If you’re planning a new kitchen or simply refreshing your existing one, you’re likely to need to replace your kitchen worktops. Although it should be easy, replacing your kitchen worktops can be tricky. With so many different materials to choose from, as well as colours and thicknesses, it’s hard to pick the ideal worktop for your kitchen. So, to give you a helping hand, let’s take a look at the important things to consider. Then, you’ll have no problem choosing your new kitchen worktop.
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One of the most important things to consider when choosing a new kitchen worktop is its durability. It’s a surface that needs to be strong enough to use for food prep, eating and holding a myriad of appliances. But even more importantly, it needs to withstand knocks, bumps and sharp objects from time to time.
So, what sort of materials cope with this type of use on a daily basis? Well, although they tend to be the cheapest, laminate worktops are pretty durable and can last around 20 years. Plus, they’re reasonably heat and stain resistant. Wood is also incredibly durable, as long as it’s looked after. It’s more prone to scratches and dents but wood is easier to repair than many materials.
You also need to be aware that some hard materials such as granite, can chip and crack. Quartz is considered better for this reason, but it’s not particularly heat resistant. So, care is needed.
Just because a worktop material is strong and durable, that doesn’t mean it’s maintenance free. So, if you’re buying a kitchen worktop, its worth knowing what kind of care is needed.
For porous materials that means keeping them sealed against water and other liquids. This includes wood, granite and quartz, as well as more bespoke materials such as concrete. You may need to reapply sealant or for wood, sand and reoil it from time to time. And to protect this coating, you’ll need to know how to clean your worktop.
Not all work surfaces are easy to clean. You may think that spraying on your regular cleaner and giving it a scrub is all you need to do. However, this approach can ruin the surface of many materials, especially if they have a special coating or polish. That’s why you’ll find professional kitchens use stainless steel, as it stands up to thorough cleaning with chemicals. This makes it easy to clean and hygienic to use. But it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing choice.
Wood, granite and quartz worktops are a bit trickier to clean, even when they’re sealed. They tend to need frequent cleaning using mild or specialist cleansers and then buffing dry. So, this is something that’s worth bearing in mind.
Of course, the most practical consideration for choosing a worktop isn’t its durability or cleanability, but its cost. And prices per metre vary wildly between materials and manufacturers.
So, what’s cheap and what’s expensive? Well, the most cost-effective is typically a laminate worktop. This is because it’s largely made from cheap materials such as chipboard and laminated to improve its appearance and make it usable as a work surface. Solid wood worktops are often the next cheapest, although this depends on the type of wood used and its thickness. At the other end of the scale are materials such as marble, which are far pricier. Granite and quartz are a little cheaper than marble, but still work out much more expensive per metre than a basic laminate worktop.
Something that many people fail to consider when buying their new kitchen worktop is the installation. If you’re using a kitchen specialist to fit it, then it’s less likely to be an issue. But if you’re simply having a kitchen refresh or trying to keep costs down, then you may be installing it yourself. This means you’ll need to cut it to size yourself. And just how easy or hard this is depends a lot on the type of material you’re working with. Some materials may need specialist cutting tools or blades and can be expensive if you get it wrong.
Finally, your worktop needs to match the style of your kitchen. So, you’ll need to think about whether it complements your cabinet and tile choices.
For this reason, wooden worktops are a popular choice for traditionally styled kitchens that have shaker or farmhouse cabinets. Marble and quartz can also work well and have an equally timeless appeal. Meanwhile, modern kitchens may suit glossy laminate, concrete or steel worktops better. And of course, you’ll want to think about the colour of your worktop. Do you want to create a seamless look with your cabinets or do you want a nice contrast, so it stands out?