The best kitchen worktop is one that will be practical, functional and work with the overall look and theme of your kitchen so it's worth considering what will look good in your kitchen design early on.
As well as the functional aspect, budget will of course come into play when choosing the best kitchen worktop for your space. And with lots of kitchen worktop materials on the market it can be a bit of a minefield picking the right one. Kitchen worktops can be a real focal point, plus you'll be looking at it every day so you'll want to get it right!
From pocket-friendly laminate to warm, rich wood; from industrial steel to high end marble, we've pulled together the pros and cons of the best kitchen worktops available.
How to Choose the Best Kitchen Worktop
When finding the best kitchen worktop for your room it's a good idea to start by asking yourself a few questions about how you use your kitchen. It'll help you gauge which type of worktop materials to consider that will complement both how you use your kitchen and the style of it.
- How often do you cook and prepare food?
- Do you use lots of pans when cooking and need a worktop that'll cope with hot pans?
- Who uses the kitchen? Is it a family space? Do you entertain a lot?
- Do you prefer easy to clean materials, with little upkeep?
Wooden kitchen worktops do need a lot more looking after (particularly after installation), for example, so make maintenance a key consideration.
And, if you prefer to pop your hot pans straight onto your kitchen worktops rather than the hob or a trivet then you might opt for a heat resistant, natural material like granite for your kitchen worktop (although care should still be taken to avoid thermal shock).
High gloss materials will highlight grubby marks so if you’ve little hands making their mark around the house be aware that you might be wiping the surface down a fair bit.
(MORE: Sustainable Kitchen Ideas)
The Best Kitchen Worktop Materials
There are a whole range of kitchen worktop materials on the market. Natural stone, timber/wooden, laminate and composite, like quartz (a man-made mix) are popular choices for kitchen worktops.
Concrete, steel and zinc are also options that will add an industrial edge to your kitchen.
Kitchen worktops are tactile objects so visiting showrooms to see examples in situ is worth doing. You then have the option to look into second hand kitchen worktops once you've chosen what you like.
(MORE: How to Renovate a Kitchen)
Wooden Kitchen Worktops
Lots of colour choice available, looks good with age but needs lots of maintenance
Average price per square metre: £100-£120
Wooden kitchen worktops can add real warmth to a kitchen and are favourable if you’re looking for a neutral material to work in a contemporary or traditional kitchen. It works well combined with other materials like Corian or quartz.
There are a variety of woods available that make suitable kitchen worktops. A hardwood, such as teak has a high oil content so is water resistant, which makes it a good option for in and around a sink. Popular timbers like oak, beech and walnut are beautiful but you’ll need to maintain them regularly (and particularly from the outset) to keep the worktop looking its best.
How to Look After Wooden Worktops
Mop up spills on wooden kitchen worktops straight away and don’t put hot pans directly onto a timber work surface (built in trivets are a good idea). If you do burn or scratch the surface you can (typically) sand it out using a fine-grade sandpaper but remember to reseal.
Quartz Kitchen Worktops
Hardwearing, easy to clean but pricey and heavy
Average price per square metre: £500
An engineered kitchen worktop, also known as a composite, is made from more than one material — often a combination of resins and quartz. It’s a really practical choice for kitchen worktops as it’s a hardwearing material that’s easy to clean and has anti-bacterial properties. It has the look of natural stone but with the low-maintenance characteristics of a man-made material.
Quartz is an affordable alternative to granite and it's hard-wearing, stain-resistant and resistant to cutting marks.
As quartz is engineered, it’s available in a range of colours and patterns so the choice is varied, which means you’re more likely to find something that will suit your overall scheme, whether it’s contemporary or traditional.
Laminate Kitchen Worktops
Easy to clean, lots of styles available, a budget-friendly option but can peel and warp
Average price per square metre: £120
If you're looking for a cheap kitchen worktop idea, then laminate is one of the best options.
Laminate has a wooden particleboard core and is then bonded to a sheet that can give the appearance of wood, quartz or stone. It's a popular option not just because of its price but there are different colours and styles to choose from and it's a great choice if you're a competent DIYer, too as laminate is fairly lightweight and easy to cut to size.
Laminate is easy to keep clean but the downsides are that it can scratch, peel or warp so do consider this is you're planning to use it round a sink area or if you cook a lot.
Granite Kitchen Worktops
Hardwearing, heat resistant, antibacterial but expensive and heavy
Average price per square metre: £270
Arguably one of the most popular choices for kitchen worktops, a granite surface is both durable and functional. It’s got anti-bacterial properties and is scratch and water resistant — although you should clear up acidic spills like wine quickly so as not to spoil the stone. In fact, sealing of softer granites is recommended.
“Harder granites will not need sealing while most other softer granites will perform best if sealed,” advises Oliver Webb, Director of Cullifords. “Good sealant will stop the ingress of water, oils and other liquids on all natural stone and day-to-day cleaning can be done with a light soapy solution.”
Granite is hardwearing and heat resistant but, as Oliver Webb explains: “Although the majority of granites should be able to withstand hot things being placed on the surface, there is always a slight chance of thermal shock, so it is best to use a trivet or chopping board.”
Marble Kitchen Worktops
Heat resistant with a luxury look but scratches easily
Average price per square metre: £300
Marble is another natural stone that says luxury when it comes to choosing kitchen worktops. It’s heat resistant and can be cost-effective, depending on the type you choose. But, it can scratch fairly easily and is susceptible to staining, so it might not be the best choice for a busy family kitchen. But, its cool-to-the-touch properties do make it a good choice for keen bakers as the cold surface is ideal for rolling out pastry.
“Marble kitchen worktops can add true elegance to a home and, as with other natural stones, it gives you a real sense of naturalness,” says Oliver Webb. “Marble comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. There are beautiful hard green European marbles as well as stunning Indian and Portuguese stones.
“Due to current trends, it is mainly the Carrara marbles such as Statuary, Calacatta and Arabescato that are used for kitchen work surfaces.”
Marble kitchen worktops can be book-matched, which means the marble is cut from the same slab so the veins running through mirror on each piece. This is great if you want a seemingly seamless worktop that runs from horizontal to vertical.
“As with all the work surface material groups, there are some harder types and some softer ones. When it comes to durability, marbles in general will, over time, develop a patina from small scratches and possible staining if the sealant does not work well. The benefit of having a marble work surface is that any stains that do appear can be removed with a poultice and it can be re-polished in situ if needed,” Oliver concludes.
Michelle is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Deputy Editor. With an editorial career spanning more than 18 years, Michelle spent time working on educational magazines and websites until her career took an exciting turn into the world of homes and interiors. Working on sister titles Real Homes and Period Living, she then joined the Homebuilding team in November 2018. She’s just completed her second kitchen renovation project, armed with an ever-growing knowledge of homebuilding advice and design inspiration. She's just about to embark on another bathroom refurb project.
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