Kitchen Worktop Ideas: What and What Not To Experiment
The workhorse of any kitchen, worktops need to be tough and practical to use, as well as stylish.
While cabinetry will be the main and focal style decision you make for your home kitchen, never underestimate the impact your worktop choice will have on the overall theme of the kitchen. Along with the flooring, it sits on a horizontal plane, making it outstanding, so it’s important to give it due consideration and not to view it as an after-thought.
Worktop materials have changed quite radically in the last few years, offering a vast choice across all budgets. Technology has given us super tough materials that are virtually indestructible options for the busiest of family homes.
Picture Your Budget
Worktops are available at a variety of price range – from cheaper laminates to expensive granites – and what you choose usually be driven by how much you have to spend on the kitchen works. Cheaper options can be a good idea but may not last as long more durable stones or composites.
If budgets are tight, try mixing and matching your worktops. Place panels of more expensive stone in harder working areas such as by the cooker or sink and wood or laminate everywhere. Combining worktops is on trend, too, so your kitchen will look very up-to-date and appealing for the common ground.
Picking the Profile
The depth of worktop you choose can also alter the look of a kitchen. Thinner profiles of 10 or 20mm are still popular but thicker edges, created by adding a strip of the composite or stone to the front of the worksurface creating edges of 50mm, are also having a resurgence.
The standard thickness is 30mm.
Choose the best kitchen worktop material for you
The most popular materials for kitchen worktops – granite, wood, glass, composite stone, stainless steel – have different advantages, so it’s important to look at all the factors involved.
Many of the made-to-measure worktops – marble, concrete – are pretty costly and can prove unrealistic if you’re on a budget, so opt for a quality look-alike instead. Pre-cut laminate worktops still provide gorgeous surface design and durability without the hefty price tag. Solid wood can also be a good option as it’s easy to maintain.
What is a granite worktop? For some, nothing beats the beauty of natural stone, it’s veining and colouring unique to each slab. Marbles are classically beautiful and luxurious, tend to be rarer and therefore more expensive.
Best used – Any area of the kitchen, including around the sink and next to the hob or oven. A large expanse of glossy granite makes a striking island worktop
Best look – It’s a luxury material that never falls out of fashion and suits traditional and modern styles. Choose from a classic polished finish or a honed matt for a more contemporary look.
How durable is a composite worktop? Granite is hard and resistant to heat and scratches, but it must be treated with respect to preventing damage. The best of all the natural materials, it can withstand high temperatures, is water resistant and impervious to most stains, but wine and citric acids must be cleaned up at once to avoid damaging the stone. and will usually need to be protected by a special sealant.
Flexibility and fitting – With advances in modern technology, granite can be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes, although it is very heavy to transport and difficult to manoeuvre.
How do I look after a granite worktop? One great thing about granite is that it’s very low maintenance. You can clean it using a damp cloth and a mild detergent.
What is a laminate worktop? Long-considered the best budget option, laminates are non-porous, offer easy maintenance and come in lots of design and colour choices. Made by fusing multiple layers of impregnated paper under high-pressure temperature, bonded to a substrate, they are resistant to impact, scratching and moisture.
Best used – General usage, including food preparation areas, sink runs and around hobs and cookers.
Best look – Can accurately mimic other worktop materials, including granite, slate and wood, so will suit modern and traditional schemes.
How durable is a laminate worktop? Resistant to most stains and chemicals, but not to heat or steam. Not suitable as a cutting surface. Choose a thicker, high-pressure worktop for greater durability.
Flexibility and fitting – Laminate is one of the few materials that can be cut and fitted by a DIY enthusiast rather than a kitchen professional.
Does laminate require any initial treatment? No
How do I look after a laminate worktop? Laminate is very low maintenance. Clean with a cloth and mild detergent.
Stainless Steel Worktops
What is a stainless steel worktop? Durable, heat resistant, hygienic and impervious to water, stainless steel is an alloy of iron. The addition of chromium makes it resistant to rust.
Best used – Around the sink, by the hob and in all food preparation areas.
Best look – Stainless steel is the restaurant kitchen favourite and great for creating the industrial aesthetic in your home. It works best in contemporary schemes, but you can team it with other materials to soften the look.
How durable is a stainless-steel worktop? Very strong, waterproof, heat and acid resistant. It is prone to scratching, but some say this adds to its well-worn appeal, and this won’t affect its anti-bacterial qualities.
Flexibility and fitting – Sinks can be incorporated into a stainless-steel run. Simple designs can be cut from a single sheet, avoiding the need for joints.
Does stainless steel require any initial treatment? No
How do I care for a stainless-steel worktop? Easily the choice of commercial kitchens because of its hygienic properties. It is very easy to keep clean with stainless-steel cleaner. Use baby oil to keep it looking at its shiny best.
What is a concrete worktop? The industrial look of concrete makes it a current choice. It’s also designed to withstand plenty of heavy duty use, and comes in a range of standard concrete mix colours (from white to grey) and can be mixed with pigments for stronger colours. Polished concrete worktops are flat and smooth, but concrete is porous and can stain, and it is heavy so extra reinforcement may be required.
Best used: General use, but always use chopping boards for food prep.
Best look: Industrial and contemporary schemes.
Upkeep: If food is left on for a long period of time, it can cause staining. You may need a touch-up kit to minimise the appearance if this happens.
Sealing required: You will need to use a food-grade sealer or finishing wax to prevent water and stain absorption.
Durability: Concrete is an incredibly durable material, but is also prone to scratching.