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Earthstone Worktops: A Comprehensive Review of the Pros and Cons

In this article I am going to look in detail at the advantages and disadvantages of installing Earthstone worktops in your kitchen. I’m going to focus on how it looks, how durable it is, how easy it is to maintain, the installation process and the cost.

I’m aiming to cover everything, so that you can make a fully informed decision about whether or not an Earthstone work surface is a good choice for your home. If you need to know something that I haven’t covered, please ask your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Before we jump straight into the review, I think it’s important to answer this question:

What are Earthstone worktops made of?

Earthstone worktops have a 28mm chipboard core with a 6mm acrylic outer layer bonded to it. They are often referred to as solid surface worktops. Earthstone worktops are manufactured Wilsonart, and they are similar in their construction to other solid surface countertops such as: GetaCore, Encore, Apollo Magna, Maia, Tuscan and Artis Smartstone.

Okay, so now we know what an Earthstone worktop is made of, let’s now start to look at how this construction impacts upon its visual appeal and durability.

Visual Appeal

The biggest selling point of Earthstone worktops (and all solid surface counters) is that they can be installed so that the joints between the different worktop sections is seamless. This produces a really stunning smooth and attractive finish and is one of the main things that separates solid surfaces from laminate worktops. It’s worth noting that I’ve seen some Earthstone installations where the joints were clearly visible. However, I suspect these were fitted incorrectly (see the section on installation below).

At the time of writing, Earthstone comes in 9 different decors (Slate, Nordic, Pastel, Coffee, Black Star, Graphite, Starry, Mocha and Glacier). Your choice of design will obviously be influenced by the colour scheme of your kitchen, but it will also¬† the durability of your solid surface and the maintenance commitment you’re going to have to make (see below).

Earthstone

Functionality and Durability

The Earthstone advertising literature describes the worktops as being highly durable and long lasting. Let’s investigate these claims in more detail.

The 6mm acrylic solid surface of an Earthstone worktop is non-porous. The Wilsonart website states that Earthstone worktops are “resistant to normal household stains, mould and bacteria growth”, and this seems reasonable as it also true of the other types of solid surface counterops on the market.

Although some suppliers of Earthstone state that it is heat resistant, the manufacturer points out that items taken directly from the oven should not be placed directly on the Earthstone surface. Instead, trviets and worktop savers should be used to protect the surface. Wilsonart also make it clear that the surface will become marked if you cut directly onto the Earthstone. They suggest using a chopping board whenever you are slicing food.

Earthstone work surfaces will become scratched over time and the smoothness of the finish will become less perfect. Although most of these scuffs and scratches can easily be polished away (see below), they will be visible until the maintenance has been carried out. Some of the Earthstone decors show scratches and marks more easily than others. Following conversations I’ve had with suppliers of Earthstone, I would suggest you avoid the very darkest and the very lightest decors if you are going to be annoyed by your worktop looking marked. The Wilsonart website itself also emphasises this point:

Darker colours will show excessive marking, scratches, wear and tear more noticeably.

The safest option in terms of hiding surface scratching is to go for a light coloured, mottled decor. This should minimise the need for frquent maintenance.

I hope I haven’t come across too negatively in this section as that wasn’t my intention. All solid surface worktops, not just Earthstone, are prone to develop surface scratches over time, just as all wood worktops have issues with water spillages, and all granite worktops can be stained by red wine. Providing you treat your Earthstone worktop with care, choose the decor that best suits your situation and circumstances, have it installed correctly and follow the maintenance guidelines properly (see below), your surface should last for years.

Care and Maintenance of an Earthstone Worktop

As mentioned above, the use of worktop savers, chopping boards and trivets is recommended to protect the surface from intense heat and sharp knives.

It is recommended that the surface be wiped down daily with a mild detergent and water and then buffed dry in order to keep it looking its best. Once a week the surface should be polished with a mircofibre cloth.

Slight scratches can be removed by rubbing down the surface with a Scotchbrite pad and then polishing. It is also possible to sand out more severe scratches and dents from the Earthstone, but this is quite a tricky procedure if you are not an experienced kitchen fitter, and should probably be undertaken by a professional.

Wilsonart produce an Earthstone maintenance kit to help you keep the solid surface worktop in the best shape possible.

Installing an Earthstone Worktop

Earthstone worktops are pre-edged on three sides and their installation does not require any specialist fitting tools. Nor do they require templating. It is often said that it’s easy to install an Earthstone work surface and that it’s a job that can be carried out by a confident DIY enthusiast. This may be true, yet, because Earthstone’s visual appeal rests upon its invisible joints, I would be inclined to bring in an experienced solid surface fitter. If you don’t manage to achieve a clean, seamless finish, you might as well have installed a laminate worktop – which would cost a lot less.

Matching upstands, splashbacks and hob back panels are also available.

The literature also states that Earthstone worktops work with various different sink options, including undermounted.

Check out this video. It goes through the entire installation process in lots of detail.

Cost of Earthstone Worktops

Earthstone surfaces are cheaper than granite, quartz and some of the wooden worktops. It’s also cheaper than Corian, and some of the solid surface worktops which have thicker acrylic outer layers. It is more expensive than some of the cheaper wood worktop options, and it’s also more expensive than laminate.

At the time of writing, a 3m length of Earthstone worktop would set you back around £550.

Conclusion

Here are the main points you need to take away.

Pros

  • Can be installed with seamless joints for a sleek, smooth, modern finish.
  • Non-porous surface – resistant to common stains and prevents bacteria build up.
  • Small scratches can be polished away as part of regular maintenance routine.
  • More severe marks and bumps can be sanded out (but may need to be done by a professional)
  • Cheaper than granite and quartz worktops.
  • Relatively easy to install (but will probably still require the services of a kitchen fitter).
  • 10 year guarantee from Wilsonart.

Cons

  • The surface can become scratched quite quickly – especially the very darkest and very lightest colours. (Although the finish can be restored – see above).
  • Fairly easy to maintain, but does require a specialist care kit to do the very best job.
  • More expensive than laminate worktops.

Check out the Wilsonart Earthstone factfile:

Earthstone Factfile

I hope you’ve found this information useful.

If you need more information, or if you’ve got Earthstone worktops and would like to share your opinions about them, please use the comments below.

One Response to Earthstone Worktops: A Comprehensive Review of the Pros and Cons
  1. Gavin Jepson
    April 19, 2013 | 1:37 pm

    As a kitchen fitter I often install eartstone worktops. I find that they do not like extremes of temperature. So when it’s freezing cold outside they warp towards the floor. When it is a hot day they warp towards the sky. This makes them quite difficult to work with outside of a workshop. As mentioned darker colours not only show scratches easier but also smears from cleaning. The last process we carry out on the worktops is the final polish with a microfibre cloth and countertop magic, and trying to polish out the smears on the dark colours is the Bain of my life. They are apart from those bugbears very satisfying to work with, you can achieve a spectacular finish with rounded corners and under mounted sinks with routed draining grooves. Also sanding out scratches is a doddle, so you could have them re-finished and looking as good as new without much hassle.

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