Worktops and Splashbacks
Trendy Kitchen Worktops
A new kitchen is a major and costly project. Proper planning and design shouldn’t be taken lightly because that could prevent silly, or even costly, mistakes. That applies to one's choice of kitchen worktop as well.
The kitchen worktop is constantly exposed to various organic substances, water, salts and detergents ...
Therefore, it has to be durable and easily maintained. There is wide range of suitable materials available these days.
Corian® kitchen worktops can be formed into any shape without the need for joints. That applies to most composite kitchen worktop materials.
The face of the kitchen, the doors, does matter, but in structural terms they’re the least important part of a kitchen. The rest — the cabinets and worktop - is what really matters. Kitchen worktops are the most exposed and the easiest damaged. Make the wrong choice, and you’ll soon find yourself having to replace the work surface.
The size of the kitchen dictates the size of the worktop. To be practical, a worktop should be about 90cm wide. It should also be deep enough to overhang your units by 20-25mm. This looks better and it also means spilt liquids miss the units and falls to the floor instead of into your drawers.
When choosing the thickness of your worktop, bear in mind that chunky worktops might add a sense of quality but thinner ones have become trendy.
Whatever material you choose, all worksurfaces need to be templated to be cut to size and with cut-outs for hobs and sinks etc. Some materials, like laminates and some composits, can be cut on site and be fitted straight away. Some hard materials, like granite, need to be templated and cut at the factory. This can take up to three weeks after the furniture has been installed. It’s important to keep this in mind - so don’t throw out the camping stove just yet!
Laminate worktops are probably the most affordable. However, it is no longer the black sheep in the family. Huge strides in print technology and surface structures means no compromise any longer on design, style, and quality with this incredibly versatile and practical material. The laminate surface layer is impermeable, so these worktops are also easy to keep clean.
It is resistant to most stains and chemicals, but not to heat or steam.
Laminate worktops can be fitted on-site by any fitter or experienced DIYer.
Quality differs and some are significantly more durable than others. Some could look tired and worn very quickly. The laminate itself is impermeable, preventing water penetrating to the chipboard core.
Price: From approx £30 per linear m.
Many different species of trees are used and each timber has unique qualities. The type of timber often determines the price. A beech worktop, for example, will be considerably cheaper than maple. They are generally midrange in price.
Wood worktops bring a natural quality into your kitchen. Most will look good in both modern and traditional kitchen designs and many people love the fact that every single wood worktop is truly unique.
If hardwoods are properly sealed and maintained they will last for a long time.
Wood worktops are fairly easy to fit and can be shaped and cut on-site with conventional power tools. Wood is naturally antiseptic and therefore wooden worktops are thought of as being a hygienic choice.
They require a bit of effort to maintain, but the amount of work required is probably not as demanding as people are led to believe. Wood surfaces need to be oiled prior to installation to prevent them warping, and the oil must be regularly maintained during their lifetime to increase their resistance to liquids. Let’s face it, water spills left to stand on the worktop might eventually stain it. Therefore, it is important to wipe up spills and splashes promptly. It is probably not advisable to fit an under-mounted butler or Belfast sink with a wood worktop. Always use chopping board or worktop saver to protect the surface from cut marks and hot pans and dishes.
Price: From approx £90 per linear m.
Granite Worktops have traditionally been viewed as the worktop of choice for higher end kitchens. It certainly offers a lot in terms of visual appeal and function. Part of its popularity comes from the stones reputation as a premium material. Granite has been proven to add value to a property.
Granite is strong, durable, and difficult to scratch as well as boasting stain resistance providing the material is treated before installation. Granite may be extremely tough, however, it can crack.
If not treated before installation it has been reported that they could sometimes be stained by certain liquids like red wine or colorants in certain juices. Unlike wood and laminate counters, granite worktops will require specialist installation, and some kitchen units might even need further reinforcing.
Price: From approx £200 per sq m.
Marble is a metamorphic rock formed from sedimentary carbonate rocks. Unlike marble that is generally available in around 35 varieties, granite comes in around 80-100 different colours giving potential customers a better variety. Marble has a natural mottle effect or veining throughout.
Marble needs to be installed with caution, as it tends not to age as well as granite. Putting a specific price on Marble is difficult because there are so many different varieties. Carraramarble starts from around £200 a square metre and is generally priced on the purity of the colour for example, the whiter and clearer the stone, the higher the value. Granite approximately starts at around £180 a square metre with some rarer varieties fetching as much as £800 a square metre.
Glass worktops are a great way to modernise a kitchen. With a high shine finish and luxurious image, glass worktops will make any room look stunning. The beauty of glass worktops is that almost no effect that can’t be achieved – it could simply be in a colour, or in a vinyl image, or even a cracked glass effect.
Glass is practical and durable. A wide range of thicknesses is available ranging from 10mm-19mm. For a thicker look manufacturers bond two pieces of glass together. The toughened glass is heat resistant to extremely high temperatures - Up to 400°C.
Price: From approx £300 for a standard 15mm-deep surface.
Composite & Quartz
The newly crowned king of kitchen worktops is the man-made, ‘composite’ quarts materials. Identifiable under a number of titles such as Luxore, Silestone, Zodiac, Caesarstone, Arenastone, Apollo and Prestige Quartz, they all have one thing in common – they could all conceivably be titled under the name Bretonstones as they are all manufactured on a Breton Machine, the product of an Italian company who export the machines worldwide.
Composite stones are a mixture of materials which are comprised of natural stone and acrylic resin with added pigments. As the colour runs right the way through the material, any scratches can be sanded out. These types of surfaces are mostly non-porous, anti-bacterial and uniform in colour. Quartz is one of the hardest materials that exist - more durable than many natural stones.. However, even if it is incredibly durable, it should not be treated with reckless force. Care needs to be taken with very heavy objects and worktop edges.
Price: From approx £300 per linear m.
Corian® was the first solid surface when it was introduced in the UK in 1979 by DuPont™. Corian is perhaps the most well known brand of solid surface worktops on the market. It is made by mixing acrylic resin with bauxite filler & pigments to form a sheet of solid surface material. This sheet is then bonded onto a timber substrate to form a solid surface worktop.
Because Corian® is nonporous, stains do not penetrate the surface. With proper cleaning, Corian® also resists the growth of mould, mildew, and bacteria. Stain and water resistant. Heat-resistant to 250°C, but best to use a trivet. As it is a solid surface material, scratches can be sanded out. Corian® can be formed into any shape without the need for ugly or unhygienic joints.
High-performing Corian® products, such as sinks and backsplashes, can be perfectly integrated to create the sleek appearance of a single, solid surface. With a coved backsplash, there are no traps to collect dirt and moisture. Corian® also works brilliantly together with such materials as stainless steel, wood, and glass.
Price: From approx £300 per linear m.
It looks best in industrial and contemporary schemes. It is the choice of commercial kitchens because of its hygienic properties. It is very strong, waterproof, heat and acid resistant. It is prone to scratching, but this won't affect its anti-bacterial nature. Sinks can be incorporated into a stainless-steel run. Simple designs can be cut from a single sheet, avoiding the need for joints.
Price per linear metre: From approx £250 per linear m.
Samsung Staron is the premium non-porous work surface that creates a hygienically beautiful environment. Solid Surface material has the ability to be seamlessly fabricated into flowing surfaces, with integrated sinks, drainers and other features. The easy way to maintain a clean and healthy kitchen. Unlike many laminate countertops, Staron Preformed Worktops is nonporous with inconspicuous seams. This means that even germs and moisture cannot infiltrate and cause damage, making it the perfect choice for kitchens.
Polished concrete provides a beautiful contemporary alternative material for architectural products and surfaces. It is possible to create highly individual surfaces and products built to specification - something that's elegant and dramatic, yet totally unique.
It is an ideal way of using recycled materials including crushed glass, sea shells, porcelain, mirrors, tiles, tyres, sanitary ware, brick, china clay residue, demolition waste, specialised smelter slags & many others. Polished concrete products can be created in a variety of colours, from natural tones to pigmented charcoal, pale and grey, to contemporary blues, greens, yellows and reds. Surfaces can be ground to expose decorative aggregate or have variable degrees of grinding. All products are treated with sealer and wax to assist in cleaning and maintenance.
Terrazzo is not new technology as it has been in use since the nineteenth century. It was initially invented by construction workers in Venice. It is a fused material which can be precast into a particular shape or poured in place and is usually used for flooring and on the wall. It consists of different, unique stones like marble, granite, quartz, glass and a few other beautiful chippings. All these stones are fixed or sprinkled into a binder that can be chemical or a form of cement that holds all these stones together.
Terrazzo makes a great worktop finish, tough, durable, and comes in an amazing range of textures and colours.