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Choosing a Kitchen Worktop

Sep 6, 2008
Once you've chosen your kitchen layout and cabinets, the next thing on the list is choosing worktops. There is a vast choice of worktops available - different colours and different materials. Your choice may depend on your budget, but choose the most practical work top you can afford because work tops take a real battering from hot pans, sharp knives, spillages and knocks.

The main types of worktop are:-

Corian

Corian worktops are very desirable because they can be formed into any shape and size without the need for joins or seams. Corian can also be used for sinks, so you can actually get an integrated sink in your worktop!

Corian worktops are available in a wide range of colours and are very practical because there are no unhygienic seams to trap food and dirt. They are water and stain resistant and heat resistant up to about 250 C, simply clean with as soft, damp cloth and a mild detergent such as washing up liquid or soap. Scratches or scorch marks can be sanded off.

These worktops can be quite expensive but are highly practical and hard-wearing - a real plus point when it comes to selling your house.

Granite

Granite is another popular and desirable material for worktops. It is a natural material and gives any kitchen a sense of luxury. It is available in many colours and shades, greens, blues, reds, browns, greys, whites and blacks, and so will complement any colour cabinet. You can also buy glossy, highly polished granite or granite with a matte finish.

Granite is very durable and is low maintenance. For general cleaning, wipe with a soft cloth dampened with a mild detergent. It is heat resistant to very high temperatures, water resistant and scratch resistant. It can be marked by red wine and damaged by highly acidic and alkaline liquids such as vinegar and lemon juice, so clean the surface immediately after a spillage.

Granite is quite expensive, although generally cheaper than Corian. It can be cut to size but is heavy to transport and lift.

Quartz

Quartz is a naturally hard-wearing material which is resistant to heat and water. It does not absorb liquid spills and so is an ideal work surface material. It is resistant to a temperature of about 250, in case you accidentally put a pan down on it, but it is best to use trivets.

Quartz is very hygienic and is easy to keep clean by wiping with a soft cloth, dampened with a mild detergent. Although it is resistant to liquids, any spillages should be mopped up straight away so that they are easier to clean off.

Quartz work tops are long lasting and any damage, such as scratches and scorches, can be sanded off. It is available in a wide range of colours.

Wood

Wooden worktops are made out of hard woods such as cherry, maple, oak, beech, teak and iroko (also known as African teak). These work tops are great to add warmth to industrial style steel kitchens or for use in country style, rustic kitchens. Hard wood worktops are naturally hard wearing and long lasting and it is said that they actually look better with age and use.

They can be stained any colour to match any type of kitchen and are particularly good for food preparation areas and eating areas such as breakfast bars and islands. Woods with high oil contents, such as iroko and teak, are good in sink areas.

Wooden worktops are easy to look after and maintain. They require oiling with linseed oil or Danish oil every 3 months but otherwise just need cleaning with a soft cloth and mild detergent. Water and spillages can stain lighter woods, so make sure they are cleaned up immediately and re-oil if needed. Re-oiling often hides water marks and stains. Scratches can be sanded off and the work top re-oiled. Avoid scorching with hot pans and tins and don't chop straight on to the worktop.

Laminate

Laminate worktops are the cheapest option for worktops and can often be fitted by a DIY enthusiast. They are available in a wide range of finishes and colours and can look like granite and quartz. Some laminates have rolled edges, others require a trim. They are easy to care for but lighter colours can stain, so mop up spillages immediately. Laminate worktops are prone to heat damage and scratching but repair kits can be bought to cover scratches. Choose thicker laminates for durability.

Laminate worktops are a great budget buy.
About the Author
Dominic Bulstrode is an author and publisher who specialises in home decor and designer kitchens. Dominic represents Benchmark Interiors (http://www.benchmarkinteriors.co.uk), one of the leading designers of bespoke kitchens in the UK. In addition to full bespoke kitchens, Benchmark offer a wide range of free standing kitchen furniture using only renewable forest European Solid Woods.
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