Worktop Express Blog

It’s holiday season but our fabrication team have been working harder than ever! Please keep reading for a selection of our favourite bespoke worktops from August…

1. Deluxe walnut

This stunning deluxe walnut worktop contains several bespoke elements but the natural beauty of the timber still shines through. We’re particularly proud of the drainer grooves; we recently expanded our range to offer even more choice to our valued customers, and are pleased to report that these have proved very successful. Drainer grooves are simple little things – they prevent water settling on the worktop and staining it – but this small investment can prevent any moisture-related issues. We have a number of patterns (straight, fan or fountain grooves) offering you freedom of choice when it comes to style.

You’ll also notice an irregular cut out at the bottom corner; which has been created to accommodate the customer’s kitchen needs (an extruding wall or similar). There are also two conveniently placed hob and sink cut outs, allowing easy transfer of pans from one to the other.

2. Full stave oak

This full stave oak worktop certainly catches the eye. It is a superb example of a tapered worktop – notice how the top left width is larger than the bottom right, creating an attractive ‘teardrop’-like surface. Our fabrication team use the angles and measurements given by the customer to cut the worktop with precision. And whether the worktop will be used for a table top, breakfast bar or preparation surface, opting for a tapered alteration creates a quirky, unique finish to your work surface… without breaking the bank!

3. Full stave zebrano

Next up: a full stave zebrano worktop complete with a double-ended ellipse, hob cut out and handy hot rods in close proximity. The ellipse end is a very popular fabrication option as it offers both an attractive finish and flexibility – a convenient breakfast bar or additional preparation area can be created with little fuss.

We’re also particularly fond of hot rods. These slender, attractive additions prevent any accidental burns or damage to the worktop which can be caused by hot cooking utensils (such as saucepans). Our hot rods are available in a number of aesthetically-pleasing formations, with diamond (pictured), linear or bespoke options. The metal rods can be removed from the grooves to make for easy cleaning and maintenance or alternatively fixed with an adhesive.

We’re certainly feeling inspired by these pictures and we hope you are too; so if you fancy taking advantage of our affordable fabrication service, please don’t hesitate to contact us and our experienced team will be happy to assist.

Gloucestershire Business Awards 2013

It’s that time of year again – the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo Business Awards are being held on the 3rd October at the Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse. Following last year’s success – the company was nominated for ‘Family Business of the Year’ and director Will Rees ‘Young Businessperson of the Year’ (with Will triumphing in his category) – we are excited to attending again.

The awards seek to celebrate outstanding businesses operating across the county, attracting some of the region’s biggest names. Into their 16th year, the competition remains as fierce as ever. Ian Selwood, managing partner of Randall & Payne, chief sponsor of the Business Awards, says: “the talent we have in Gloucestershire never ceases to amaze me.”

We are delighted to announce that this year we have been shortlisted as finalists in two award categories: ‘Family Business of the Year’ and – in recognition of the Worktop Express® website – the ‘Best Business Website’ category. Only three finalists have been chosen for each award; we feel privileged to have been included.

‘Family Business of the Year’ is a wonderful accolade for father and son team Martyn and Will Rees, who formed Direct Online Services (the company behind the Worktop Express® brand) just five years ago. The rapid development of the company means that it now employs over a hundred people in the Gloucestershire region. Worktop Express is proud to be a leading branch of the Direct Online Services family and, since our launch in 2009, we have successfully delivered nearly 100,000 orders to satisfied customers. As an e-commerce brand, we take pride in our website, performing frequent updates and adding new information all the time so that it is a convenient and accessible resource for our visitors – so when it was revealed that we were finalists for ‘Best Business Website’ we were overjoyed, to say the least! Our website is simple to use, and provides plenty of information about our solid wood worktops and all other services and accessories we have to offer. We are committed to regularly monitoring and honing our website to ensure that the information you receive is relevant and appropriate.

The Worktop Express® team are always keen to hear from our customers regarding any aspect of our service; so please do not hesitate to contact us if there is something on our website you particularly like, or if you have anything you wish to share. And when the 3rd October rolls around, please keep your fingers crossed for us at the Awards – we’ll keep you posted on how we do!

As you can probably tell from the ‘Opening Times’ banner that adorns our website, the Worktop Express® team are busily preparing for the bank holiday!

We understand the importance of being able to place orders and seek advice over the break and make it a priority to run the fullest service possible. Below is a handy rundown of the all-important dates and times; please contact us if you have any questions:

Bank Holiday Information

  • Open as normal until 23rd August (inclusive)
  • Delivery over the bank holiday weekend: Our 2Man delivery team will not be delivering between 24th – 26thAugust. Our one-man courier option is available for deliveries on Saturday 25th.
  • Showroom and Sales Lines: Please feel free to pop by our showroom or telephone our sales team over the bank holiday; we will be open between 10am-2pm on Saturday 24th and Bank Holiday Monday (26th).
  • 27th August: Open and delivering as normal (the only exception being areas that require our 48 hour deliver service – please check the availability of this service at checkout).
New Sample Size Now Available

Here at Worktop Express®, we take real pride in the quality of our timber – so much so that we welcome potential customers to test us out by providing a full sample service.

To both reduce our carbon footprint and ensure that the high standards we expect are met, our European timbers are manufactured and sourced only in Central Europe. Exotic timbers are manufactured in the place of origin. Moreover, all are purchased from legal, sustainable sources.

We are confident that the quality of our wood will never fail to delight and astound. As such, we have always offered substantial and fully finished sample sections of wood for a small cost so that customers can get a real sense of what is on offer. Previously all timbers have been available in 200mm x 150mm x 40mm solid sections; now, for the first time, we are also offering samples of selected timbers in a reduced thickness of 27mm. By widening the choice available we seek to provide a more well-rounded sample service, allowing customers to make an informed choice before purchasing.

So whatever worktop option you’re leaning towards, we encourage you to give our sample service a try! We charge just £5.00 (including delivery and VAT) per sample – and if you go on to place a worktop order over £150 we will refund the cost on a one-for-one basis. Please click here to visit our sample page or contact us for more information on this unmissable service.

We are aware that we have already waxed lyrical about the wonders of zebrano this week; however, when we dipped our toe into the waters of global fashion and saw the number of African animal prints – zebra featuring highly – currently dominating catwalks and catalogues alike, we simply had to give it another mention!

African safari parks have been among the most popular holiday destinations this summer; as such, the fact that the ‘safari theme’ has now crossed over into the design world is perhaps unsurprising. As journalist Lisa Haynes comments, ‘you don’t need a plane ticket to Africa to embark on a safari adventure this summer. Park your jeep on the high street to pounce on the safari trend.’ She goes on to laud the ‘versatile nature’ of this kind of styling, with ‘monochromatic prints for a low-key spin on the usual bright tribal patters, and animal prints for the tiger in you (leopard or zebra).’

Zebrano Worktop 2M X 620 X 40mm

But this fashion for exotic African prints isn’t limited to apparel. Interior designer Linda Barker feels that ‘evoking the style of a destination that you love is a brilliant way to give rooms an update’. A hint of Africa can lend a sense of drama and excitement to a design scheme; Barker recommends setting animal print accessories and wood furniture against a crisp white backdrop – and we can’t help but think that a zebrano worktop would be the perfect addition!

So to enliven your kitchen or transport its inhabitants to an exciting new destination, please consider our worktop of the month: full stave zebrano. These beautiful timbers marry a stunning golden and brown grain pattern, creating a striking work surface that will bring warmth and flair to any room.

We’re not sure what’s come over the Worktop Express® team this month – perhaps it’s those fleeting appearances the sun has been making or the lure of foreign climes – but we’re feeling that summer sizzle. We’re in the mood for something bright. Something bold. Something daring. And we need a timber worktop to match…

With that in mind, there was no other choice – it had to be zebrano. And not just any zebrano. August is a month for luxury, so we’re opting for that most luxurious of worktop constructions: full stave zebrano.

First things first, though. Full stave or no, right now you’re probably wondering what makes zebrano worthy of all this attention in the first place. Here are some little-known facts about this fabulous timber:

  • Zebrano – or microberlinia brazzavillensis – is an exotic hardwood, primarily grown in the tropical rainforests of West Africa.
  • A lover of the moist soil found on the banks of rivers and inland streams, zebrano was once plentiful in these areas. Sadly this is no longer the case, as improper harvesting has threatened the survival of this precious tree; however – thanks to the EUTR and careful sourcing by companies like Worktop Express® – reforesting schemes have now been established and this wood can be purchased responsibly. Please click here to read more about the EUTR or view our environmental policy .
  • This timber is also known as ‘zebrawood’ and is named for the layers of soft and hard material that make up its structure. These result in alternating dark and golden stripes, giving the wood a distinctive ‘animal print’ appearance.
  • Zebrano is not only blessed with a uniquely decorative appearance but also scores highly in terms of toughness and density. As such, the timber has a wide variety of uses, ranging from string instruments, skis, bowls, and even stocks for handguns!

Zebrano certainly is a versatile and striking timber; however, as wonderful as all other uses of the timber may be, we still think a zebrano worktop is the most stunning creation of all! And if you are tempted to introduce the timber into your kitchen, a full stave zebrano worktop has an extra element of sparkle. We utilise extra-wide, 90mm solid wood sections that encompass the full length of the worktop, showcasing the timber’s charms in a truly unique way.

For more information on our zebrano work surfaces or any aspect of our service, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We also have a lovely zebrano display in our showroom which you are warmly invited to take a look at; visitors are welcomed from 9am-5pm on weekdays or 10am-2pm on Saturday.

Worktop Express® is now the proud owner of a Pinterest page: a brilliant platform through which to show our worktops in action, we are sure you will agree. Pinterest is a website which allows you to create ‘boards’ (online pages that you can customise), posting and ‘re-pinning’ anything you may find interesting and wish to share with your followers. You can also browse the boards of others, too – like our easy to find Worktop Express® page!

On our page, you will find many posts of our fabulous solid wood worktop range : we already have boards containing two of our worktops – beech and walnut – up and running, with plenty more Worktop Express® timbers appearing very soon. Our page is regularly updated with insights into our favourite trends plus a few fun ‘Pinterest’ extras that have caught our attention (‘wacky’ wood examples and more!); something we thought our readers would appreciate.

So please do not hesitate to follow us on Pinterest and discover some of the wonderful things our page has to offer – indeed, if there is a product of ours that you particularly love, we’d be delighted if you would share it with your followers too! Similarly, if you find any images, infographics or boards that you think we may enjoy, or if you would like to let us know what you think of the Worktop Express® page, please do not hesitate to contact us and share your feedback. We’re always keen to expand our knowledge of solid wood in any form, and there’s nothing better than hearing about it from you! Let’s get re-pinning!

Our recent fabrication sale is now over, which makes us rather glum; but fortunately we have some lovely pictures to keep us in the ‘happy fabrication’ mood… and there will be plenty more to come, so watch this space!

Orders have been storming in over the last month and our brilliant bespoke team have hardly enough hands to meet demand – little wonder, with all the exciting customisation options that our customers can choose from. Take a look at our bespoke cutting page for more information on this affordable, speedy service.

Now, back to our fabrication gallery. Our drainage grooves – we now offer three options: fountain, fan, and straight – have been particularly exciting to capture on film. This month the delicate ‘fountain’ pattern is under the spotlight. Please view the image below to appreciate what we mean: these grooves not only protect your worktop from standing water but make a stunning worktop addition – what a combination!

But if you’re not feeling groovy, never fear – we also have a few other choice images for your viewing pleasure, including a superb sink cutout and a wooden worktop with rounded counter addition (which also looks curiously like an oaken gun when viewed from the right angle…or perhaps that’s just us).

Full stave prime oak worktop with an ellipse end and an irregular cutout.

Full stave prime oak worktop with an ellipse end and an irregular cutout.

Caramel bamboo worktop with an undermounted sink and fountain drainer grooves.

Caramel bamboo worktop with an undermounted sink and fountain drainer grooves.

Bespoke black American walnut worktop with a hob cutout and an irregular corner cut.

Bespoke black American walnut worktop with a hob cutout and an irregular corner cut.

European walnut worktop with an irregular sink cutout.

European walnut worktop with an irregular sink cutout.

Timber Trade Federation Logo

Here at Worktop Express®, we’re passionate about wood in all forms. We strongly believe that this wonderful natural material can be protected and yet enjoyed by us all if the right practices are implemented and adhered to. This is why we have always sourced our timber carefully, choosing and maintaining close links with reputable suppliers who adhere to all legislation and environmental guidelines.

This is also why we were particularly interested to view the recent Panorama programme ‘Jungle Outlaws: The Chainsaw Trail’, a documentary covering reporter Raphael Rowe’s investigation into illegal logging in the Congo – and the impact of the recently introduced EUTR.

The Congo rainforests are a rich resource for tropical plantlife, but sadly these are being exploited: during his investigation Raphael Rowe came across whole sections of forest which had been cleared to make way for lorries to transport just a few trees. As a local civil society organiser commented, ‘The forestry companies that are exploiting the south do not respect the law and regulations of our country. There is no planning and the forests are managed chaotically and illegally.’

Rowe lamented the huge amount of waste involved: not only are trees simply destroyed rather than being logged and made use of, these valuable exotic trees are largely unrecognisable once the manufacturing process has begun. Rather than being well treated and proudly displayed as kitchen furniture or worktops – celebrating the timber’s unique natural qualities – the vast majority are thinned down, processed with other woods, and turned into plywood.

Most important of all, the EUTR is simply not being complied with as it should; in fact Rowe was able to track illegally harvested timber into Europe, pinpointing a European supplier he implied was dealing in such timber. To practice as such would be in strict contravention of the European Timber Regulation.

In essence, the EUTR demands that all those who supply or trade in timber products take responsibility for the chain of custody. For traders (like Worktop Express®) stringent records must now be kept (however we have always kept such records, and more) and for operators (those who import the timber), due diligence must be exercised to ensure that the timber has been logged in a legal manner. This can necessitate an exploration by the operator into the source of the timber. It is not enough to simply accept the documentation provided; as Brad Mulley of the Forests Monitor commented on the programme, an ‘indepth investigation’ may need to be carried out to ‘assess and mitigate risk’.

It is a terrible shame that there are still operators and traders who would continue to utilise illegally harvested timber, and we sincerely hope that the EUTR goes some way to combatting this issue. However the good news is that there are reputable traders out there – like Worktop Express® – who have always placed sustainability and legality above all else when it comes to purchasing timber. Moreover, we make it a priority to be transparent and open about our policies: please view our Environmental Page or recent EUTR Nutshell Guide for more information on our practices.

The work of reporters like Raphael Rowe is crucial in raising awareness. We can only hope that their continued efforts and regular improvements to legislation will eventually mean that there is only one type of timber product on the market: legal, sustainable, and responsible.