A quick guide to choosing your new kitchen worktop
When planning a new kitchen with our clients, we’re often asked about the merits of different worktop choices. We understand that there are a bewildering amount of choices available on the market. This can make it hard to know where to start when choosing a new kitchen worktop.
This guide will give you an overview of the range we offer our clients. It should answer any questions you have about specific materials, and make the choices for your new kitchen easier. We’re happy to lend you samples – see below for more details.
It’s worth bearing in mind that worktops are the work-horse of the kitchen and need to fit with the way you cook and prepare food. You need to think about how you use the kitchen space. Don’t forget about the look you are trying to achieve and how you feel about cleaning and maintenance too.
Our range includes options at various price points, but all of our options are high quality – we don’t believe in fitting something that is going to need replacing after a short length of time. As sustainability is essential, we want to be confident that your choice of worktop is right for you.
Entry Level worktops
Duropal: High Pressure Laminate
The entry level worktops at Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens are Duropal high pressure laminate worktops, which come in either 40mm or 20mm thicknesses.
These high-quality laminate worktops have a chipboard core which is 100% recycled and are PEFC certified (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). They are durable and easy to clean. Usually, all you’ll need to clean one is a moist cloth, but a bit of washing up liquid will get rid of any grease. For those on a tighter budget, laminate is a great choice for a new kitchen worktop.
All our Duropal worktops come with a silicon-filled drip groove cut underneath the front lip, out of sight. This extra detail helps stop any drips running up and causing water ingress and future swelling of the worktop.
Duropal is available in a range of decors and comes with a 25 year guarantee.
One drawback of this choice is that compared to other worktop materials any chips and damage to the surface are not as easily repaired.
Choosing a laminate kitchen worktop also limits your choice of sinks. The only sink type that can be fitted in combination with laminate is an inset sink. Laminate is the only non-solid worktop we provide – all of our other worktops are suitable for undermount sinks. Read more on sink choices in this advice post.
In terms of cost, our mid-range worktops include timber, bamboo, quartz and mistral.
Timber worktops always look fantastic and are highly durable, but there are more reasons why our clients opt for wooden worktops (see this post: Reasons Why our Clients choose a Timber Worktop).
Wood is strong and hard-wearing, but wooden worktops require a fair amount of maintenance, particularly around the sink area. However any damage to timber worktops such as dents or scratches, can generally be sanded back and refinished. There are a couple of options when choosing a wooden work surface:
We offer a range of reclaimed timbers, such as oak, iroko and teak which are great sustainable options. Strong and durable, the reclaimed hardwoods we use have already stood the test of time in their previous lives, for example working as school science lab benches. By sanding back the cosmetic wear and tear we reveal the fantastic woodgrain below. We then refinish to enhance and protect the timber for its next role in your home. Reclaimed timbers provide your new living space with an interesting backstory.
Locally sourced and FSC / PEFC Certified timber worktops
We also offer a large range of sustainably-sourced and PEFC certified new timbers including oak, beech, cherry and iroko. All of them are beautiful options and we are happy to lend you samples to compare colouring and types of grain. Just ask!
Whilst not strictly a timber, bamboo requires similar care and maintenance as a timber worktop. Like wood, bamboo requires regular maintenance to protect it from moisture, particularly around the sink area. However, it is highly durable and can be sanded back to remove scratches and light wear and tear before being refinished. It is a lovely option for a kitchen worktop with the exposed endgrain adding an attractive feature.
Bamboo is the fastest growing, self-propagating crop in the world, replenishing itself within three years. Although the material needs to travel to the UK, being shipped by container has a lower carbon footprint than airmiles.
The plant also releases 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere compared to other plants. It also absorbs more carbon dioxide than other plants.
Mistral is a solid surface material, made of crushed stone set in resin. It has the appearance of a stone surface, but with different properties. Unlike most other worktop materials, Mistral can be sanded, which means it can be refinished to remove general wear and tear marks.
It is antibacterial, non-porous, strong and durable so it is a great option for a kitchen worktop. However, it is still advisable to wipe up spills immediately, as well as not to scratch the surface.
Mistral comes in a range of neutral colours and can be jointed seamlessly and as a solid surface, can be used with undermount sinks as well as inset ones, and have drainer grooves cut into it.
Composite quartz is a resin bound mixture of natural quartz mineral combined with glass or metallic flecks and pigments, and as a manufactured material, generally has a uniform appearance. It has a higher stone content than Mistral, which means worktop joints are visible. However, it still has a very “clean and polished” effect, a look very much like marble or granite, but without the questionable ethics surrounding the supply chains.
The material is hard-wearing, non-porous and an ideal surface for a kitchen worktop. It’s easy to clean, so wiping up spills quickly, will keep your quartz worktop looking good for longer. Some colour choices are more forgiving than others. Composite quartz comes with the added benefits of being higher scratch and stain resistant than natural stone. However, because it is engineered, it is not heat resistant. The resin component means you need to be mindful not to put hot items on the surface, but then that’s true of a lot of materials.
Other options to consider
Stainless steel has become an increasingly popular product in kitchen design because of its durability and life span.
The material is a great choice for worktops and splashbacks, as it is rust-resistant and provides heat-resistant properties. No wonder that many of our clients choose stainless steel sinks for their kitchens as well.
It scratches with use, which is not repairable, but it is incredibly tough. For the purposes of our kitchen worktops, the steel is binded to a solid 18mm moisture resistant mdf core.
Foresso – recycled woodchip
Made to order in Birmingham, by a sustainable company, Foresso is a material that combines wood offcuts with a bio-based resin. The core is FSC birch-ply.
All Foresso sheets have a minimum of 65% wood content. The timber is sourced from trees felled as part of city development and maintenance. At the end of its life, the material can be recycled by the manufacturer.
Hard-wearing and beautiful, Foresso is a great option for worktops, shelving and cabinets. It can be colour matched to any RAL colour, so the possibilities for your new living space are endless!
Top-level kitchen worktop options
At the top of our worktop range, there are some fantastic kitchen worktops to choose from. These three products are exciting and innovative materials. All of these options make a big statement in any sustainable kitchen. They are all solid surface materials and can be used with any choice of sink, so do not limit your design creativity.
Richlite is a solid surface material made from hundreds of layers of recycled paper, bonded together with resin. It has a really unique feel to it, warm, a little like wood. It also develops an interesting patina over time. The material is incredibly hard wearing, durable and water resistant. It is also naturally anti-microbial and heat resistent to 350°F (176°C), so ideal as a kitchen worktop.
Currently available in a number of earthy tones, the surface gets its colour from a combination of the colour of the paper and the deep amber tone of the resin. No dyes are added to the material.
All of the paper is either post consumer waste recycled or sustainably harvested FSC® Certified paper. Richlite has been awarded a number of certificates of sustainability and is a great eco-friendly option for a kitchen worktop.
Another fantastic sustainable choice for your kitchen worktop is the solid surface material, Durat, made from recycled plastic. The material is manufactured in Finland from 30-50% recycled post industrial plastics set in resin. It is 100% recyclable, so it can be turned into new plastic products in the future.
It is a great option for a kitchen countertop as it is hard-wearing, food safe and east to maintain. It is available in over 300 colours, with seven different textural finishes, so the possibilities really are limitless for your new kitchen design.
The manufacturer boasts a 15 year warranty. It’s also useful to know that cosmetic scratches can be easily repaired by sanding.
Recycled glass is another great option for your kitchen worktop as it is very tough, scratch and heat resistant as well as stunning.
It can also be produced in any colour at all, although choosing from their standard colour range is a more cost-effective option.
The material is manufactured solely within the UK, thus reducing travel miles and minimising its carbon footprint. The surface consists of 85% recycled glass, sourced from waste glass within the UK, that is crushed and pressed in solvent-free resins. The final product is a surface that relects light, and looks striking in any space. All materials can be recycled post-use by the manufacturer.
When choosing your new kitchen worktop, it is worth considering how you use your kitchen, and how you approach cooking.
We often design a new kitchen using two different work surfaces for two different areas of their kitchen. For example, a client may love the look of wood, and the warmth and character that it offers, but are concerned about durability around the sink area.
The images here illustrate kitchens we’ve designed with different materials in different kitchen zones.
Don’t forget to consider your choice of kitchen worktop in relation to other aspects of your kitchen, such as upstands, and splashbacks. For more information about upstands, splashbacks and tiles, see our advice post here.
If you would like to borrow samples, see more info here and for more advice – get in touch!