what's better - great quality kitchen units and laminate worksurface or average units and granite surface?

(47 Posts)
reastie Sat 27-Apr-13 15:44:57

Just wondering.

Have 2 kitchen places comparing with. One is handmade units which are excellent quality and made to measure. Solid oak under counter units and painted cream wall units (our combination choice) but can only afford laminate worksurfaces.

Other unit is much cheaper painted 'wood' (I use inverted commas as it's probably laminate or MDF or whatever it is they use) units not the perfect size (eg not right up to the ceiling etc) and no oak units, but lovely granite worksurface.

We want something lasting. We are picking quite a classic/traditional kitchen so it won't date too much (hopefully). We are also having a big storage unit matching for the dining room with display units/floor cabinets etc all in the cream painted units. With top quality unit place this will have solid oak worksurface on it and with the cheaper units there will be no display cabinets, just regular wall units but matching granite worktop.

CharlieMumma Sat 27-Apr-13 15:47:27

Good units and cheaper work surface units take the brunt of wear and tear ope king slamming shut etc, plus the bigger unit display will belovely. U can always upgrade the work tops another time

YoniOneWayOfLife Sat 27-Apr-13 15:49:46

I'd say the opposite! Go for the good worktop and change the doors later if you need to

reastie Sat 27-Apr-13 16:04:23

Oh no, what to do!!

Neither kitchen is standard size so would be tricky to change doors easily at a later date.

Expensive units have a better design of kitchen and allow us to hide a non integrated washing machine rather than having to buy an integrated one. But cheaper units allow us to have a 2nd oven (although it would be very tight for space).

All too much to work out, I just want it done! They are both approx the same price.

AnneEyhtMeyer Sat 27-Apr-13 16:17:43

I went for good quality units and laminate worktop. Couldn't afford both, so decided to pay for the thing I needed to last well and then I can replace the worktop when I am ready.

PigletJohn Sat 27-Apr-13 16:18:00

your solid oak hand made kitchen will almost without any shadow of doubt whatsoever be made of chipboard carcases with wooden doors fitted.

reastie Sat 27-Apr-13 17:46:48

Yes piglet that's right, although the current kitchen we have which is over 20 years old is the same and has lasted a long time, and it's not the chipboard carcases which have given up, it's the hinges (although because of leaks etc we have some mouldy/falling apart units).

Bunbaker Sat 27-Apr-13 17:55:25

If you go for granite work surfaces do make sure the units are strong enough to hold the weight.

I have something called Getacore in my kitchen and I love it.

Mandy21 Sat 27-Apr-13 18:05:14

I agree with Pigletjohn - My sister has just had a bespoke kitchen from one of the luxury / bespoke kitchen companies mentioned on here regularly (its costing in excess of £50k). The cupboard carcasses are mdf with an oak veneer shock.

There are lots of options in between granite and laminate - could you find something in between the two?

Pancakeflipper Sat 27-Apr-13 18:08:10

What about a quartz composite. Cheaper than granite and quartz.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 27-Apr-13 18:22:17

Personally, I went for good quality (real wood) units with a laminate worktop. It's just been fitted and it looks fabulous.

And with the £'000s I saved on worktop, I've bought two blush very flash ovens, which I'm already confident are going to give me far more pleasure and satisfaction than granite would have done.

reastie Sat 27-Apr-13 18:27:55

Am just looking into other worktop options. Our budget is nowhere near the 50k of mandys sisters ( shock ).

I estimate our worktop budget for the handmade kitchen to be max £500 for 6 metres, we can easily do this with laminate but haven't yet found an alternative which is in budget to go with this kitchen. If you know of anything please let me know smile

On the subject of laminate, now I know alot of people stay clear or the gloss laminate as it scratches easier, but it looks IMO much nicer when I see it. We are all very careful with our worktop - always use chopping board, never put hot things directly on it etc etc - is it really a bad idea to get a gloss laminate surface?? hmm

reastie Sat 27-Apr-13 18:28:11

korms lucky you with your fancy ovens!

PigletJohn Sat 27-Apr-13 19:07:06

laminate really is extremely popular (hence its popularity) and if you want to take the old top off and put a new one on one day, it is one of the easier jobs.

I am quite keen on the newish "slab" worktops which appear to be made of a thick layer of the hard plastic or reconstituted stone.

PigletJohn Sat 27-Apr-13 20:47:57

laminate really is extremely hard wearing (hence its popularity) blush blush

I've known people replace it after 20+ years, not because it was worn out, but because they were bored with the colour.

chickensaladagain Sat 27-Apr-13 20:54:58

Have you looked at high definition laminate?

Maia or ezystone are other options

Cheaper than granite but you would be looking just above 1k for 6m of either

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sat 27-Apr-13 21:48:51

We saved loads by buying our granite direct from a granite importer in and then getting a stonemason to make the worktops. It also meant we had a huge choice of different types of granite and that we could choose the actual slabs. Buying the granite from a kitchen company can be more expensive. We used a company called Pisani in Feltam, London but I am sure their are lots of other importers.

I previously had THIS TYPE OF LAMINATE and I loved it. It has a lovely finish with subtle shimmery bits in it. It was extremely hard wearing.

Mandy21 Sat 27-Apr-13 22:12:45

reastie I don't think many people have that budget, I wasn't saying it for that blush I was just making the point that its top of the range and some of it is mdf which I was shocked at.

We have gloss laminate at the moment (black mottled) and I think it looks nice as a budget option, but it has scratched. I wouldn't class it as particularly long lasting but we've got the very low budget option.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sat 27-Apr-13 22:33:56

I wouldn't get gloss laminate as the scratches will show. There are lots of different finishes including matt, honed and semi-gloss.

annalouiseh Sat 27-Apr-13 22:35:30

Oak veneer or any veneer carcass are expensive and classed as top of the market.
The reason a lot of bespoke companies use these are because they are water tight. A lot of bespoke companies also use higher end moisture resistant mdf with abs edges again as its water tight.
with a wood carcass if you have a leak it can ruin your whole unit.
neither of these are poor quality when buying from the more upper end of the market.
The differences between carcass, although you dont actually see it is vast from ikea/bnq to higher end with board density and finish.

reastie Sun 28-Apr-13 07:22:03

Thanks everyone. We are off to look at worktops today at Wickes and Homebase to see what they have. I really don't think we will be able to stretch to 1k for worktops to get anything better than laminate, will have t make sure the laminate we do choose is as durable as possible I guess. That is assuming we go with this kitchen!

myron Sun 28-Apr-13 11:13:39

I had a generous kitchen budget of £20k - I still opted for ikea units to allow me to buy quartz worktops and the appliances/gadgets that I wanted plus I did not have to skimp on the floor and wall finishes nor the lighting options. We have an architect and a furniture/product designer in the family and both of them recommended this/done this. It does not look like a budget kitchen - indeed, it isn't but the quality worktop makes a huge difference. Plus it allowed me to have pan drawers galore! The ikea fittings and hinges are extremely high quality being from blum. You can just buy the ikea carcasses and then have bespoke doors made to fit which is another compromise. Btw, i know hardly any keen and certainly no professional cooks who would opt for solid wood doors due to it's porous nature and even more so for a worktop surface. Oil and water will inevitably be splashed onto the surfaces - it's just more impractical IMO although I do realise that there are many who like the look of wood and its price.

reastie Sun 28-Apr-13 11:21:20

Thanks myron . I should have made it clear the oak worktop is just on a display cabinet unit in the dining room, not kitchen worktop. We have decided against oak worktops for just this reason in the kitchen! We had an ikea kitchen in our last house but weren't happy with the quality (it seems people are divided with ikea kitchens - they're a bit marmite). I'm a bit hmm about floor wood cabinets being a bad choice though <clueless>. I can only see as I find but our kitchen currently, like I say is over 20 years old and the oak has worn very well. I'm a keen cook (teach cooking as a job). The advantage of oak on the floor units is it won't show up spills nearly so easily so less cleaning/maintenance on a regular basis. I hate mucky foot boards in kitchens (is that the term??) and I'm worried I'll be driven mad by this if we had a complete painted kitchen (we don't wear shoes inside but it still gets mucky!).

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 28-Apr-13 11:22:39

We have quartz composite work surface and love it. Personally I'd always go for the option that allows cupboards right up to the ceiling - I have a horror of greasy cupboard tops, and it gives you more storage (always good). You can upgrade the surface easily later if you find the money.

AnneEyhtMeyer Sun 28-Apr-13 11:30:47

Agree with LadyIsabella - definitely get cupboards up to the ceiling. I can't believe the difference in the amount of storage space I have now, plus no greasy dusty cupboard tops to clean.

PreciousPuddleduck Sun 28-Apr-13 11:35:57

Block wood top looks better than laminate IMO & is much cheaper. It's what Sarah Beeny used to always recommend on her shows. Enjoy shopping today.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 28-Apr-13 11:44:03

I would look at the selection of laminate worktops at a fancy kitchen store as well as Wickes and Homebase. The 'sheds' don't always have the best selection.
I promise I am not being spammy about this grin but I found the Axiom 'crystal'worktops were really nice.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sun 28-Apr-13 11:44:34

Sarah Beeny used to recommend it to people who were planning on selling the house immediately because it's cheap and looks good when new. The OP is going to have to live with this and keep it clean and she cooks a lot so her priorities are very different.

PigletJohn Sun 28-Apr-13 11:55:50

Wooden worktops are ideally suited to a showroom.

Not so good in a kitchen.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 28-Apr-13 11:56:16

LadyIsabellaWrotham. Exactly what I was thinking. smile

reastie Sun 28-Apr-13 12:41:54

iiiiiiiiiiii was that Axiom 'crystal'worktops you mentioned there?! grin . Our posh unit shop don't do laminate but if homebase/wickes no good we have a local independent laminate shop we'll try.

Lady that was my thought re: Beeny too. Just off out now, will keep you updated, possible photo to follow if anyone cares to offer comments

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 28-Apr-13 12:50:36

blush grin

ChewingOnLifesGristle Sun 28-Apr-13 12:53:42

We recently had our kitchen replaced and have good quality units and laminate. Granite would cost about 5/6k for our kitchenshock which I think could be better spent elsewhere.

Tbh I whilst I like granite but it really isn't something that would mean that much to me. Ie I don't love it to the tune of thousands. Maybe we'll change it one day, but it's not a priority.

I'm delighted with my new kitchen (Wickes btw) and the worktop looks fab and is very hardwearing.

I'd steer well away from solid wood personally. They seems a pita to care for.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 28-Apr-13 16:36:41

Oh, we've got such a dilemma...buying a new house which has granite worktops already fitted. I really, really don't like granite but it seems a huge waste to change them.

I prefer solid wood but can't have that because the cupboards are wood. Or glass, which is prohibitively expensive. Looking around for cheaper alternatives to glass - or corian/coloured acrylic which I also like.

Wish there was some way I could sell on the unwanted granite!

MrsGrowbag Sun 28-Apr-13 16:51:03

booksandacuppa, I really liked the idea of glass worktops until I went to a showroom where they had been in situ for several months. They looked amazing - from a distance. Close up, they were just a mess mass of scratches and marks. The saleswoman said that they were a nightmare and that she wouldn't recommend them, so we didn't go with glass.

reastie Sun 28-Apr-13 16:52:16

books ebay for your granite or you could give it to me grin

We've just got back from homebase and wickes. Both not very good on laminate - it's all so dark and as our kitchen is small we need something light. We're now wondering whether to get cream units all over and oak laminate. It's the only laminate we like so far hmm . Can't have oak floor units too though as too much oak then. Not sure also if it would work in our kitchen as we have alot of shaped worktop with straight but not right angled lines at the edge - thinking it might look a bit obviously not wood with laminate...

BooksandaCuppa Sun 28-Apr-13 17:37:16

I like the sound of cream units with oak tops.

I've just found some retro worktops which are a laminate which look like corian (sort of) in cool colours (for us, not you OP!). Thinking a sage or avocado green against the cherry cupboards?

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 28-Apr-13 17:45:40

Hint Hint

or here (This make has a 'crystal' texture too)


I couldn't have dark worktops either as our kitchen has low ceilings and is north facing. I don't get why dark surfaces are so popular as they show the dirt. I like speckled beigy creamy type of worktops where you can't see the crumbs or spilt coffee.

betterwhenthesunshines Sun 28-Apr-13 17:49:15

Try www.handmadekitchens-direct.co.uk/ for your kitchen. Ours has just been installed - oak veneer interiors, solid tulip wood frames and doors for painting, all made to exact measurements. Looks great.

I went for composite worktops as I'm not very discliplined with hot pans, but a very very close runner was a laminate worktop made by Getalit. It had a much higher heat resistance than is usual for lamintae and a good choice of finishes. I liked the riven slate. The texture is matched with the print so it looks very good. If was having an inset hob I think I would have gone with it, but I have a freestanding range so I didn't want the laminate edging strips to be visible at the sides. <very picky, me?!>

reastie Sun 28-Apr-13 18:13:26

Just working my way through the links, thank you everyone.

reastie Sun 28-Apr-13 18:13:46

Oh and books glad you found something you like.

Ramona75 Fri 10-May-13 13:09:41

I would personally want the majority of my kitchen to be the best quality possible. Granite worktops do cost a fortune and personally I would go with a nice laminate one. I got mine from here www.diy-kitchens.com/laminate-worktops/ and I’m quite happy not having granite. Sometimes having a granite worktop is just bought for bragging purposes rather than anything else:-)

Reastie Fri 10-May-13 13:13:20

thanks for link Ramona. Duropal is what we were thinking of getting for our worktop and it's a great price but will only let me buy with a full kitchen with them due to competitive pricing.

We've decided on oak block laminate for the kitchen. Now just debating whether to get regular homebase/wickes laminite or more expensive duropal

PigletJohn Fri 10-May-13 13:49:54

never mind that kitchen supplier, you can get laminate and slabs from a place that sells laminate and slabs.

Wickes does sell worktops, but in my town there is a trader business called (name) Laminates that has a huge stock, and will order. I believe they sell a big variety to shopfitters. Mine is a small town so I presume there will be plenty around, at the back of industrial estates.

I got a sheet of laminated black ash (real wood) veneer to order in the days when it was fashionable.

Reastie Fri 10-May-13 13:51:27

piglet our local laminates shop is double the price of the DIY chains

PigletJohn Fri 10-May-13 13:56:24


Grammaticus Fri 10-May-13 13:58:42

Piglet John you are OLD grin

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