
Particle board or MDF tops fixed to cabinets should be removed or have large holes cut into them to assist with even and adequate ventilation.
A moisture barrier such as plastic should be utilised in situations where the laminated product is located adjacent to brickwork or rendered walls to prevent moisture transference. A slight air gap should also be left.
If overhangs exceed 200mm, then some form of under bench bracketing should be used for support.
Wide tops & stair landings.
With wide tops and stair landings, expansion and contraction is directly proportional to the width: therefore sealing, fixing to allow movement, allowances for moisture and heat are even more important.
Effects of windows
Just how a timber floor is effected near a window or door, so is a bench top. The constant intensified heat generated through a window will cause those areas to shrink and fade differently to the areas away from the window. Up keep of coatings in these areas is even more critical.
Although this laminated product has been glued with water proof or highly moisture resistant glues, it is not really designed for exterior use.
Sealing and Coatings
To ensure optimum performance, this laminated product requires protection from the environment by means of seal coatings. Sunlight breaks down most clear coatings, exposing the timber and allowing moisture, humidity and heat to act.
If this laminated product has to be used in external situations the maintenance of the seal coats becomes even more critical. If the surface looks worn or bare then recoating should be done immediately.
Common types of seal coatings are:
- Exterior paint – definitely the best as the finish is slow to break down.
- Clear Polyurethane – even coatings with UV inhibitors break down and flake. Requires full sanding and recoating at least every 12-18 months.
- Exterior oil finish – does not last as long but does not flake and is easy to re-apply. Recoat at least every 9-12 months.