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  • Writer's picturePaul Turner

Choosing your perfect kitchen worktop...

The worktop you choose will have a huge impact on the look and functionality of your kitchen. So, spend time with our team to ensure you have made the right choice . Discuss what style of kitchen you want to achieve are you keen on a smooth, sleek finish, or is an aged patina more your style? What kind of cook are you? Do you like to have everything out and strewn around, or do you clean and tidy as you go? Do you have a big, busy family, or lots of dinner parties, or are you preparing meals for one or two? This will have an impact on how extensive and how robust your worktop needs to be.

Don’t rule out mixing two materials – a stone slab with wooden worktops, say. Different materials can serve different culinary purposes, and can also be used to visually order your kitchen. ‘Mixing materials is an effective way to define kitchen areas. There are pros and cons to each material. Your choice will come down to how robust you need your worktop to be, how much you’re prepared to look after it, and how you want it to look in your kitchen scheme.

Below is some types of the traditional work surface, plus new materials now available .

Engineered stone worktops

Engineered stone is made from a high percentage of crushed quartz – typically 96% – mixed with resin. Makes include Silestone and Caesarstone and hundreds of other companies. It’s available in roughly 100 colours and a huge range of finishes, from glossy to matt, plain to flecked or sparkly – and even ones that mimic concrete.The colour is more even and consistent than with granite, so it’s good for long stretches of worktop and is harder wearing.

Pros of engineered stone worktops: “It’s up to five times harder than granite and mostly non-porous, its low maintenance, and stain- and chip-resistant.

Cons of engineered stone worktops: “As there’s a small amount of resin in there, it’s best not to put hot pans on it, it, it's possible to mark it if your silly. It can stain with acids left over night though this is rare.

Solid surface worktops Manmade, generally from a mix of minerals and resin, solid surface worktops offer a smooth, durable surface in a huge range of colours. Corian is the obvious market leader but there are loads of alternatives. They come in a massive range of colours and, thanks to different-coloured glues, the seams are virtually invisible, so it’s great for long worktops, or L or U shapes. If you scratch it, something like Vim will polish it up again, so it’s pretty easy to maintain.

Pros of solid surface worktops: Extremely robust, hygienic and easy-care. It can be formed into any shape, including sinks and upstands. The colour runs all the way through, so it’s possible to carve out draining boards.

Cons of solid surface worktops: Some of the darker colours are not recommended for kitchens as scratches show up too much. The area around a sink can discolour or crack over time. It can’t take hot pans, although round bars can be set into the surface to act as a trivet

Wooden worktops

With everything from oak and maple to walnut and iroko bringing warmth and texture into kitchens, natural timber is justifiably popular. Wood is beautiful, timeless and brings warmth to the kitchen. Finger-stave surfaces, where little planks are glued together, are a cost-effective way to have wood, or for a premium look full stave is best.

Pros of wooden worktops:

Timber is naturally antibacterial, relatively simple to install and easy to repair. If you’re willing to oil it frequently, it can be robust and beautiful.

Cons of wooden worktops: It needs oiling a couple of times a year. “I’d suggest a teak or teak-like oil or our own isoguard applied in a very thin layer,” . It’s fairly easily scorched, scratched and stained, and is not great with water so it's easily damaged around the sink.

Concrete worktops

Concrete has the most industrial aesthetic of all the worktop materials. There’s a surprisingly large range of colours available beyond classic grey, and it can be shaped to run around pillars or form sinks, for instance.However, it isn’t as robust as some other materials, and it isn’t seamless, as expansion joints often need to be incorporated.

Pros of concrete worktops: Nothing quite beats it for adding edge to a ‘safe’ scheme. It can be formed into any shape, and can be repaired or stripped back to remove stains. It gets tougher as it ages, and makes a great in/out material if you want your worktop to continue out onto a patio.

Cons of concrete worktops: If you opt for a concrete worktop, your kitchen will be out of action for a while. Concrete worktops tend to be poured in situ (although simple shapes can be made off-site), and it takes a couple of weeks for it to be ready to use. It stains easily and needs to be treated with a penetrative sealant every six months. Not one we would recommend.

Granite worktops

Granite was the most popular stone for worktops and gives a quality feel to kitchens. The vast range of shades and patterns available means each surface feels unique, and there are choices perfect for modern and traditional kitchens alike. If a bit of sparkle and shine pleases your eye, granite is a good choice. As it’s natural stone, each worktop .Both polished and honed surfaces are available – or a polished top with a honed edge, for instance. “For those who love slate, which is too soft for a worktop, it’s possible to hone dark granite to look just like it, but with a much hardier result. It’s very tough, and resistant to heat and mould. Surprisingly, it’s often cheaper than engineered stone and composites.

Cons of granite worktops: It’s porous, so needs to be sealed – ideally every six months. As it's natural you can not have a choice in the grain or colour . It will damage with very hot items , and the lighter ones can stain with acid such as lemon juice. Due to the neglect in the environment the whites from India are no longer white.

Pro of granite worktops

The pattern and feel of the natural stone can not be beaten , it brings warmth and durability to any kitchen. You can visit the suppliers and choose your slab so you know exactly what you are buying. They are generally easy to maintain with some common sense applied.

Marble worktops

Whatever the pros and cons, marble has the wow factor and, for some, there’s nothing like its unique natural beauty. It is delicate, though, with more of an open grain than granite, and as such it can work best as a section of a worktop in a different material, both to introduce a little of its luxury and as an aid to food preparation.“Marble is a cold surface, so it’s very useful in pastry making etc.

Pros of marble worktops: The undeniable wow factor. It comes in a huge range of patterns and colours and each piece is unique.

Cons of marble worktops: It’s delicate – watch out with red wine or citrus juice. It’s easily scratched and unrepairable.

Glass worktops

Glass is a super-slick choice suited to contemporary kitchens. “More and more people are choosing glass for their worktop as they realise how strong and easy to maintain it is. It takes a lot to break it, even the currently popular 10mm worktops,.If scratches are an issue for you, consider etched glass. “Many people opt for acid-etched surfaces as they are pretty scratch-proof

Unlike sandblasting, this method doesn’t create holes, so it’s still super-easy to clean.”And the best way to clean a glass worktop? “Vinegar and newspaper brings it up a treat without involving any harsh chemicals.

Pros of glass worktops: It comes in a pretty much unlimited range of colours. It can be lit from below for a special effect. Chips can be repaired by most windscreen repair firms. Maintenance is easy as the pores don’t hold onto stains, and it’s unaffected by water. It doesn’t need sealing and is heat resistant to 400C. Light scratches can be buffed out.

Cons of glass worktops: With chunky worktops, the colour is altered slightly by the thickness of the glass. Fingermarks can show up, especially on darker colours. Polished tops scratch and joins are visible.

Laminate worktops

Laminates have come a long way in the past 20 or so years. Now they can realistically mimic other materials, including wood and granite.It’s also the most cost-effective choice. “Laminate might not be swish, but it’s definitely still the ‘safest’ option on the market. Go for a matt finish instead of gloss – it looks much better. A laminate top can be styled up with an edge in stainless steel or wood, for instance.

Pros of laminate worktops: It’s relatively low cost, and perfect for light-use kitchens. The huge range of finishes means it’s easy to create the exact look you’re after.

Cons of laminate worktops: Not the most durable surface – it’s easily scorched and scratched – and it’s unrepairable if damaged. The joins are visible and it never feels the same as a natural wood or stone worktop

Ceramic/ man made worktops. These

are the latest and most durable worktops ever.

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