Whether you’re designing a Shaker kitchen or going down the Linear route, worktops are the icing on top of the cake. These should be hardworking, durable and good-looking in equal measure.
Kitchen worktops are very much influenced by fashion and interior trends, which of course change over time. Deep black Nero Assoluto granite was very popular a few years ago, but more recently we have seen a rise in stone with natural tones and variable patterns. Other common worktop types are sleek, modern composites with consistent textures and lots of colour options, and high pressure laminates with realistic faux patterns. Stainless steel and even concrete are also frequently used. All of these options suit a range of kitchen styles and budgets.
However, it’s not a good idea to base your decision on trends alone. Your kitchen worktops will be used more than anything else in the room and you don’t want to replace them any time soon. It’s sensible to dedicate a significant portion of your budget to this feature and ensure the surfaces are perfect in every way. Let us help you narrow down your choices so you can confidently select the best worktop for your kitchen.
What is the best kitchen work surface?
Choosing a material for your worktop depends on the style of your kitchen, budget, and your individual priorities. For example, would you be put off a beautiful kitchen work surface if it was harder to clean? These are some of our favourite types for you to consider.
Engineered stone, such as SileStone or Caesarstone, is a composite made from quartz and resin, with the proportions varying between manufacturers. This material is scratch, stain and heat-resistant, while its low porosity means it doesn’t require extra sealant. The consistent composition of engineered stone perfectly complements modern kitchen designs, as natural variations in colour and tone would ruin the sleek aesthetic. As well as plain high gloss colours, these worktops also come in matte finishes with a variety of possible textures and patterns.
Solid surface materials
The high acrylic content in composite solid surface materials, like Corian and LG, means these kitchen worktops can be thermoformed into almost any shape, and sinks can also be seamlessly integrated for a stylish look. This is ideal if your kitchen has lots of awkward corners. Solid surface materials are also hygienic, non-porous and easy to care for, while their composition allows for scratches and marks to be effortlessly repaired with regular cleaning products. However, this isn’t the most heat-resistant kitchen worktop option and there will be visible wear and tear over time.
Granite is the most popular of the natural stone choices and makes a very strong, luxurious impact. Available in many colours and patterns, the price of a granite kitchen worktop varies considerably, with rarer types being the most expensive. However, this is worth the money in terms of longevity as these surfaces are long-lasting and don’t depreciate in value either. Granite is also hygienic and easy to clean, but bear in mind that the material is porous so worktops must be treated with a good sealing product every few years.
A popular choice for modern and traditional kitchens alike, there are plenty of timbers suitable for the worktops. Beech, oak and ash are firm favourites, but walnut, iroko and maple are also practical and particularly hardwearing. Although not the most durable or water-resistant material, the wood can look beautiful for some time as long as it’s treated properly and well-cared-for. The worktops need to be oiled regularly and you can check whether it’s necessary by dropping water onto the surface. If it sits as a droplet on the wood, it is well sealed. However, when water is quickly absorbed, it means that stains will be too and it’s time for another oiling.
What are some top tips for choosing kitchen worktops?
1. Think about your lifestyle
The most important thing is that your kitchen worktops can withstand the rigours of family life. Ease of cleaning is important — after all, a work surface is a large visual area and most of us are too busy to spend lots of time scrubbing stains off them. Non-porous surfaces are ideal when you have children, such as composites with built-in antibacterial properties. And if you have a tendency to put hot pans straight onto your worktops, make sure you choose a heat-resistant material so you don’t leave marks.
2. Mix and match your worktops
Mixing and matching is a great visual trick you can use to create zones in a kitchen, and it’s also a clever way to make your budget stretch further. For example, you could think about placing hard-wearing stone or composite surfaces beside sinks and hobs where they will be used the most, and then feature realistic laminates, acrylics or warm woods elsewhere. A smaller piece of granite or composite in an earthy tone would beautifully complement a blonde wood such as beech or ash.
3. Maximise your worktop performance
Adding a few extras can make your kitchen worktop perform even better. How about incorporating draining grooves to wood, composites or granite? Or built-in pan support which means you’ll never have to search for a trivet with a hot pan in your hand? You could even have a chopping board slotted into a stone or concrete surface, removing the temptation to chop directly onto your worktop. Pop-up power points and built-in knife racks and scales are other clever labour-saving options offered by kitchen designers.
Can you use your kitchen while worktops are being installed?
Most worktops will need to be made to measure or templated. The cabinetry is fitted first and then the worktop dimensions are measured, working out exactly where the holes for sinks and hobs will be before cutting the material to size. While you wait, a temporary worktop can be fitted so you’re able to use the kitchen until your surfaces are made.
Are you still undecided?
Our designers are able to advise you about the most suitable kitchen worktops for your project, and your local showroom will display a variety of granite, timber and composite work surfaces, also offering samples. Pop in and browse for inspiration or call 0800 389 6938 to speak to a designer.