A couple choosing worktops

Off-the-shelf or bespoke worktops – which is best?

When you’re buying a new worktop, one of the decisions you need to make is whether to get it off-the-shelf or buy a bespoke, made-to-measure one.

Your final choice will depend on several factors, such as your budget, your preferred worktop material and how you’ll design your kitchen.

In this blog, we look at the pros and cons of buying off-the-shelf and bespoke worktops to help you make your decision more easily.

Off-the-shelf worktops

So, first of all, what actually is an off-the-shelf worktop? Well, it’s simply a worktop you can buy straight off-the-shelf in a DIY store or from an online supplier. You can either take it home yourself (if you’ve got a big enough vehicle) or have it delivered.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of off-the-shelf worktops:

Pieces of coloured laminate worktops


  • You can get them in a hurry. These worktops are pre-made and usually stocked in bulk. So, if you don’t want to wait, you can pick a worktop up in-store and take it straight home. Or have it delivered within a few days (depending on how quickly the store can deliver).
  • They can be cut with standard DIY tools. This means you can fit them yourself or pay any competent kitchen fitter to install them for you. All the cutting can be done on-site so, once your base cabinets are in place, the worktop can be fitted straight away.
  • They’re cheaper than bespoke worktops. As we said above, off-the-shelf worktops can be cut with standard DIY tools. And that’s because they’re either wooden or predominately made of MDF. These are much cheaper than the materials bespoke kitchen worktops are made of.


  • Your material choice is limited. The only worktop material options you have with an off-the-shelf worktop are wood or laminate. This is because they’re the only materials that can be cut with standard DIY tools. All other worktop materials have to be cut with specialist equipment, which needs to be carried out by a qualified installer.
  • Slab sizes tend to be small. Off-the-shelf worktops come in set sizes. They are typically 3m or 3.6m in length and 600mm in width. This is fine if you just want a worktop to go on a straight run of base cabinets. But if you’ve got a large kitchen island, for example, the width isn’t enough to cover the whole area in one piece, and any joins might be visible.
  • Your design choices are limited. This is particularly true if you opt for laminate. Because laminate has an MDF core, any cut in the slab means the MDF is exposed. So, you won’t be able to create design features such as curves or drainer grooves. And you won’t be able to have an undermount sink either.
  • You won’t get any advice. Now, I’m sure, when you’re in a store buying a worktop, the staff will answer any questions you have. But it’s not specialist advice from an expert. And it’s not specific to your kitchen. And once you get the worktop home, you’re on your own.
  • There’s no aftercare. If you have a problem with your off-the-shelf worktop after it’s been fitted, in most cases, you won’t get any help. Often, the only answer is to uninstall it, take it back to the shop and exchange it for another one. And that’s really not convenient!

Bespoke worktops

A bespoke worktop is a worktop that’s made to order, specifically to your exact requirements. You may be able to see samples in a store or online, but you won’t be able to buy them and take them home then and there.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of bespoke worktops:

Neolith® bespoke worktop in Arctic White


  • You can choose from the full range of worktop materials. Sintered stone, granite, quartz, marble, acrylic, stainless steel and concrete. Those materials are all available to you if you opt for a bespoke worktop. You can find out what is the best kitchen worktop material here.
  • You can get large slab sizes. Slab sizes will differ between different brands. But if you have a large kitchen or would like a large island, there are plenty of brands with large slab sizes to accommodate this. And it means you’ll have fewer cuts and joins in your worktops, which gives your kitchen a seamless look.
  • You have endless design choices. Bespoke worktop materials are solid, meaning that the material runs right through the whole depth. So, wherever a cut is made, you naturally have a finished edge. And this gives you lots of flexibility. For example, a bespoke worktop can be cut to match the shape of curved cabinets. You can have an undermount sink, a recessed drainer or drainer grooves. You can also have a flush-mounted hob, pop-up sockets, upstands and splashbacks. There are lots of worktop ideas that will add the wow factor to your kitchen.   
  • Bespoke worktop materials are better quality than off-the-shelf. Of course, there are always exceptions to the norm. But generally, bespoke kitchen worktops are made from more luxurious materials, such as natural and engineered stones. They not only enhance the look of your kitchen but are also tough and durable and will last for many years.
  • You avoid unnecessary mess. All the cutting for a bespoke worktop is done in the fabricator’s workshop, not your home. This cuts out the noise and mess you would get in your home if the worktop was cut on-site.
  • You’ll get specialist advice. When you buy a bespoke worktop, you’ll be dealing with a supplier who is a specialist in the materials they sell. They’ll be able to advise on the best worktop for you, based on your needs. And the installers are also specialists. So, while they’re in your home, they can give advice that’s specific to your kitchen.
  • Help is on-hand after installation. When your worktop has been supplied and fitted by specialists, it’s their responsibility to look after you if anything goes wrong. So, as long as you use a reputable company, any problems will be dealt with.


  • You’ll have to wait to get your worktop fitted. Bespoke countertops are made to order, which means they take longer to get than off-the-shelf worktops. First, installers visit your home to measure up and make a template of your worktop. But they can’t do this until your base cabinets have been fitted. They’ll then go away, make your worktop and come back another day to install it. The amount of time this all takes can depend on who you buy your worktop from. Some companies can take 6-8 weeks, which is a long time to make do with a make-shift kitchen. But if you buy from us, we typically take 2-3 weeks from start to finish.
  • Bespoke worktops are more expensive than off-the-shelf. There are several reasons for this. They’re made from more luxurious and durable materials. The techniques used to manufacture them are more complex. They require specialist machines to cut them and expert fitters to install them. So, they are more expensive, but the payoff is you’ll have a luxury worktop that looks fantastic and lasts for years.

SEH Interiors have over 10 years of experience supplying and fitting premium-quality bespoke worktops, including sintered stone, quartz and acrylic.
Browse our worktop range.