Worktops! Kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms – worktops play a crucial role in all areas of the house. It could be your chopping surface in the kitchen, space for your toiletries in the bathroom, or the desk upon which you journal into the night…
It’s no wonder, then, that there is a huge scope of different worktops to choose from; from the low-end cost of a laminate to the super resistant, heavy duty Dekton by Consentino, and a vast gulf of options in between.
With this in mind, let me give you a quick run-down of the various types of worktop, pros and cons, and general pricing.
Laminates – some might call these ‘cheap and cheerful’ but the quality of laminates is constantly increasing due to its viability as a worktop choice and the demand due to the low cost. Often the most cost-effective choice for your kitchen design if you have a strict budget to adhere to. A variety of thicknesses and a huge number of finishes are available, so achieving the aesthetic required is often very straightforward. When compared to more sturdy substances like Granite, laminates fall down as they contain a timber substrate – this means that water damage is a possibility if moisture manages to find its way into a joint. It is also never recommended to put hot pans on a laminate, and to use a chopping board to protect the surface.
Wood – often the most charming of surfaces, wood tops are tried and tested. More expensive than laminates, but cheaper than stone options, they lend themselves to the feel of quality, without costing an arm and a leg! Naturally, there are a variety of wood grains and colours to match your room’s colour scheme, the surface is also antibacterial if properly maintained, and part of the beauty of wood tops is they only look better with age. The issues you face with a wooden worktop is that it does require maintenance, usually in the form of oiling, to keep the surface antibacterial, and to help resist stains and scratches. This still does not guarantee the prevention of marks and staining, so in order to preserve the quality aesthetic, one must treat wooden worktops with the utmost care – no hot pans, and use a chopping board!
Stone – Granite is a natural stone with natural variation in its finish and is favoured by many for kitchen design. Not indestructible yet incredibly hard wearing and heat resistant, Granite - once fitted – should not require maintenance (other than a wipe to get those fingerprints from the polished surface!) It is antibacterial, easy to clean and available in a variety of colours and finishes (we have a beautiful example called ‘Cosmic Black Leather’ at our Heathfield showroom in East Sussex, it is well worth a look if you are thinking of stone worktops for your kitchen!) The issues one faces with Granite is that it is much more expensive than wood, it is heavy and therefore requires more manpower to fit, and there is a natural variation between pieces, so the dominant colours, hues and veining can be slightly different between two pieces of the same ‘Granite’, making the aesthetic harder to guarantee. The man made stone options (quartz) address some of the issues with Granite – being man-made, the finish can be precisely replicated allowing for bookmatched slabs (where the veining ‘joins’ from one slab to the next) and a huge variety of finishes are available - this makes it easier to achieve, without fail, the desired aesthetic. It is hard wearing, antibacterial, heavy and expensive like Granite, but is fortified with resin which, when exposed to extreme heat, can expand and crack (this is rare but it does happen!) the worktop.
The industry is also seeing different surfaces like glass and stainless steel being used more and more in the kitchen, composites like Corian are being used prolifically in bathroom design now (due to the resin content, Corian can be joined together seamlessly, giving the very real appearance that the entire worktop and upstand are a single slab). Corian is priced very similarly to Granite, though as with most suppliers there are a variety of finishes and price groups, and due to the resin content hot pans must not be put on the surface as it will crack, but it is worth noting that with a care kit, scuffs and marks on Corian can be polished out. We have also seen a few new products like Dekton and Neolith, similar in nature to porcelain, that have found their way to the top spots on the ‘Worktop League Table’ for highest resistance to scratching and heat, though thicknesses and finishes are limited at this time. They have also claimed the top spots in terms of cost…
So there you have it – a simplified breakdown of different worktops available for your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom designs. The question is: which one will you choose?
Dan Overgage, Showroom Manager