SOLID WOOD -v- LAMINATE WORK TOPS
Thursday, 4 April 2019 | Admin
With the range of worktop materials, styles and colours as vast as it is these days, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when choosing your new worktop. Here, we’ll give you the run down on the pros and cons of solid wood and laminate worktops.
Long seen as a budget option, laminate worktops have come a long way in recent years. The number of colours runs into the hundreds and with realistic wood grain, granite, marble, stone and concrete effects giving such convincing looks, there’s a style to suit every interior design theme.
Modern manufacturing methods also allow for greater versatility providing solutions for popular design choices such as islands, peninsulas, breakfast bars and shelving, many of which are unsupported with all side of the worktop visible, and require multiple laminated surfaces.
This new desire for freestanding worktops has prompted the introduction of worktops with a laminate surface on the bottom and back edge as well as the top and front edge. Our Tandem and Spectra square edge ranges are great examples of this growing trend.
Another shift in fashion is the introduction of square edge laminate worktops. Previously one of laminate worktops’ short comings was the shape of the front edge, as the laminate could only be rolled round the substrate with a curved profile.
With more contemporary kitchen styles demanding square edges this often ruled out a laminate worktop. This is now a thing of the past with many ranges offering both curved edge and square edge worktops with a heavy duty 2mm ABS welded edging, giving a truly modern square edge.
Modern technology has also increased the durability of the laminate surface meaning it is much more hard wearing than it used to be with heat, scratch and stain resistant surfaces now integral features of these products.
With such versatile colours, finishes, profiles and highly durable laminates, these worktops are the ideal choice for most worktop installations. They are easy to cut and machine and are almost maintenance free. The only thing that can’t be done with a laminate worktop is the installation of undermounted or Belfast sinks.
Solid Wood Worktops
That brings us nicely onto solid wood worktops. For the upmost in luxury, solid wood worktops are the first choice for high-end kitchens. With a choice of several timber species from light Ash and Maple to dark sumptuous species like Iroko and Walnut and the most popular species, Oak, somewhere in the middle, there’s a tone to go with every kitchen style.
Offering a natural warmth and soft to the touch, it’s easy to see why many people spend the extra money on solid wood for their worktops. They are infinitely versatile with the advantage of being able to cut, machine and shape them in whatever way you want without the need to worry about edging them as they are the same material all the way through. This makes fitting undermount and Belfast sinks complete with stylish drainer grooves machined directly into the surface of the wood, easy. The edges can be left square or profiled with whatever shape you desire, again without the worry of damaging the laminate surface.
Another, often very useful characteristic of solid wood worktops is the ability to repair them in a way that’s simply not possible with a laminate worktop. Minor damage can be sanded out of the surface and re-oiled to bring it back to a perfect finish.
There are some limitations to solid wood surfaces, however. They do require careful preparation and treatment before and after installation and need regular maintenance to keep them looking their best for longer.
Wood is a natural, porous material and if not properly protected it will absorb moisture and swell. Solid wood worktops must be treated with a treatment product such as OSMO Wood Protector on all surfaces, including the underside prior to installation. We recommend a minimum of three coats. This stops moisture penetrating the wood and is particularly important around sink areas where water is often splashed on the surface of the worktop.
Once fitted we recommend applying OSMO Top Oil which is food safe and gives a soft, smooth finish, we recommend a minimum of three coats of Top Oil, and this can be re-applied every couple of years to keep the worktop in top condition.
Being a natural product, wooden worktops don’t like cleaning products containing bleach or other harsh chemicals and they may react with the wood and cause staining. The tell-tale sign of a poorly cared-for wooden worktop is black staining around the sink and tap area. Once this is allowed to happen it’s very difficult to salvage without extensive sanding and re-oiling.
The choice of worktop often boils down to who will be using it. In busy family homes with children who inevitably spill things, make sandwiches directly on the worktop and drop toys on them, a hardwearing, low maintenance laminate worktop is often the best choice. For those who don’t mind being a touch more careful, a solid wood worktop is a product that oozes quality and luxury and can elevate the most modest kitchen to a high-end sumptuous place to be.