Kitchen Worktop Overlay – Pros, Cons & Everything Explained
You love your hardwood kitchen cabinets. The floor is in great shape. It’s just your scratched and chipped worktop that makes the whole kitchen look dated. Is there a way to refresh the kitchen without bringing in a JCB? A kitchen worktop overlay may be the perfect solution for your home and your budget.
In this post, I’ll go over what a worktop overlay is, its pros and cons as well as answer some common questions on the topic.
Let’s take a look.
What Is A Worktop Overlay?
A worktop overlay is a slab of manmade material that is just 8mm thick and measured to precisely slide over your existing countertop. Available in a wide range of contemporary looks and materials, it can look like a new granite or quartz countertop but take less money and time compared to a major kitchen renovation. It is a real solid surface able to withstand years of hard work in the heart of your home.
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How Does A Kitchen Worktop Overlay Work?
Getting a worktop overlay is similar to getting any solid surface worktop material. The steps below outline the process.
Start by Choosing Granite, Quartz, or a Designer Colour
First, you will decide which material you want to install over your existing laminate or stone worktop. There is a huge selection of colours, patterns, and textures that look like natural granite, popular quartz, or other styles. You should visit a showroom to see samples under natural lighting and to touch the actual surface before deciding.
Your Kitchen is Measured for a Precise Template
Next, the overlay installation company will visit your home. They take a precise measurement of your existing worktop. You will talk about if you will want to keep your sink, cooktop, fridge, and dishwasher or replace them. Adjustments can be made to accommodate any planned changes. You do not have to do any demo to the kitchen at this time.
The Worktop is Cut at a Workshop Using Robotic Saws
The measurements and your choice of material are sent to the fabrication shop where the overlay is cut out of a single slab. If you have a large kitchen, you decide during the measuring process where any seams will appear. The slabs are cut using CNC technology. A robotic arm makes precise cuts based on coordinates created from your template.
Edges are Permanently Attached at the Factory
A worktop overlay slides over your entire existing worktop, including the edge. Thin matching strips are cut from the same material and glued to the front of the slab to make a form-fitting box. The epoxy dries clear and then is sanded down for an invisible join. Only simple edges are available for overlays.
Upstands and Splashbacks are Part of the Project
You can order needed upstands and splashbacks at the same time. They usually do not add to the cost as they are cut from the same slab as your overlay. They can be cut to the same height as the existing detail in the kitchen.
A Final Polish
Your worktop is then sent through a multi-step polishing process. The final result is a gleaming expanse of durable workspace. It will resist heat, stains, and scratches. You only need to wipe up spills and use a regular cleaner to maintain its like-new appearance. You will never need to seal it.
When the worktop is ready, the overlay installation technicians deliver it to your home. This will take most of the day. First, they remove your appliances, sink, and taps. They may sand the existing worktop to create a better surface for glueing the new worktop down. They will dry-fit the new overlay and make any last-minute adjustments for a perfect fit. Next, they apply the adhesive to the old worktop and permanently install the new one. They will reinstall your sink, taps, and appliances before they leave. You may need to wait a day for the glue to dry before using your new worktop.
In just eight hours, your kitchen gets a quick facelift! You did not have to rip out cabinets or run new plumbing and electrical.
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Pros for Choosing a Worktop Overlay:
- Significant savings over a complete kitchen renovation
- Eco-friendly choice
- No demolition required
- One-day installation
- Wide range of available finishes to complement your decor
- No need to buy new cabinets
- Durable surface resists heat, scratches, and stains
- Easy to clean
- No need for sealing
Cons for Choosing a Worktop Overlay:
- Much more expensive compared to a new laminate worktop
- Comparable in price to some solid slab worktops
- Will raise the height of your work surface
- Not a true natural stone
- Limited range of edges
- Does not update ageing cabinets or flooring
- May require adjustments to plumbing to account for the new height
How Much Does A Worktop Overlay Cost?
The average homeowner will spend around £2,000 for the material and installation services. This can be comparable to installing a solid slab countertop. You see the significant savings when you do not remodel the entire kitchen including paint, refinishing floors, replacing cabinets, and buying new appliances. It is a great option when the existing kitchen is in great condition, but you have a damaged but sturdy worktop.
What Materials Are Worktop Overlays Available In?
Many worktop overlay businesses call their products granite or marble, but that refers to the appearance of the worktop, not the actual material. You will have a huge array of options available from which to make your choice.
Overlays begin life as ground stone leftover from the quarry process when slicing granite, quartzite, or marble from the mountain face. The aggregate is combined with resins, epoxy, colourants, and other materials and formed into slabs 8mm thick. They are then baked to create an incredibly hard surface that can be polished and cut into worktops. Some overlays contain as much as 93% natural stone aggregate.
You will find worktop overlays that look like natural granite with veining, flecks, and movement in the non-repeating pattern. There are also overlays made out of recycled glass that can bring a splash of bright colour to your kitchen counters.
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There you have it. Everything you need to know about kitchen worktop overlays.
Installing a kitchen worktop overlay is by no means a cheap endeavour. However, if the rest of your kitchen is still in great shape and you want to freshen up the room with a harder wearing countertop, then a worktop overlay could be the perfect option. Compared to a full kitchen renovation it can save a lot of time, mess and money!
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for around 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.