Kitchen surfaces endure a constant stream of activity. Food preparation is among one of the key roles for the worktop, therefore when planning your kitchen design be sure to factor in plenty of counter space. It is often the case to lead with the aesthetics and not take into account how you will actually operate in your kitchen. Consider depth and length generously, as these will determine how practical your kitchen is, and it will ultimately dictate how you furnish your surfaces.
Howard Noh, Managing Director of a leading worktop supplier, Tristone Acrylic Surfaces, comments: “To be practical, a worktop should be at least 90cm long. It should also be deep enough to overhang your units by 20-25mm. Not only does this look better than worktops that end abruptly at the units, but it also means spilt liquids miss the units and head straight for the floor as opposed to dripping into drawers.”
He continues: “Check the depth of your units before ordering worktops as not all are the same depth. You also need to consider your drawer and cupboard fronts – some fit flush into the unit carcasses, others sit in front of them, adding to the finished depth of the units. Finally, when choosing the thickness of your worktop, bear in mind that chunky worktops add a sense of quality, so it is often worth paying a little extra for thicker surfaces.”
There are a whole host of materials on offer for kitchen worktops but your choice will depend greatly on the intended scheme within your property. Wood or concrete? Natural or engineered stone? Stainless steel or marble? Whichever you decide, ensure you are purchasing from a reputable supplier, as quality is key. Some surfaces are more robust and easier to maintain than others, but each have their pros and cons.
The arrival of concrete worktops to the market, such as this new industrial-look worktop from Caesarstone, has really cemented homeowners’ dreams and visions for an industrial-chic interior scheme. Made from a general purpose mortar mix, it is injected with colour to bring warmth and character. If you are on a tight budget, this may not be the right product for you, but if you are willing to splurge throughout your self-build this would be the perfect opportunity.
If you’re looking for an exquisite material that exudes luxury and elegance, consider marble, or marble effect, worktops. Your choice of hues includes solid white, solid black and a range of variety colours in the rose, yellow, grey, green, white and black spectrums. Marble is heat-resistant. In the kitchen, it stands up well to hot pans and pots. However, homeowners must be advised that sharp knives can scratch the surface, or heavy pots/mugs may chip the marble.
For natural warmth and character, solid wood worktops are perfectly suited to both traditional and contemporary kitchens. As it’s a natural material, every piece will vary in grain and develop with character over time, which means you have a unique and original surface. One of the conditions of installing a natural wood worktop is the maintenance, as these surfaces will require regular oiling. You are generally expected to treat them every three months, but the results are worth it.
Solid surface worktops, such as Corian or HI-MACS, provide all the benefits of stone worktops, such as granite, marble, quartz etc, however being blended with acrylic, it produces a countertop that is totally hygienic and is completely non-porous. Therefore, it does not harbour germs and bacteria, it won’t stain, and it requires virtually no maintenance.
Granite surfaces are ideal for any area of the kitchen, and will even make a striking island worktop. It is especially low maintenance, and incredibly durable – being able to withstand high temperatures. Alongside this, granite is water resistant and impervious to most stains. Kitchen specialist, Granite Transformations, advises: “For traditional kitchens, go for the look and feel of natural stone worktops, choosing either Italian granite or ultra-contemporary recycled glass. Black or white surfaces, some with mirror fleck, give an upscale look and check out the latest porcelain worktops too. Waterfall ends, right down to floor level, look elegant and stylish.”
The three Cs
Gary Baker, Managing Director of CD (UK), sole distributor of DuPont Corian explains: “There are three Cs in each kitchen design scheme – convenience, customisation and colour. In the world of self-build, your imagination has no limits, but making the most of the space you have available still means that understanding the age-old relationship between the three points of the kitchen triangle – the sink, fridge and cooker – is central to unlocking the potential in your plan. Everything you need can be found in the solid surface material DuPont Corian. Available in more than 90 colours, infinitely thermoformable to make any shape you specify, it is the ultimate in hygienic, seamless, enduring colour, style and practicality. A high-tech mix of natural stone and acrylic, Corian offers all the advantages of an organic substance, married with the benefits of a consistently reliable synthetic product.”