Wood or stone, composite or metal? The choice of material for your kitchen worktops can seem never-ending, but it’s worth taking the time to get this hardworking surface right.

Your kitchen worktops will be used for preparing, serving and, potentially, dining and will need to withstand regular, intensive cleaning. They’re a natural focal point in your kitchen, complementing the units and flooring you choose, and have become a key part of the design process. You’re going to be interacting with them multiple times a day, so it’s important to choose a style you like the look of, as well as a surface that will suit your lifestyle.


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1. Granite

Granite (pictured above) is one of the most popular choices for kitchen worktops. It’s stylish, beautiful and is associated with luxurious kitchen schemes.

Pros:

  • Hard-wearing
  • Heat resistant
  • Antibacterial
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Expensive

‘Granite is the result of cooling pressurised magma over millions of years resulting in a rock that is both heat and scratch resistant. When sealed properly it is also stain resistant and, once installed, requires no more maintenance,’ says Jon Brewer, managing director and founder of Purple Granite.

polished granite worktops in showflake

Polished granite worktop in snowflake, £422 per m², Diapol Stone Worktops

2. Quartz

Quartz is a man-made alternative to traditional stone worktops like granite. Employing industrial techniques, natural quartz is fortified with resin to create a truly hard-wearing and customisable worktop.

Pros:

  • Hard-wearing
  • Antibacterial
  • Easy to clean
  • Unrestricted range of colour

Cons:

  • Very heavy
  • Expensive

‘Quartz has become ever more popular over the years and offers a more uniform, contemporary stone work-surface. It is naturally resistant to staining and scratching, but is less heat-resistant than granite, ‘ continues Jon

Ceasarstone nougat quartz worktops

Nougat quartz worktop, POA, Caesarstone

3. Hard wood

Whether you are after a contemporary or traditional kitchen, Hardwood is a great solution, as long as you are willing to put the work into its maintenance.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than stone options
  • Variety of wood grains and colours
  • Antibacterial if maintained
  • Looks great with age

Cons:

  • Requires bi-annual maintenance
  • Can become stained
  • Can scratch

Something to consider

The drawback with wood compared to stone or composite options is that it requires biannual oiling to keep away stains and damage. However, you may see this as a benefit as the worktop will age over time, gaining a beautiful patina.

solid-walnut-worktop-pre-oiled-with-upstand

Pre-oiled solid walnut worktop, £221 inc. tax for 2600x605x40mm, from Primawood Worktops

4. Laminate

Laminate is a cost effective and versatile worktop solution and has become the most popular option on the market.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Antibacterial
  • Can be made to look like more expensive materials
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to clean
  • Hard-wearing, scratch and heat-resistant
  • Suits any style of kitchen, from contemporary to classic

Cons:
Poor quality options can…

  • Peel
  • Burn or even melt
  • Scratch and become unhygienic

Something to consider:

Laminate worktops may look good on paper, but you get what you pay for. Cheaper options will damage easily and may not carry some of the benefits listed above. Make sure you shop carefully if you are considering laminates because there is a huge variation in quality.

Bushboard prima laminate granite effect worktops

Bushboard 3465 – cappuccino laminate prima worktops in Radiance, from £90 for 1800x604mm, HCsupplies

5. Glass

Glass has only recently been introduced to the worksurface market. It is stylish, versatile and works perfectly in a contemporary design.

Pros:

  • Can be made in any size or shape
  • Easy to clean and hygienic
  • Extremely durable
  • Heat resistant
  • Limitless range of colours
  • Looks modern, stylish and sleek

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Needs frequent cleaning
white glass worktops from modern glass

Glass worktops available in any RAL colour, 10mm or 19mm thickness and made to measure, POA, Modern Glass

6. Solid surface composite – Corian, Maia, Encore

Solid surface worktops are made by applying an acrylic resin to the top of a substrate material like wood. They create a seamless, glossy worktop that fits perfectly into a contemporary design.

Pros:

  • Heat and scratch resistant
  • Seamless
  • Stain resistant
  • Can be moulded into any shape

Cons:

  • Expensive

Something to consider

These solid surface materials are great for modern kitchens. They are heat and scratch resistant to a point, but can’t compete with solid stone or quartz. Although the resin exterior is waterproof, if any water gets within the substrate material, it can cause irreparable damage.

Encore-solid-surface-mountain-haze

Encore in Mountain Haze, £652 for a full 4100x650x27 worktop from Solid Surface Kitchens

7. Stainless steel

Stainless steel is the go-to worktop material in the commercial kitchen sector.

Pros:

  • Strong and durable
  • Naturally antibacterial
  • Easy to clean
  • Water proof
  • Heat and acid resistant
  • Very light

Cons:

  • Cold
  • Clinical
  • Difficult to integrate into large areas

Something to consider:

Stainless steel is still not very popular in homes because it can become overwhelming when used in large areas. However, there is no reason you couldn’t use it to make a statement and take advantage of its benefits on a kitchen island or in a small workspace. Cavendish Equipment have a gallery of case studies that may convince you that stainless steel can be a beautiful option.

Cavendish equipment domestic stainless steel worktops

Integrated stainless steel counter top, POA, Cavendish Equipment

Worktops to look out for in 2016

‘Something I expect to really take off this year is a new product called Neolith, it’s a porcelain product that is heat resistant, scratch resistant and can be bookmatched. Bookmatching is a process where two pieces of the same stone slap are joined to create a mirrored pattern in the surface. This was only previously possible using quarried marble which, as well as being expensive, is nowhere near as durable as Neolith, ‘ says Jon.

Neolith worktops from purple granite

Porcelain Neolith worktop, POA, Purple Granite

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