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Solid Laminate worktop (Zenith/Exilis)

(38 Posts)
EJC85 Thu 06-Apr-17 21:50:58

Hello all,

We're planning a new kitchen and came across this new type of kitchen worktops called Zenith. It's an ultra slim 12.5 mm solid laminate worktop which is supposed to be waterproof.

As it is new, I'm struggling to find more info about it. I was wondering if any of you have any experience with this type of worktop and could share your impressions with me?

Is really all it promises? Where apart from B&Q could I purchase it from?

Any info would be much appreciated.

Many thanks! wink

Miniwookie Thu 06-Apr-17 23:20:00

I don't know much about it, but noticed that Wickes had it when I was in there earlier today.

EJC85 Thu 06-Apr-17 23:55:00

Hi Miniwookie, I came across it last weekend whilst in B&Q. Unfortunately they only had small slabs as samples and the lady there didn't know anything about it and when I started asking questions she fobbed me off 😕.

What did you think of them?

I think they look interesting in the pics I saw online but really want to see one in the flesh to have a better idea. On paper it ticks all the boxes for us as whilst I do like the look of Quartz worktops, they're so expensive! This Zenith seemed like a good compromise between the expensive stones and normal laminate. Only thing is it's so new it's hard to find out about people's experiences of it.

EJC85 Sat 08-Apr-17 21:07:56

Just a bit of an update in case someone is curious.

Went on a bit of a hunt for the Zenith worktops where I live today. All of the places supposed to stock these worktops (B&Q, Homebase & Wickes) did not have a proper display of the worktop for customers to see. They only have small samples! Wickes only had 2 colours available, Homebase only 1 and B&Q (they call it Exilis) was the best of them all with 3 different colours.

The lady in Wickes said they have been hugely popular and selling well but did not know much more than that.
Now the kitchen designer at B&Q (who was designing a kitchen for us this afternoon) said these worktops were pretty much a flop, having sold only 1 so far since they started stocking it about 8/9 months ago. He also said he didn't really vouch for the product and would not be recommending it to potential customers as the only one they sold was problematic upon installation due to its thickness. Something to do with how sinks and hobs had been hard to fit and customer had lost cupboard space to accommodate the worktop.

I left feeling really deflated and more confused than when I started.

Back to the drawing board of worktops it is....

QuitMoaning Sat 08-Apr-17 21:59:38

Thank you for the update as they had crossed my radar.
I shall go back to having quartz at the top of my list for now.

Mummo2 Fri 21-Apr-17 22:46:06

I am about to order Zenith worktops for my kitchen, Homebase, Wickes & Magnet sells them as well as online. I checked with my installer, apparently they are difficult to install due to them being very hard and clips for sinks are not the right size due to the thinness of the top. But doable. YouTube has installation videos that might help you decide.

EJC85 Fri 21-Apr-17 23:49:18

Hey Mummo2 would you come back to update us later on when you get it installed? I still really like it but feeling too unsure to go for it really.

Did you have any reservations about it at all? What did your installer say about it?


Mummo2 Sat 22-Apr-17 15:09:51

Hi EJC85, Of course I will tell how it goes, might take some time as it is part of a extension being built. As to having reservations, no not really. I have spent so much time reading about it, looked at them in the shops several times. I would talk to the installer though, some have never even heard of it.
I have never damaged a standard laminate worktop, my present one is solid oak and total mess around the sink. (not very good at housekeeping)
I can't afford nor justify quartz. I rather spend the money on boiling tap, waste disposal unit, underfloor heating, all that would make life better or easier (I hope), more so than a worktop.
Crikey, didn't realise how many extras are on my wishlist.
Have just found Norwegian underfloor heating website which sounds superb, so going to investigate it next. smile

Moonstar16x Tue 16-May-17 01:42:34

Hi all
These 12.5 mm solid compressed formica worktops from an installers point of view are a nightmare to install. You will go through your finest saw blades in seconds. It will cost the customer a lot more and to installers if you're using high end tools like Festool, even that could potentially burn out....expensive piece of kit to replace.

Mac66 Wed 07-Jun-17 16:43:38

I've recently had a new kitchen and purchased the wood stone grey exilis worktop. Fitter hated fitting it, he'd not done one before and went through lots of blades as mentioned in thread previously. Also same issue re sink and distance from join. But went ahead fitting it with clearance from someone higher up. Worktop looks amazing and is supposed to be heat resistant but not sure I'll be testing it! My only concern is that black marks have started appearing in several places on the edges. First one as soon as it was fitted. Now there are nearly a dozen. If you sand it it disappears but then comes back out after a short time. I'm waiting for someone to come and look at it. But I won't be keeping it in the state it's in now.

Mummo2 Wed 07-Jun-17 16:57:08

Eventually I have ordered my new kitchen. Originally I was going for Zenith worktop but every installer hated them. I then did 180 degree turn re the design and went with white and navy kitchen. Didn't think any of the zenith colours would have worked so dropped the idea of these worktops. Maybe it was a good choice.

tiba Wed 07-Jun-17 18:14:17

We were told we couldn't have a thin worktop if an oven would be fitted below

It's been around donkeys years and is the same stuff used in commercial washrooms and cubicles

Many companies produce it such as Formica etc.

Its official name is Solid Grade Laminate

EJC85 Sat 10-Jun-17 17:10:05

Hi all,

many thanks for the updates on this worktop.

It is very useful to know!

Mac66 - I can't blame you for not wanting it if the marks don't disappear. How very annoying!!!

Mummo2 what type did you go for in the end?

I think we've pretty much given up on Zenith now...It seems like quite an expensive gamble and I am not willing to risk it! blush

Stevepd Tue 20-Jun-17 08:05:33

We have just had 3 sets of these worktops fitted, all in the same kitchen. Much the same story, fitters not seen them, can't fit them. B and Q have fitted them three times and still not got them right.
Good to look at but even their best team couldn't get the edges right. Will have to rethink and go for a second choice.
It's a pity but I wouldn't touch if you are thinking of it.

Malarkin14 Sat 24-Jun-17 17:31:14

Hi all

We are in the process of having Zenith work tops and we too have had problems not with the product as yet, but you guessed it with the fitting. We had Wickes design our kitchen and originally I decided on granite worktop with undermount sink. My other half found the Zenith purely by chance in B&Q and persuaded me to opt for it as a supposedly equally hard wearing but much less expensive option.

I have to say I had my reservations, firstly because no one had it made up in a show room so we had to rely on a small sample and a good imagination, secondly I was concerned about finding an experienced fitter who could do a good job as I had found a fitters forum online and some comments about how they didn't like fitting it and finally the fact that in order to get the black slate version that we had chosen, we had to order it from B&Q as Wickes didn't sell that colour and although Wickes were happy to fit it, I was worried what would happen if something went wrong.

Before I go on to tell you what a nightmare it's been I have to first say that my other half used it to fit our utility in advance of having our new kitchen fitted so we had somewhere that would double as a makeshift kitchen whilst the work was done. Ok it was a fairly simple straight run with no joins and an overmount sink but he managed to do a good job and it look lovely with my cream gloss units. This in part helped allay my fears, thinking if my farmer husband can do it surely professional kitchen fitters with good quality tools could too. How wrong I was!

The first issue was we were told to make sure we ordered a Zenith worktop installation kit so we duly asked for said kit when we went to order our worktops from B&Q. We were told there was no such thing and we just needed a two part epoxy resin and some biscuits for the joints which we could buy off the shelf from any good hardware/ diy store. When the fitter arrived he once again asked if we had the installation kit. Explained what we had been told but he insisted there was such a thing having spoken with his manager. We therefore rang WilsonArt the manufacturer who indeed confirmed that all we needed was a clear two part epoxy resin, nothing special. We relayed this information to the fitter who still wasn't happy. We asked him how we could buy something that no one seemed to sell and anyway we had already purchased what the manufacturer had recommended. In desperation, we tried ringing Wickes head office and a lady there looked on the system and confirmed that they had such a kit but that she could not tell us what it consisted of but agreed to send one out. To cut a long story short, the kit did not arrive in time for the fitter to do the worktops in the allocated fitting week. To be honest though, he seemed reluctant to even start cutting it out and during the week as various members of the fitting team arrived eg electrician, plumber, fitters asst etc, all seemed transfixed by the worktop as if it was something they had never seen before which made me feel less than confident!

We are now 6 weeks on due in part to other issues I don't even want to begin to go into plus a failed attempt last week to complete the fitting of the worktop. The fitter had left it cut to size and ready to be fitted down once said installation kit arrived which incidentally was a poor quality two part epoxy resin plus biscuits and sanding and cleaning wipes which was £3O and could have been purchased for much less off the shelf or from Amazon and delivered the next day! It wasn't as good as what we had bought ourselves so what had we waited for??? The fitter arrived last week with his manager in tow as I think by now we have been labelled as "difficult customers" . We assumed that the manager was staying to oversee and assist but no, he left after a short discussion and the fitter set about his work. 5 hrs passed and eventually two joins were complete. When I say complete, I don't mean to a satisfactory standard. I could see one join from the adjoining room. It was more obvious than before he had touched it when it was simply sitting on the units unfitted. On closer inspection it was even worse, sitting proud in parts so you could not only see but feel when you ran your hands over it. Now I don't expect an absolutely invisible join but this was ridiculous. As the fitter was about to start putting upstands on, we called a halt to the operation stating we weren't happy with them and the fitter with the help of my other half had to set about quickly getting them apart before they set solid!! Once apart it became obvious that the fitter had only used 3 biscuits on each join when in fact 5 were supplied. Thankfully no attempt had been made to secure the worktop to the units. In actual fact there was not enough resin within the kit to complete the job anyway.

The issues as I see it are:

1) Although Zenith seems a good product and an alternative to the more expensive quartz, granite corian etc it doesn't seem to be promoted by sales teams in store. I suspect this is because it's a fraction of the price and they would obviously rather up sell to make a higher commission plus the fact that the few that have been fitted have been problematic. That said, retailers shouldn't sell at all if they cannot train fitters to fit to a satisfactory standard.

2) Because kitchen sales personnel don't promote and sell this product, which I admit may not be to everyone's taste, fitters rarely fit this stuff and hence are not experienced in doing so and don't seem to like tackling it.

3) It is extremely hard stuff and fitters need the right good quality tools as demonstrated on WilsonArts you tube fitting instruction videos along with plenty of sharp blades. I'm not convinced our fitter had either and was doing it single handed. Two fitters where one could have held the worktop steady whilst the two edges were being glued together might have helped .

4) Because it is ultra thin there are some issues with fitting hobs, sinks etc not that these can't be overcome with some thought. We have manged to get round these issues with some clever thinking and design which I have to say came from my husband not the design or fitting teams!

So where are we now?

The fitter has taken an off cut of the work top to practise on!! Two more installation kits have been ordered in readiness for another attempt. The manager of the contracted builders that Wickes use locally along with the Wickes regional installation manager are due to visit us "difficult customers" this coming Tuesday to discuss where we go from here and you can be sure I will have plenty to say on the matter.

I will keep you all posted on the outcome. As for the product, the work top fitted in the utility by my other half is wearing well without problem but it's early days. Beginning to think I should have let him fit the whole lot himself, he couldn't have done a worse job!

In the meantime, here is a not so brilliant photo of part completed kitchen with said worktop just for those who haven't seen it before.

Malarkin14 Sat 24-Jun-17 22:29:08

Mac66. In relation to your marks on the edge of your Zenith worktop, my husband says WilsonArt ( the manufacturer) recommend a coating of linseed oil on the edges to enhance the finish. He thinks that might help. It's worth a try.

Tanyaaah Sun 25-Jun-17 09:41:23

I came across this solid surface worktop, online, which seems to be way cheaper (£389 for 4 metres) than Maia or similar ones you see in shops. I ordered some samples and they seem fine. Anyone used this?

credmond Sat 15-Jul-17 18:55:59

Hi everyone,

I work for Wickes and absolutely love Zenith worktops! I offer them to all my customers, from those looking at standard laminates to those looking at granite and quartz.

The main selling points is how unique it looks, 100% waterproof, can be used as a splash back and shelving as well.

Wickes now sell 4 different colours/designs due to its popularity.
We have heard of some issues with fitting Zenith however these have come from people that have not used our own fitters.

Zenith is an extremely hardy and tough product, and therefore we recommend following the installation guide which says to use a fresh sharp blade for all new cuts. You will also need the installation kit which our designers would sell to you on purchase of any Zenith worktops.

In terms of having issues with fitting sinks/hobs etc, there are some factors that need to be considered. Due to the thickness your fitter may need to add some joists for extra height between your units and worktop. These would not be visible when everything is complete but allow the extra room needed for certain appliances and units.

Overall, I would definitely go for a Zenith over a standard laminate and even granite for some designs. It is a really good product that we have had amazing feedback on.
If you wish to know anymore details take a look on the WilsonArt website as they are the manufacturers or feel free to ask me anything.

EJC85 Wed 02-Aug-17 18:14:17

Hi Malarkin14 - many thanks for your account of your experience with Zenith. I am so sorry to hear it's been a nightmare for you.

I agree with everything you said there. I also don't think there is a problem with the product itself. It is the fitting of it, or rather the fitters who seem to have a problem with it. Lack of knowledge/experience of this product is what makes it all so bad.
I also agree 100% when you say that the stores who sell them don't promote them well enough. In fact I was ACTIVELY discouraged from purchasing it in my local B&Q which I found awful. They fobbed me off and were like 'oh you don't wanna use that. We only sold 1 so far and it has caused a lot of problems when installing it. It is a flop in terms of sales'. I was quite shocked to hear that actually.

I hope that in time fitters will become more used to it, but they need to be willing to try and work with the product for that to happen! It seems a real shame to miss out on it because of the fitting issues.
I have now decided not to go with it, mainly because we're having an IKEA kitchen and the units are deeper so it would be problematic to have worktops which are not supplied by them too. So for ease I'm going to get an IKEA one even though I really loved the idea of Zenith.

I'd love to hear an update on your story when you can.

Many thanks and good luck!

Kitchen47 Sat 05-Aug-17 14:29:38

Hi. We are also considering the Wickes worktop .... does anyone know if it can be put behind an induction hob (as in the splashback to the hob)?

Abley Thu 10-Aug-17 22:24:23

I am a kitchen installer and fitted these worktops today joins are tight and flat. IT is harder to cut then traditional worktop but can be used. Hope this helps

Jasmine1991 Fri 11-Aug-17 21:42:19

Hi Abley
Where are you based please? I would like you to install my Zenith worktop. How much would it cost?

Benjp1 Fri 11-Aug-17 22:46:59

Hi All, just to let you know that these work tips are not as heat resistant as they claim them to be. Had mine fitted by wickes, looked great and today the surface pipped next to the hob. Nothing touching it, just heat from a pot on the hob. I am speechless.

EJC85 Sat 12-Aug-17 20:20:00

Oh my goodness Benjp1 that is shocking! shock

Kitchen47 Sun 13-Aug-17 07:14:53

Benjp1 that is awful. It will be you interesting to see what Wickes says when you contact them. When we had our kitchen designed there a couple of weeks ago, the designer definitely said it was fine behind an induction hob.

I also contacted Wilsonart directly to find out if it would be ok behind a hob. They said yes the splashbacks can go behind a hob but they recommend referring to the hob manufacturers guidance as to how far back it should be.

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