A hard-wearing, hygienic worktop is a must in any modern kitchen. Nowadays, you can get high-performance options in a wide range of finishes and profiles to suit any budget. Most can be cut to fit, though some need to be templated and machine-cut as part of a professional fitting service - which is recommended if in any doubt.
Kitchen worktops come in a wide range of materials including wood, real or synthetic slate, stone, granite, marble or laminated chipboard.
Laminate worktops are the simplest to fit, and come in all kinds of colours, textures and thicknesses. You'll need to use a panel saw to cut laminate board to the right length before you can begin fitting it. Factory-cut edges will inevitably be more accurate than those you cut yourself, so it's a good idea to position a factory cut where the edge will show - and hide your own cuts against wall junctions or under a joining strip.
A worktop jig is a template for cutting perfect joins in round-edge laminate worktops using a router. Clamp it in position on the worktop before cutting, and be sure to practise on some off-cuts first.
Put the laminate worktop in position, checking that it fits tightly against the wall and that the edges line up snugly.
Where the units have a corner, there needs to be a join in the worktop. The front edge of a worktop is profiled, create a neat join by putting in a specially profiled aluminium joining strip. Use a hacksaw to cut the strip to exactly the width of the worktop. Then put silicone sealant along the cut edge of the worktop and screw the strip in place using 16mm (3.5mm gauge) wood screws. Put more sealant on the profiled edge of the next worktop and slide the two sections together.
Now fix the worktop to the units by wrapping masking tape 38mm from the end of a 2mm gauge drill bit as a depth guide. Working from beneath the worktop and inside the cabinets, drill through each of the clearance holes you've already made and into the worktop. Stop when you reach the masking tape so the drill doesn't break through. Screw a 38mm (5mm gauge) wood screw through each fixing position.
Use matching laminate strips on exposed worktop edges - these will be supplied with the worktop. Cut the strip to the right length, and put contact adhesive on the back of the edging strip and the worktop edge. Leave it for the recommended time and then stick it into place.