Here at KitchensFitted it’s plain to see, if you browse our website, that we specialise in bespoke kitchen worktops such as Corian and Silestone yet in my conversations with clients I’m often asked my opinion on Laminate worktops and in this blog I’ll examine what’s available to the buyer and hopefully point you in the direction of what to look for.
Budgetary restrictions for many, limit their dalliance with the more expensive items for their kitchen to merely gasping at the quote they receive and given the relative cost of laminate kitchen worktops in comparison to their bespoke rivals, it’s little wonder that there are many manufacturers out there trying to tempt you with their laminate offering.
As with bespoke worktops the quality gaps can be immense and laminate worktops are available from a variety of sources, from own store brands at the major DIY outlets, to the more dedicated specialist manufacturers.
So how do you choose the best worktops for your Kitchen project?
Well let’s begin with the primary consideration we use for the products we consider offering here at KitchensFitted – The Guarantee.
The guarantee details for most of the manufacturers at first glance seem generous but they relate only to manufacturing defects that may occur over the period of guarantee so, just to be clear, as with all worktop guarantees, they do not cover damage that results from poor installation or misuse such as, tenderising your steaks with a sledgehammer.
Another interesting discovery is that there appears to be disclaimers on the warranty of gloss finished kitchen worktops and given their greater vulnerability to show up scratches, this is hardly surprising. However, a lengthy or lifetime guarantee is important given that poor bonding processes have resulted in some worktops delaminating – a fault that would be covered by the warranty.
The example shown below is, in fact, unwarranted given that the postform edge has been removed and replaced with a PVC profile to provide a square edge. Notice also, the matching laminate splashback, another relatively recent introduction.
Different grades of chipboard quality help distinguish quality when it come to laminate kitchen worktops and generally you will find grades P2 and P3 being used.
P3, by the way, is to be preferred as it is a moisture resistant grade, particularly useful in the often humid environment of a kitchen or bathroom. For further reading on this check out this very useful website. Some worktops manufacturers will include details of the grade used in their specification sheets so be sure to check this out.
Of course no matter what grade you choose, the longevity of your surface is entirely dependent on two things, how well it was installed and how well it is maintained.
Correct installation requires the use of suitable water proof sealants and it’s important to remember that, although some laminate worktops have a moisture resistant substrate, they are not waterproof.
To prevent ingress and your worktops resembling wet Weetabix, special attention should be given to worktop joints, cut outs, and the rear of the worktop that meets the wall. All should be sealed with a quality sealant and all cut outs must be thoroughly coated with a water resistant substance such as Cascamite or varnish.
A good installer knows the rules intrinsically but it pays to emphasise this when discussing the installation.
After installation of your kitchen worktops, the responsibility of good maintenance is handed over to you and care must be taken to wipe away spillages as quickly as possible. Always use protective boards when cutting or preparing food and take care to avoid spillages that may prove difficult to remove if left unattended to – are you listening curry lovers and those of you partial to a glass of red?
Damage such as chips or scratches are possible to repair and there are now, a number of specialists who claim to offer an invisible repair service but prevention is better than cure and I’ve not yet researched whether the cost of such a service compares with a complete replacement.
For those who fancy themselves as somewhat of a dab hand in the old DIY department then you can source your own surfaces and try your hand out at undertaking the installation yourself. Shortly after uploading this website in 1999, I set about writing an article explaining just how to install laminate worktops in a professional way and still today, it is among the most read of the pages on our website. Check it out here but be prepared, it’s a long read.
Anyway, I hope you found this blog useful and I hope it arms you with greater knowledge to make a good choice.