Choosing a new kitchen worktop will present you with so much choice, it can be bewildering.
Read this blog for some handy tips to help you find the right one for your home
Which worktop material will suit you best? With so much choice available, Stoneworld can help explain the benefits of stone and quartz at least!
A decade ago, 90% of worktop sales at Stoneworld were granite, with quartz making up the other 10%. That has completely reversed now, thanks to developments in the industry.
Quartz is now the most popular kitchen worktop we sell. Quartz is created from a high percentage (90-97% depending on brand) of ground white quartz particles bound together with resins, polymers, and pigments. This makes a virtually non porous surface that is extremely resistant to scratching. The better quality quartzes use a pure white base quartz. These in turn make for worktops with a stunning clarity. Beware of cheaper materials that have impurities in the base quartz. These will create undesirable dark flecks in a white surface. Developments in style have led to an explosion of choice in quartz, especially in the paler colours such as those that mimic Carrara marble.
Although real Carrara marble was traditionally used in kitchens many years ago as a cutting area, & to keep food cool, it was not very hardwearing, and quite prone to scratching & staining. New designs in quartz are both beautiful and much more hardwearing. Good book matching is also now offered in quartz, enabling designers to be creative.
Book matching describes the effect created when natural marble is split and identical mirror image replicas are seen on the 2 separate sides of the cut marble face. In quartz this is now done so well that it is virtually impossible to see that it is not the real thing!
There are many well known quartz brands to choose from, for example Silestone, Caesarstone, or Cimstone. At Stoneworld we also directly import our own brand, Summit Stone, that is a beautiful high quality quartz, available at a fair price. A particular benefit of Summit Stone quartz worktops is their jumbo size. The 3202mm x 1602mm sheets enable more projects to be completed from a single sheet. This means no join, and less waste.
Further developments have brought other materials into the mix. Contemporary porcelains such as Dekton and Lapitec are extremely hard materials that are now being manufactured in large pieces that can be made into worktops.
Stoneworld can supply and fit any of these brands.
Granite is a polished stone available in many rich natural colours. Every granite worktop will be unique, displaying patterns from nature that can be spectacular. Darker colours are more prevalent in granite, especially classic black. The darker granites are denser, and less porous, making them more practical, whereas the lighter granite colours are more porous and therefore more prone to staining. During the last decade this has caused an amount of dissatisfaction with granite and is in part what began the move over to quartz, where the light colours are easier to care for.
However, effective regular sealing of your worktop is the solution here. Using a good sealant like Rob Parkers Best Granite and Quartz Sealer every 2 months will give full protection through the life of your worktop. It is easily applied and will protect against staining and acid damage. Every worktop bought from Stoneworld is sealed before fitting. We recommend that granite owners continue with this maintenance regime to keep the surface in good condition.
Besides material and colour there are other details to consider that will make all the difference to your finished worktop.
Thickness of material can vary from ultra-thin 12mm for some of the new materials up to 50-60mm or even more for a dramatic effect. 20mm-30mm is the normal offer from most worktop providers.
Depending on the amount of worktop required, you may need more than one piece of quartz or granite, which will require a join somewhere. Your installer will help to ensure any joins are placed sensibly to minimise the impact. If you choose a material available in jumbo sheets, or half sheets, as Summit Stone is, you should be able to reduce waste as much as possible, whilst saving a few ££.
Edge profiling also needs to be considered. A pencil flat edge creates a modern angular profile, or a pencil roll will soften the edge. Ask your installer to show you the options as there are several others to choose from such as bull nose or the more elaborate Ogee profile. These decorative profiles are less popular now as they are slightly more costly.
Consider how many appliances need to be fitted into the worktop and ensure these are all onsite on the day of your templating appointment e.g. sink, hob tap, pop up sockets. Your installer will need to template these items too.
Extra cuts required
The position of your tap is something to be decided before getting the worktop templated. Some of the large modern taps require quite a lot of clearance. (e.g, think about the arc of the tap in relation to the windowsill. This will impact on the eventual position on the worktop) If this is not considered at the time of templating, your worktop fabricator cannot be held responsible if the tap hole is in the wrong place!!
Do you require drainage grooves to be cut into your worktop? These remove the need for a separate draining board, keeping the beautiful new worktop uncluttered.
Think about whether you require a matching splashback and upstands around the back of your worktop. Plus how many electric sockets need to be cut into this material. In a new build, this will mean making decisions early.
Choosing the right installer is at least as important as choosing your ideal material. Worktop fabrication has moved a long way in recent years. Ensure you go with a professional company that uses digital templating technology. This will ensure a precise template is taken ensuring a perfect fit. Plus, check that the worktop will be fabricated in an automated factory. This will ensure your worktop will have a professional finish created using precision cutting machinery.
At Stoneworld our worktops are digitally templated and then cut in our onsite masonry workshop, using the latest in stone cutting technology, ensuring a perfect fit every time.
Care and maintenance
All worktops require some maintenance to keep them in good condition. Even though they are very hard materials, both granite and quartz can be damaged through careless use.
As mentioned above, at Stoneworld we recommend sealing all worktops- granite and quartz. Although quartz is considered to be non porous, we still feel sealing is a worthwhile insurance on such an investment.
We always advise against cutting directly onto granite and quartz surfaces- use a protective cutting board.
Never place hot pans directly on the surface- always use a trivet.
Wipe up spillages as soon as possible. Many foods are acidic and can spoil the polished surface of a granite or quartz worktop.
Don’t stand or sit on work tops. Although they are strong, unreasonable weightbearing could result in cracking.
Stoneworld have developed a range of sealers and cleaners specifically designed to care and clean for stone throughout the home & garden that are more effective than those commonly available in supermarkets. We would recommend using Rob Parkers Best products to care for your new worktops.
Find out more about Rob Parkers Best products here>>
If you are now ready to choose your new worktop, please view our kitchen worktop range here>>