What Is A Waterfall Worktop? – Pros, Cons & Everything Explained
A waterfall worktop (countertop) creates a sleek, contemporary look in any kitchen design by providing a seamless, flowing work surface. But what exactly is it?
In this post, I’ll explain what a waterfall worktop is, its pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions about the topic.
Let’s dive in!
What Is A Waterfall Worktop?
A waterfall worktop (waterfall end) is when the worktop material drops down from the counter at a 90-degree angle and runs down the side of a cabinet to the floor. Typically found at the exposed end(s) of a kitchen island or run of cabinets.
Waterfall worktops (waterfall countertops) are a popular trend in kitchen designs. It can become a dramatic centrepiece and focal point for your kitchen island or add a touch of luxury to your space.
For a real wow factor and ‘high-end look’ you can even match the grain and veining of your stone slab so that it looks like the worktop is carved from a single piece of rock and has a continuous flow down the edge of a cabinet.
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Pros Of A Waterfall Worktop
- Trending style that complements your contemporary kitchen design
- Adds a finishing touch and gives an overall polished appearance to your island/ cabinets
- Dramatic and eye-catching
- The additional material on the sides of the cabinets or island provides extra protection
Cons Of A Waterfall Worktop
- A contemporary trend that may fade in popularity and become dated.
- Expensive upgrade as it significantly adds to materials and labour.
- Potential for the waterfall to be damaged in a lively household.
Waterfall Worktop Materials
You can have a waterfall worktop made out of nearly any material. Waterfall worktops can be made out of the following countertop material:
- Solid Surface
- Butcher Block or Wood
- Porcelain (ultra-compact, sintered stone)
Waterfall Worktop Joints
A waterfall worktop is usually created in one of two ways. A mitred joint or a butt joint.
A mitred joint is when each edge of the worktop is angled at 45 degrees and the two pieces join together so the visible joint is right on the corner of the two pieces. It gives a neater finish and a more premium look. Having a mitred joint will normally cost more.
A butt joint is when one piece is positioned on top of the other. With a kitchen counter, this will be the main worktop slab on top of the top edge of the waterfall slab. The joint will be visible from the side. This method is much easier and cheaper to install as there is less fabrication work involved.
Adhesive will be used to secure the worktop joints to one another as well as to the cabinet side to fix the waterfall worktop vertical drop securely in place. Biscuit or box joints may also be used to secure the two pieces together, typically if the worktop is thicker or when using laminate or timber.
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Waterfall Worktop Costs and Considerations
Adding a waterfall worktop is a great option for your upscale custom kitchen renovation. However, it brings some additional costs and considerations along with it.
A waterfall worktop can add as much as £2,000+ to the price of a standard stone worktop. Depending on the type of material, how much is required and the fabrication method.
If you are building on a budget, consider that you will need an extra square metre or more of worktop material. If you are using stone such as quartzite, that can tag an extra £1,000 or more to the cost of the slab. For a laminate project, you are looking at adding an additional £100+ or so.
The cost of fabrication also increases as the extra piece will need cutting, edging and finishing. A mitred edge will be more expensive than a butt joint edge. You could be looking at another £500 to £800 for fabrication costs for stone /solid surface worktops.
Finally, there may be additional costs for the installation of a waterfall worktop. Most stone fabricators/installers will have already factored this into their price. However, if you’re creating a waterfall worktop from timber or laminate then there will be extra work for your kitchen fitter/builder.
Is there a Difference Between a Waterfall Worktop and a Waterfall Edge?
A “waterfall worktop” and a “waterfall edge” both refer to a specific design element used in countertop installations, particularly in kitchens. However, they essentially refer to the same design aspect with minor differences in the way the term is used, depending on the context.
- Waterfall Edge: In most contexts, a “waterfall edge” refers to this design feature as it appears on one edge or end of a countertop, such as the end of a kitchen run. The countertop material extends vertically down the side of the cabinets to the floor, giving the appearance of a “waterfall” of material flowing over the edge.
Sometimes you may see a waterfall edge listed as an option to finish your countertop edge profile. Instead of a full piece of worktop material that runs down to the floor, the front edge of the counter has an extra strip of stone attached with a hidden join.
The result is a seamless edge that makes the worktop look like it is thicker. More often, this ‘waterfall edge’ is normally called a stacked or mitred edge. Personally, I’d call it a mitred edge.
- Waterfall Worktop: This term tends to be used more broadly to refer to any countertop that uses this waterfall design feature, regardless of whether it’s on an island, a standalone cabinet, or elsewhere. It emphasizes the overall design and aesthetic of the countertop, not just the specific edges.
So, they’re basically the same thing. However, they can be used to highlight slightly different aspects of the same design feature. “Waterfall edge” tends to highlight the specific design element, while “waterfall worktop” is more about the overall design and aesthetic of the countertop.
Are waterfall countertops still in style?
Yes, waterfall worktops remain a very popular and desirable worktop design. Especially for contemporary kitchens. The trend first appeared about 10-15 years ago as kitchen islands and open-concept living became more popular.
Will it last? If home builders return to a more traditional floorplan with enclosed kitchens, this trend may become a fading fad. However, I think this design trend will be around for many years to come as the open-plan concept shows no signs of going away.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about waterfall worktops.
Waterfall worktops are a great way to add a contemporary and upscale look to your modern kitchen design. However, the extra costs associated with them may put some off.
As with everything in kitchen design, it’s what you like and where you want to allocate your budget!
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.