One of the big impact items in the kitchen is the worktop. This has consumed a lot of time in deciding what to go for due to the range of items on offer, costs and durability. One major factor is the size of our island which at 3.6m by 1.2m exceeds the size of most worktop materials. Therefore we were looking at having a join in the worktop. Whilst there were ways of managing this design wise, by using contrasting materials, these were not ideal.
We did for some time consider compact laminate as our designers rated this material as very good value price wise, which made it reasonable to replace if it became damaged or we wanted a change of colour. However though we liked the slimline profile of the material we quickly found that very few options were available in a single piece in the size we required and these were all plain finish which we weren’t that keen on.
We then looked at concrete worktops. As these are cast in situ they get around the joint problem but they are high maintenance, can chip easily and are expensive.
We were therefore in a quandary and at that point went to the Home Building and Renovation Show at Bath Showground. There we saw some Corian worktops from Somerset Worktops https://www.somersetworktops.co.uk. Corian has of course been around for many years. It is made of a mixture of Acrylic Polymer (one third) and natural minerals (two thirds). We were fascinated by the samples on show where you couldn’t see the joins. Being non-porous it is used widely in sectors that need seamless hygienic surfaces including Health Sector, Catering and Dentists. It is an incredibly malleable material so it can be cast into many shapes and as it has invisible joins is limitless in terms of size. However we had reservations about the product as it didn’t have the design range of ceramic and quartz worktops and lacked the durability of Dekton.
Our hunt for the perfect worktop continued for many months until one day we decided to visit Somerset worktops and learn more about the solid surface options. This was very informative. Ross the worktops manager showed us various samples, took us around the workshop to see the product being assembled and gave us some sample boards to take away. We were impressed by the feel and look of the product and also found that surprisingly it was more robust than we expected. The boards were able to take saucepans from the hob – though not red hot ones. We also discovered that the material is very repairable with surface scratches being easy to sand down and whole sections cut out and replaced if there is major damage.
That started a nine month long hunt for the perfect colour and pattern. Since Corian was first invented in 1967 many other manufactures have developed solid surface worktops using similar formulas. The major ones being Corian, LG Himacs, Samsung Staron, Hanex and Durasein. I contacted each manufacturer ordering samples of colours that might work. I quickly found a colour and design I liked only to then find one of the first limitations of this material. Only certain shades are suitable for kitchen use, which tend to be the lighter ones as the darker ones show scratches more easily and require greater maintenance to keep them looking good. Also only random all over patterns are amenable to seamless joints; veined patterns are difficult to match seamlessly. This I am afraid quickly ruled out my initial choices but I persevered to try and find different options. By the time Ross came to visit to do the templating for the worktop I had narrowed the choice down to one option which though not ideal was good enough. Ross when he arrived produced some brand new samples from the Samsung Staron range that had just come out – one of these was perfect; a concrete effect of the exactly right shade to complement the island and cupboard colours, bringing some light into the kitchen whilst maintaining the overall dramatic effect we want to achieve.
It looked ideal but this was based on a 2 inch square sample so I had a sleepless night the day before the actual fitting of the worktop as I waited to see what the finished article would really look like in situ.
The result was everything we could have hoped for. The worktop is simply stunning, it matches the plinth of the units, complementing the finish perfectly and is seamless. The guys who fitted it were brilliant, dealing with a problem in the join very effectively and the end product is wonderful. The photos below will not do the worktop justice and I hope to get some more professional ones done of the final finish once the hob is installed which I will publish at a later date.
I highly recommend Somerset Wortkops. They were very patient with supplying me with samples and helping me towards the right choice. They are charming to deal with and their installers are superb. Finally these worktops are fantastic value for money – slightly more than compact laminate but offering much greater flexibility in terms of sizes and shapes and much more durable. They are certainly worth considering for kitchen and bathroom products. They have gone a bit out of fashion with quartz, porcelain, concrete and the new compact laminate worktops having more profile in design magazines. However I would recommend keeping solid surface worktops in view for very large or for unusual shaped areas where you want seamless joints in a stunning finish and where budgets are a constraint.