Can the Cheapest be the Best
It stands to reason that you get what you pay for in everything, and wooden worktops are no exception. Of course no one wants to pay more than they have to, but with such a huge variation in the actual quality available out there on the internet, what's cheap and what's good value, because they are two very different animals.
Generally, cheap is a euphemism for crap. I personally love strap lines like 'lowest prices, highest quality', as that's a triumph of marketing over reality, but it doesn't stop a lot of people getting caught out.
So how do you tell?
One of the first and best markers is photographs, particularly customer photographs, as there is no faking these. Photos of small areas of worktop with a bunch of grapes or a bowl of fruit on them are perfectly useless, since they are unlikely to represent the product. They could be anything. Set up photos are ok, and show willing, but of course you're not likely to pick out a worktop that doesn't look great are you? We've been working on an idea to photograph every single worktop we make and then put it on-line. So the quality of work you see is what goes out the door every day. Not just the rich pickings for the camera.
Reviews used to be a good marker, but now these have manipulated beyond Mills and Boon status. I don't know who has the time to write such gushing reviews for worktops, but whoever it is must be getting bored by now. With many E savvy companies out there offering gifts and discount for feedback, the whole thing has rather lost its meaning. Have a look at Reviews in more detail.
The next marker is to see if the worktop supplier's products can be seen anywhere, or if a well respected company use them. That always answers a lot of questions.
Samples are a great way to get your hands on the product, and one route I would definitely recommend. Free samples are a waste of time, but at least a free waste of time so worth a look in, but don't expect them to be up to much. Beware how the samples have been oiled or finished though, as this may not be the way you get the worktops. Some companies like to wipe the minimum amount of oil on to darker timber as it doesn't look that dark until you put the proper amount of oil then, and then they darken considerably. Either ask the supplier, or do your own oiling when you get it just to make sure.