Choosing a worktop is a crucial step in building your dream kitchen. It ought to be able to withstand constant use while still looking decent. Consider how much time and effort you will invest into maintaining its appearance before purchasing. Now consider how it looks.
“Your choice largely depends on the style of your kitchen,” explains Lizzie Beesley, conceptual designer at Second Nature Kitchens. If you want to make a statement with your cabinets, a more subdued work surface is probably a better choice, but if your cabinet doors are on the bland side, the worktop material can stand out.
Stone and stainless steel countertops can be expensive since they must be custom-made by the fabricator to meet your kitchen’s dimensions (including sink and stove cutouts).
Although it could be worthwhile, Annette White of Chiltern Marble adds, “The right choice is a good investment and can turn a modest kitchen into something special.” Which surface, then, best suits your needs? Discover the answer here.
MODERN KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS
Magnet’s product and marketing director Anjum Ahmed says, “The polarization in the thickness of worktops is still a major direction; there is no middle ground; worktops need to be either deep or shallow.” Glass and compact laminate rule the narrow worktop market, whereas oaks and dark timber and specialty materials predominate in the thicker worktop category.
According to Max de Winter, a project designer at Poggenpohl, “There is a huge trend for mixing materials.” Two, three, or even four distinct worktops can be found in a single kitchen. Since the kitchen and living room are often combined into one space, using a single material throughout the room would be overbearing. Use colored glass as a focal point and warm wood on the breakfast bar instead of cold stainless steel.
Glass, wood, and colored acrylic edging are all popular options. Jude Keenan, a kitchen planner at John Lewis, recommends adding a contrasting edge of wood or stainless steel to standard laminate for a more contemporary effect. “This can be done on tops with straight or rounded corners.”
Boffi’s Steven Salt states that a 50mm worktop with a 30-degree beveled edge is now famous. The tapering edge makes the surface look like it’s floating above the units, and using any material for this is possible.
The edge of the desk, or its “profile,” can also affect how it feels to the touch. Unlike the rounded edges popular in the ’80s and ’90s, today’s surfaces are either entirely square, have a pencil round (where the edge is just slightly rounded), or have a chamfer (where a tiny portion of the corner is shaved off).
Today’s laminate countertops are a far cry from the 1990s, which strove (and usually failed) to mimic their natural counterparts.
“Laminates have moved on so much, even in the last three years,” says Simon Wilde, Formica’s head of marketing. They have been given new depth and dimension thanks to advances in printing technology, materials, and finishes.
You can pick from various colors and finishes, such as imitation granites, polished and matte stones, high-shine concrete, and vibrant solid colors. The maximum thickness of laminates that may be purchased today is 60mm.
A plus is that it doesn’t cost much to maintain. Laminate can be a fraction of the price of the genuine deal, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve the look. It can be cut and fitted by yourself if you are competent with power tools.
Con: Laminate surfaces can have obvious seams, and some laminates can be burnt and scarred if not cared for properly. If broken, they can’t be fixed.
Oak, cherry, maple, walnut, teak, and mahogany worktops are the most excellent way to infuse a kitchen with a warm, rich character.
Lizzie Beesley says, “Costs vary depending on the wood you choose.” Exotic, in-demand zebrano, wenge, or walnut will run you much more than the more straightforward oak.
Finger-staved wood tops, in which thin planks are bonded, offer a more affordable alternative. Always make sure your purchases come from ethical vendors.
“We’re even using wood reclaimed from mountain chalets,” adds Steven Salt, Boffi’s showroom manager. “The chunky, rustic appearance of these surfaces makes a fantastic contrast in an otherwise sleek, modern kitchen.”
Avoid using abrasive cleaning agents and continually wipe off the wood after preparing food.
Wood has intrinsic antibacterial characteristics, making it a sanitary material choice. It may be sanded down to remove imperfections and is easy to install and maintain. Depending on your wood type, it may also be a cost-effective option.
Timber requires regular maintenance, such as oiling several times in the first week and then once or twice a year to keep it looking nice. To prevent water damage and maintain the wood in good condition, Peter Keane, the company’s managing director, suggests using a potent wax oil. Wood is more easily burnt, scraped, and stained than other materials. Warping can occur if it is not installed correctly or is water resistant.
SPHERICAL STONE SURFACE
Granite is the most popular stone for work surfaces due to its durability, natural beauty, and ability to complement classic and cutting-edge aesthetics.
Annette White states, “Granite differs in color, texture, and crystalline structure, producing a range of colors and patterns.” Colors including black, green, blue, and brown are also available.
The polished look will never go out of style, but try a honed finish for a more contemporary feel instead.
As Lizzie Beesley proposes, add texture to a smooth edge, or vice versa.
Because of its porous nature, granite requires a yearly sealing process. Rarity plays a significant role in determining price.
Limestone and marble are other gorgeous stones that can be used to construct countertops. While marble’s aesthetic appeal is undeniable, it is considerably more susceptible to damage from sugar, alcohol, and acids like lemon juice than harder stones like granite. It needs a lot of care because it easily scratches and stains.
Stone is timeless and adds a sense of luxury to any kitchen. Granite is resistant to fire, extreme temperatures, rot, and mildew.
Cons: Stone cannot be repaired if broken. The massive slabs require expert fitting, and good carcasses are necessary for their stability.
MANUFACTURED Stone Countertops
Zodiaq and Silestone, two engineered or composite stone examples, have an extremely high quartz content and are even more durable than natural quartz. It can withstand stains, chips, and high temperatures and is available in various hues and finishes.
It’s low-maintenance because it doesn’t need any unique treatments, and the color is consistent, making it easier to match than natural stone.
Lacks the unique characteristics of natural materials. It’s sold in bulky sheets that a tailor can only adequately drape.
Although man-made solid materials tend to be lumped together and referred to as “composites,” this is not always true. The materials they are created from (such as whether they contain acrylic resin or polyester or have a high quartz content) significantly affect their qualities. Therefore, generalizations about them might be deceptive.
Corian, the most popular composite material, comes in more than 70 different colors, from classic neutrals to bold, contemporary tones. White ice has always been a popular choice.
Composites have many advantages over other materials, including their malleability and the ability to be bonded without apparent seams. Molding a sink, stove, and other components like upstands into a seamless whole is possible. Composites are cleanable and durable, and although they can get damaged or scratched, they can have their imperfections polished off just as you would a car.
You won’t be able to save money by putting it in yourself because an expert must take an accurate template.
SPANISH MARBLE COUNTERS
For a futuristic aesthetic, nothing beats stainless steel. Worktops, sinks, splashbacks, and upstands can all be manufactured as a single unit to create a seamless surface, making them ideal for commercial kitchens of any size. There are two available sheens, polished and brushed-satin.
Advantages include being resistant to both heat and stains. Stainless steel is the only surface that can be disinfected with bleach since it is germ-free and resistant to stains.
DISADVANTAGES It’s not the warmest material; it makes a lot of noise, and scratches and oil easily mar it.
BASES MADE OF GLASS
Glass is excellent for contemporary kitchens because it reflects light and creates the illusion of more room.
Added Pros: Works wonderfully as a Showpiece. Extremely sanitary and impervious to moisture.
ConsIt is pricey, can crack and scratch easily, and shows joints quickly.
Durable concrete may be molded into any shape and flows easily over or under obstacles.
The director of White & Reid, a concrete surface manufacturer, claims that the company can produce concrete in every color imaginable, from “antique white” to “reds” to “black” by employing natural pigments. A top made of this material might be extended from an indoor kitchen to an outside dining area.
PROS: It’s attractive, durable, and easy to maintain.
Negatives: A penetrating sealant treatment is necessary. This is not a cheap option.
Livingetc is an excellent resource for home decor inspiration and advice.