The Insider: Alternative kitchen worktops


I'm helping a friend do up his (Ikea) kitchen. He wants an off-menu worktop. But away from the stalwarts of wood, stone and laminate: what other options should we consider?

Steel yourself

We considered stainless steel: "Commercial kitchens use it as it's easy to clean," says Andrew Hyett of APD Interiors. "But it does scratch and corner joins are expensive."

Mix master

Can't afford Corian, DuPont's hard-wearing, mouldable stone-acrylic blend? Try a Corian-esque veneer, or "solid surface" worktop. Pick one at least 6mm thick for durability.

Rank and tile

Modern, brick-shaped mosaic tiles seem chic. But, says Hyett, they're a hygiene nightmare: "Grout is absorbent; it goes dark and yucky."

Clear vision

"Glass is easy to clean," says Hyett, "and comes in many colours." But? It's better for show than for heavy use: joins are visible and gather muck.

The joy of Perspex

"It's cheap, easy to fit – and comes in many colours and thicknesses," says Hyett. "It will scratch, but it's so cheap you can just replace it."

Touch wood

If we'd thought of Hyett's super-budget tip ourselves, we'd have done it: "Sand down marine ply (18mm minimum) and apply yacht varnish."

Grey matters

Eventually, we chose concrete. Well, concrete-ish. You can build a frame and pour the stuff in, to polish when set – or, as we did, use Beton Cire, a new, surface-only product. Try and I'll let you know how it goes.

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