Quality, durable materials are required for kitchen counters, which function as high-work areas. Choosing the right match for your kitchen can quickly turn into a challenge and even a nightmare, especially if you are trying to find a kitchen worktop that suits all your needs and preferences. That’s why we’re here to help with our guide to choosing the right worktop for your new kitchen.
[lwptoc depth=”2″ numeration=”decimalnested” title=”Table of contents:” width=”full” titleFontSize=”2.0em”]Whether you’re remodelling your kitchen or building a new one from scratch, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right type of countertop. Some are more durable than others, and some are better suited to certain tasks than others. With the help of this guide, you can choose the best countertop for your needs and enjoy a new kitchen for years to come.
There are numerous textures and finishes to choose from when picking a worktop, and these come with a variety of advantages. The advantages, however, depend on the kind of worktop purchased.
When choosing a worktop, several factors must be weighed. Consideration must also be given to the worktop’s maintenance. Laminate, granite, wood and quartz worktops are among the most common types. Costs will differ based on type and design, of course.
Pros & Cons of Worktop Materials
When you’re choosing a new worktop for your kitchen, you will doubtless want it to stand up to daily use. We take a look at the most popular types of kitchen worktop and list the pros and cons to help you understand the key differences and similarities between them:
Granite Pros & Cons
Granite worktops are the most durable and desirable when it comes to natural materials. Granite countertops are rough in texture but smooth to the touch thanks to modern finishing techniques and come in a variety of colours and earthy tones. Granite worktops are a popular choice.
Unique, Natural Beauty
Granite is a beautiful natural stone that creates an unbeatable impression and adds real appeal to your kitchen. Every piece is truly one-of-a-kind and with proper care, could last a lifetime.
Granite naturally has higher heat-resistance than other natural stone so it will withstand wear and tear of daily use. Even so, you should place a trivet (worktop saver) on top to place hot pans on.
Durable and scratch-resistant
Granite is one of the toughest materials on earth. It is more than capable of withstanding the rigours of daily kitchen use. It will blunt your knives if you cut on it, though!
Requires regular maintenance
Granite requires a degree of maintenance to keep it looking good and protected from liquid ingress in the kitchen. Granite tops generally need to be resealed every 6 to 8 months.
Silestone Pros & Cons
Due to their composition of >90% natural quartz, Silestone worktops are both durable and beautiful. They make excellent worktops for kitchens and bathroom surfaces with a minimum of joints. With lots of different colours to choose from, Silestone will fit into any modern interior environment.
Silestone contains at least 90% natural quartz, one of the hardest materials around. Its strength makes it less prone to chipping and cracking.
Silestone is a very hard material, being comprised as it is of such a high quartz content. Quartz is harder than most materials in use in the kitchen, so knives won’t scratch it, nor will pans or plates sliding across it.
Silestone is non-porous.
It doesn’t absorb water and so won’t suffer easily from staining or dulling from spills.
Unlike granite, Silestone does not need to be sealed to keep its shine.
Not UV resistant
Silestone is for internal projects only as it is not UV resistant
Pricier than some rivals
Dekton Pros & Cons
Dekton is a large format, ultra-compact solid surface by Cosentino. Dekton employs exclusive Sinterized Particle Technology, a high-tech process which represents an accelerated version of the metamorphic change that natural stone undergoes when subjected to high temperatures and pressure over thousands of years.
Dekton worktops can be used outside as well as indoors thanks to its UV-resistant composition.
Dekton is a very durable material that is resistant to heat, scratches and stains, making it ideal for use in the kitchen or bathroom.
Comes in a variety of thicknesses from 8mm to 12mm, 20mm and now even 30mm. This means it can be used for worktops, flooring, cladding and even making cupboard doors and side tables.
It is more expensive than other options due to the unique way it is manufactured and the properties it possesses.
Has to be installed professionally
Dekton is not DIY friendly. It must be professionally installed to carry a warranty (although the warranty is a generous 25yrs).
Quartz Pros & Cons
Another equally popular worktop material is quartz. Maintenance of quartz worktops is easy and the material too is strain resistant. Both granite and quartz are favourited by individuals looking for worktops in kitchens. The only problem is these are costly in comparison to other types.
A quartz worktop will be resistant to stains from common spills in the kitchen which makes it a great choice in a busy home.
A quartz worktop is highly water-resistant so won’t absorb liquids, unlike natural stone can.
Quartz is a very strong material so ideal for use in a kitchen setting.
Since quartz is not UV-resistant (apart from one notable exception, namely Diresco Quartz), you can only use it for internal worktop or cladding projects.
Porcelain Pros & Cons
Porcelain worktops are high-quality surfaces created from a mixture of raw materials to produce a bacteria-resistant, scratch-resistant, and heat-resistant product. Because of its non-porous, simple-to-clean surface, it creates a hygienic kitchen countertop.
Recyclable, easy to clean, hygienic, heat-resistant, low maintenance, UV resistant.
Can be used outside and indoors, won’t fade after exposure to the elements.
Because porcelain doesn’t have any resin in it, like quartz and to a lesser degree granite, it won’t discolour or degrade if it comes into contact with heat.
Can be used as a worktop but also on floors, walls and outside as countertops and paving. Porcelain is probably the most versatile stone for home improvement, especially if you’re looking for a seamless look throughout the house.
Porcelain is very strong and won’t chip or shatter easily, making it ideal for heavy use, high traffic areas in the home.
Since porcelain (like Dekton and Neolith too!) doesn’t use any harmful chemicals in its manufacturing and consists of a high rate of recycled materials, it is a sustainable product that is friendly to the environment.
Porcelain is more expensive than some materials in this list.
There are more limitations on the colours that you can get as there are fewer manufacturers in the market right now.
Neolith Pros & Cons
Neolith makes countertops that are scratch-resistant, heat-resistant, chemical- and UV-resistant, as well as stain-resistant. Its porosity is nearly 0%, which means it absorbs almost nothing.
It is also resistant to thermal shocks, both hot and cold, thanks to its resin-free mix of recycled and natural materials.
Neolith worktops don’t need sealing as it is a non-porous stone, so all that’s required is cleaning to keep it looking great.
Because it has no resin content, Neolith is much more resistant to heat than quartz.
It is a very durable product and has a high hardness, meaning it won’t scratch or stain easily.
Neolith is safe to use outside as it has no resin that can be broken down or degraded by the sun’s rays.
Since Neolith is made by a single manufacturer, it is limited to a set number of ranges that might not meet everyone’s needs.
Not an easy product to fabricate and needs to be installed by professional stonemasons, so no DIY.
It’s pricier than some other options.Marble Pros & Cons
Marble has been used for centuries as a surface construction material because of its durability and beauty. It is a natural stone that is one of the hardest wearing materials available, although comparatively soft when compared with granite.
There is no location in a residential or commercial building where natural marble slabs cannot improve the atmosphere. Not only does it look fantastic, it is also durable, making it suitable for floors, walls, and (with care) marble worktops.
Marble is beautiful. There is no other natural stone that can match the look of marble in any setting. If you’re looking for a high end product with a stunning finish, marble is the ultimate.
Marble won’t damage easily and can withstand a lot of use, which is why it’s favoured in flooring, walling and architectural features in many buildings.
Marble is a softer stone than granite or quartz, so it is easier to work than more common stones when it comes to fabricating or installing. DIY is possible if you know what you are doing.
Marble is, in comparison to other stones, very porous. It requires sealing to avoid staining.
It’s comparatively soft
It’s a softer stone than granite or quartz so will damage more easily.
Marble worktops are higher maintenance than other types of stone and require regular sealing and some refinishing to keep them looking their best.
It’s hard to find
Marble is becoming increasingly hard to find as it is a natural resource that has been over-mined throughout history.
Marble is very expensive in comparison to other stones partly because it is so scarce but also because it is a high-end, high-ticket product.
Laminate Pros & Cons
If you want something cheap and cheerful, you can’t go wrong with a laminate worktop, but if you’re looking to make a statement and create a luxurious feel with a real wow factor, laminate worktops are not the best option. Laminate worktops are popular for their good looks and reasonable pricing. Unfortunately, laminate worktops in kitchens tend to wear out after a few years and are not so resistant to scratches.
Wood Pros & Cons
Wooden kitchen worktops are usually constructed from hardwood such as oak and can come in various types. You can buy an artisan wood worktop that has been custom-cut from a single piece of wood along each length, or you can buy cheaper ones that are made up of lots of batons glued together.
Whilst wood can look great it doesn’t come without its share of problems, chiefly from water ingress and scratch damage. Wood tops can be treated with oil to prolong their life but are fairly high maintenance as they need to be re-sanded and re-oiled fairly regularly.
Stainless Steel Pros & Cons
Because of its durability, low maintenance, and hygienic nature, stainless steel is a popular choice for commercial kitchens. The stainless steel look is not everyone’s cup of tea but it has seen somewhat of a revival in recent years, especially in loft-style apartments, where it combines well with other industrial textures to form a modern look.
Stainless Steel Pros
This is the big reason so many commercial kitchens use it. Due to the highly regulated area of public food preparation, they need something that’s extremely hygienic.
It’s very quick and easy to clean, doesn’t need any special treatment such as sealing like other products.
Steel won’t get damaged by hot pans being placed directly onto it. Another big plus for commercial kitchens.Stainless Steel Cons
Steel tops, doors etc. all dent very easily so it’s not an ideal material if you want a long-lasting, pristine look.
The industrial texture is off-putting for many. Considered a very cold, harsh material.
Steel prices are pretty high so expect to pay a premium for stainless steel worktops.Glass Pros & Cons
Perhaps the biggest draw of glass worktops is that they create an illusion of space with their light-reflective surface and are available in a variety of colours. Perfectly suited to a one-person home but not so hot if you’ve got a busy kitchen as they don’t take wear and tear as well as other materials.
Epoxy Resin Pros & Cons
Homeowners can finish an installation or rejuvenate their existing kitchen or bathroom surfaces with higher quality finish by using epoxy countertops. You can transform the look of a wood or laminate worktop by applying the product directly to it and coating it.
You can make a space usable without having to replace or refinish the entire section by using this option. DIY application is very risky as prone to costly errors that are time-consuming to put right.
Cheap way to enhance an old kitchen
Apply any colour you like
DIY or pro install
Toxic fumes during application
Difficult to apply without error or mess
Air bubbles create weakness
Not UV resistant
Prone to chipping and scratching
Yellows over time
Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of the various types of worktop on the market, you should have a better idea of which one will suit your needs best.
In order to further assist you with your choice, we’ll outline below some additional considerations.
What is the budget for worktops?
Setting your budget is critical to getting the best worktops for your needs at a realistic price. If you’re on a tighter budget, you have narrower options.
The ideal way to do this is to think about what you want in terms of material, style, and performance (stain-proof, heatproof, waterproof) and keep filtering until you have a choice of 3 or 4 worktops in your price range to make your final choice. Our estimators can help you with this if you’re thinking about opting for stone worktops.
If you live in a family home with younger kids and lots of friends around to play, the chances of dealing with spills are a lot higher than if you live alone with your cats, so be careful as some materials will damage more easily when spills happen, especially if they’re not mopped up straight away.
What size area do you need to cover?
Most worktops have a maximum length and width. Some materials will allow for very long and very wide installation, others are restricted to narrow and shorter options. If you want your worktop to be in one piece, without any visible joins, choices like laminate or stainless steel may not be the best options
If you want the joins to be hidden where two surfaces meet (at a corner, for example), you’re better off with a different product.
Do you need/want to get matching tiles?
DIY or Pro installation?
You may be able to fit your worktop yourself, depending on your proficiency level and the kind of material used. However, be sure to research and plan thoroughly before you begin.
If you’re opting for stone worktops, for example, the DIY route will almost certainly end in disaster. Stone is a highly specialised material and takes a very high level of skill and knowledge to work properly, plus it weighs an absolute ton! Installers recommended!
Are you combining indoors and outside in the design?
It’s very popular these days to combine interior and exterior spaces, design-wise. Some worktops are for internal use only whereas others are UV resistant and will work outside as well as indoors. So, if you’re looking for a material that will allow you to continue your design outside to match the interior decor, you’ll need to look at specific materials.
After weighing up the pros and cons of the various worktop materials, you should be a lot more able to decide on which one is the right kitchen worktop for you.
There is no ‘best’ option; it all comes down to what you need from your worktop, and what you are willing to compromise on. Go with the option that best suits your needs and situation, and you will not be disappointed with your kitchen worktops.
Naturally, we’d recommend a stone worktop because that’s what we make. We also firmly believe after years of experience with a lot of different materials, particularly today, that a stone worktop represents the best investment for your home.
Natural Stone worktops such as granite have proven over the years to be longer-lasting, more desirable and better performing than many of their alternative and often cheaper counterparts.
Quartz worktops from brands such as Silestone, Caesarstone, Unistone, Silkstone and Technistone amongst others have been able to combine the beauty of natural stones such as marble, with the durability of quartz to provide a whole category of cost-effective, largely maintenance-free and reliable options.
In recent years with the development of sintered stone materials like Dekton and Neolith, alongside the development of porcelain countertops from brands such as Atlas Plan, it is now possible to have a luxurious stone theme throughout the whole house, with tiles, paving and even cabinet doors or furniture to match your worktop theme.
Whilst other materials may be cheaper, there isn’t anything that comes close to matching the beauty, durability and versatility of stone, in our view.
One more thing…
Plan ahead for the installation. Planning is key to getting it right. Especially if you have a tight schedule and a small window in which to fit the kitchen worktops installation into.
If you’re hiring a worktop installer, make sure you give them enough time to schedule the job but be certain of the date and make sure everything is prepped and ready when they arrive, to avoid disruption later.
Your kitchen cabinets should all be positioned, levelled and ready to take the weight of whatever material you’ve specified. Installers don’t want to turn up to an unprepared site and you’ll get the best results if you line everything up first.
Discuss with your installer what they need to be able to work most efficiently and keep costs down for you.
If you’re doing it yourself, take a similar line. You don’t want installation-ready worktops kicking around for too long before or arriving too long after everything has been set up ready to take them.