Choosing Your New Kitchen Worktop - our quick guide
When planning a new kitchen with our clients, we’re often asked about the merits of different worktop choices. There are a bewildering amount of choices available on the market, which makes it hard to know where to start.
We’ve produced this guide to our worktops to give you a quick overview. It should answer any questions you have about specific materials, and make the choices for your new kitchen easier.
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
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 are made of chipboard, 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.
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.
One drawback of this choice is that compared to other worktop materials any chips and damage to the surface are not as easily repaired.
Picking a laminate work surface also limits your choice of sinks. The only sink type that can be fitted in combination with laminate is an inset sink. Read more on sink choices in this advice post.
Laminate is the only non-solid worktop we provide – all of our other worktops are suitable for undermount sinks.
In terms of cost, our mid-range worktops include timber, quartz and mistral.
Timber worktops always look fantastic and are highly durable. There are loads of reasons why our clients opt for wooden worktops (see our advice post for Six Reasons Why our Clients choose a Timber Worktop).
Wood is strong and hard-wearing, but any damage to timber worktops such as dents or scratches, can generally be sanded back and refinished. However, wood does require a fair amount of maintenance, particularly around the sink area. This is worth bearing in mind.
There are so many options when it comes to picking a timber surface alone. We offer a range of reclaimed options, such as oak, iroko and teak as well as a number of sustainably-sourced and PEFC certified new timbers including oak, beech, cherry, bamboo and iroko. All of them are beautiful options. We can bring samples when we come to visit. This will help if you’d like to compare colouring and types of grain to get a better feel for the differences between them.
Mistral worktops are a solid surface material and also offer the look of a stone surface, but boast different properties.
It can be jointed seamlessly, due to its resin content. Any dents can be filled and sanded out. Mistral is antibacterial as well as smooth and non-porous, strong and durable. However, it is still advisable to be mindful to wipe up spills immediately, as well as not to scratch the surface.
On the plus side, as a solid surface, Mistral can be used with undermount sinks as well as inset ones. Drainer grooves can be cut into it as well, should you be planning to pair it with an undermount sink.
This is a good choice if you are wanting the look of granite or marble, but without the questionable ethics. There have been supply chain issues associated with mining and child and slave labour in connection with marble and granite.
Quartz is hard-wearing and easy to clean. Its higher stone content means worktop joints are visible but it has a very “clean and polished” effect. It doesn’t scratch too easily, but because it is engineered, it is not heat resistant. The resin component does mean you have to be mindful not to put hot items on the surface, but then that’s true for a lot of materials.
As a material, Quartz is pretty much non-porous, and does not stain easily. However, some colours will be more forgiving than others.
At the top of our worktop range, there are some fantastic products to choose from. These three products are exciting and innovative materials – all of which 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.
Another option is solid surface made from hundreds of layers of recycled paper, bonded together with resin. This material has a really unique feel to it, warm, a little like wood. It also develops an interesting patina over time. In addition, it is incredibly hard wearing, and water resistant. It comes in warm earthy colours and is definitely worth looking at a sample.
We are also starting to offer our clients a gorgeous material made using recycled plastic. It comes in some fantastic colours and can be used in combination with undermount or inset sinks. Due to the way it is manufactured, it cannot be combined with a belfast sink, although it can be paired with other undermount sinks. This material can also be used to create a seamless look in any of the 213 classic RAL colours.
Our recycled glass worktops are a fabulous option if you are wanting to achieve a truly unique look in your kitchen. They are a super-sustainable option, made in the UK with 100% recycled glass and can be ordered in any colour at all. This worktop is incredibly tough and very hygenic. It has the look of stone or granite, so is a more sustainable alternative, if this is the aesthetics you’re wanting to achieve. Each recycled glass worktop is handmade for every job, which reduces waste, but the bespoke nature of these worktops make them the most expensive of our standard options.
As mentioned before, when picking your new work surface, it is worth considering how you use your kitchen, and how you approach cooking.
We often recommend clients choose two different surfaces for 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. To work round this, we will design the kitchen to incorporate different materials in different kitchen zones.
And don’t forget to consider your choice in relation to other aspects of your kitchen, such as upstands, sinks and flooring. These two kitchens combine the warmth of a timber worktop with the practicality of a recycled glass splashback behind the hob area.
Your choice of worktop will inform your options for sinks. For example, if you are adamant about having a belfast sink, then you will need to opt for a solid surface worktop of some kind. For more information on sinks and choices see our advice post here
Need more advice? Give us a call! We have a lot of knowledge and experience, which we’re happy to share.