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Selecting the right kitchen worktops to suit your style

Selecting the right kitchen worktops to suit your style

Kitchen surfaces, namely countertops and flooring, range from practical (laminate countertop, vinyl floor) to extravagant (copper countertop, terrazzo floor), and trends are always changing. But regardless of how much you want to spend and what look you're going for, remember that each surface material has positive and negative qualities for every application.

Since there's no countertop material that's perfect for all tasks, serious cooks often choose a variety of materials and place them to their best advantage: ceramic tile is highly resistant to heat - a good choice around a range or cooktop. Butcher block can be cut on without dulling knives, so it's great for prep areas.

The smooth, cool surface of marble makes it ideal for rolling dough and candy-making. Your choices will depend largely on how and what you cook. Placement of the countertop surface is also important for minimising the inherent drawbacks of materials. Just to list a few; laminate is vulnerable to being scorched by hot pans or scratched by knives; concrete countertops, marble and ceramic tile grout are prone to staining; butcher block and other wood surfaces can warp and split and may harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly When it comes to kitchen flooring, three materials remain the most popular: vinyl, ceramic and wood.

Speciality materials include cork, linoleum and epoxy surfaces. Since serious cooks spend a lot of time on their feet in the kitchen, comfort is an important consideration, along with washability, durability, slip resistance and, of course, appearance. Vinyl is always a good choice: it's water-resistant, easy and clean and soft underfoot, although not as durable as some other types. Sheet vinyl in 12-ft.wide rolls are best for kitchens because the floor will have fewer seams to catch dirt and water.

Ceramic tile is attractive and durable, and it's fairly stain resistant if you seal the grout periodically But tile is a very hard surface, and it can be cold for bare feet (although some people solve the latter problem by installing in-floor heating). Traditional hardwood strip flooring is another popular choice, but be aware that it's a high-maintenance product and is vulnerable to water damage. Other options include wood-and-plastic laminate flooring, which is better for replacement flooring than solid wood because they're thinner and often can be installed over old flooring.