Working in the kitchen industry we often get asked about worktops, the benefits of materials, the drawbacks and always the "what do you have in your kitchen?" question.
Realistically, worktops can make up a BIG part of the budget if certain materials are chosen but can also be a very cheap part of the kitchen budget if others are selected.
In this blog we will look at the main types of kitchen worktops, some benefits, some problems, costs and considerations.
Worktops can be a minefield, and can be confusing, so when explain to customers the options we almost always do it in price order.
Laminate Kitchen Worktops
Laminates have a bit of a bad name and a bit of a stigma but to be honest this is mainly due to some pretty shoddy and cheap versions around in the 1990s and very cheap ones from the big DIY sheds (which are still available unfortunately!).
If you choose a good quality laminate, it won’t break the bank and if treated properly and cared for can look as good in 10 years’ time as they will today.
Some of the textures and effects you get these days are really lifelike. We have fitted some "wooden effect" laminates and once fitted it was hard to tell if they were real wood or not!
We have also done lots of "natural stone" effect ones that also look amazingly realistic.
When choosing laminates we would always say "never go for gloss". Gloss kitchen work surfaces will look nice and pretty once installed and can reflect light and help with a dark kitchen but the problem with gloss is, if you scratch it, (which you will at some point) the scratch will be HIGHLY visible as the light reflects off the surface.
What is the cost of laminate kitchen worktops?
The cost of laminates for a standard size kitchen in our experience is around £750 - £900 so in the grand scheme of things is pretty reasonable.
With real wood worktops there are LOTS of types: oak, pine, bamboo, teak, walnut, iroko, beech plus lots more.
They do vary in price immensely, pine and bamboo being some of the cheapest and teak and walnut being some of the more expensive ones. Even in the most common ones you get premium oak, contract oak, wide stave oak etc. The choice is amazing and a little mind blowing.
The one thing we will always say when someone is enquiring about wood is "Will you look after it?"
The most common answer is "Yes" but then they think about it for a few minutes and quite often agree that "well, probably no they wouldn’t look after it!"
Wood is a natural product and in a kitchen environment it needs to be sealed against moisture, normally this means being oiled, which will slowly evaporate.
If you can regularly (once every 6 months) re-apply a thin layer of oil over the entire work surface, the wood will remain protected and look good. If, however, you don’t and water seeps into the grain, the wood will turn black and it is ruined!
The good thing about wood is that it can be sanded and re oiled if you have scratches, dents etc in it, so you can repair it pretty easily (apart from water damage!)
On average depending on the species chosen, wood will cost for an average kitchen work surface from £1,000 - £2,000 for the most expensive species.
It also has a very tactile and warm feeling to it.
Composite Kitchen Worktops
Hmm, where to start? There are lots available - some made like a laminate with a chipboard core, some solid all the way through.
Most can be fitted by a standard kitchen fitter which is great, but this does mean that they aren’t as strong as granite or quartz, so they will also scratch easier.
Some of these worktops have the ability to disguise the joins, which aesthetically can be great.
We are split in the office about the benefits of composite worktops compared to the problems with scratching, almost a 50:50 split!
Personally, I wouldn’t want it in my kitchen due to the ease in which they can get scratched but they are also cheaper than the alternatives, so it can be a very fine line.
On average we would expect these kitchen worktops to be from £1,500 to £2,200 for an average kitchen.
The first thing we get asked is "what is the difference?"
Well, in kitchen terms the difference is quite easy, granite is a natural product, it is dug out of the ground and you get what nature created, every piece will be slightly different (which can add to its charm or be a problem) and if there are quarries of it and it isn’t popular it can be relatively cheap, but if there is limited supply and very popular then it can also be astronomically priced.
Granite worktops will need to have a protective coating put on it to make it more water resistant, and we often hear about people being worried about staining and scratching, but in our experience this rarely happens! I have been in the industry for many years and have yet to see a proper stain on granite, despite the fact that every customer asks about it…. Maybe I have been lucky, but I do think this problem is a little hyped.
Another thing people worry about with granite is strength, and it is true, as it is natural you really don’t know if there is a fault in it or a weak spot, in general the darker the granite the stronger it is, so less likely to get damaged. You may notice that some granites have a mesh on the back glued to them, this is to add strength.
As I said earlier, granite can range in price hugely – but for an average kitchen I would expect £2,500 - £4,000
My advice for anyone buying granite would be to see the ACTUAL slab you are going to have and check you are happy with it. As it is natural, every slab could be different and it is too late to complain about a vein or colour once it is installed!
Quartz worktops are basically man-made stone – they get the stone they want – grind it down, mix it with different colours and a resin and it is pressed into slabs.
You will get consistence of colour and strength throughout the worktop and the resin they use is, I am told, stronger that the original stone so shouldn’t chip as easily as a granite.
Like everything, there are brand names in quartz – and also lesser known brands. The prices will vary hugely depending on colour brand etc. but in general for an average kitchen would be £2,500 - £4,000 - very much like granite.
Dekton is a new product, which is a mixture of glass and ceramic – I am reliably told by the representatives that you could have a mini bonfire on top of it and it wouldn’t hurt the worktop, which is great if you were planning to do this!!!
Realistically it is a VERY hard and dense product, so dense that not every stone supplier has the correct tools to cut it, so currently it is a niche product.
Making it more expensive!!!
On average I would expect it to cost £3,000 - £4,500 for an average kitchen.
There are other kitchen worktops available but we had to draw the line at the most popular ones, so back to the question I get asked the most "what worktops do you have in your kitchen?" Well the answer is Laminate!
I think the colours, feel and durability for the cost is outstanding and due to the cost it can be changed quite easily giving a whole new look to a kitchen.