Your worktop choice is a key feature in your home. The kitchen worktop serves as the engine of the finely tuned machine that is your kitchen; it must be chosen with care. Not only are kitchen surfaces statements of style, but they’re also exposed to a whole host of surface-degrading threats such as heat, scratches and stains.
Don’t spend all your time and energy mulling over cabinetry; your choice of kitchen surface is just as important. Gone are the days where every kitchen has traditional hardwood surfaces. Now the options are almost limitless, to the point where choosing a worktop material may seem an overwhelming task amidst the other decisions regarding a new kitchen. From durable surfaces suited to the warzone that can become your kitchen (especially if you have kids), to the deluxe materials which favour the on-trend style of open-plan layouts, the Sky House Design Centre has got you covered. Read on to find out what you should consider to choose the right kitchen surface for your home.
Granite: This natural material is resistant to heat, scratches, water and most stains. The beauty of natural stone is undeniable, and granite is a timeless material which suits both modern and traditional kitchens. Granite requires an initial sealing upon fitting, followed by another sealing about 10 years later, so it is by no means high maintenance.
Pros: Can be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes. Heat, moisture, scratch resistant. Impervious and largely stain resistant.
Cons: Expensive, although some companies are able to fix a thinner layer of the materials over your existing worktop for a reduced price. A weighty material.
Cost: approx. £200-250 per m2
Marble: Another natural stone, marked with unique veining and colouring. What marble lacks in practicality, it makes up for in its luxurious, tasteful aesthetic. Due to its permeable nature, it must be sealed and treated annually in order to avoid stains.
Pros: Due to its historic use in ancient sculpture, it is regarded as a lavish stone. Marble can be specially fitted and made to measure. Heat and water resistant if maintained. Cold surface suitable for baking.
Cons: Very heavy. Not scratch proof. Vulnerable to stains from alcohol and acidic solutions such as lemon juice.
Cost: approx. £250 per m2
Quartz Composite: This material contains 90% natural Quartz crystals, is therefore very durable and often comes with a long warranty. Since the colour and pattern is consistent through the composite stone, scratches and chips (which are very unlikely) can be sanded out and repaired easily. Coupled with its long-lasting nature, it is available in a wide range of colours, allowing it to suit many different styles of kitchen.
Pros: Very durable and resistant to scratching. Simple and easy to clean. Anti-bacterial. Wide range of colours.
Cons: Not as heat resistant as granite. More expensive than the other man-made options.
Cost: approx. £220 per m2
Concrete: Concrete is a heavy-duty material and its industrial style is undeniably on-trend. Concrete is porous and therefore can stain, in order to avoid water and stain absorption, you must purchase a preventative such as food-grade sealer or finishing wax. A wide range of colours can be chosen from, and the surface of a granite countertop is satisfyingly flat and smooth.
Pros: Concrete is perfect for stove areas, as it is a durable and heat-resistant material. Can come in a wide range of colours and finishes.
Cons: Concrete is very heavy, so reinforcements may be needed. Prone to scratching. Food can cause staining if left on the surface for some time. Sealing is essential due to porous nature of material.
Cost: approx. £300 per m2
Solid-surface worktops: By mixing natural stones or woods with resins, composite kitchen surfaces are impressively durable and non-porous. Designs of solid-surface worktops areoften innovative, with sleek designs allowing for a seamless aesthetic. Composite surfaces are best used in wet areas, such as sinks, but its flexibility allows it to be morphed into almost any shape or style.
Pros: Very low maintenance, and requires no initial treatment. Can be made to fit bespoke kitchen plans. Available in a variety of colours. Stain, water resistant and able to withstand temperatures of up to 250 ℃. Scratches can easily be sanded out due to its solid-surface nature.
Cons: High quality solid-surface worktops are expensive. Lower quality options scratch easily.
Cost: approx. £300 per m2
Hardwood: Hardwood is traditionally preferred to ‘soft’ wood due to its strength and durability, and examples include oak and walnut. For kitchen use, iroko and teak are the obvious choices, as their high oil contents and water resistance is ideal around the sink area. Wood is easy to cut, and effortlessly fits in to any kitchen environment, adding a natural sense of warmth.
Pros: Hardwood is cheaper than stone alternatives. As hardwood ages, it’s appearance becomes better and better. Easy to cut and tailor to different kitchen designs. Burns and blemishes can be sanded out with ease.
Cons: Requires regular maintenance during first year – a coat must be applied once a day for the first week, once a week for the for the next month, and then once a month for a whole year. Hardwood is vulnerable to scratches, burns and stains.
Cost: approx. £100 per m2
Laminate worktops: This is the traditional budget option for worktops and is also incredibly convenient. Laminates are resistant to scratching, moisture and stains. However, they are vulnerable to heat and steam and not at all suitable as a cutting surface. Due to their price and ability to mimic other more expensive surfaces, laminates are very popular.
Pros: Cheaper than alternatives but ability to achieve similar aesthetics to more expensive options. Cleans easily and maintenance is minimal. Can be fitted DIY-style and fits all kitchen styles.
Cons: Cheap for a reason; quality of laminate can degrade over time (peeling etc). Can’t be repaired if laminate is damaged.
Costs: approx. £30 per m2
Steel: Although this is a restaurant kitchen favourite, steel can be paired with more natural materials to make your kitchen space look less ‘clinical’ and it has some very impressive qualities of its own. Strong and durable, steel works best in contemporary spaces and is very easy to maintain.
Pros: Heat resistant, impermeable and stain resistant. Although steel is vulnerable to scratching, some say that it adds to the worn aesthetic. Easy to clean with stainless-steel cleaner and naturally ant-bacterial. Minimal maintenance.
Cons: Can be seen to lack warmth and not come across as a very ‘inviting’ design. Vulnerable to scratching. Sometimes difficult to integrate into living spaces.
Cost: approx. £70 per m2
Glass: Glass makes any room feel brighter and bigger due to its reflective surface, so it is an interior design favourite. It is eye-catching and is the ideal worktop surface for contemporary, urban homes. Glass is non-porous, and as a result any spills or stains can be easily wiped away, making it not only beautiful but also convenient.
Pros: Cleans easily and is hygienic. Glass is a very durable material (it can be toughened for work surfaces) and is also extremely heat-resistant. Can be made in a variety of colours and finishes. Scratches can be polished smooth.
Cons: In order to prevent water marks, frequent wiping is required. Suited to a certain aesthetic – can easily look out of place. Comparably expensive when weighed up against other durable options.
Cost: approx. £300 per m2
Make sure that you think about the advantages and pitfalls of each option. Consider which factors are more important to you and what you want your kitchen to be characterised by. If your budget is tight, contemplate mixing and matching your tabletop surfaces. The kitchen is a home’s hub and a very important part of designing a kitchen is deciding on the right surfaces to suit your needs.