The worktop can be made of stone, glass, wood, metal, conglomerate, composite or finally laminated board. The prices of kitchen countertops per square meter are from dozens to … well: when to say stop? It is worth prior to choosing the most appropriate table for us to imagine ourselves in the course of its use: how do we most often get dirty, do we flood with water, or hit with a knife? How intensively do we use the surface of the countertop? After answering all the difficult questions regarding our kitchen “main sins” we can take to decide which table to buy in the kitchen!
We choose a kitchen counter: prices and durability.
In the DURABLE category, granite countertops are best placed among kitchen countertops. It is impossible to stain them, scratch them, you can put hot pots on them or smash meat for chops with a wooden pestle (it is also resistant to mechanical damage). The stone has small pores, hence its water absorption is low. We can serve the impregnated factory for many years, without repeating this activity. In this case, the price of kitchen countertops is approx. £100 m2.
When looking for cheaper counterparts, let us not be fooled by the remaining stone countertops. No other stone raw material is as resistant as a granite countertop. Marble kitchen countertops, without proper impregnation, it is very easy to stain. However, dedicated impregnation does not guarantee a permanent color – banal lemon juice can permanently discolor the marble surface of the countertop.
Just behind the granite countertops, a countertop for the kitchen from modern composites is positioned as extremely durable – mixtures of minerals combined with synthetic resins (for example with polyester and acrylic) and pigments. The most popular composites are corian, marlan, kerrock and top stone. The tops made of them, in addition to the durability comparable with granite, have the advantage that they can be formed freely. Due to the specificity of this material, there are no visible joints of the countertop elements, so that even the sink can be part of the kitchen countertop. Composites, both matt and shiny, are easy to keep clean. Their biggest disadvantage is the price – it reaches a height of about £300 / m2.
Glass countertops can also boast of durability. It is worth investing in custom-made, tempered glass tops, so as not to be disappointed by a nasty surprise after contact with the top of a hot pot or the burdensome kitchen of the stove. Glued worktops are less resistant, in which a foil is placed between the glass panes. They can be transparent or matt (satin or sandblasted). They are less resistant to scratches and absolutely not suitable as a basis for direct breaking of chops. In addition, they are usually more expensive than stone countertops – you need to pay about £130 for 1 m2.
Table top for the kitchen: softer and cheaper materials.
The countertops made of conglomerate, also known as synthetic stone, can boast of less durability than granite, glass and composite tops. They are usually made of ground marble or granite glued with polyester resin. Although they are resistant to moisture, high temperatures and chemicals, they can easily be scratched and other mechanical damage. In addition, they quickly wear off, which is particularly striking on the glossy kitchen tops of this material. The top of the conglomerate costs about £60 / m2.
Metal tops also differ in their durability and resistance. The most durable ones are those made of aluminum or stainless steel, which does not corrode. The lower quality steel is much less durable and we risk swift replacement of the table top (easy to scratch, difficult to clean, it can discolour and after some time – corrode). An undoubted advantage of such a countertop will be the fact that it is extremely hygienic, because microbes do not accumulate on the metal. Let’s also remember that metal tops are not entirely made of metal. Typically, 3 mm thick steel sheet is coated with waterproof chipboard, rarely MDF. The length of the element on such a kitchen countertop is equal to the length of the plate, which is its core. Therefore, it is always necessary to combine the countertop with several elements. Metal countertops can be ordered in the studio offering kitchen furniture, from the manufacturer or in some companies producing sinks. For 1 m of such a 60 cm wide table, we will pay about £70.
Wooden worktops are not resistant to high temperatures, they are easy to scratch, and how they endure flooding with water depends on the species from which they are made. When deciding on a wooden counter, it is worth choosing the one made of glued elements. Solid board is not a good solution for the table – it is easier and more distorted due to contact with water. Choosing a wooden table top with small, glued elements, we minimize the risk of its deformation due to moisture or flooding. The best types of wood for a countertop are merbau, tek, iroko wood or our national oak – with one thing in mind: wooden countertops must be impregnated with a measure that has a food approval! The prices of wooden countertops are also very diverse – for a blanket of soft pine we will pay about £50 / m2, unstable beech of approx. £50 / m2, and of wood iroko or merbau about £ 180 / m2.
The cheapest ones are laminated tops (from postforming), of which 1 m2 costs about several pounds. They are not very durable and, unlike wooden ones, they will not usually save their renovation treatments. Admittedly, there are specimens resistant to staining, high temperature, household detergents and abrasion, but they are easy to scratch, and the cut edges of the countertops are not resistant to water. Also, securing them with a metal or acrylic strip or silicone can not guarantee that after some time the top will not bulge and will not deform.
Table top for the kitchen in everyday practice
Kitchen worktops, in addition to durability, also distinguish in terms of time needed to keep them in impeccable cleanliness. Granite, composite and laminated countertops will require the least effort. To keep them clean, just wipe with a cloth and detergent. An important factor is also the top pattern – on the smooth, especially dark countertop, we notice even the smallest dirt. We will not notice it on the top with a fine pattern, which is definitely more practical. The glass and metal tops can be somewhat onerous in everyday use – they should always be wiped dry. Otherwise, unsightly streaks and drops will appear on their surface.
On the counter of the conglomerate, after some time, scratches will appear, which we can try to remove with a grinder (gently, with the help of a professional). Also, after a certain period of use, the wooden counter will be worth refreshing, grinding it with sandpaper and protecting it again with a protective coating.
What dimensions should a comfortable table top have for the kitchen?
To make the worktop fit its function properly and be comfortable, it should be at least 60 cm wide. Unless it disturbs the proportion of the kitchen, it can also be wider. Laminate countertops are up to 120 cm wide, with corian – 76-93 cm, wood up to 130 cm, and stonework are cut from large plates to the desired size. Tops made of material blends can have a different thickness than the standard ones. The standard thickness of stone kitchen countertops is 2 or 3 cm, laminated – 2.8 or 3.8 cm, wooden 2.3 or 4 cm, composite and metal close to 4 cm. Deciding on a certain thickness of the countertop, it is worth taking into account the spectrum of consequences resulting from it. Consider the installation of the sink, stove and their further use. As standard, sink hooks are adapted to worktops, which are from 2.8 to 4 cm thick. It is also easy to mount the hob in them. Thicker tops (outside the standard) may require more expensive (non-standard) mounting solutions. When materials with lower pressure resistance (eg with a chipboard core) have a thickness of less than 3.2 cm, they will require additional reinforcement during assembly.