How To Choose The Right Worktop

With so many work surface options out there it’s easy to be left asking ‘What on earth are all of these?!’ This article is here to help answer that question. Here we look at what different options are out there, and why you might want to choose one over another.

Four Seasons Kitchens

From solid timber or laminate to quartz or granite.
Understand the pros & cons of each surface
to help make a more informed choice.

Your choice of worktop will have a big impact on the overall scheme; as it is on a horizontal plane it will be very prominent and it is the real workhorse of the kitchen, so it is important to give it due consideration.

We’ve seen a whole array of new worktop materials and technologies over the last few years, offering lots of choice, spanning across different budgets. From super tough materials that are designed to be virtually indestructible for busy family homes to luxurious finishes for the open-plan designer kitchen.

THINGS TO INITIALLY CONSIDER

BUDGET

Consider what you have to spend and the longevity you need from your worktops. For instance, are you planning on moving in a couple of years and just want to have things looking a bit tidier, or, is this a forever kitchen that you want to look as good in 20 years as it does today?

Cheaper options may not last as long as more durable materials, which tend to cost a bit more. If budget is tight then you can always mix materials. Why not use solid worktops in heavily used areas, like the sink
and cooking spaces, and then woods or laminates everywhere else? This can also create design interest. Different edge profiles and worktop thicknesses can also affect cost as well as look. Standard thickness is 30mm but thinner 20mm tops create a nice modern look and can be a little cheaper.

LAYOUT

Some materials will lend themselves better to your layout than others. Solid worktops like quartz and granite come in slabs and therefore have a maximum size before a joint is needed. This is especially important if you are wanting a large island and want the worktop to be one piece. Your maximum size here will be around 3m x 1.5m.

Materials like Corian, that can be joined together and made to look seamless are a great option for a large expanse of worktop where you’d like to avoid having any joints.

TIMESCALE

Composite worktops like granite, quartz and Corian need to be templated by an expert. This means that your kitchen cabinets need to be in place for the template to be made. The worktop then needs to be fabricated, which normally takes 7 days. This isn’t usually a problem as installation would be ongoing in your kitchen during this time, but if you are wanting something that can be fitted quickly consider laminate or wooden worktops instead.

LAYOUT

Some materials will lend themselves better to your layout than others. Solid worktops like quartz and granite come in slabs and therefore have a maximum size before a joint is needed. This is especially important if you are wanting a large island and want the worktop to be one piece. Your maximum size here will be around 3m x 1.5m.

Materials like Corian, that can be joined together and made to look seamless are a great option for a large expanse of worktop where you’d like to avoid having any joints.

TIMESCALE

Composite worktops like granite, quartz and Corian need to be templated by an expert. This means that your kitchen cabinets need to be in place for the template to be made. The worktop then needs to be fabricated, which normally takes 7 days. This isn’t usually a problem as installation would be ongoing in your kitchen during this time, but if you are wanting something that can be fitted quickly consider laminate or wooden worktops instead.

GRANITE

ARGUABLY THE MOST CLASSIC OF WORKTOP CHOICES

Granite is a hard and durable working surface with great character and individuality. Its high scratch resistance makes it a real workhorse in the kitchen and will serve you well for many years with the right care. Being a natural material, each slab is unique in its colour and veining, but it is also porous so susceptible to staining.

IDEAL USE

A very versatile material that can be used anywhere in the kitchen. As it’s stone, it is naturally cold; great for making your pastry but not so nice on a breakfast bar first thing in the morning!

IDEAL STYLE

It provides a really luxurious look and feel. It comes in highly polished or honed finishes, so suits traditional and modern kitchens. It can be very eye-catching, perfect for a stunning central island.

DURABILITY

Granite is hard and resistant to heat and scratches but must be looked after. Granite is a porous material so we recommend buying a treated granite, this will vastly improve its stain resistance.

MAINTENANCE

Your granite should arrive having been sealed already so there is no initial treatment required. Simply clean with warm soapy water or cleaning kit provided. Darker, highly polished, granite tops can be prone to showing smears and smudges easily, so some element of polishing after cleaning will be required.

QUARTZ

ONE OF THE TOUGHEST MATERIALS ON THE MARKET

Quartz worktops are fabricated from approximately 93% natural quartz, one of the hardest minerals found in the Earth. They are very resilient and have a good resistance to heat and scratches. They are also naturally non-porous so are resistant against stains and very hygienic, as they do not allow bacteria to permeate their surface, making maintenance very low. Aside from the durability that quartz provides, it comes in a wide variety of colour options and various thicknesses (20mm, 30mm mainly for kitchens).

IDEAL USE

A very versatile material that can be used anywhere in the kitchen.

IDEAL STYLE

There is something for every style with imitation granites, concrete effect, marble looks, sparkle chips and very plain and neutral finishes.

DURABILITY

Quartz is very durable, more so than natural stone, as it is scratch and heat resistant. As it is naturally non-porous, it is stain resistant. We would recommend using a chopping board and pan trivets rather than using your quartz surface directly; as it has scratch and heat resistance but is not heat and scratch proof.

MAINTENANCE

No initial treatment is required and simply clean with warm soapy water or cleaning kit provided.

QUARTZ

ONE OF THE TOUGHEST MATERIALS ON THE MARKET

Quartz worktops are fabricated from approximately 93% natural quartz, one of the hardest minerals found in the Earth. They are very resilient and have a good resistance to heat and scratches. They are also naturally non-porous so are resistant against stains and very hygienic, as they do not allow bacteria to permeate their surface, making maintenance very low. Aside from the durability that quartz provides, it comes in a wide variety of colour options and various thicknesses (20mm, 30mm mainly for kitchens).

IDEAL USE

A very versatile material that can be used anywhere in the kitchen.

IDEAL STYLE

There is something for every style with imitation granites, concrete effect, marble looks, sparkle chips and very plain and neutral finishes.

DURABILITY

Quartz is very durable, more so than natural stone, as it is scratch and heat resistant. As it is naturally non-porous, it is stain resistant. We would recommend using a chopping board and pan trivets rather than using your quartz surface directly; as it has scratch and heat resistance but is not heat and scratch proof.

MAINTENANCE

No initial treatment is required and simply clean with warm soapy water or cleaning kit provided.

CERAMIC / SINTERED STONE

A LONG-TERM PRODUCT BUILT FOR THE DEMANDS OF MODERN LIVING

Sintered stone, more commonly known as ceramic worktops, are a relatively new product on the market. The sintering process itself involves subjecting carefully selected minerals and stone particles to extreme heat and pressure which bonds the elements together. The result is a product which is non-porous, extremely easy to maintain and highly resistant to stains and chipping.

IDEAL USE

As is weatherproof and resistant to changes in temperature, it is ideal for use not only inside, but also outside the home.

IDEAL STYLE

It can be made to resemble natural stones, tiles, wood, and other smooth or textured surfaces. It comes in a wide range of colours and offers a perfect, consistent finish.

DURABILITY

Whilst being more lightweight than natural stone, it is more durable. Ceramic worktops, such as Dekton, are highly resistant to ultraviolet (UV) light and will not fade or degrade over time. While other surfaces are stain resistant, Dekton is completely stain proof. Since it has extremely low porosity and contains no resins, it is chemically resistant and guarantees hygiene. Drips or splashes of common household chemicals, like bleach, won’t harm it. Dekton withstands high temperatures without burning, scorching or cracking. Hot pots can be placed directly on the surface with no worry of damage. Scratch resistant, food can be prepared directly on the surface if required.

MAINTENANCE

It is non-porous and never needs to be sealed. It naturally prevents liquids and gasses from penetrating the surface, making it a low maintenance surface that is easier to clean; it’s simply a case of wiping clean with a damp cloth and some mild detergent.

ACRYLIC SOLID SURFACES

THE MOST FLEXIBLE OF WORKTOP CHOICES

Made from a blend of acrylic resins, minerals and colourings, solid surfaces are warm to the touch with a natural lustre which offer colour consistency. They can be totally seamless with one-piece moulded sinks and upstands. As a material, it can be thermoformed into curves, engraved with patterns and logos, back-lit and can have built-in wireless charging for smart phones.Corian is a brand of acrylic solid surfaces, there are others such as Tri-Stone, Hannex and LG Hi-Macs.

IDEAL USE

Great for wet areas where the sink and splashbacks can be integrated seamlessly. Also ideal for large areas or kitchens with lots of corners, where you don’t want to see joints.

IDEAL STYLE

Suits most styles with a varied colour offering, from plain white to textured onyx looks, through to bold colours.

DURABILITY

Solid surfaces are non-porous, so are stain and water resistant. Whilst it is heat resistant, it is important to minimize direct heat exposure to protect your surface. Scratches can be sanded out and major damage can be repaired.

MAINTENANCE

It is best to wipe up spills as they occur. Generally, a damp microfiber cloth used with a standard household kitchen spray should remove most stains.

ACRYLIC SOLID SURFACES

THE MOST FLEXIBLE OF WORKTOP CHOICES

Made from a blend of acrylic resins, minerals and colourings, solid surfaces are warm to the touch with a natural lustre which offer colour consistency. They can be totally seamless with one-piece moulded sinks and upstands. As a material, it can be thermoformed into curves, engraved with patterns and logos, back-lit and can have built-in wireless charging for smart phones.Corian is a brand of acrylic solid surfaces, there are others such as Tri-Stone, Hannex and LG Hi-Macs.

IDEAL USE

Great for wet areas where the sink and splashbacks can be integrated seamlessly. Also ideal for large areas or kitchens with lots of corners, where you don’t want to see joints.

IDEAL STYLE

Suits most styles with a varied colour offering, from plain white to textured onyx looks, through to bold colours.

DURABILITY

Solid surfaces are non-porous, so are stain and water resistant. Whilst it is heat resistant, it is important to minimize direct heat exposure to protect your surface. Scratches can be sanded out and major damage can be repaired.

MAINTENANCE

It is best to wipe up spills as they occur. Generally, a damp microfiber cloth used with a standard household kitchen spray should remove most stains.

TIMBER

A TRADITIONAL FAVOURITE FOR ITS NATURAL WARMTH

Hardwoods like oak and walnut are preferred over softwoods like pine, for its strength. Always choose a sustainable hardwood from an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited source.

IDEAL USE

Food preparation and dining areas like islands and breakfast bars.

IDEAL STYLE

Works across all kitchen styles but especially in traditional shaker kitchens.

DURABILITY

If hardwoods are properly oiled and maintained they will last for years. Being a natural timber, they are not scratch or stain resistant and are not heat proof. There is an element of repairability though as scratches can be sanded out.

MAINTENANCE

A good quality hardwood worktop will be pressure treated, meaning that it only needs to be lightly sanded and oiled once or twice a year. Lower quality timber worktops may need oiling as often as once a month. Avoid direct exposure to heat and prevent prolonged soaking around the sink and tap area. Wipe up spills instantly to avoid staining.

LAMINATE

A VERY AFFORDABLE SOLUTION WITH A BROAD RANGE OF STYLES AVAILABLE

Long considered the best budget option, laminates are non-porous, offer easy maintenance and come in lots of design and colour choices. Laminates are a thin plastic surface, bonded to a substrate. Look out for varying quality here as different manufacturers fabricate them using varying techniques. The German laminates we provide are not only an incredibly well manufactured and reliable laminate worktop, but they also arrive already cut to size, with the joints and edging in place.

IDEAL USE

A very versatile material that can be used anywhere in the kitchen.

IDEAL STYLE

Finishes come in far more realistic imitations now with texture and depth – stone, wood, concrete, granite and marble effects.

DURABILITY

Laminate is very durable in terms of stain and scratch resistance; but be careful near water, heat and steam. If water gets into the joints and seeps into the core, then the worktop will blow and edging can start to delaminate. On the plus side, it is cheap to replace if you get any damages.

MAINTENANCE

Laminates are easy to clean and are very low maintenance. They can be installed quickly by a kitchen fitter rather than a worktop expert.

LAMINATE

A VERY AFFORDABLE SOLUTION WITH A BROAD RANGE OF STYLES AVAILABLE

Long considered the best budget option, laminates are non-porous, offer easy maintenance and come in lots of design and colour choices. Laminates are a thin plastic surface, bonded to a substrate. Look out for varying quality here as different manufacturers fabricate them using varying techniques. The German laminates we provide are not only an incredibly well manufactured and reliable laminate worktop, but they also arrive already cut to size, with the joints and edging in place.

IDEAL USE

A very versatile material that can be used anywhere in the kitchen.

IDEAL STYLE

Finishes come in far more realistic imitations now with texture and depth – stone, wood, concrete, granite and marble effects.

DURABILITY

Laminate is very durable in terms of stain and scratch resistance; but be careful near water, heat and steam. If water gets into the joints and seeps into the core, then the worktop will blow and edging can start to delaminate. On the plus side, it is cheap to replace if you get any damages.

MAINTENANCE

Laminates are easy to clean and are very low maintenance. They can be installed quickly by a kitchen fitter rather than a worktop expert.

Worktop Feature Summary

PRICE

Acrylic
Ceramic
Quartz
Granite
Wood
Laminate

DURABILITY

Ceramic
Quartz
Granite
Acrylic
Laminate
Wood

REPAIRABILITY

Acrylic
Wood
Ceramic
Quartz
Granite
Laminate

MAINTENANCE

Wood
Granite
Laminate
Acrylic
Quartz
Ceramic

HEAT RESISTANCE

Ceramic
Granite
Quartz
Acrylic
Laminate
Wood

SCRATCH RESISTANCE

Ceramic
Granite
Quartz
Acrylic
Laminate
Wood
Leeds kitchens

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