When we embarked on our kitchen makeover, one of our biggest decisions was what kitchen work surface to have. We didn’t do a complete remodel, we were simply making a few changes to create a space that worked better for us, had more storage and was a lot brighter. One of my biggest bugbears was the dark laminate worktop. It made the whole room a lot darker as it seemed to absorb all available day light in the room. So that had to go. As this wasn’t the kitchen of our dreams and there is a chance we may move house in the coming years, we decided not to splash out on the worktop but to go for something more modest. We ended up choosing a laminate worktop in white with a wood trim and I’m happy to say we love it and it has transformed the look of the whole room. And it was on budget too.
But if you are thinking about installing a whole new kitchen, then the choice of kitchen work surface that is available today can be quite overwhelming. There are just so many materials on the market now, making the decision a lot more difficult. But the kitchen work surface is an integral part of the kitchen so choosing the right one is absolutely essential. In this post I’ll be looking at some of the considerations you need to make before you commit to a new kitchen work surface.
Before you even decide to look into your options there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself in order to work out the right option for your particular kitchen and your needs.
- What is my budget?
- The amount of money you can afford to spend on your new kitchen work surface will have a massive influence on the material that you end up choosing. You can obviously get a variety of materials at both ends of the price spectrum, so your budget will help you narrow down your choices by excluding those that fall outside of your price range.
- How do I use my kitchen?
- Think about how you use your kitchen on a daily basis. Do you have a big family to cater for or is it just you and your partner? What kind of cook you are? How messy are you in the kitchen? These considerations will help you to choose a material that can withstand the use that it will be put to.
- How much maintenance can I cope with?
- Some materials require a lot more maintenance than others so it’s important to decide how much time and effort you can dedicate to the upkeep of the kitchen work surface you go for.
How do I want my kitchen work surface to look?
This question is more personal than practical. You need to think about what colour you would like your kitchen work surface to be, what texture you would like and any other design details such as the thickness or weight of the material, and how you might want to deal with any joins that may be necessary.
Once you have ascertained the answers to these questions you should have been able to rule out a good handful of options allowing you to focus on the materials that truly meet your criteria. This should make the process a whole lot easier. There are advantages and disadvantages to each material but your choice will essentially be based on how robust you need your work surface to be, how much you’re prepared to look after it, and how you want it to look.
So let’s take a look at some of the kitchen work surface options on offer and why you may or may not want to consider choosing them for your own kitchen.
Laminates are really great if you are working on a budget and are probably the most cost-effective choice. Technological developments in recent years means that you can now get really realistic looking laminates that mimic other materials such as marble, wood and granite. And the choice is really extensive so it’s extremely easy to create the look you’re after.
Laminate is not the most durable of surfaces mind, so whilst it is great for kitchens that get light use, it’s probably not the most ideal material for kitchens that will have to stand up to lots of wear and tear. It can be quite easily damaged and if it does get scratched or scorched this kind of damage is usually not repairable. A final drawback, as we have discovered, is that joins will be visible. If this doesn’t bother you then it’s all good but if you are a stickler for details and for perfection you may not be able to live with this. (I have to admit that it is particularly noticeable with white kitchen work surfaces and it does bother me on a daily basis, but it’s what our budget would allow at the time).
Opting for a solid wood work surface in the kitchen is a great way to add natural warmth and texture to the room and as a material it is quite flexible when it comes to the way it looks. It works equally well in contemporary and traditional kitchen designs. Because solid timber is a natural material it also adds a lot of character to a kitchen. Each variety of wood, be it teak, wenge, walnut, beech, cherry, maple, iroko, or oak, will vary in grain, tone and pattern and will develop a patina the more it is used and the older it gets. Timber is also naturally anti-bacterial which is an added bonus.
However, solid wood does require a lot more upkeep than some other materials to ensure it always looks its best. For a start it requires regular oiling, every few weeks to start, then every few months and then a couple of times a year. But with regular maintenance it will be robust and beautiful. Solid wood can also be easily scorched, stained and scratched, so it’s important to be on the ball and clean up any spillages, including water, as soon as they occur and remember not to place hot pans directly on the surface. But if damage does occur it’s not the end of the world as solid wood is relatively easy to repair.
Solid surface worktops such as granite, quartz, and acrylic are becoming increasingly popular choices for kitchen work surfaces. Let’s take a look at them in turn.
Granite is a natural stone so any kitchen work surface made from this material will be unique due to the veining and colour. One benefit of granite it that it is strong and very durable. It is also ideal for people who do a lot of cooking as it provides a nice cold surface for preparing baked goods.
However, it can be easily stained or scratched so it is important to make sure that it is correctly sealed to protect it from any unnecessary damage. It’s also quite heavy so you need to make sure your cabinets can support it.
Quartz is a man-made granite alternative which is made from natural quartz and is available in a huge variety of colour options. It is also much more resistant to stains and scratches than natural granite and doesn’t need to be sealed. Plus it has the added benefit of built-in antibacterial protection as it is non-porous, making it very hygienic.
On the downside, quartz can be quite pricey and it is not as resistant to heat as natural granite. Also exposure to strong direct sunlight has been known to cause discolouration.
Acrylic, such as Corian and Earthstone, is a form of plastic that is increasingly being used in the manufacture of kitchen work surfaces. As a material it has many benefits including invisible joints and a seamless appearance. Acrylic is extremely durable, hygienic and requires relatively little maintenance or care. It can be formed into any shape so you can actually have your sink and upstand as part of the surface itself. And as the colour runs all the way through the thickness of the material it also means that you can carve the draining board out of the surface which provides an extremely seamless, minimal look, ideal for contemporary kitchen designs.
So there you have it. I hope this little guide will prove useful if and when it comes time for you to choose a new kitchen work surface for your home. Don’t let the sheer choice of materials out there intimidate you, simply work through the questions above and draw up a list of criteria. Eventually you will find the perfect surface to meet your needs. Good Luck!
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by HC Supplies. However, I want to stress that I only collaborate with brands and companies that I genuinely like and believe that my readers will like too.