Practical Considerations When Buying Worktops

With kitchen refurbishments adding an average £7,666 to house values – making them the second most profitable home improvements after loft conversions – (source: Halifax Home Improvement Survey 2009) there’s no doubt as to the importance of kitchens. So it’s not surprising that kitchen refurbishments should be planned carefully.

Here, Howard Noh, Managing Director of leading worktop supplier Tristone Acrylic Surfaces, analyses the various options.
There are a few considerations when it comes to choosing you worktop – most importantly how much will it cost and will it fit your budget. When it comes to choosing between a few materials which are equally aesthetically pleasing, cost can often be the decider. So, how much can you expect to pay for each type of worktop?

Laminates typically cost from £30 per metre, timber from £90 per metre, stone and metal from £250 per metre and glass and composites from £300 per metre.

To be practical, a worktop should be at least 90cm long. It should also be deep enough to overhang your units by 20-25mm. Not only does this look better than worktops that end abruptly at the units but it also means spilt liquids miss the units and head straight for the floor as opposed to dripping into drawers.

Check the depth of your units before ordering worktops as not all are the same depth. You also need to consider your drawer and cupboard fronts — some fit flush into the unit carcasses, others sit in front of them, adding to the finished depth of the units. Finally, when choosing the thickness of your worktop, bear in mind that chunky worktops add a sense of quality, so it is often worth paying a little extra for thicker surfaces.

Walls in old houses are not always straight and this can prove problematic when fitting worktops. There are several ways to deal with the issues. The most common is to ‘scribe’ the worktops to fit:

  • Position the worktop with its back edge against the wall. Ensure the overhang along the front of the cabinets is the same all the way along.
  • Measure the biggest gap between the wall and the back of the worktop.
  • Cut a small block of wood (a ‘scribing block’) the width of this gap.
  • Stick a strip of masking tape along the length of the back of the worktop.
  • Starting at one end of the worktop, run the block against the wall and mark a line along the masking tape. This will give the shape of your wall.
  • Cut along this line with a jigsaw. Where only small amounts need removing, you can use a sander or planer instead. Where this method will increase the cost of fitting the worktop – it can be very expensive to cut stone – a channel can be chiselled into the wall to accept the back of the worktops, before finishing off with upstands or tiles.

Worktops tend to be sold in three-metre lengths. The standard width is 600mm which is fine for most standard units, but islands and breakfast bars may require wider surfaces, which are available with two or more ‘good edges’. Thicknesses normally range between 27mm and 42mm.

Howard concludes: “A new kitchen can be a major, and costly project for many householders and so planning and design are major considerations which shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“It’s essential that you work with a trusted and reliable partner to ensure you receive the appropriate advice and guidance at all stages of the project.

Launched in 2001, Tristone is dedicated to providing competitively priced, high quality, solid surface products to customers.

Howard Noh-Managing Director