- Choose a material to suit your lifestyle, not your aspirations
- Bear in mind any maintenance required
- Trivets and chopping boards will be needed to protect some materials
The fact that your worktop needs to be practical doesn’t
mean you have to sacrifice style. There are plenty of
choices, from man-made materials to natural products:
Often associated with professional kitchens, stainless
steel is stylish and contemporary. It is highly durable
and can be shaped in many ways – for example, the
sink and splash-back can be made from the same piece
of steel, ensuring that there are no awkward corners
or gaps in which food or dirt can be trapped. Stainless
steel is hygienic, heat and corrosion-proof and is the
only surface that can be safely bleached.
On the downside, it is expensive, high maintenance and
can be scratched and dented (although newer designs can
include textured finishes that can hide scratches).
This inexpensive option, which comes in a variety of
colours and patterns, is a very popular choice for kitchen
It is not particularly hard-wearing and although it
is stain-resistant it is susceptible to being scratched
or burned. If it does get damaged it cannot be repaired.
Laminate should not be used as a cutting surface or
hot pans – use trivets and chopping boards as protection.
Note, too, that any joins will be visible due to the
dark backing sheet used in the production process – this
is more evident with light colours.
Granite is the most common type of stone used for work
surfaces. Quarried worldwide, its colours and patterns
reflect the region and the geological conditions that
created it. Each slab is unique, with random and inconsistent
patterns for a stylish finish. It is highly durable,
heat-resistant, it doesn't scratch or burn, and retains
its colour. Granite is, however, very expensive and
will need occasional resealing to prevent staining.
Picture of a modern kitchen with granite countertops
and Granite Island
Oak, maple, cherry, red beech, walnut, teak, and mahogany
are all hardwoods favoured for worktops. A warm and
aesthetically pleasing material, it adds great character
to any kitchen.
It is, though, susceptible to scratching, cutting and
burning so trivets and chopping boards are essential
accessories to protect the surface. Cuts will show
but can be sanded out. The wood needs rubbing periodically
with Danish oil to restore the wood. (On the plus side,
wood is one of the only surfaces that will not damage
Quartz surfaces are hygienic because the material – available
in dozens of colours – is non-porous. It is also
highly durable, being resistant to scratches, stains and
heat. However, prices can be up to 10% higher than granite
although, unlike granite, it does not need periodic resealing.
A worktop that consists of a solid plastic all the way
through is said to be a solid surface countertop, as opposed
to those built up in layers like laminate. They are hardwearing,
resistant to scratches, scorching and heat. If the surface
does get damaged it is repairable. The cost is around three
times more than laminate and twice as much as wood. A wide
range of colours and styles are available to choose from
and most suppliers offer a good guarantee. Corian, which
has been around for 30 years, is the most famous brand.
Very much a statement worktop that is fairly practical
but, like stainless steel, has a tendency to highlight
every little mark – from fingerprints to stains – so
needs constant cleaning.