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2019 Worktop Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing a worktop for your kitchen, it can seem stressful because there are simply so many to choose from!

With varying qualities, costs, materials and durabilities we thought it best to break this down for you to give you an idea as to where each material stands and how it may be better suited for you.

The biggest questions I get asked are “how durable is it?” “Does it stain?” and “is it expensive?” With this in mind, we’ve put together an out of 5 rating for these areas:

Laminate

laminate worktop choice

With laminate being one of the most popular worktops on the market, this is a great place to start. Offering hundreds of colour options ranging from granite to concrete and wood to patterns this worktop is so versatile. Predominantly 40mm thick it comes in a maximum length of 4 metres and up to 90cm wide. This is a great worktop for longer kitchens and also, if you want a big island. With the worktop having a substrate of a high density chipboard, this can easily be installed by a carpenter/kitchen fitter or a confident DIYer. Although this is one of the cheapest on the market, it is also one of the most versatile with a high scratch and heat resistance of up to 180°C. If like me you have your clumsy days, this is definitely a worktop to consider.

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Solid Laminate

what is solid laminate Next in line is a brand new material to the market called ‘Solid Laminate’. this material still has the standard laminate face however, the core of this is now a kraft paper impregnated with phenolic resin giving an overall thickness of between 12mm - 20mm. By changing the core of the product from wood to a resin, this means the counter is now 100% non-porous which results in being able to install Belfast or undermount sinks and even drainer grooves. with a high scratch and heat resistance of up to 180°C, this worktop is for those on a budget who want the joys of an undermount sink. Again, this can easily be installed by a carpenter/kitchen fitter or a confident DIYer.

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Solid Wood

wood worktops A worktop that has always had mixed reviews is solid wood. With lengths ranging from 1.2 - 4 metres and widths up to 1.2 metres this worktop has a lot of versatility and a true quality of product. Bringing natural wood into a kitchen gives real warmth by adding a natural material into a space however, overall it is not ideal for a heavy working kitchen. The for and against is always out on wood as although it can stain and mark easily if not maintained, it can deteriorate and look old very quickly. Maintenance on this is high as you will need to ensure the sink area is dried regularly and also oiling is required. Although a lot of companies say to oil every 6 months, I recommend every 3-4 to make sure it always has a protective layer. Ideally, if you can make time one weekend every few months to oil, this worktop can look beautiful forever. Also, although belfast and undermount sinks can be fitted with solid wood, it does need to be dried completely after use as the wood can soak in water very quickly. Ideally you would want to have this installed by a carpenter/kitchen fitter but if you’re a strong DIYer then this could be fitted yourself.

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Resin - AKA Corian / Minerva / Maia

corian worktops leicester With the brand of Corian by Dupont being the most known more manufacturers are now coming out of the woodwork and these include Minerva, Maia and Hi-Macs to name a few. with the ability to have hidden joins, this means you can build the worktop up to any thickness seamlessly ranging from as little as 6mm! As mentioned, the hidden joins are one of the key points as to why people choose resin worktops. This means you can blend two sheets together, polish the joins and they become completely invisible (colour dependent) and impervious to moisture ingression. Although a beautiful material to touch however, if chopping on this, light scratches will appear. In turn though, the joy of the worktop is it can be polished up and the scratches will be gone in minutes. Also, heavy staining products like turmeric, Ribena or red wine if left, can penetrate the material and will stain it. With this material belfast, undermount and completely moulded sinks can be fitted so the flow of the worktop can run straight into the bowl which is a huge bonus when it comes to wiping anything into the sink. However, as this material is quite sensitive, chopping boards, pan stands and caution is always advised. With the alternatives to Corian, these can be installed by a trained installer or confident carpenter. With regards to Corian, it is always advised to have a registered installer fit this as it will give you the warranty of 10 years!

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Granite & Marble

granite as a worktop Cut out of mother earth, granite and marble is a completely natural material and predominantly comes in thicknesses of 20mm or 30mm. For years people have always strived to have these worktops and if treated correctly, will look amazing for years to come. With this material being sliced out mountain sides and quarries, no two pieces are the same so if you’re looking for something like no other, this is the one for you. The thing with these worktops though is there is a few restrictions. For instance, matching up colours on joins can be quite hard if they’re not batch matched however, a good supplier will know this and ensure they find the best match for you.

With natural stone, (this is where I get to geek out a bit!) these are measured by the Mohs scale on their hardness rating. Simply 1 is soft (Talc) and 10 is hard (Diamond) and any number, cannot be damaged by the ones below them. So a 3 can’t damage an 8 but a 10 can damage the 8. In essence The harder, the better! With this in mind, granite and marble falls around a 6.5 rating and with steel around a 6, most knives can’t scratch the top.

Although stone worktops are very hard wearing mother nature has pushed stones together over millions of years so there is pitting and absorbency which in turn means it is porous and will stain. Always advised to use a fabricator for this product as the material is delicate when handled and is very very heavy.

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Quartz

silestone worktops near me Made up of a mix of materials, quartz, also known by the brands such as Silestone and Ceaserstone this is not a worktop to be confused with the natural stone. Quartz is a manmade material compromising of around 90% glass, quartz and other stones and bound together with the further 10% as a polymer resin. By combining these materials it creates one of the strongest worktops on the market. Coming up on the Mohs scale of around a 7 this means, it is stronger than a lot of general home utensils so becomes ideal for a heavy wear kitchen. Also, with this being a completely non-porous surface it is very resilient to everyday stains. With thicknesses of 12mm, 20mm and 30mm and jumbo sheets up to 3250mm x 1590mm the largest of islands can be seamlessly installed. Another worktop that should be installed by a fabricator and also, if you use the bigger brands like Silestone, using one of their partners will offer a greater warranty of up to a lifetime!

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Ceramic

whats the best worktop Where mother nature pushes stones together, humans have gone one further and reduced the millions of years into just a few weeks by applying high pressures and heat to recreate this process. By using the latest technological advances like electronic microscopy Ceramic worktops have been created so they have the highest scratch, stain and heat resistance. Brands such as Neolith and Dekton are the leaders and offer a huge variation of colours and availability. Like anything though, the higher the quality, the more you pay. With this being the highest end on the pricing spectrum, the phrase “you pay for you what you get” is too true; The highest quality, latest innovation, most resilient worktop on the market. Available in 12mm, 20mm, 30mm and now 4mm all these thicknesses are perfect for any contemporary kitchen. With the worktop being a specialist material, only a registered fabricator should produce and install this for you to ensure the quality runs from the product to the installation.

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With our star rating in mind, it looks like there's a 3 way draw! The forever loved Laminate, the new Solid Laminate and the ultra strong Quartz. As we advise all our clients, the worktop needs to be right for you and the recommendation we give is based upon your preference, budget and requirements.

Here, we’ve only outlined the major players in the worktop market so with materials also available like copper, stainless steel, glass and concrete why not get in touch to find out more about these and how they can work in your kitchen.

Posted by Joel LaRosa in Blog.