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Kitchen Worktops Simple & Effective Guide to Choosing the Very Best Kitchen Worktops

Simple & Effective Guide to Choosing the Very Best Kitchen Worktops

Mon, Apr, 2019 Maria Kairuz

Assumingly, a kitchen upgrade is on the cards, and you have taken decisions on cabinetry and flooring after a due diligence and forethought. That’s commendable! However, there is some more pondering to be done, as the final piece of the puzzle, the worktop, is yet unattended. Kitchen worktops are perhaps the mainstay of the modern-day kitchen, rendering it eye appeal, style and function. Going easy here may translate into a remodeling disaster, leaving you with no option but to put up with unsightly kitchen and bleed money on repairs and replacements.

Walk into a kitchen showroom and the variety of options may overwhelm you, thanks to a recent wave of innovation in the global surfaces industry. Glass, quartz, ceramic, wood, laminate, granite kitchen worktops – the options are endless, posing a problem of plenty and testing your reason. The multiplicity of worktop materials is a mixed blessing, ensuring solutions for all decors, tastes and budgets on one hand, while on the other, creating confusion in buyers’ minds. Since tricky situations need informed decisions, let’s walk you through your options and help you pick the most appropriate kitchen worktop from the pile of available options.

Quartz:

Quartz has struck a chord with both building and decoration professionals as well as with end clients, due to its hardy and handsome attributes. Quartz Kitchen Worktops typically contain 93% quartz and 7% resin, making them a coveted option for discerning users. The composition renders quartz with exceptional strength, visual appeal and resistance to stains and shocks – practically everything that you can ask for.

  • Pros:
  1. Quartz Kitchen Worktops are probably one of the hardest stones you will ever lay your hands on. They can endure harshest of working environments and keep their shape, size and shade intact for most part of the service life. In fact, these countertops are hard-wearing enough to withstand chipping, scratches and metal marks. Not only that they are extremely sturdy, but they can also feel smooth and silky depending on the finish pf the slab.
  2. Quartz countertops are non-porous, discouraging seeping in of spills or liquids that can harbour hazardous bacteria and viruses. Besides hygiene, non-porosity of these worktops also translates into high stain resistance and minimal upkeep hassles. Just wipe the surface with a wet cloth or use a mild detergent – you are sorted.
  3. Quartz exhibits a remarkable consistency in stone quality. That means, quartz worktop edge finishes are more refined look vis-à-vis other popular surface options. For the same reason, it is much easier to fabricate intricate edges on quartz than in any natural stone that varies according to its mineral consistency.
  4. Quartz countertops spoil you for choices when it comes to colours and textures with multiple bespoke options also readily available to suit your decor. Technology has come a long way over the last five years and with it, the quartz worktop materials have improved a lot. You can choose marble-effect quartz, concrete-effect worktops, plain, mirrored and many more.
  5. These worktops are a big plus for environmentally friendly buyers, since they contain waste materials.
  • Cons:
  1. Quartz is UV sensitive and should not be used as external surfaces since it can discolour and/or fade.
  2. In terms of heat resistance, quartz fares lower as a surface material than other man-made stones such as porcelain worktops or ceramic worktops.
  3. Although quartz stones look more realistic that they ever have before, these still do not replicate natural materials such as marble with 100% accuracy when it comes to natural looks.

How is Quartz made?

Silestone:

Made of approximately 94% percent natural quartz, Silestone is a versatile material, lending exceptionally well to floors, walls bathrooms and, of course, kitchen worktops.

  • Pros:
  1. Silestone is incredibly tough and kitchen worktops made of this material deliver on performance, impact resistance and longevity.
  2. Silestone is non-porous and discourages germ build-up. In fact, this proprietary material comes with additional antimicrobial protection for enhanced safety.
  3. Silestone N-Boost treatment: this is a process exclusive to the brand in which the resistance to absorption works on a molecular level, resulting in worktops impermeable by water and other liquids.
  4. Count on Silestone kitchen worktops for stain, scratch and temperature resistance. Both, frozen and boiling dishes can be moved without a bother.
  5. Available in different designs and colours, allowing you to create the desired look.
  6. A breeze to clean, requiring only a cloth and a mild cleaning spray.
  7. It offers 25-year available warranty with every purchase, ensuring your investment is protected.
  • Cons:
  1. It usually costs a little bit more than the smaller brands.
  2. As with any quartz worktop material, it is sensitive to UV Rays which means it should not be used in exteriors.

Granite:

Granite continues to be the one of the preferred options for infusing a new life into kitchens across the globe. They mesmerize with their luxurious, luminous appearance and variety while the durability and functionality aspects are impeccably catered to as well. Unlike marble, granite is formed from volcanic ash, which results in lack of calcium on its mineral make-up. This ensures that granite worktops do not etch when exposed to acidic foods. Similarly, granite surfaces are much harder than limestone and marble, making it highly resistant to scratches and accidental impact.

  • Pros:
  1. Granite is a crystalline rock made of natural quartz, mica, and feldspar, which speak for an outstanding hardness and incandescent looks. In addition, the slabs are very large which makes it very popular to create granite kitchen islands without the need of joints. Granite kitchen worktops inherit these properties to elevate aesthetics and overall worth of the property.
  2. These countertops are non-porous. This means they ward off any bacterial build-up and facilitate easy, swift cleaning and upkeep. For the same reason, granite surfaces can also be applied to bathrooms and any other area that remains in contact with water.
  3. By having a natural low porosity, granite worktops do not allow for any liquids to be absorbed. This makes it a very practical worktop material which is easy to clean and maintain. Warm water and a common soap suffice to keep them tidy.
  4. As previously mentioned, with granite worktops lasting value comes by default, as they are durable, stain resistant, scratch resistant. Granite represents a good investment and it also hedges you against any value depreciation over time.
  5. In terms of colour choices, granite rivals those of quartz, giving you multiple options to choose from as per your taste and decor. Granite can be found in an almost limitless range of colours and patterns. This is one of the reasons as to why granite is so versatile and has prevailed when compared to other surfaces over time.
  • Cons:
  1. Granite is a natural stone with each slab coming in a shade different to the other, meaning that if you install two or more pieces, these should be ordered from the same block to avoid obvious differences and/or odd looks.
  2. Price may be deterrent, as granite countertops can become expensive depending on the type, availability (rareness) of the material. Plus, they are labour intensive to install, due to the sheer weight of the slabs which may require a large installation team for large pieces such as a kitchen island. Thanks to its bulky nature, additional structural support may also be required on kitchen cabinets. This is assessed by the stone professionals during the site survey and templating of the worktops.
  3. Granite is hard but not indestructible and can yield to high intensity blows with sharp objects.
  4. Porosity is probably the weakest link here, as sealing is required at least once in two years. Sealants have become very effective and economical and your granite worktops will last for many decades by applying sealants when required.

How does natural granite get protected from stains?

Ceramic:

Ceramic is delighting home owners, interior designers and architects with its strength, versatility and visual appeal. The traits come from the way ceramic is engineered – exposing clay to extremely high temperatures while capitalizing on practices exclusive to the tile industry. Although ceramic tiles have been around for decades, the new breed of extra-large ceramic slabs has created a new interest in the marketplace. This is because it is lighter than most natural materials including marble and granite; yet it can be applied in large, jointless pieces.

  • Pros:
  1. In fact, ceramic is studier than most other materials, including granite. The hardness translates into built to last countertops that can withstand virtually anything.
  2. Thanks to the material strength, these worktops are compact with a thickness 10mm or less. Although the minimum recommended thickness for kitchen worktop applications is 12mm, ceramic surfaces start at 3mm thickness. The thin-and-lightweight combination makes it a material that is ideal for cladding of furniture, walls and other vertical structures.
  3. With Ceramic & porcelain Kitchen Worktops available in variety of shapes, sizes textures and styles, compatibility to all decors is a foregone conclusion.
  4. Go for these worktops if a tidy, contemporary and refined look is a priority.
  5. Easy to clean and maintain, hygienic and can retain their sheen for years.
  6. Ceramic worktops are suitable for UV rays, which means it can be used outdoors as well as in interiors.
  • Cons:
  1. You must ensure that the cabinets and structure support for ceramic surfaces is completely level and flat. If the surface is uneven, ceramic worktops may become vulnerable to hairline cracks and/or fissures.
  2. If a crack appears, the tile must be replaced, as it cannot be repaired. Therefore, it is recommended to purchase additional tiles or to keep an off-cut of your material.
  3. There can be a variation in tile size and hence the grout joints, which are unsightly and hard to upkeep.

How are ceramic worktops made?

Porcelain:

Britons have predilection for porcelain kitchen worktops for some obvious reasons. These countertops are made by applying enormous pressure with industrial machines to obtain a sintered stone material. The latest sintered porcelain worktop surfaces are made by blending natural quartz, granite and other raw materials to result in a totally non-porous surface.

Porcelain worktops deliver a seamless, lustrous and visually pleasing surface in varied colours, textures and patterns.

  • Pros:
  1. Porcelain worktops offers vast range of style options from glossy to matt, and can even mimic wood, concrete, marble-effect, quartz and granite. The variety ensure worktops compatible with all decor options – be it Victorian, Edwardian, contemporary or modern.
  2. Toughness is yet another redeeming feature, resisting scratches, cracks and stains.
  3. Sintered porcelain and Ultra-compact worktops such as Dekton or Neolith are easy to clean and don’t require special products nor sealants.
  4. Lightweight product that can be clad in walls and furniture, whilst reaching high or hidden spaces.
  5. Available in several thicknesses and sizes. Porcelain kitchen worktops cut to size 12mm, 20mm, 30mm and cladding for walls and furniture, starting from 3mm thickness are readily available.
  6. Suitable for indoors and outdoors. This single characteristic allows you to create incredible designs throughout the property. Similarly, it enables for continuation in both design and pattern even in different types of applications.
  • Cons:
  1. More vulnerable than granite when it comes to impact with sharp and heavy objects such as machinery or tools.
  2. It requires installation by experienced installers.

Features and benefits of Neolith surfaces

Quartzite:

Quartzite is yet another popular worktop option for homeowners worldwide. Natural quartzite is often mistaken with quartz for a similar sounding name, but the differences are profound. Quartzite is a natural stone that ranges in patterns and colours, offering exotic looks.

  • Pros:
  1. Quartzite is hard-wearing to stay intact in terms of shape, size and shine over long periods. In fact, it can easily outlive quartz and granite if properly cared for.
  2. Quartzite Kitchen Worktops can replicate the look and feel of marble, ensuring a luxurious look for your dream kitchen.
  3. Convenient to clean and look after.
  4. Second only to diamond and Ruby
  5. Resists UV rays effectively, making it ideal for B&Q kitchen worktops.
  • Cons:
  1. It may restrict you for colour choices.
  2. It is very dense, making it very labour intensive both in terms of production and installation. This can translate in higher costs associated with labour when compared with lighter and/or more malleable stones.
  3. Porosity can be issue with certain crystalline white quartzite varieties, thus, requiring sealing annually. You can also get around this to a big extent by choosing branded quartzite from names such as Sensa or Granith. The manufacturers treat the stones at the quarry and warrant their quartzites for stain resistance.

Marble:

If you prioritize unique veining and natural colour, marble kitchen worktops will exceed your expectations. They also offer multiple salient features, making them a sought-after option. Marble has been the most popular stone in the world for millennia due to its amazing looks and durability.

  • Pros:
  1. Exceptional brightness that cannot be replicated in any natural or man-made material.
  2. Stays cool and it also resists heat.
  3. Looks elegant, adding value to any hospitality or residential kitchen.
  4. It can last for decades provided the installation is correct.
  5. It is available in wide array of hues and colours. White marble, grey marble and Black marble are very popular options.
  6. It is softer than other natural stones and can be cut to deliver attractive kitchen worktop edges. Not only that marble can display magnificent edge profiles, but it can also be shaped in different sizes with ease, when compared to other stones.
  7. Less expensive than most natural stones such as quartzite and granite.
  • Cons:
  1. Handling can be difficult at times. It is recommended to hire a team of professional marble installers.
  2. Certain type has more vulnerability to acidic spills, which that can lead to staining. Depending on the colour and strength of the marble, some types may be susceptible to scratches from sharp and heavy objects.
  3. Achieving a uniform look is impossible, as each slab is different in colour, shade and pattern.

About Author

Maria

Maria Kairuz
Maria Kairuz is an industry expert who enjoys writing on Home improvement, Interior design & Stone etc. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Maria finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. Her content is published on many national and international publications. You can connect with her on Facebook. or can follow on Twitter @Maria_Kairuz

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