Choosing the right material for your kitchen worktops is a vital step in your overall kitchen design. There are lots of different materials to choose from – each coming with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here we aim to give you a useful guide as to various options.
Corian is a man-made material, with a unique property – it’s main selling point – which is that it can be fitted with no visible joints. It comes in a fairly large range of colours and patterns, along with a selection of corian sinks, which can be fitted seamlessly into the worktops (prior to installation) so that the sink and worktop appear to be one piece.
Corian looks and feels like a cross between stone and plastic and is reasonably stain and heat resistant, although you’re not advised to put hot pans down without a matt. It can scratch, but the scratches can be polished out.
Advantages: Invisible joints. Integrated sinks. Scratches can be polished out. Heat and stain resistant.
Disadvantages: Is not as durable as some other work surfaces.
Quartz is probably the most commonly used worktop in bespoke kitchens. It’s an engineered stone made from a mixture of natural quartz and man made resins. It looks and feels like natural stone and comes in a mind-boggling range of colours and styles. Quartz manufacturers are now able to produce incredibly realistic patterns that mimic natural marbles and stones.
Advantages: Looks and feels like natural stone. Huge range of colours and styles. Relatively heat, stain and scratch resistant. Reasonably priced.
Disadvantages: Not many! Not quite as heat and stain resistant as granite or stainless steel.
Granite is a very popular choice for kitchen worktops – it’s extremely durable - heat proof and mostly stain proof, and very hard to scratch. It comes in a big range of colours and patterns, though lighter colours tend to be rarer and much more expensive.
Advantages: Probably the most durable worktop material there is. Extremely resistant to heat, stains, scratches and general wear and tear.
Disadvantages: Expensive. Standard colour range is generally quite dark and not to everyone’s taste. It’s mostly good with stains but you still need to be careful with acidic liquids like lemon juice. Lighter, plainer granites are more expensive.
Polished Concrete is currently a very sought after look, and contrary to what one might expect, has a varied and almost natural patina. It pairs well with most modern kitchen styles but works especially well with an industrial design.
Advantages: Beautiful. Versatile. Varied – no two pieces look the same.
Disadvantages: Expensive. Stains easily (lemon juice, especially). Can crack. Can be difficult to fit.
Marble is a beautiful and elegant natural stone, which has many different variants. It complements most kitchen styles beautifully, but is not as durable as many other materials, and stains very easily. However, if you’re prepared to keep up with the maintenance then it does look great.
Advantages: Looks beautiful. Big range of colours and styles. Surprisingly cost effective.
Disadvantages: Stains very easily. Be warned!
Terrazzo has been around for years, but terrazzo countertops are a relatively new invention. Originally developed as a way for stonemasons to recycle material, terrazzo is mostly made from recycled glass with cement or resin as a binder along with flecks of marble. Because of this, it’s a material that’s considered sustainable.
Advantages: Its very beautiful in that it resembles marble but with unique patterns of glass. It’s also stain, heat and (largely) scratch resistant.
Disadvantages: Terrazzo’s beauty comes at a price and it can sometimes cost more than entire slabs of marble. It also requires regular maintenance since without proper cleaning and sealing, it can become damaged, scratched or have the colour fade in certain spots.
Stainless steel is the most commonly used worktop material in restaurants and other professional environments, mainly because it’s practically indestructible - heatproof, stain proof, and very hygienic. The surface is made by wrapping a thin layer of steel over a substrate (most commonly MDF).
In residential homes, stainless steel (if done right) can look amazing. It naturally has a slightly industrial look, but paired with the right style of kitchen can work brilliantly. Although it’s most commonly fabricated around 40mm thick, we think it looks best much thinner. At 20mm, stainless steel has an elegance not usually associated with this material.
Advantages: Looks great, especially when thin. Very hygienic, heat and stain resistant.
Disadvantages: Relatively expensive. Scratches.
Zinc countertops are, like stainless steel, a thin layer of metal wrapped over a base. These have traditionally been used in bar settings and can look stunning, developing a gorgeous natural patina over time.
Advantages: Has a natural, organic look that develops a unique patina over time.
Disadvantages: Hard to source and hard to install. Relatively expensive.
Wood is a beautiful and sustainable option, and relatively cheap, but it is one of the least durable work surfaces, is vulnerable with water and heat, and requires constant maintenance to keep it looking good. Some woods are more durable than others. Black stains appear in oak when it’s in contact with certain metals for example, whereas teak is practically indestructible. Teak, however, is no longer sustainable, so reclaimed teak worktops are your best bet, although these are not always easy to get hold of!
Advantages: Wood worktops can give a kitchen lots of natural character and works well with spray painted doors, adding an attractive, organic touch to offset the modern look of the doors. Reclaimed wood is also very “green” and comes with great history.
Disadvantages: Requires constant maintenance (oiling). Least hygienic worktop. Stains easily, and not good with heat or water.
Copper countertops are a reasonably inexpensive way to give your kitchen a striking and stand-out aesthetic; one that fits especially well within a rustic setting that may already have copper faucets and fittings.
Advantages: Copper’s considered one of the more hygienic options on this list due to the fact it’s antimicrobial and non-porous which discourages bacteria and is much easier to keep clean.
Disadvantages: It’s a soft metal which means it will develop scratches over time, often developing into a patina. This is completely unavoidable so you must be confident that you like the look of worn copper as much as shiny, new copper.
Brass countertops have a completely unique look. Since they’re a living surface, their appearance continues to develop over time and aged brass can look particularly attractive.
Advantages: These worktops are easy to keep clean, only requiring dish soap and water. If you want to speed up the aging process, however, other cleaning agents can be used.
Disadvantages: Not everyone loves the aged look. Sealing the worktop is an option and will give your brass a cleaner and more uniform look, although this does also neutralise the antibacterial properties of the material, making it less hygienic as a worktop.
We specialise in creating high-quality kitchens that are completely bespoke. Reach out if you have any questions or would like a quote for your own project.