Selecting the right kitchen worktop for you
PUBLISHED: 10:54 12 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:54 12 January 2016
Kitchen worktops have become a major feature in kitchens over the last 10 years or so, with more people using high quality materials such as Granite and Quartz, instead of the traditional timbers and laminates.
Selecting the right worktop depends on your lifestyle and how much maintenance you want to do. This will often determine your choice of material.
Brian Alexander of RokTops in Reading is an expert in different types of worktop surfaces. Here he gives some useful information on the care and maintenance of your kitchen worktop:
The largest misconception is that it is safe to put hot pans directly on to Granite therefore it is the best surface for kitchens. This is not the case as most granite surfaces are treated with chemicals and colourants; therefore when a hot pan is left on granite it burns the chemicals which then crystallises in the veins of the stone.
All surfaces will have a reaction to high levels of heat. None of these types of surfaces should be subjected to high levels of heat, and instead we recommended that a trivet is used to reduce the risk of heat-damage through either chemical reaction or heat shock.
Maintenance of any type of stone is required as it is a porous material. Darker coloured stones with very little crystallising or veining require less maintenance but still require sealing at least once a year.
Lime scale is a particular problem in this area and it is common to see it around the base of the tap and on the drainer grooves. This can be simply removed on granite and manmade quartz with white vinegar.
General day to day cleaning is best done with soapy water and finished with a 3m anti-static cloth. To get the stone to shine it is best to use a product like Lithofin MN Easy Clean. Do not use bleach, acids or household cleaners as this can cause damage to the stone. If in doubt, don’t use it!
Granite and, to a lesser extent, quartz, are prone to chipping on the edges around sinks and the edge nearest the dish washer. The risk of damage can be reduced if the edge is rounded off (known as a pencil edge) at the time of manufacture. If you do damage you worktop, try to keep the broken shard as these pieces can be glued back into position and the edges re-polished, which will minimise any visible damage.
Light granites and Marbles need regular sealing probably every two to three months or they will discolour and cause irreversible damage to the stone. If water does not form globules on the surface of the stone then it is time to seal the surface.
As with granite surfaces, don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean marble. The same rules apply with bathrooms too. One of the things we get often is that people come in and ask for marble surfaces, without realising the amount of care that is required. If it isn’t sealed regularly lime scale can get into the stone. Also things like shampoo which have loads of chemicals – if you leave a bottle sitting on marble then it will create a ring which is impossible to get out, unless you grind the whole surface down. We can offer alternatives such as quartz which looks very similar, and is much more practical.
Quartz is a relatively new product into the market and is now very popular for very good reasons.
It is a low maintenance product, easy to keep clean and extremely strong and less likely to be affected by household cleaners. The colour range of quartz is extensive and modern and in keeping with many of the styles of kitchens now being fitted. It is cold to feel like Granite but as it has only virtually no porosity there is little or no maintenance required
Corian and solid surfaces
This product was developed by DuPont and sold under the name or Corian and has been available for nearly 50 years. It is only recently that it has become extremely popular for use in residential properties.
It is of all the surfaces available the one with the least amount of maintenance required as there is nowhere for grime to stick.
If you have moulded sinks there is no silicone to go black as the sink is moulded directly onto the work surface. Also, things like splash-backs can be moulded into the surface.
Normal household cleaners including bleach can be used. The only products you can’t use on either of the man-made surfaces (Quartz or Solid surface) are products like paint strippers or oven cleaners.
Even if the surface is chipped or damaged it is usually possible to repair the damage to highly satisfactory finish.
Brian Alexander established RokTops a little over ten years ago, and runs the family business alongside his son. They offer mid range to high range kitchen work surfaces, and also provide surfaces for bathrooms, offices, and commercial properties. They cover Hampshire Sussex Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire.
He says: “We have a passion for what we do, and we try to push the limit and do everything possible for the customer, so they end up with a worktop that they love. Even if people can’t afford what the originally asked for, then we can offer them a similar alternative which is within their budget, so really there is something for everyone.”
“Everything is done in-house, so it’s us who meets the customer, we draw up the template, and make the worktop, so there is a high level of knowledge. If someone wants something bespoke then we’ll make it for them and work with the design. Because we manufacture everything as well as install it, there is no middle-man taking a cut, so we are really affordable.”
RokTops also offer care kits for all surfaces, priced approx £25-£30. More info at roktops.co.uk.