One of the questions we hear most often asked by our customers is “what is the best kitchen worktop?”. The question should really be asked differently.. It should be “What kitchen worktop is best for me?”
Ultimately, the answer to this question lies with you and how you use your kitchen.
We all use our kitchen in different ways. Some people do lots of baking, so may prefer cold surfaces for rolling out dough and pastry. Others may use lots of spices and oils in their cooking and would benefit from a non-porous surface.
- What do you do in your kitchen apart from cooking?
- What type of food do you cook?
- Do you run a catering business from home?
- What style of kitchen are you planning to buy?
With so many questions and options, it’s enough to give you a headache!
The following guide will explain the different material options, their properties, pros and cons and give you an indicated scale of cost. See the handy matrix at the end where we sumarise the most desirable qualities of the six worktop types.
Although there are many different materials available, we will cover the most common materials which can be found in almost every showroom.
Brand / alternative names – Formica, Duropal, Bushboard, Nuance
These are the most cost effective solution for kitchen worktops. A chipboard core finished with a top layer of 1mm thick laminate. Commonly supplied at 38mm thick, although available in 12, 20, 25, 40 and 50mm thick.
There are some laminates that are more expensive than others. For example, some are square edged (PP) and have every face and edge finished to “seal” the board whilst others are only finished on the top and rounded lead edges. Those with a ‘PP’ edge can have curves cut with factory finished reinforced edging.
If looked after, laminate tops can last for years. They are easy to clean and are surprisingly resilient to staining. Joins and cut-outs are where they are most susceptible to water ingress so should be sealed with silicone during installation.
Guide cost per linear metre £30 – £150
Solid Wood Worktops
Oak, Walnut, Beech, Iroko, Bamboo, just a few of the different types of wood used for kitchen worktops. There is no denying that wooden worktops are beautiful, they add so much character and warmth to any kitchen.
They are produced in block form where wooden staves of 40 – 120mm wide are glued and joined to create large boards. Custom made tops can be made with full length staves around 200mm wide to give the impression of a single solid wood top.
A lot of care and attention is needed to maintain solid wood worktops. They scratch, score and stain fairly easily so regular sanding and oiling is required to keep them looking good. Because of this, wood is used more for breakfast bars, butchers blocks and tables than whole counters.
Guide cost per linear metre £100 – £280
Brand / alternative names – Corian, Mistral, HI-MACS, Minerva / Acrylic, Solid-surface
100% non-porous with seamless joins, these are one of the most hygeinic options for kitchen worktops.
Resin worktops are man-made, the composition varies from brand to brand but most are a mix of acrylic-resin (80%), quartz and colour pigments.
They are very easy to clean and scores and scratches can be polished out.
Corian by Dupont is well established as the most well-known brand of resin worktop.
Along with Corian, HI-MACS by LG worktops are fabricated using a process called thermo-forming. This process allows the material to be manipulated and shaped to suit any application. For example, worktops and upstands are formed from a single piece to eliminate the need for a silicone filled join between thus making them even more hygienic.
All other brands of resin worktop cannot be fabricated in this way due to a different molecular makeup in the acrylic. Therefore Corian and HIMACS are often significantly dearer than the others.
Due to the semi-matt finish and thin profile of resin worktops, they work well in contemporary styled kitchens.
Guide cost per linear metre £280 – £450
Natural Stone (Granite and Quartzite)
Natural stone worktops are second to none in terms of aesthetic form and beauty. Every slab of granite and quartzite is totally unique.
If you want character and drama from your worktop then these materials are for you.
Note: Quartzite is not the same as Quartz worktops. (see the next section for Quartz worktops) You may also be interested in our In-depth comparison between granite and quartz.
Although typically cut into 20 or 30mm thick slabs approx 3m x 1.4m, there is no uniform size so cost of the material will vary.
There are many different colours of granite and quartzite, each quarried from different parts of the world and each at a very different price points.
Both materials are very hard (6-7/10 on the Mohs scale) so very unforgiving if you drop your best crystal on it.
They have very high heat thresholds but it is worth noting that it is advised that you still use trivets and pan stands.
Natural stone is very porous hence when fabricated the slabs are sealed with a stain-stop (a bit like a Thompsons Water Seal- if you remember the ads). It is this barrier that can be affected by the heat from direct contact with pans.
It is very important to keep surfaces dry and to mop up spills quickly, especially if you choose a light-coloured stone so as to avoid staining.
Guide cost per linear metre £300 – £550
Brand / alternative names – Silestone, Caesarstone, Unistone, Arenastone
Not to be confused with quartzite, quartz worktops are man made. They are predominantly quartz mineral (85-98% depending on manufacturer) and acrylic resin.
Quartz worktops are very dense, hard wearing, highly resistant to staining and have a very low water absorption rate. Unlike natural stones, these do not require sealing.
With normal everyday use, your quartz worktop should not stain, however, some harsh chemicals and solvents can damage the surface which can lead to staining.
Cold to the touch and available in beautiful veined finishes, quartz is a great alternative to natural stones like marble.
Just like natural stone, quartz is available in 20 and 30mm thick slabs which come in uniform sizes of approx 3.2×1.4m.
There are thousands of finishes available from many manufacturers all at varying price points. Expect to pay more for brands like those mentioned above as they will have a higher quartz content and greater control over colour and book matching.
Guide cost per linear metre £300 – £700
Dekton by Consentino is an ultra-compact surface made from glass, porcelain and quartz. They are by far the hardest material to use for kitchen worktops.
Using a high tech process called Sinterized Particle Technology (SPT), the raw materials are bonded under extreme high temperatures and pressure to create a non-porous and extremely dense material which is waterproof, scratch,UV, fire, heat, ice and stain resistant.
Basically, it’s bomb proof!
Available in 4,8,12,20 and 30mm thickness in true calibrated slab sizes of 3.2 x 1.44m with amazing colour stability.
The Dekton range of finishes is ever growing and with natural stone and industrial effects, this material can be used to compliment any kitchen style. Click here to see the full range of colours
Guide cost per linear metre £400 – £900