Granite or wooden worktops - help me decide!

(59 Posts)
wigwam33 Wed 14-Nov-12 21:01:30

We're getting a new kitchen fitted and I just can't decide on whether to go for granite worktops - look good (I think?!), durable, can withstand a lot - but possibly a bit dark. Is granite classic or will it date too?

Or wooden - goes better with white / cream units and looks more modern perhaps? But will it be a complete nightmare to maintain with a young family? And look terrible around the sink in no time?

We're probably going for fairly classic oak shaker-style kitchen units as the house is edwardian with lots of period features so don't want to go too contemporary. Still trying to make that final decision too.

Opinions please!

RancerDoo Wed 14-Nov-12 21:05:20

We have granite as I didn't want wood for the reasons you have, but the granite is brown. So it is warmer, and I think a bit more interesting, than black (it's also cheaper!).

Viperidae Wed 14-Nov-12 21:05:58

I went for granite as it is lower maintenance than wood.

Just be careful which one you pick, the very shiny ones show lots of marks and smudges which need regular polishing off.

Mine is mottled, rather than a plainer black so is a bit more forgiving but is still shiny and shows smudges where the light shines across it.

As for dating.....who knows?! I'm never very on trend so just picked what I liked.

wigwam33 Wed 14-Nov-12 21:11:58

Thanks for comments. Slightly alarmed by showing up lots of marks.

When you say 'polishing off' do you mean polishing or just wiping with a wet cloth?

JudeFawley Wed 14-Nov-12 21:12:14

I am not a fan of granite; it's a bit glitzy for me.

We have just had a new kitchen fitted, pale grey shaker style.

We went for solid oak work tops and they look fabulous.

They were supplied with a treatment that you paint on, it gives a plastic type of coating. That sounds horrid, but looks really nice.

So far, it seems easy to keep. Sitting water has not made a jot of difference to it.

It really has a 'wow' factor, everyone that comes raves about it.

catclarks Wed 14-Nov-12 22:01:18

You could always go for a combination. We had a new kitchen put in this year and have gone for both wood and silestone. It's a U-shaped kitchen that has silestone along the runs with the hob and sink. The third run is a wooden breakfast bar. We ended up going for zebrano wood as there are a lot of dark threads in it and will disguise the inevitable spaghetti bolognaise marks grin

To me it looks amazing and just what we wanted.

My granite had just turned up. It is being fitted. The bit they have done already is beautiful. <<useful>>

OBface Thu 15-Nov-12 14:06:26

Wood looks good but is a nightmare to maintain. We would definitely steer clear in the future.

Other options to consider are Corium, Silestone/Caeserstone.

I had wooden worktops in my last kitchen, and they were a nightmare to maintain. They were treated with linseed oil, but this didn't make them waterproof, so I had to be really careful about not letting them get wet, and where they did get wet around the sink, they went black.

That said, they did look lovely, and went very well with the cream, shaker-style cabinets we chose, and if they had been varnished or given some other permanently waterproof treatment, I would have carried on loving them.

Ds1 did also manage to burn dark circles into them by putting a hot pan down on them, but that did fade (and we could have sanded it out, but didn't).

PigletJohn Thu 15-Nov-12 14:49:24

I've always thought that wooden worktops are ideal for a showroom, but not suitable for a working litchen that may contain knives, water, mugs, and hot pans.

Nancy66 Thu 15-Nov-12 16:06:53

Having had both I prefer granite. Unless you can be arsed to sand and treat the wood regularly it looks really grubby after a short period of time.

I don't like glitzy, sparkly granite. I have the granite nero - plain black, non shiny with no glittery bits - looks really stylish and impossible to damage/mark

There was granite in our kitchen and we replaced it with oak (and the rest of the kitchen too). We rented a house with wooden worktops a while ago and had no problems with them. The black granite in our kitchen wasn't very nice, and was difficult to keep looking clean (the previous owners put it in, and paired it with very nasty, cheap black contract tiles). I think it's just down to personal taste really.

What kind of noise does granite make?

Thing I hate about my friends otherwise absolutely glorious huge fancy kitchen is every time something touches the (glass) work surface it makes a jarring noise. It's ghastly.

So wood gets my vote being much quieter. But is granite was also quiet I'd probably prefer that.

annalouiseh Thu 15-Nov-12 16:24:10

you could use both depending on your design etc
They both will compliment each other and the door at the same time.
using the granite or quarts in the more used areas.
there's also lots of granites that are not so dark, you could use a softer mid tone so not so harsh

Cahoots Thu 15-Nov-12 16:34:02

I have had both and prefer granite as it stays looking good and doesn't need to be maintained.
There are millions of types of granite available but most kitchen showrooms only offer a limited range. We went to a large granite importers to choose our granite. There were hundreds to choose from. The kitchen work top fabricators then arranged everything.
I ended up choosing an unusual and very beautiful granite but it ended up being the same cost as if I had just got a standard 'black' granite from the kitchen company.
I went to the warehouse (not show room of) Pisani although I am sure there are lots of others.

You can have a honed finish on the granite if you want it to look warmer.

Cahoots Thu 15-Nov-12 16:35:45

Noisy granite shock confused.

I have never found my granite noisy.

Brightonite Thu 15-Nov-12 16:40:53

I went from wood to granite and five years on, the granite looks as good as ever. Prepare yourself for a couple of broken mugs/plates initially as wood is more forgiving than stone!!! Good luck in your choice smile

DilysPrice Thu 15-Nov-12 16:48:10

Are you Anthea Turner OP? Basically it takes a certain type of person to manage wooden work surfaces without developing black mouldy bits. I am sufficiently self-aware to know that I am not that type, so I have a rather nice quartzy/granitey stuff which is indestructible and still looks great after 8 years.

justaweeone Thu 15-Nov-12 17:16:02

L shaped kitchen
Honed Granite so not shiney but very matt on the run where the butlers sink is(Lakeland do a fab double pack of micro fibre cloths for granite)
Other side is iroko which we oil every 6 mths or so
Still looking good after 3 years
Love having thr granite where the sink is as in our last house had all wood and it did go black where sink was no matter how careful we were

justaweeone Thu 15-Nov-12 17:17:07

For got to say we got the granite from a stone masons

Cocodale Thu 15-Nov-12 17:33:44

Iroko wood is easy to maintain, oil every now and then with veg oil and they look beautiful, get better as they age.
We have one piece of granite and the rest Iroko, the wood is much more forgiving.

INeedALieIn Thu 15-Nov-12 17:33:57

I've had both. Both can be high maintenance. In a super sunny kitchen black polished granite shows every crumb and sleet. It needs polishing constantly. A mere wipe just looks a mess.

If you don't have a decent large sink and draining area, then again, light wood can go black.

For the past 4 years we have had walnut. These are dark, shiny, with a lot of variation. They still look as good as new.

INeedALieIn Thu 15-Nov-12 17:54:05

Sleet? Streak.

shopalot Thu 15-Nov-12 17:59:41

I have both black granite work tips and oak breakfast bar. Much prefer granite as is bombproof however granite is a lot more expensive....

WizardofOs Thu 15-Nov-12 18:38:03

I have had wooden (walnut) and they were beautiful but hard to maintain and I managed to make a burn mark. I now have pake grey quartz. They are lovely and don't show the water marks that dark stone does.

I have an off white shaker kitchen with black granite (fitted today). Looks amazing. Friend of mine has black granite which is 10 years old - barely looks any different to mine which is less than a day old. (Though she does say she has lost a few coffee mugs over the years)

LadyPeterWimsey Thu 15-Nov-12 19:01:20

Hated the wooden worktops we inherited because they were so hard to maintain. Have now put granite in a kitchen for the second time and I love it - so durable and beautiful. The first kitchen was black granite which was harder to keep shiny and also I thought the second time might date too quickly so I have now gone for a lighter granite with lots of colours in it - cream, brown grey, spots of a darker red. It's called Ivory Fantasy (hmm); I love it and it shows no dirt or marks - it's almost a disappointment that it doesn't look much better when it's clean and shiny - so it's very good for a slattern relaxed housekeeper like me.

I prefer the look and feel of wood but had planned to put granite in our utility room, kitchen is walnut. We priced it up and we were looking at £1500 compared to £350 for oak. If you prefer wood the main thing is to treat it loads when its new and keep it oiled so water balls on the surface. I am a slattern but about twice a year I clear the decks and oil it

TalkinPeace2 Thu 15-Nov-12 19:45:36

mine is over 4 years old, I am horrible to it and it still looks fab.
Love it.

wigwam33 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:39:11

Wow! Just logged on and saw all these posts. Thanks everyone for your tips. I am more on the slovenly relaxed end of the spectrum so wondering if wood is not for me, even though overall I prefer the look of it, I think it might be too impractical for us.

TalkinPeace2, I've recently developed an obsession with bamboo clothes having tried a couple of things but hadn't considered it for worktop - how often do you oil / waterproof your bamboo? Where did you get it from?

TalkinPeace2 Thu 15-Nov-12 21:06:30

How often do I oil my worktop.
Ah yes, I probably should after more than four years grin
I wipe it down with a j-cloth every day
any really bad bite get a piece of kitchen towelling worth of olive oil
there are marks around the tea making area, but because bamboo has such an irregular pattern they do not affect the look
around the sink - a grey bit at one corner but it just looks like grain

before it was fitted I put 4 coats of oil onto every part of it - especially the insides of the cutout for the sink

I have some scorch marks on it - long story, high voltage
but am remarkably relaxed - its a home not a showroom after all

and the worktop still looks splendid
my floor is bamboo as well .... and ours is a boots on house .....

bought on the internet - the company I used has gone but bamboodirect have most things

StiffyByng Thu 15-Nov-12 21:20:34

We inherited a wood worktop-I'd guess oak. We are far from careful and so far it looks as good as new, even round the sink. It was obviously treated with something. So it is possible!

EdgarAllanPond Thu 15-Nov-12 21:22:57

i have slate-effect tough plastic

I just can't be trusted with either wood or granite.

I was going to say, look at lots of pictures and go with what you like the look of the most.

hermioneweasley Thu 15-Nov-12 21:29:24

Everyone I know with wood has had it ending up warping. I am lazy so went with granite. A quick wipe daily is no effort. Also, the cold surface is very good for baking. Another vote for sourcing it yourself to save cost.

BananaPie Thu 15-Nov-12 21:56:21

Is decent quality laminate not the thing to have anymore? It's easy to maintain, and looks fine!

ceres Thu 15-Nov-12 22:06:10

we have oak worktops + osmo polyx hard wax oil in matt finish.

looks great and very easy to maintain - no need to sand just wipe on more oil as needed.

PigletJohn Fri 16-Nov-12 11:33:21


yes, laminate is the best surface for a practical kitchen. Its main drawback is that is not very expensive, so doesn't impress the neighbours and is not shown in fashionable magazines.

the same can be said for stainless-steel sinks.

Cahoots Fri 16-Nov-12 11:55:17

I had Axiom laminate. It had crystal bits in it and looked like granite. It was super easy to clean and was very hard wearing. I did switch to granite but I really liked the laminate too.

skandi1 Fri 16-Nov-12 12:25:55

You could have both. Granite on the sink run and wood on other parts (did you say l shaped?).

Wood will need more care but its hard to say how we'll it would last you. It depends on the quality of wood and type you buy and how messy you are around the sink area.

I don't like the look of polished granite. And it needs regular wiping to avoid stealing and finger marks. Go for honed granite. It's almost matt so doesn't show greasy finger marks and streaks. You can also get flamed or river washed granite which are matt and textured.

You don't have to go for black. There are literally hundreds of kinds of granite. If your stone mason buys through Pisani (someone else recommended above), you can get any slab of granite you choose honed for you. Pisani are one of the only importers in the UK who can hone a slab for you here. It will cost circa £500 for two slabs to be done.

There is another stone mason in London (vauxhall) who claim they can flame, bush hammer or river wash any granite you choose from them.

Not sure where you are but phone around for stone masons. Prices vary a lot and be ware of a stone mason who will not agree a price based on your drawings of your new cabinets and take a deposit based on that price/layout. You risk they turn up to template and double the price.

I used Geology in New Cross for my kitchen. I wanted 40mm honed Carrara marble and one of the slabs for the island was larger than most standard slabs of Carrara plus its hard to get bespoke thickness (standard is 20mm or 30mm) but I am a fussy mare so that is what I wanted. Geology sorted it all with no hassle and they made sure I had a choice of lots of slabs. They even got some in from one of the importers for me to see/approve. They worked out a price based on my drawings from the kitchen cabinet makers and that was it. No extras no fuss or hassle. And my marble looks amazing. Great customer service.

skandi1 Fri 16-Nov-12 12:26:37

Streaking not stealing. Ffs!

TalkinPeace2 Fri 16-Nov-12 13:08:05

bamboo cannot warp - as the nine layers are set crosswise and its 3.8 cm thick ....
the bit overthe washing machine is doing fine.

wigwam33 Fri 16-Nov-12 13:08:26

EdgarAllanPond, BananaPie, PigletJohn -am also considering decent quality laminate too but have been put off it as the laminate worktop in our old house got scratched and look worn after only 2 years. Possibly, it wasn't decent quality though.

I definitely prefer the look of wood as I like the warmth of the colour. But I do like to bake and am not overly disciplined about not putting pans on surfaces so that's what made me think of granite. Also, we're planning to be in this house a long time and the kitchen is at the heart of our home so it's about having something that will last too. Half of the kitchen already has black granite in it which is in good condition, so seems a shame to get rid of it altogether.

I haven't looked into laminate properly. Can you get laminate that is wood-effect but still looks nice?

skandi1- maybe we could go half and half. I've never seen that. It doesn't look odd? honed granite could also be an answer, is that a standard thing that can be done? (we're based in the NW of England not in London)

mungojenny Fri 16-Nov-12 13:18:23

I have a beech worktop in my kitchen with cream units. It has been in about 3 years and it still looks great. I just oil it once every about 2 months or so which is really easy to do. I like it as it is warm looking and I haven't found that it marks to be honest I just run a damp cloth over it as and when. We do use trivets to put saucepans on but we did that with our last kitchen worktop as well so no particular difference to us.

skandi1 Fri 16-Nov-12 14:43:54

If its done well by someone who has done wood and stone together before then no it won't look odd.

My mum has 3 different surfaces in her kitchen. Granite on her island where hob is. Corian on the sink run and oak on the run after the sink. Looks great.

If you don't like black granite, go for River White, kashmir white.

BananaPie Fri 16-Nov-12 17:40:53

Piglet, I have a stainless steel sink as well as laminate! I guess I wasn't looking to impress the neighbours! The laminate is duropal which seems better than axiom. It has a little groove along the edge under the worktop to stop water damage.

EdgarAllanPond Fri 16-Nov-12 18:28:26

our slate effect laminate still looks good 5 years in - it would look even better if it hadn't been the first worktop dh had ever installed... its had boiling things on it, knife slices, permanently wet areas etc etc - lost in the patterning - cost £80 so if we did ever have to skip it and start afresh it would be a cost in time more than money.

it is really dark and hides most sins. correction 105 per 3m now

as the wood-effect ones have quite a different feel i'm not sure they'd do as well.

As piglet says though, laminate surfaces are not the stuff dream kitchens are made of, but they stay adequate.

BananaPie Fri 16-Nov-12 18:33:31

Not sure about wood effect laminate tbh - I think it looks a bit too fake.

Cahoots Fri 16-Nov-12 20:13:10

Honed granite can show marks just as much as normal polished granite. Polishing helps seal the surface and make it resistant to stains. It also depends on the type and colour of the granite and how it has been treated. You can always ask for a sample to take home and trial run.
I have a pal who has black honed granite and regrets it. On the other hand I have had polished kasmir gold granite that never looked dirty. It could be covered in breadcrumbs and coffee as it often was and you couldn't tell. I have had black 'blue eyes' granite that showed every mark. My latest granite is multi coloured and shows the dirt but it is sooooooo beautiful I still love cleaning it it is the ONLY thing I like cleaning

MrsMmoo Fri 16-Nov-12 20:16:58

We have corian and it is fantastic, no visibly joins on our 3m island!

discrete Fri 16-Nov-12 20:26:08

I've had corian, marble and wood.

I love wood for preparing food on, but it's a nightmare with water. I just don't have the discipline to keep it looking good, so for the next kitchen I'm just having a massive built-in wooden block.

The corian was actually really lovely. No seams, very practical and easy to clean and looked just as good, if not better, than granite. We did crack the corian sink by putting hot pans straight into it but they changed it for free under warranty.

Next kitchen I'm going to try polished concrete. Love the look of it and apparently it's quite hard wearing, and can be in any colour of your choosing. If done by someone who knows what they are doing, it can also be seamless, which I love. I really don't like the joins in my marble worktops.

elfandsafeT Fri 16-Nov-12 20:31:06

I have granite in my kitchen (from previous owner) and oak in my utility room including round a butlers sink.

I agree with the granite being harder to keep clean as it shows smears if you just wipe it down.

The trick with wood is to varnish it rather than oil it. My builder insisted against my better judgement that it was better than oil and would mean that it would never go black. He said everytime he'd fitted oiled oak he'd had complaints about it going black around the taps, only to have to go back and sand and re-oil it again.

I disagreed and he went ahead and did it anyway!!! He used a matt laquer so it isn't shiny (at all) and guess what he was right - it is really easy to keep clean, there are no black marks or staining at all after a year. I was so impressed that i am now going to go with laquered oak when i replace the kitchen.

wigwam33 Wed 28-Nov-12 18:44:35

OK I've decided against granite in most of the kitchen because with the final kitchen design we've decided on more work surface space including a small breakfast bar, so a) there is more side space and it was going to work out far too expensive and b) granite seemed too cold for the breakfast bar. Some people also mentioned about breaking things - that will be me.

The previous owners have installed granite in what will be half of the new kitchen, so we may keep a smallish block around the sink, if we can work out how to get it cut.

I much prefer the colour and look of natural wood but am still very concerned about it just looking horrible within a couple of years.

Anyone got high quality wood-effect laminate in their kitchen? I've heard you can get it and it's almost hard to tell the difference, but haven't seen it. Anyone?

Please help! I know this is pretty dull but I really need to -carry on thinking about this for another 2-3 weeks - make this decision soon and get out more confused

nocake Wed 28-Nov-12 18:50:23

We've got wood effect laminate which we love but no one would ever mistake it for real wood.

wigwam33 Wed 28-Nov-12 19:10:15

Thanks nocake! You love it that's the main thing I think.

Cahoootz Wed 28-Nov-12 20:14:29

I have a new kitchen with wood effect doors, from a fancy German company. They cost more than wood and, if you look closely, are obviously not real wood, but I love them. So easy to care for and will last ages.

wigwam33 Fri 30-Nov-12 14:44:59

Thanks Cahootz. Got your PM and am looking into this.

Murtette Fri 30-Nov-12 18:08:55

My parents got their kitchen from Howdens and it looks really good other than the wood effect laminate which is so clearly not wood and just looks a bit odd. I imagine that there are others which look better though. Is it possible to do a whizz around a few kitchen showrooms and see if they have any wood laminates on display and, if so, what you think of them?

wigwam33 Fri 30-Nov-12 18:52:34

Thanks Murtette - that's what I'm a little concerned about with a wood effect laminate!

I'm now wondering about getting wood but having it well varnished with a matt varnish as elfandsafeT suggested. My question about varnish is - how safe is it on a food prep surface? (isn't varnish often quite toxic?!)

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