There are many different types of kitchen worktop. Whatever you decide on, your worktop needs to be durable, easy to clean and stylish. When you think of a new kitchen you immediately think of the cabinets. The kitchen worktop is a prominent piece of the kitchen and will have a lot of impact on the overall look and feel.
Kitchen worktop materials have really changed over the past few years and there is a wide choice with something to fit all budgets. There are worktops available which are super tough and almost indestructible. Stylish worktops are also more important with the increase of open-plan kitchens.
What Should You Consider When Buying a Kitchen Worktop?
Consider your budget. There are worktops available at all price points from cheap laminate to granite. You will most likely make a choice depending on your budget. A cheap worktop might suit you but remember it will probably need replacing much sooner than a worktop that is more durable.
Next, have a look at your kitchen layout. Straight runs of worktop are cheaper and simple to fit. If you have lots of corners then you might want to consider a composite worktop. You can also mix and match your worktops. Use durable worktops in heavy use areas such as around the sink or near the cooker. Then you can use a cheaper worktop for the rest of the kitchen. Mixing worktops is also very on trend at the moment so this works well.
Make sure you consider all costs when choosing a kitchen worktop. Some woods, composites and granite worktops will need templating by an expert. There are costs associated with each cut-out you need. Drainer grooves cut into stone will also cost extra.
The standard thickness of a kitchen worktop is 30mm. You can also buy thinner profiles of just 10 or 20 mm. Often a strip of stone or composite is fitted to the front of the worktop, creating an edge thickness of 50mm.
You should always choose the best kitchen worktop for you and the use your kitchen will get. If you are a single person and only cook a few times a week then you can probably get away with one of the laminate worktops. If you have a large family and cook several times a day then you should look at getting the best worktop you can within your budget.
Here we look at some different worktop materials in more detail:
Hardwood such as oak and walnut are firm favourites for worktops as they are strong and relatively easy to maintain. Hardwood is a better choice than soft woods such as pine because of the its strength and durability. You must also ensure any wood you use is from a sustainable source accredited by the FSC.
If your hardwood kitchen worktop is properly sealed and looked after it will last for a long time. Avoid putting hot pans directly on the wood worktop and also always make sure you use a chopping board. Wood is easy to cut and a really good choice for your kitchen worktop. You will initially need to seal the worktop with linseed oil. It is recommended that you apply a coat of oil once a day for the first week, once a week for the next month and then once a month for a year. After than you can re-seal the worktop quarterly to stop it drying out.
Make sure you wipe up spills immediately to stop staining. One benefit of a wood worktop is that you can sand the worktop down at any point if you get any scratches or stains.
Composite worktops are made from around 90% quartz crystals mixed with binders. They are known as engineered stone or quartz composite. This materials is really strong and durable, resistant to scratches, stains and heat damage and usually comes with a really long warranty. Unlike natural stone, a composite worktop has consistent composition so there is no variety in colour.
A composite worktop should be considered for high use areas such as around the sink or near the hob. It comes in a variety of colours which will all look great in a modern kitchen.
One benefit of a composite worktop is that is can be thermoformed into different shapes, doing away with joints. You will need to have this arranged by your kitchen supplier who will know of an expert.
There is no initial treament needed with a composite worktop. You can easily wipe up spills and you simply keep the kitchen worktop clean with a damp cloth and mild detergent.
A Corian worktop is made from a blend of acrylic resins, minerals and colouring. It is durable and can be totally seamless and created in one piece including splash backs and even a moulded sink. Corian is great if you are looking for something different and it can be used for all sorts of shapes including curves. As it is available in a wide range of colours Corian is suitable for every style of kitchen. You should choose bright colours for modern kitchens and pale colours for more traditional styles.
Corian worktops are heat, stain and water resistant. Any scratches can be sanded out if required. Corian worktops can be formed into any shape without the need for joints and they can be cleaned very easily with a soft cloth and detergent.
Natural stone worktops are beautiful and the colour is unique to each slab. Marble worktops are quite rare and expensive. A big chunk of granite would look great on a central island, even if you use something cheaper on the other kitchen units.
Granite and marble worktops suit a variety of kitchen styles. It is water resistant and can withstand really high temperatures. If you are considering a granite worktop you need to be aware how heavy it is to transport. It will require an initial sealing and will then need to be re-sealed after around 10 years. Granite is low maintenance and can simply be cleaned with a damp cloth and detergent.
A concrete worktop can be produced in a variety of colours and they are designed to withstand heavy use. Concrete is porous and can stain so you need to clear spills up immediately. You should prepare the surface with a sealant or wax to stop stains being absorbed. Concrete is really durable but is prone to scratching.
Concrete worktops can be made to fit any space.
A laminate worktop is the best budget option. They are easy to main and come in a wide range of colours and designs. Laminate kitchen worktops are resistant to most stains but they are not good with heat and steam. They cannot be used without a chopping board as this will damage the worktop.
As there are so many designs and colours available, a laminate kitchen worktop will suit every style of kitchen. You should be able to fit the worktop yourself as it is easy to cut.
A glass worktop would work well for a modern or contemporary kitchen but it wouldn’t work with a traditional country kitchen. If your kitchen is small, glass is a great material to use as it is reflective and gives an impression of space. Glass is non porous and withstands spills well.
If you want a really modern kitchen you can light a glass worktop from below. Glass requires no treatment and can easily be cleaned with a soft cloth and some detergent.
Stainless Steel Worktops
Stainless steel is heat resistant, hygienic and durable. It is good to use around the sink, in food preparation areas and near the hob. Stainless steel is often used in restaurants because of it’s durability and ease of cleaning. It doesn’t work in traditional kitchens but can be used in modern and contemporary designs either alone or mixed with other materials.
Stainless steel is prone to scratches but still looks good. You can use baby oil to keep it looking good.
Give your worktop choice a lot of thought before committing. The chances are you will be stuck with it for many years so make sure you get it right.