As well as the many different colours and textures of kitchen worktop, an almost infinite number to fit in with any kitchen design, there are all sorts of different materials they are made from too.
In this article we take a run-down of the major categories that you can choose to fit in with your kitchen design. Some of the materials have to be constructed off-site to exact measurements then installed in your home, others come in set lengths for you or a kitchen fitter to cut to size.
Granite Kitchen Worktops – the Darling of Contemporary Kitchen Design
Granite kitchen worktops are currently the ultimate in style and the price goes up to match. The high gloss finishes are dramatic but it can also be obtained in a matt finish, although that usually costs more as the face has to be machined. It is probably the heaviest kitchen worktop material so think twice about installing it in a flat or maisonette, particularly if there’s no lift.
Hardwearing, natural and good to look at, granite can shatter if hot pans are placed directly on it so pan rests need to be employed. It can also be damaged if spills and stains aren’t cleared up immediately, wine and lemon juice being just two examples of acidic products that could stain a granite worktop.
Hardwood for Natural Kitchen Worktops
Hardwood kitchen worktops are also natural and can look beautiful. Although not as durable as some other products, with the correct treatment and care they can last forever. And if they are damaged, perhaps by water staining or scratches, they can be repaired and resealed to look as good as new.
Quartz and Other Composites for a Clean Workspace
There is now a wide range of kitchen worktops on the market made from composite materials. These are a mix of stone or other aggregate, sometimes quartz or other crystals, which are blended with colour pigments in an acrylic resin base. Most of these products are known by brand names, the best known perhaps being Corian.
Corian, along with many other similar products, require professional fitting. A trained kitchen planner will come to your home to measure up and produce an accurate template which is then used at the factory to construct your kitchen worktops. They are then delivered to your home and dropped straight in.
Many of these products will include the sink and drainer, moulded into the worktop in a seamless run, which looks good and minimises the dirt traps on the surface. At the lower price end they are sold in standard lengths for you or a fitter to cut to size, insert sink units and then fit.
Laminate Kitchen Worktops for Kitchen Design on a Budget
Laminate or solid surfaced products are the most likely products for the DIY kitchen planner to use, particularly if they are working to a strict budget. The range of colours and patterns is almost infinite so the chances of not finding something to fit in with your kitchen design are next to nothing. The more expensive laminates can look nearly as good as hardwoods or granite, enhancing the workspace and being easy to clean.
The key to making a laminate worktop look good is preparation and care in fitting. ‘Measure twice, cut once’ should be the maxim, and use sharp blades at all times. Spending a lot of time on levelling the units will mean the worktop will settle properly and look flat and level across the whole run.
Newer Trends for the Kitchen Planner
Let’s finish up with some of the newer products arriving on the market. Bamboo is gaining in popularly as it’s a very quick-growing sustainable source. It needs regular oiling, like many other woods, but is apparently more resistant to discolouration around the sink and tap areas.
Stainless steel has traditionally been used for kitchen worktops in hotel and catering workspaces but is beginning to enter the home. It is very hygienic but takes a lot of polishing to look right, as every little stain sticks out like a sore thumb on the mirror-like surface. There are also glass worktops available, which will also need to be kept pristine, and concrete is now being toted as a kitchen worktop material too.
Both of those last two will have to be kept for the super-stylish trendy apartments though, they’d look completely out of place in an ordinary home.