Designing your dream kitchen is an exciting prospect, but with so much choice on the market, it can feel a little overwhelming to start with. As interior trends come and go, it can be hard to know exactly what you want in a remodel, from layout and cabinetry to materials and features.
Worktops are an especially tricky component to decide on, because you can’t just give them a lick of paint whenever you fancy a refresh. You’ve got to consider the durability, cost, and aesthetic that’s going to work with your lifestyle — and whatever counters you opt for, you should be confident that you’ll love them for many years to come.
To help you along your way, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best kitchen counter top ideas for 2022 — here’s the rundown of our 12 favourites.
1. Porcelain Composite
A compact fusion of porcelain, glass and quartz, porcelain composite surfaces are a high-end and long-lasting kitchen counter top design. This selection is shockproof, heat protected and scratch-resistant, providing a low-maintenance alternative to natural stone options. They come in a variety of interesting finishes that can expose the material’s glittering quartz crystals — a subtle detail that adds a touch of glamour to any kitchen interior.
Marble worktops are a timeless option for counters and kitchen islands. Their unique grain patterns are undoubtedly beautiful, but they do tend to require more upkeep — requiring you to occasionally seal the surface to protect against staining. Despite this, marble is a hard-wearing option that will never go out of style.
The ever-popular corian is a composite blend of acrylic polymer and natural materials, fused to create a mix that can be moulded into any shape. As a result, a corian worktop can curve, swerve and blend seamlessly with a wall, sink or other fixtures. This kind of counter is perfect for flats or houses with narrow entryways that could present a challenge for installation, as it can be separated into smaller panels and seamlessly joined on-site for a flawless finish.
Granite is a tough stone with a stunning natural finish, bringing drama to any kitchen. As a natural material, it requires a little more upkeep compared to composite alternatives, so you’ll need to regularly seal it to minimise any moisture absorption. Ideally, granite worktops should be selected by the final slab offered by suppliers rather than solely from an in-house sample, as no two cuts are alike — their grains vary massively from piece to piece, meaning the finish will be totally unique to your kitchen.
Quartz worktops are a blend of the namesake natural mineral and additional polymers to produce a hard wearing and non-porous surface. Quartz is available in plain, speckled or marble-effect finishes, and its grain tends to be more consistent than natural stone options, so you’ll know how the finished surface will look based on a sample. Quartz is a great option for a busy household if you want a marble effect without the time consuming upkeep and maintenance.
6. Natural wood
Using natural wood surfaces in your kitchen counter top designs offers a tactile contrast to other fixtures, but once again demands more upkeep than other materials, as wood needs regular oiling to keep it watertight and looking its best. These surfaces are typically less heat and stain-resistant than stone or composite alternatives, but thanks to their charming simplicity they have proved to be a popular Shaker kitchen surface nonetheless. Ranging from earthy warm tones to cooler hues, timbers like beech, oak, and ash can bring a real rustic edge to your interior.
Cast concrete counter top designs are an increasingly popular choice in industrial kitchens. These surfaces are durable and provide a statement piece for the kitchen, but can be trickier to install and maintain than more traditional choices. Concrete needs to be mixed and poured on-site to set, which requires several weeks to complete. Once finished, it’s polished to achieve a smooth finish, but it is a porous material so will need regular sealing to prevent staining.
8. Engineered stone
Engineered stone mixes are made with quartz and resin, producing counter tops that are as sturdy as they are attractive. These surfaces have low porosity and are scratch and heat-resistant, making them a long-lasting material primed for busy family kitchens. An extensive range of colours are available, finished in textures from high-gloss to sleek matte.
9. Combining materials
It’s a growing trend to integrate mixed materials into a kitchen design. Some choose to separate different zones or tiers of the room this way, for example by varying their worktops between food prep or cleaning areas. This is especially useful if your kitchen incorporates a lot of natural wood, as more porous surfaces should be avoided around spots that could harbour moisture. These zones are also practical for open-plan layouts, in order to visually distinguish between different areas of the room.