Finding a Countertop That Ticks All the Boxes
Everyone has their different reasons for choosing a particular kitchen worktop material. In most cases it comes down to finish, colour and how they compliment your kitchen units. Cost and durability is also a major factor but aside from these very common influencers, what about practicality?
How you use your kitchen day-to-day should play an important role in your selection process. You could have a number of personal gripes about how certain work surfaces perform when it comes to cleaning, maintenance and resilience. So let’s take a look at the most common worktop options and see which ones work best under various demands.
Metal work surfaces are really making big waves in recent years, with both stainless steel and copper both becoming very popular choices amongst chefy types wanting to capture the commercial kitchen look in their homes. It’s easy to see why when they both offer a durable and hygienic work surface option that’s easy to clean and can take hot pots and pans with no issues. Copper in particular offers anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it one of the cleanest and safest surfaces on the market if germs are a concern.
The downside is both scratch easily so when cleaning, using harsh or abrasive materials is never recommended. Once scratched they never look the same again so, although they appear rugged and hard wearing, their image can be spoiled easily.
If keeping things clean and pristine all the time is your number one priority, then solid surface is the best best for minimalist types. Materials such as Corian are ideal as they rarely have any visible joints on show, making it one beautiful smooth piece of resin end-to-end, displaying a consistent finish that looks great all the time.
Solid surface worktops can also be engineered to create integrated sinks and drainage areas which offers the ultimate in clean lines and sleek finishes for a modern look. Best of all it won’t scratch, stain or mark easily and is completely waterproof. It’s also great for preparing food and cleans easily, making it hygienic and practical too. A great all rounder.
If you love the great outdoors and want to bring a piece of nature inside, then perhaps a solid wood work surface is for you. Admittedly, they do have a long list of potential drawbacks. Timber surfaces scratch, stain and discolour very easily and if hot pans are placed on them, can leave permanent scorch rings which look awful.
Not a surface for low maintenance types, wood can look stunning if regularly stained, maintained and treated with respect. It will add a country charm to you kitchen that no other surface frankly can come close to. But left unkept and neglected, will soon start to show signs of wear and tear. Hardwoods such as teak have higher oil content so tend to be more water resistant if spills and stains are a concern, but if you don’t mind a little imperfection here or there, wood can make your kitchen look very cosy and homely.
If budgets are tight and you need to keep on top of spending, laminate worktops are really your only option. With recent improvements in manufacturing processes, many laminates now come in some impressive finishes and look far better than the ghastly work surfaces synonymous with the eighties and nineties.
Nowadays you can get hold of laminates that looks very close to real granite, quartz, slate and oak, offering a very convincing finish. Never as good as the real thing of course, they cost just a fraction of their more expensive rivals so won’t empty your pockets.
Just remember that some cheaper laminates are poorly made and can damage or chip easily so choose carefully. Never place hot items on laminate or attempt to use it as a cutting surface. Chopping boards are a must!
Is there any better material that offers a more timeless appeal than granite? With it’s unique, natural looks, granite doesn’t come cheap but works in practically any kitchen style, whether modern or classic.
If treated well, it can last a lifetime making it a worthwhile longer term investment but it does has its pitfalls. It doesn’t react well to heat and requires regular sealing to ensure it remains as waterproof as possible, as granite is naturally a pourous material and can damage.
This super strong manmade material is great if you want the natural stone look without the pitfalls. Unlike granite, quartz is water resistant and stain proof meaning there’s no concerns over sealing and regular maintenance. With modern manufacturing advancements, quartz also comes in many colours and finishes and it’s not hard to come across surfaces that look like granite but are in fact man made. Be ready however to spend more as quartz comes with a higher price tag than most other surfaces.
If you’re looking to make a statement and give your kitchen a look of grandeur and lavishness, then marble has to be your top pick. It’s incredibly pricey but boy does it look stunning.
You could choose a close alternative like a quartz or granite to keep costs down but if money is no object, marble comes out on top as the surface to complete the five star finish. It’s great for cleaning and doesn’t scratch although it is advised to keep corrosive or acidic chemical away from the surface at all costs to avoid discolouration.
The industrial look is very much en vogue right now, especially in city apartments and lofts where minimalist, clean lines meet the ruggedness of exposed brickwork, stone and metals. Either polished or matt, concrete offers a very unique finish.
It’s not to everyone’s tastes admittedly but it’s super-durable, tough and full of robust character. On the downside, it does stain and needs a fairly large amount of sealing to make it as nonporous as possible, so avoid any red wine spillages or rich curry sauces from ruining your industrial grey worktop finish if entertaining is your thing.
For the purists out there, glass worktops offer a very simple, chic finish that often gets overlooked by homeowners. But don’t write it off just yet!
Glass’ reflective properties makes it a great choice in kitchens that lack natural light and with its clean line and sleek finish, can realyl make any kitchen feel sophisticated and high end, without the hefty price tag. many shoppers avoid glass because they fear it is perishable but most modern worktop are toughened, making them far less susceptible to chipping, scratching and breaking.
It naturally heat resistant, easy to clean, doesn’t stain and when buffered down to remove any finger marks, can look stunning, making it a great choice for many reasons.