Have nothing in your house
you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful
[William Morris – 1834 – 1896]

Buying Guide for choosing kitchen worktops/countertops

“Every beautiful worktop conceals the secrets that made it so.” (Karen, Managing Director)

Materials with this symbol will hold up well against stains and marking
Materials with this symbol will hold up well against hot objects placed on it
Materials with this symbol will require minimal amounts of ongoing maintenance
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Materials with this symbol will last longer (but may come with longer or shorter warranty periods)
Our overall recommended product taken into account all other factors/symbols
Stromboli Granite

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Our Buying Guide compares various kitchen worktop/countertop materials so that you can select with confidence the most suitable material for your kitchen, bathroom, garden pizza oven, etc. For example, how you use your kitchen can have a bearing on the ideal material for your countertop.

Granite

When choosing a kitchen worktop/countertop, where better to start than with granite. Being a natural material (which we source worldwide) granite has a number of endearing qualities. Granite is by far the ‘stone of choice’ if it is a kitchen worktop you are considering and enjoy cooking. Despite some Urban Myths it is superior to, say, quartz in almost every respect (NB: some firms  prefer quartz because it is far easier, and therefore cheaper, to cut and fabricate). And, depending on cutting lengths, granite can work out just as economical or even cheaper than quartz. As a general guide:

·  it is stain resistant – so you shouldn’t have to worry about wine and vinegar spillages;

·  it comes in larger sized slabs than marble and quartz which, as explained in our “Granite or Quartz” page, can mean it can work out magically cheaper than quartz;

·  it is heat resistant (although its colour can actually make a difference);

·  it is unique – no one worktop is completely identical to any other;

·  when you touch it, it feels ‘real’ – unlike man-made materials like Corian;

·  it is durable – so you don’t have to worry about cutting with sharp knives directly on its surface.

However, you need to be on your guard! The above characteristics hold true only if you ask the right questions and buy wisely. For example, granite has to be sealed using a special process. If it is not, or if the sealant does no permeate to a sufficient depth, some of the above qualities (like stain resistance) will simply not be present. This essential finishing process is why you will see granite offered with anything from a 0 to 15 years warranty. (See also our section on Workmanship for more information).

You can be confident that we only source granite from two of the most reputable suppliers in the world – one of which is Levantino – which you can view here.

Arabescato Marble

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Marble

Whether for a bathroom, pantry or kitchen worktop/countertop, marble is without doubt a beautiful natural material: who doesn’t love this igneous stone! It probably has the most endearing qualities, including:

  • simple elegant good looks;
  • the most wonderful display of colours (ie the highly visible ‘veins’);

However, the cruel truth is that marble is not suitable as a kitchen worktop unless an exceptional sealant is applied – but highly desirable for bathrooms, offices, fireplaces and other locations. The reasons why it is not suitable as a kitchen worktop is because:

· is  porous, meaning that it is not going to be sufficiently resistant to staining in a kitchen environment;

·  liquids like wine, oil, coffee and acidic juices will permeate the stone quickly – and are all but impossible to remove;

·  it is not scratch resistant. If you have ever seen an old ‘butcher’s block’ you could not help but notice the large bowl-like indentation caused by knives used on its surface over a long period. (But even that can be endearing.)

However, marble can be treated to protect it from staining, but overall we would not recommend it as a kitchen worktop – unless you really are a marble die-hard and understand its drawbacks!

We only source marble from reputable suppliers, and if you are interested in what they deliver to us take a peek here.

Calacatta Gold Quartz

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Quartz / Silestone

A quartz kitchen countertop/worktop can look every bit as amazing as a granite worktop. Despite its name, however, quartz is actually a man-made material using ground stone and resin. It nevertheless has some endearing qualities and characteristics:

· it is extremely stain resistant – so you don’t have to worry about wine and vinegar spillages;
· within reason, it is heat resistant – but use of trivets for very hot pans/casserole dishes is required to avoid your Warranty being invalidated;
· because it is man-made, it is available in a wide range of colours – and textures (eg, silk and matt);
· it is non-porous – making it a hardy material for the kitchen;
· it is durable – so you don’t have to worry about cutting with sharp knives directly on its surface.

The range of colours available in quartz is a ‘clincher’ for many, particularly when it comes to light and white colours. Mother Nature unfortunately forgot to make granite in white, so if a white worktop is what you are after, then quartz is the way to go. Indeed, recent research indicates that white is the colour of choice for 27% of people buying quartz worktops.

Quartz does not have the same ‘cool-to-the touch’ feel to it like granite, but is nevertheless a desirable product. But beware of cheap imitations! The quality of the material is measured in its quartz content – the lower the content, the more inferior the product. Always ask what “stone content” you are looking at: all Granite Concepts stock is a minimum of 90%, and will be superb. Always ask, and get a warranty for, the quartz quality you are buying.

Given that the quality of quartz can differ wildly we ensure we select our suppliers carefully. For example, Caesarstone and Silestone are the two leading reputable suppliers: Silestone is a trademark for the quartz produced by Cosentino, which we stock along with Caesarstone. Silestone is regarded by many as the ‘top end’ of quartz – although we can source other high quality quartz at very good value – but the warranty/guarantee is unlikely to match Caesarstone’s and Silestone’s 25 years. For more information on Silestone including pictures of their range visit Cosentino’s website here.

To help you compare the differences between quartz and granite, click through to our dedicated web-page here.

manhattan quartz

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Other Man-made Materials

There are other man-made material similar to Quartz (see above), including in particular one well-known brand produced by the international company, DuPont. It has qualities that nearly every other material lack in that it can be moulded into any shape, including sinks/basins integral to the worktop itself.

Uniquely, these type of materials can be formed with no joins, making it seamless.

However, for a kitchen worktops there are significant drawbacks:

·         they are likely to be less resistant to heat (relative to quartz and granite);
·         they are likely to be less scratchproof (relative to quartz and granite) so should not be used to cut food directly on their surface;
·         they tend to be expensive – particularly in large quantities.

For the above reasons we do not stock these other man-made materials for kitchen worktops. We want you and your family to enjoy your kitchen, not fret over damaging the work surface. For bathrooms, however, these materials have strong positive appeal.

manhattan quartz

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Laminate

Laminate has been a very popular choice for decades, made from applying a waterproof resin sheet to a chipboard block. It does have qualities that appeal, the most obvious of which is its price:

· relatively very cheap;
· limitless colours and textures;
· easy to cut and form.

However, we do not stock laminates – we love real stone! The main reasons being:

· not heat resistant (relative to most stone materials and Corian);
· not stain resistant (relative to most stone materials and Corian);
· damages relatively easily;
· joints are difficult to seal effectively long-term (‘bulging’ at seamed edges being a common problem).

manhattan quartz

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Dekton & Neolith

Wow! This is the crème de la crème. Despite being a man-made product this is an incredible material, which is actually porcelain – with no drawbacks we can mention. It takes a specially trained Stonemason, with specialist equipment, to sculpture. But that’s nothing you need to worry about and Granite Concepts are one of only a few firms that can supply these worktops.

These two materials are also environmentally friendly in the sense that they do not contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), unlike quartz. Another unique feature with these two high specification materials is that they come in a larger range of thicknesses – beyond the standard 20mm or 30mm thicknesses of granite and quartz. For example, 2mm is possible meaning that it can be used for almost any surface, including walls and cupboards.

If these products interest you feel free to take a look at some examples on Neolith’s website by clicking here.

Again, supplier quality is everything to us particularly in the past few years some poorer quality materials have been seen coming into the UK from China and other places.

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