How to choose a kitchen worktop
Wednesday, 13th April 2016, Paul Dore
Ranking among the most important decisions we have to make in our lives, ‘which kitchen worktop should I choose?’ is possibly the biggest which relates to the home. All jokes aside, you can repaint a wall, convert an office back into a bedroom and hide Nana’s bequeathed sideboard, but replacing a kitchen worktop is no easy task. It’s a choice you really have to get right first time, weighing up all factors until you know – beyond doubt – which material is right for you.
To make your decision-making a little less dramatic, here’s the lowdown on three of the most desired kitchen worktop materials.
Just saying ‘granite kitchen’ is enough to send shivers of envy down many people’s spines. It is a thing to which lots of householders aspire, a sign that they’ve ‘made it’. It’s not simply a sensible investment, it’s a feature which can be showed off and enjoyed for years and years to come.
What is it? It's a natural, igneous rock, formed of several different minerals which include quartz and feldspar. It is mined from locations all over the world and cut into manageable slabs which can more easily be used to create gorgeous worktops.
Appearance: The beauty of granite is that no two pieces will ever be the same, due to the occurrence of mineral ‘inclusions’ and veins which feature throughout the stone and determine the colour (from Blue Pearl to Sahara Gold). Plus a highly-polished gloss finish looks stunning.
Practicalities: Granite is extremely hard-wearing and hygienic, so perfect for kitchens. It can endure the day-to-day knocks as well as resisting extreme temperatures, heavy weights and sharp knives. However, granite is porous and so food preparation boards, etc., should be used to maintain the excellent condition of your worktop. Spills, especially from highly acidic or coloured foods must be wiped up immediately - but then, you’re not the type of person to leave a mess, are you?
Maintenance: While hot, soapy water and a soft cloth will do the job, over time detergents can dull the shine, so you may want to use products which are specially formulated for granite worktops. Never use bleach or abrasive cleaning products. Granite requires sealing every few years, to prolong its life. The fitters will usually apply an anti-stain treatment which we advise you repeat every six months or so.
Fitting: Your worktops will first be templated, so that the fitters can get the exact measurements. This information is then fed into a highly-specialised machine which cuts the granite precisely – typically from the same slab to ensure colour consistency. The physical installation can take as little as two to four hours, depending on the complexity of the job.
Best for: Those who use their kitchen as a showpiece, who are fastidious with cleaning and where there isn’t too much traffic.
Currently very trendy, quartz is the optimum kitchen worktop material. The wide range of colours means that it can suit all types of home, and being non-porous and stain-proof means it’s a practical option, as well as an attractive one.
What is it? It’s usually offered as THE alternative to granite; a man-made composite of predominantly natural materials (usually around 92-93 per cent) mixed with resin and colourants. We offer three types of quartz: Silestone, Caesarstone and Compac, all brands which are equally resistant, enduring and beautiful.
Appearance: Fantastic for a more personalised, yet lasting kitchen, quartz can be manufactured in neutral or plain shades and exotic patterns (like Cream Valentino) and neon colours (Fuchsia, Orange and Verde Fun, to mention but a few).
Practicalities: As quartz doesn’t absorb water, it’s both hygienic and won’t stain. That’s why it’s found in many commercial food preparation areas. It resists abrasion and scratches, though we’d still advise using cutting boards, trivets for hot pans and soft cloths to clean with. It’s very strong and when looked after, can retain its sparkling appearance for years on end.
Maintenance: It doesn’t require the sealing that granite does, but do take care when cleaning and preparing food. Never put very hot pans directly on the surface, as they could mark – particularly on surfaces which contain mirror-like flecks.
Fitting: Much like with granite, the worktops will be created using a template and then cut to the exact sizes.
Best for: Those who want to appearance of granite, but which has that bit more strength and a lesser requirement for sealing and instant cleaning.
You may not be familiar with Lapitec, but here’s betting you’ve seen it around and not realised. It’s extremely popular in kitchens and bathrooms as it offers all the benefits of granite and quartz.
What is it? It is manufactured when specially chosen ceramic elements are blended together under extreme heat and pressure to form one, incredibly strong and beautiful ‘sintered’ stone.
Appearance: With several Lapitec collections on offer, there are many finishes and colours available –from the mildly textured Satin Collection to the highly-polished and shiny Lux range. Lapitec is cut from the same slab, meaning fewer joins, for a sleek, continuous effect.
Practicalities: A non-porous material which is anti-bacterial, Lapitec is often used around swimming pools and for paving, giving you an indication of how durable it really is. It’s easy to clean - just use a neutral detergent and warm water - though its non-porous properties mean that it is stain and acid resistant. It can additionally endure frost, high impacts, abrasion and UV light so it won’t fade or scratch.
Maintenance: As Lapitec receives an anti-bacterial treatment in the manufacturing stage and it doesn’t absorb liquids, it doesn’t need to be resealed.
Fitting: Lapitec is delivered to us in huge slabs, which usually means that the entire kitchen can be surfaced from the same piece, ensuring consistency. The slabs may be huge, but they’re extremely light, meaning that the fitting process can actually be easier than using natural stone.
Best for: People who are staying put for a while or who want a work surface with a uniform appearance. It’s also recommended for those who are admittedly a little on the lazy side or simply don’t have the time for constant tidying; you don’t have to wipe that spill up straight away.
Hopefully the above has helped you to make a more informed decision about which kitchen worktop to choose. At the very least, you can depend on excellent customer service and incredible value for money. We’ll work with you at every step of the way to ensure you get that kitchen you’ve always dreamed of. If you’d like to find out more or obtain a quote, please get in touch on 01243 544 770 or send us a message online.