How to Choose Kitchen Worktops

Written by rhonda cloos
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How to Choose Kitchen Worktops
Kitchen worktop surfaces serve functional and design purposes. (the kitchen. image by guiney from

Kitchen worktops are available in a variety of materials, including laminate (also called formica), wood, natural stone or marble, solid surface, engineered stone, stainless steel or ceramic tile. Depending on its size, one kitchen may incorporate several different worktop materials.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Graph paper
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Budget
  • List of pros and cons for each worktop material

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    Defining the Space

  1. 1

    Sketch the kitchen layout onto graph paper. The size of your kitchen defines the scale of your drawing. If the kitchen is large, use a scale of a half inch equals one foot. If the space is small, use one inch equals one foot. Use a ruler to ensure straight lines and accuracy.

  2. 2

    Define the purpose of each section of your kitchen. Start by drawing a rough layout of the kitchen. Define each section of the kitchen. The areas may be divided into sections such as food prep (cutting vegetables and meats), hot food surface (placing cookware when the food comes out of the oven), beverage section, appliance storage (mixer, blender, food processor), toaster section, and utensil storage (if stored on the counter, such as in crocks).

    Create a list that shows each worktop section, its measurement, and its purpose.

  3. 3

    Using the list you have created, add a column for appropriate worktop (stone or wood, for example). Personal preference comes into play here. The factors you should consider for each material include heat tolerability, durability, maintenance required, food safety, appearance and cost.

  4. 4

    Research online, at the local hardware store, or at a speciality retailer such as a stone supplier. Take your measurements and desired worktop surfaces with you, and determine the price for materials and installation (if the latter is required). Ask about warranty coverage. Compare these prices to your budget.

  5. 5

    Obtain samples of surface(s) that meet your requirements. Choose a variety of colours and inspect throughout a 24-hour period. Surfaces will look different under different lighting circumstances.

  6. 6

    Check references. Ask the dealer for several names and contact information. Ask the references about quality, timeliness, price, problems encountered and whether they would use the vendor in the future.

  7. 7

    Make a selection. Be sure to understand the total cost, warranty, installation date (if applicable) and payment structure. Get every detail in writing.

Tips and warnings

  • Pros and cons of common worktop surfaces:
  • Stone
  • Pros: Heat resistant, appearance, range of colours
  • Cons: Requires sealing, shows seams, can be sensitive to acidic foods, higher cost ($50 to £65 per square foot, including installation)
  • Wood
  • Pros: Appearance, durable
  • Cons: Requires sealing, not safe for very hot items, higher cost ($50 to $100 per square foot, including installation)
  • Laminate
  • Pros: Wide variety of colours and simulated textures, no sealing, less costly ($30 to £29 per linear foot, including installation)
  • Cons: Damaged by heat or scratching
  • Stainless steel
  • Pros: Appearance of professional kitchen, heat resistant
  • Cons: Subject to scratching, although some scratches can be repaired; acidic foods can stain
  • Solid surface
  • Pros: Variety of colours and designs, stain and scratch resistant, mid-range in price (about £26 to £39 per square foot, including installation), warranteed for about 10 years
  • Cons: High heat can cause it to scorch
  • Engineered stone (primarily quartz)
  • Pros: Scratch and heat resistant, appearance resembles natural stone, very hard, durable and non-porous
  • Cons:Higher cost ($50-$100 per square foot, including installation), very heavy and requires specialised installation

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