As well as looking good, your work surfaces must also be able to stand up to all the usual demands of a kitchen, so choose the best material for your budget
Hygienic and non-porous when sealed, concrete can be cast in virtually any shape or size for a custom-made work surface. Mortise Concrete manufactures bespoke countertops and furniture, and this five-metre-long island countertop, in a kitchen designed by David Hingamp at Ar’chic, is made from 50mm-thick polished concrete. Pieces can be customised with colours and textures, achieved by using aggregates and cement dyes, and finished in different ways such as polished, matt or with exposed aggregates.
Prices start from £500 per m², and you should allow two to three weeks for forming, pouring, polishing and sealing before installation
Wickes’ High Definition laminate work surfaces offer three to five times the normal wear resistance of a standard work surface, and the natural stone designs and unique surface textures imitate the beauty of the real thing.
This Lunar Night design costs from £125 for a H3.8xW60xL300cm length and comes with a one-year guarantee
Dekton is a new large-format, ultra-compact solid-surface material by Cosentino that can be used for worktops as well as façades and floors, both indoors and outside. It has a high UV resistance, and is durable against scratches, abrasions, stains, heat and fire, and ice.
It is available in 15 colours including Irok (shown) and costs from £450 per m²
Made from pure acrylic, this Gemini worktop can be designed with either a matching solid-surface or stainless-steel base, and comes in 20 shades with a 10-year limited warranty. It is available in three thicknesses, fabricated with inconspicuous joints for a seamless look, and can also include integrated moulded sinks. Hygienic, durable and stain-resistant, the material naturally takes on the ambient room temperature.
This 10cm-thick design in a pure white finish has a double-bevel-edge profile and costs from £340 per m² at J Rotherham
You can achieve the look of a solid-stone work surface for a fraction of the price by using slate tiles. This kitchen features Mandarin Stone thick black Nero Riven tiles that have been cut and polished by a stonemason.
The H3xW60xL120cm tiles cost £43.20 each and require sealing to make them non-porous. They can also be used as upstands
Available in more than 90 colours, Corian by DuPont can be shaped and formed to create seamless surfaces with integrated sinks, splashbacks, fascias and a wide range of edge profiles. Made from a mixture of acrylic resin and natural materials, it is non-porous, and so stain-resistant and hygienic. Smooth and silky to the touch, it is strong and durable and, as a bespoke material, is templated, fabricated and installed by an approved dealer.
It costs from £310 per m and comes with a 10-year limited warranty
Unlike some solid-surface materials, which consist of a layer of solid surface bonded onto a substrate, Mistral by Karonia is a completely solid enhanced mineral acrylic. Available in 20 different effects, including Consera (shown), and with a thickness of 2.5cm, it can be easily cut, shaped and joined to create the curves and shapes that are popular in current kitchen design projects.
It’s priced at around £250 per m, with a standard width of 62.5cm and comes with a 10-year warranty
Hardwearing and durable, granite work surfaces at John Lewis are available in 30 shades across five price bands, including this Nero Impala. Each surface features its own individual colourings and markings.
Heat-, water- and scratch-resistant, with a 15-year guarantee, worktops start from £265 per m, with options for different thicknesses and profiles
One of the latest colours to be added to Cosentino’s Silestone range is this Calypso surface, which is part of the Nebula Alpha collection. Made from quartz composite, Silestone includes a bacteriostatic protection system that is based on the use of the latest generation silver ions to prevent bacteria growth.
Resistant to stains, scratches, acidity and impact, it comes with a 10-year guarantee and costs from £400 per m²
The appeal of the Encore range by Bushboard is that the installer-ready solid-surface work surfaces can be cut to size on site, so you don’t have to wait for the ‘template-fabricate-fit’ route. Available in a choice of sizes, including options for breakfast bars and islands, the collection is available in a 2.7cm thickness, reflecting the trend towards thinner surfaces, as well as a thicker 4cm depth.
It comes in 18 designs with large-scale veining and translucent particles, including this Mocha Stone, with square or radius corners. It can be used with inset, flush-mount and undercounter sinks and costs from £158 per m, with a 10-year guarantee
Granite doesn’t have to be polished and ultra-smooth: this bespoke Porphyry granite worktop has a rough hand-hewn edge for a more natural look.
Granite is priced from £400 per m² at Stone Age
Split-level work surfaces are a good way to define areas in a kitchen with different textures and colours for visual interest. This design by Rencraft includes Corian worktops for a streamlined, contemporary look, plus a contrasting integrated walnut chopping board to add character and warmth.
Prices for Corian start from £310 per m, depending on the thickness and design, while a similar 8cm-thick chopping board will cost around £1,279