A Simple Guide to Worktops
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Kitchen worktops can be a real sticking point for consumers, I often get asked for a certain type of worktop that they have been recommended to use by friends or family, however sometimes you have to consider the practicality and budget to see which worktops would really be the best option for the client.
Kitchen designers are often keen to upsell and some choice of worktops can double a sale value and boost profit margins. Take 2 minutes to read this guide which will hopefully give you some insight into the pro's and con's of each type of worktops available. Please note there are so many options for worktops, I've focussed on the more popular current options on the market.
Probably the most common question I get asked is which worktop is the most heat resistant. Whilst there are a few products that can claim they are heat resistant, no manufacturer would advise putting hot pans directly on to any work surface. Trivets and/or Hot rods are a much safer option
£ Laminate Worktops
The most affordable option on the market, these are a practical and cost effective choice
Often available in a variety or finishes from Granite, to Marble to Wood effects, there are plenty of options to suit many tastes.
Laminate worktops can come in different thickness' - the most common is 38mm, however there are slimmer and thicker options available in some retailers.
Laminate worktops require ZERO maintenance and are an easy option for installation.
Discuss joins with your installer to make sure they use MASON'S MITRE JOINT. This means the worktops will be joined using zip bolts and gives a smooth finish.
If you want rounded corners on your worktop this will limit your choices to Square edge profiles only.
You cannot use undermount or Butler sinks with Laminate as any water ingress will perish your worktops.
££ Solid Wood Worktops
Strong Durable and versatile, Solid wood worktops add warmth and over time rustic character to your kitchen
There are plenty of different woods to suit your taste and budget. The most affordable options are Beech or Oak. These are usually available in 2 thickness'. The most popular option is a 40mm thickness.
Other woods available on the market are Walnut, Tiger, Birch and Bamboo to name a few. Most high street kitchen retailers will usually only have 3 or 4 options for wood, but there are plenty on inline companies that sell different options.
Natural Wood will require maintenance, there are plenty of different oils and Laquer options depending on your preference of finishes. If you don't think you will take the time to re-oil or lacquer the wood then this may not be the most suitable option for you. A square edge wood effect laminate may be a better choice
You can round off corners and are not limited to sink choices with solid wood. Cation would need to be taken around the sink area to ensure the wood doesn't discolour. However the top layer of wood can be sanded down to hide any belemihes over time.
££ Compact Laminate Worktops
Similar in price to solid wood, compact laminates give you all the benefits or solid surface worktops without the price tag
As a relatively new product there aren't too many options of finishes to chose from - which isn't a bad thing!
Matching up stands and backboards are available, all products, including the worktops, are 12mm thick so you could use off cuts of the worktop to create a splash back (As shown in picture)
These worktops are made by compressing lots of layers of laminate meaning they are a completely solid core. This makes the completely waterproof and can have rounded corners, and again no limitations with Sink choices.
You can have grooves cut into the worktop to create a 'sink drainer' however it is not essential.
As the product is solid surface you may want to discuss with your installer to make sure they are comfortable installing these, and warn them that will need to stock up on blades!
£££ Slabtech / Minerva
Available in 2 thickness' of either 30mm or 40mm Slabtech/Minerva is a slightly more expensive options on the market. It's a manmade resin composite solid surface.
There are on matt finishes available, however there are plenty of colours and patterns on the market. You may want to consider a plain finish if you need to have any joins in the worktops, as veined options are often difficult to get a look of continuity. The veined look works much better as individual pieces.
Completely water proof so no issues with sink choices, and again can have grooves cut in to act as a 'sink drainer'
The work surface has a semi-matt finish that with cleaning will, over time, build up a smooth patina that is stain, scratch and impact resistant.
Can be supplied in lengths for your kitchen installer to fit, or you can opt for a bespoke service and have a registered approved installer fit them. You would pay a premium for this but it would come with a guarantee.
££££ Solid Quartz
Supplied as a bespoke product, its usually only installed by registered Quartz installers. The Supplier will carry out a template once your base units have been fitted. They then fabricate the pieces at the factory, deliver and install them. This can add up to 2 weeks on to your kitchen installation time.
As quartz is made from a blend of natural quartz and polymer resin you get the natural feel of granite but a completely non porous and hard wearing, maintenance free work surface.
Dependant upon the selected colour, the surfaces are polished to a rich high gloss lustre or a contemporary rich matt finish. Matching 20mm upstands are available.
Again, there are many veined options for quartz so please bear in mind it may be difficult to get continuity if you require any joins.
Due to the weight of the product there are limitations on lengths and overhangs. If you require a long stretch of worktop then you may require a visible join. Overhangs can only be 300mm deep, anything over that will require additional support.
££££ Granite Worktops
Attractive and elegant, granite is a highly popular work surface material. It is extremely robust and long lasting. Granite is also low maintenance and easy to clean, providing the perfect blend of good looks and practicality.
Supplied as a bespoke product, its usually only installed by registered Granite installers. The Supplier will carry out a template once your base units have been fitted. They then fabricate the pieces at the factory, deliver and install them. This can add up to 2 weeks on to your kitchen installation time.
A choice of edge profiles are available and you can further enhance your kitchen with 20mm thick upstands.
No two pieces of Granite are the same so continuity can be an issue if you require joins. If you find a local supplier you may be able to choose your exact pieces. Sample pieces in a showroom may not reflect the actual product you will receive.
Being a natural product you will need to take some care, especially around water areas, and things like red wine and olive oil could leave stains if not cleaned straight away.