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Stacie Tucci Parente

Sticky Island Bar Top Problems

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We used a big old slab of bowling alley to top our island and I like it just fine except that we poly coated it and repeat exposure to salt (I'm a chef) and heavy use has left the finish kind of sticky and impossible to really clean.

We're going to strip it, but I want to coat it in something that can handle high heat and excessive amounts of salt (and butter, and flour and the like).

We've considered a pour over epoxy, but I'm hearing it can get permanently sticky if exposed to heat.  Once I dig into specific products, it gets verrry confusing.  Any thoughts?  

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This sounds like a case where it is better to use an easily renewable finish, rather than attempting to make it damage-proof. I would consider a finish designed for butcher blocks. It won't offer much protection for scratches, dings, and scorching, but is easy to repair when damage does occur.

Pour-over epoxy is pretty durable, but salt is abrasive enough to scratch it, and may react chemically like the poly seems to have. Heat is problematic with almost any finish, but the butcher-block finishes essentially push the heat limit to the wood itself. Hot pans can certainly scorch the wood, but probably at higher temps that the poly or epoxy can take. Maple can endure temps over 220 F for extended periods before color change is noticed.  There are high-temperature epoxies that withstand more, but most are not clear.

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I have yet to find a waterborne finish that stands up well to grease & oil.

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1 hour ago, Chestnut said:

The only counter top materials that i know of that can handle direct high heat is granite and stainless. 

The man-made quartz stuff, like Silestone, too.  We have that in our (relatively) new home, and I love it.

I see cooking shows on TV where they will take a pan straight off the hot stove and set it on what appears to be a wooden cutting board or counter top - but I have no idea what kind of wood surface you can do that to without scorching it.

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1 hour ago, G Ragatz said:

The man-made quartz stuff, like Silestone, too.  We have that in our (relatively) new home, and I love it.

I see cooking shows on TV where they will take a pan straight off the hot stove and set it on what appears to be a wooden cutting board or counter top - but I have no idea what kind of wood surface you can do that to without scorching it.

When i was shopping the guys that sold the man made quartz tops said heat will discolor them. Maybe that depends on brand? The price was very close between granite and quartz and his advice was "If you use your kitchen go granite, if you want a show kitchen and eat out choose quartz, if your going to sell the house right away go quartz because granite has too many myths and misconceptions surrounding it"

For the TV thing, i don't think they care. They probably have a crew that sands and refinishes it after every show.

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1 hour ago, Chestnut said:

When i was shopping the guys that sold the man made quartz tops said heat will discolor them.

Interesting.  When we were building, we were told that we could put hot pots and pans on the quartz top with no problem - so we've done just that.  I cook 5-6 nights/week, and routinely set pots straight out of the oven or right off the stove onto the countertop.  3-1/2 years in, I can't see any sort of stain or discoloration.  Our countertop is dark, and has sort of a terrazzo pattern, so stains might not be too visible - but I looked it over, at an angle under bright light, and I can't see any sign of discoloration.

1 hour ago, Chestnut said:

For the TV thing, i don't think they care. They probably have a crew that sands and refinishes it after every show.

Probably the same crew that sandblasts the pots and pans and steam cleans the cooktop - wish I was a celebrity chef :P

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The study I looked up to get the aforementioned number of 220F for scorching maple stated the duration of exposure in DAYS. As I recall, the number of days exposure maple took before beginning to darken was a 4-digit number (1,4nn, I recall). At first, I thought it was a European thing, using a comma to designate a decimal after the left-most digit. But I realized that it was a US study (Forestry Service, I think), and who would use three decimal places? So maple can stand 220f for a few years without scorching? And I believe it was still 4 digits as they approached 400f. Guess I'll have to go find that in my history.... here it is, attached. Obviously, this study was not for spot heating a counter top or cutting board, but interesting, none the less.

rpt1464.pdf

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13 hours ago, G Ragatz said:

Our countertop is dark, and has sort of a terrazzo pattern, so stains might not be too visible

Ahh there might be the difference, I had gone with a really light color almost white.

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I have a white Santamargherita countertop, which is quartz same as Silestone. It's been in my kitchen for more than 5 years and no sign of decoloration whatsoever, it looks brand new.

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You need to call Sherwin &Williams or what ever brand you prefer. You need to talk to someone on the commercial end and not residential. The commercial guys will give the ups and downs or the perfect formula  for what you need... About 15  years ago I did the kitchen for the head chef for Chiklis restaurants. Very picky about his work surface and actually ordered it from a restaurant  company to buy on the island I built for his home kitchen....

Was the top completely taken apart and reassembled? 

May we see pictures of the sections you have?

 

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Um, wow.  Yes!

 

I was definitely thinking in terms of a commercial level finish.  
 

My bowling alley is now unrecognizable because it was heavily sanded.   I’ll try to get a few photos.

 

Thanks to everyone.  Lots to think on!

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