What are the pros and cons, cost and installation top tips for kitchen work surfaces?
Choosing your work surfaces is a huge part of a kitchen design and depending on which material you go for you will be faced with a set of challenges.
The Grand Designs magazine team spoke to Zoe Marshall-McKay, head designer of Elgar Kitchens who offered her advice on the installation of work surfaces, as well as the aftercare process.
Generally, work surfaces are installed – or templated to size, ready to be made – once the base units are in, fitted to the wall and level. Ensuring that your base units are level and secure is key. This will prevent movement in the units once a heavy surface is in place, and reduce stress on surfaces such as granite or quartz and prevent bowing in timber or solid surfaces.
Read more: How to use colour in a kitchen design
On-site vs off-site
Solid surfaces, some glass, quartz, granite and porcelain need to be templated first, made off site and installed later. Solid surfaces such as Maia or Minerva are similar in composition to Corian, Hi-Macs or Staron but can be installed by a trained fabricator on site. Sections are joined together using special finishing procedures to blend away and polish the joins.
Cut-on-site quartz, such as Bushboard’s M-Stone and Mirostone, are fitted in much the same way but you will see joins of around 1mm between the slabs, which are filled with colour-match resin.
Laminate and timber can be cut to fit on site. Likewise, at the cheaper end of the stainless steel and copper market, you’ll find options that can be fitted on site if bought as a standard size or made as a bespoke top with a higher price tag.
Image: Naked Kitchens
Protect your surfaces
To a certain degree, work surfaces are heat, scratch and stain-resistant, but it is still necessary to protect them (unless Dekton or similar) with chopping boards and pan stands. If bleach, lemon or wine spills happen, clean up as soon as possible. If left, damage may occur.
Timber can be sanded and re-oiled; solid surfaces can be buffed using a slightly abrasive cleaner (do a patch test first). With quartz and granite, a poultice can be applied to draw out stains, then the surface can be re-polished and resealed.