The Importance Of Worktops In Your Kitchen.
Irrespective of whether you are having a refurbishment or a complete new kitchen your choice of worktop is vital to the finished project but it can be a costly mistake if you do not choose properly.
In order to give you some information regarding the various surfaces available I have listed the three main categories and detailed the variations within those categories and the reasons why you should purchase each top.
The most popular worktop available to the consumer, it’s inexpensive and great value for money and comes in a variety of lengths, widths and thicknesses. There are a few different finishes depending on what the top is trying to copy, e.g. Timber effect can have a texture, Granite look a likes have a pitted finish, called surf, and glass and quartz copies are smooth and some can also be glossy. Without question these are the cheapest of all surfaces and the price you pay depends on the thickness and the quality of the laminate, generally the more expensive the better the quality.
Laminate worktops only come in set lengths so depending on your kitchen you will have a straight joint if your kitchen is longer than 4.1 or 3.6m and you will need joints in the corners. Most installers will have a worktop jig which enables them to cut a mitred joint into the worktop on corners so that the worktops have a tight joint. There are joining strips available for those who want to do it themselves. In the last 10 years the quality of the tops has greatly increased and some of the timber effect tops are remarkable.
However they do have drawbacks; you can’t cut on them, they don’t like hot pans and they are still chipboard at the core and if not fitted properly water will render them useless.
This is the worktop for someone who really understands wooden worktops and will take care of them or leave them because they like the distressed look. They are available in many different timbers, walnut to rubber wood and come in a variety of lengths and either 38 or 28mm thicknesses.
Wooden worktops are an acquired taste, if you want them to look as the day they were installed you have to oil them regularly re-finish them every couple of years and forbid anyone from leaving anything caustic on the surface or remotely hot. They can be repaired unlike laminate worktops but unless treated with some respect they will become a very unhygienic surface. They are not the cheapest of materials, easy to get on the internet however if you want a wooden worktop you really need to see it and touch it, as there is oak and oak. If you really want a wooden worktop then get used to using lots of chopping boards as you also can’t cut on them, they stain and you can’t clean them with bleach.
Solid surface worktops
This group contains all the solid surface worktops from Corian style worktops to Granite.
There are very many variations in each of the sub groups so starting with Corian type worktops.
Corian is a particular manufacturer of acrylic based worktops, they have a 12mm topcoat of Acrylic coloured resin with a chipboard base to build it up to 38mm. There are a number of variations of this product including 25mm solid acrylic tops, 6mm topcoats with chipboard base and 6mm topcoats with plastic cores. They are split into two groups those that needs to be installed by fabricators and those that can be installed by kitchen installers. The lure of these types of worktops is the ability to have kitchen worktops that have no joins, when installed a liquid jointing compound is used and then it is polished out once set to match the work surface leaving an invisible joint and also integral sinks with no visible joins. However they all wear in the same way and they all suffer from the same issues. Generally they can scratch easily, so it’s not a good idea to cut on them, they also can stain quite easily, but this can be polished out, most of them don’t mind heat but extreme heat will melt the glue that binds them together, so not a good idea to test the surface. These types of worktops can work out really expensive and the installation is really important and it’s crucial to ensure that they know what they are doing.
The second group is quartz tops, this is a manmade surface that is the equivalent of granite. It is treated in the same way as granite, it comes in lengths and is cut to size for kitchens. Normally you would get these worktops templated, supplied and installed by the same company as it is a specialised product. Quartz is almost impervious but it is important that you request that it is sealed after installation, there are only a few sealers available and I recommend Dry Treat as a single application. It is very hard wearing and you can cut on it, you can clean it with bleach or any other household cleaner and it is pretty bullet proof. There is only one issue with quartz and that can destroy your worktop, like all the other surfaces so far extreme heat will melt the glue that creates the quartz leaving rings in the surface. You choose this type of work surface due to its beauty and its functionality. Generally people who wish to purchase these types of worktops will chose quartz over the next group as it is available in many light colours.
The final group is granite worktops, the ultimate in kitchen worktops, natural stone, quarried out of our earth, every top is unique and every section of your worktop is varied. Granite is porous an must be sealed with a good sealant, to stop absorption , thereby retraining the colour of your tops and protecting them so they can last for ever. The one drawback of granite worktops is that we have quarried out most of the light colours and so the majority of granite worktops are dark colours. However granite worktops are the finest kitchen worktops available, easy to clean, you can cut on them and they will not suffer from extreme heat, but they still need to be treated with respect as do all of the worktops above. Granite tops are templated and installed exactly the same as quartz tops.
So now you are armed with the information and your choices will be restricted by your budget, however the more you spend on your worktops the better the investment in your property.