Kitchen worktops, where to begin?

Kitchen worktops, where to begin?

Your worktop is one of the most used areas of your kitchen, you prep food on it, rest things on it, spill things on it and wipe it every day. So it is important to choose one that you love the look of, and that’s going to best suit your lifestyle. There are many options when it comes to choosing kitchen worktops, and there are pros and cons to all of them. Price and level of maintenance are the main factors but not always the only considerations. We’ll run through our favourite kitchen worktops, and tell you about the benefits and limitations of each, from the most cost effective, through to the most lavish.

Laminate worktops 

This is the most budget friendly option, using a laminate worktop can make a big difference to your overall kitchen budget.

When incorporating laminate in our kitchen designs, we use a square edge 50ml thick laminate. The style is very contemporary and looks great. You might have a negative perception of laminate worktops but every time we’ve recommended it to a cynical customer, they have been really pleasantly surprised!

Curves, bespoke shapes and upstands are all possible with laminate, and there’s a great colour range too, meaning you don’t have to compromise on style or colour. Laminate kitchen worktops are durable and low maintenance, our only tips would be not to chop food directly on it or place very hot items straight onto it.

There are limitations of course. With a laminate worktop, you can’t have under-mounted sinks, they have to be inset. This is simply a style preference and won’t negatively impact your kitchen design. Laminate worktops are not considered a solid material in their constitution, in comparison to say stone or steel. Under-mounted sinks are only possible with solid surfaces, otherwise, with this sink design, the non solid worktops are at risk from water damage.

Wood worktops cost significantly more than laminate worktops. If you like the warmth and style that wood worktops bring to a kitchen but want to bring the budget down, laminate is a really good option.

Solid wood worktops

Real wood does have an unbeatable texture and tactile quality to it. Our favourite is Iroko (teak), this is the wood most used for garden furniture because it is more stable and robust than other types of wood. It is important to remember that natural products do have flaws and imperfections, and that with wood particularly, the colour can evolve over time. This is just due to the environment the wood is in, direct sunlight for example, start to cause the tones to change subtly. These characteristics can endear them to customers or dissuade them! Iroko can naturally have a more patchy colour, that starts off light and then with age, gets darker. We like the different tones and effect this creates across the worktop but for some customers, it does look too inconsistent.

In addition to Iroko, the other two woods we most regularly use are Maple and Oak. Maple is a blond wood, the lightest of the three, with a much more consistent tone across it. What we and our customers really love about Maple is the smooth, tactile finish you get. Honestly, you will not be able to resist running your hands over a Maple worktop!

Oak is a starting point for lots of customers, the grains and colour really appeal to customers and complements most kitchens. However, the word of caution here is that Oak needs the most looking after. You will need to oil it regularly to protect it from the atmosphere, liquid spills and constant wiping down. This wood does look great but if you’re not looking for kitchen worktops that you have to look after, Oak is not the material for you!

Walnut is the other wood worktop we work with, but we don’t use it across the whole kitchen. It takes even more looking after than oak and really doesn’t handle liquids well! But it is a fabulous colour and used in small quantities, it creates a great statement and colour contrast from other materials. We like using it on breakfast bars or butchers blocks and teaming it up with stone worktops to create a stylish contrast.

Stone kitchen worktops

The two types of stone we work most with are Granite and Quartz.

Granite

This is a completely natural material, and no one piece is the same which is a characteristic we really love about it. There are lots of colour options but they are all usually quite dark. The stone is impregnated with a sealant and always has a polished, glossy finish.

As hard wearing as it is, you do need to be careful with food and drinks with strong colours and high acid content, like wine or beetroot as these can affect the surface. Granite is not as fashionable these days but if dark, glossy finishes are your thing, it is definitely worth considering. As with all dark, glossy surfaces however, they do show up fingerprints so if you have a busy family life with young children and sticky fingers, you might want to consider a different option!

Quartz

There is no real cost difference between Granite and Quartz but the vast majority of our customers are choosing Quartz over Granite at the moment.

It is a natural material but comes out of the ground in a powder form. It is then mixed with colour and resin. The marbled effect and limestone effect are the most popular and with good reason. These kitchen worktops just look great in every kitchen and have the ability to suit both classic and contemporary styles. There’s a lot of choice in colour but they do tend to be the lighter tones.

Quartz is also a great choice if you’re looking for something really practical. It is less porous than granite and can cope with hot pots and pans sat directly on it.

If you’re looking for a completely flawless finish however, this is a product supplied in large slabs, so you will see joins if you are using more than one slab on the worktop. These can be extremely subtle and don’t detract from the surface in our opinion, but worth noting if you want a really seamless finish.

Corian worktops

For us, this is a wonder worktop. Corian is an acrylic resin which is; non porous, hygienic, non toxic, repairable and environmentally friendly. If that wasn’t enough, it comes in lots of colours and if you need more than one slab, you get inconspicuous joins giving you that seamless finish. The cherry on the cake? It takes no looking after so you don’t need to be precious with it either!

As you’d expect from something which ticks so many boxes, it does have a price tag to match. If you’re having a more contemporary or classic kitchen designed, and have room in your budget to go with Corian, we’d recommend it every time, we have it in the showroom and absolutely love it. The only style we think it doesn’t suit as well, would be a very traditional style of kitchen.

Ceramic worktops

This is the most expensive worktop we work with. Ceramic worktops are not as widely chosen but it is a fantastic product. Ceramic is a really durable material which doesn’t stain and is unaffected by heat.

The other really noticeable difference is that it is very slim in depth which creates a really minimalist, elegant style. The only downside is that ceramic is a more brittle material so, although we’ve never encountered an issue with it, we don’t incorporate it into designs with a large overhang (like a large breakfast bar) so the worktop is not unsupported.

Other types of kitchen worktops you might want to consider:

Glass worktops

Glass creates a really contemporary look and you can have almost any colour. We love the flexibility of colour and that crisp, modern style that glass offers. However, it does have one big weakness, it does get scratched by just normal wear and tear. Everyday activities like sliding a pan across the surface or quickly cutting up some bread for the toaster, will all start to leave their mark very quickly. You have to be a bit precious with glass kitchen worktops, so not ideal for busy family life.

Stainless steel worktops

This is a great material for an industrial style and you can even have sinks and hobs actually moulded in for a really seamless look. Whilst not overly fashionable now, stainless steel kitchen worktops aren’t hugely expensive, easy peasy to maintain and will give you an instant New York loft feel!

Picking your kitchen worktops!

The best thing to do now is a have a good look at the materials in the flesh, touch them, look at them being used with different kitchen styles and and see which best fits your vision and budget. Pop into our showroom, and we’ll talk you through the best options for you and your kitchen.
Make an appointment on 01342 313133 or email us at info@kitchensbespoke.co.uk.

Or browse our recent projects page to see some examples of different kitchen worktops in customers’ own homes and how they work in different styles of kitchen.

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