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Choosing The Right Work Surface For Your Kitchen
Choosing a kitchen worktop is one of the most important elements of putting a new kitchen together. Visually, it's the first thing you see in the room, and in a practical sense, it's the part of the kitchen you'll use the most. The right worktop also needs to be durable, stylish and fit your budget. Whether you're looking for something affordable or you want to splash out and whether you place a higher priority on style or function, we've compiled the pros and cons of the most popular worktops so you can make an informed choice for your kitchen.
A stylish, high-end choice, granite is a natural stone that makes for a highly durable and easy-to-clean worktop. Despite being hygienic and practical, granite has some disadvantages. If it does break, it's expensive to fix, and it's also porous, requiring a sealant every few years. The weight of granite also means that the cabinets below require full support. However, as long as it is well looked-after, a granite worktop will last decades, offering timeless style to any kitchen.
Increasingly popular, solid wood worktops are an attractive modern-rustic choice, injecting some natural beauty into your kitchen. Not only is it attractive, but wood is also a relatively low-cost choice and is easy to repair with a simple sanding down. Contrary to popular belief, wood is resistant to bacteria, making it a hygienic choice, too. Despite its many advantages, however, there are a few reasons it will cost you less than stone. Wood is easily damaged by heat and water and requires constant maintenance in the form of oiling. Unlike stone or glass, it's not possible to cut directly onto a wood worktop.
Glass may have been around for thousands of years, but it's a relative newcomer in the world of kitchen worktops. Reasons for choosing glass include its uber-stylish look but also its super-durable qualities, being both heat- and water-resistant. Just like wood, glass can be easily cut to size, making it a good option for an unusually shaped kitchen. Among the disadvantages of glass is the fact that edges can crack under the weight of items placed there and acidic foods can damage the glass. It's also a fairly expensive option.
A man-made stone that offers all the durable qualities of natural stone and is also resistant to chipping, quartz is a timeless option. One major advantage of quartz is that it can be made from waste stone materials, making it one of the most sustainable kitchen countertop choices out there. However, quartz is pricey and can't resist as much heat as glass, steel or granite.
Made-to-order polished concrete is a striking, modern choice. Poured into moulds and then polished when dry for a smooth finish, this kind of worktop is expensive not because of the materials, but because of the specialist labor involved. On the plus side, polished concrete looks great and is easy to clean, but cracks can and will form, and when they do, they can only be fixed by a concrete specialist.
The daddy of all kitchen worktops, natural marble has been used for hundreds of years in the kitchen thanks to its tough nature and cool surface temperature, which makes it great for food preparation. Marble also injects a gorgeous natural accent into your kitchen. Despite all of its credentials, however, marble is vulnerable to staining and fading over time.
Cheap, light and fairly durable, an off-the-shelf laminate worktop is the perfect budget option. Made from chipboard and then laminated in plastic, laminate worktops are easy to install, easy to clean and water-resistant. However the nature of these worktops means they can be damaged easily by heat and from other knocks and bumps. They also can't take the weight of heavy, quality sinks. Laminate is a good choice if you know you won't be staying in your house for long.
Usually the domain of professional kitchens, more and more homeowners are choosing to rock this industrial chic look that just happens to be incredibly practical, too. Stainless steel is durable, heat-resistant, water-resistant and hygienic. On the other side of that, stainless steel worktops are vulnerable to scratches and dents and can make for a noisy kitchen!
Each worktop has its advantages, and it all comes down to personal preferences about what's most important to your household. Whether you want to save money or buy something that will last a lifetime, there's certainly lots to think about.