From wood and granite to hardwearing and affordable alternatives like composites or laminates, choose the perfect kitchen worktop with our easy pros and cons checklist
Pros Granite is a good choice for kitchens as it withstands high temperatures, is water resistant, impervious to most stains and can be pre-cut to specific shapes and sizes. Slate is a good, more affordable alternative, as it has a high quartz content, which lends it durability; although polished slate is more resilient than honed slate.
Cons Stone surfaces are porous and must be sealed. Marble and limestone are luxurious and striking, but are high maintenance, and both options can be vulnerable in a working kitchen environment even when sealed. Beware of wine and citric acid spills (such as lemon juice) that can damage all stone surfaces. Natural stone is heavy, and can be difficult to handle – kitchen cabinets may need to be reinforced to take the weight. Installation involves professional templating and fabrication, which adds to the cost and installation time.
Price From around £200 per square metre
Pros Wood lends warmth and natural texture to a kitchen scheme. It can be an eco-friendly option if you source FSC-accredited timber that comes from a sustainable source; better still select bamboo – the fastest growing plant on the planet, which is easily replenished. Consider oily hardwoods such as iroko or teak as they are both water-resistant and have antibacterial properties
Cons Be prepared to look after your wood worktops. The surface should be treated to three protective coats of hard wax or oil when fitted. Another coat should be applied every three months for the first year and every six months thereafter. The surface will scratch – some embrace the aesthetic but for those who prefer a pristine worktop the surface be sanded away with wire wool. The worktop will require templating before installation.
Price From around £90 per linear metre for timbers such as beech, up to £400 per linear m for exotic woods such as wenge
Pros The professional chef’s choice, stainless steel is tough and has natural antibacterial qualities. It’s also waterproof, chemical and heat resistant, which means that hot pans can be placed on the surface without scorching.
Cons This material will scratch – fans of stainless steel accept this flaw as part of its intrinsic charm. Prepare for finger marks – they can be buffed away with a professional cloth or with baby oil and a soft duster.
Price From around £250 per linear metre
Pros Copper is surprisingly practical for worktops and splashbacks because it can easily withstand heat and oil splashes. It’s also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. It’s a warm and enduring surface that will reflect light and add a glow to the room. As one of the most sustainable materials available, due to it’s long life cycle and 100% recyclability, it’s also the eco conscious choice.
Cons But it’s not one to choose if you don’t like patina, or can’t bear scratches. Used behind a hob, it’ll naturally age and weather more over time than if used anywhere else. It also requires quite a bit of spit and polish to keep looking shiny if that’s how you like it. Soapy water will suffice, but lots of elbow grease also needed.
Price From around £590 per linear meter for a custom-made worktop.
Pros Concrete can be precast in pieces or poured on-site to create kitchen islands and worktops of any thickness. Concrete is seamless and has a raw quality with a contemporary industrial edge. It is a tough and durable material that is available in a range of colours/tones but must be sealed for protection.
Cons It can be an expensive choice, and we would recommend that it is installed by a professional.
Price From around £360 per linear metre
Pros Alternatively known as engineered quartz; these worktops are made from around 93 per cent quartz mixed with resin; composite surfaces (such as Cesarstone and Silestone) have all the qualities of stone but are lighter, non-porous and do not require sealing. The material can be used for walls, floor and counters, is stain resistant, hardwearing and is highly scratch resistant
Cons Composite materials can be expensive, and are not as resistant to heat as natural stone. Installation involves professional templating and fabrication.
Price From around £240 per linear metre
Pros This is a manmade acrylic or polyester (think Corian, or LG Hi-Macs) that boasts unlimited design possibilities for walls, floors and worktops. The material can be thermoformed to any shape imaginable. It is non-porous, has no visible joints and can be seamless integrated to include sink designs. The material is also stain and heat-resistant up to 250°C, and is produced in a plethora of colours and surface effects. Plus, as the colour runs right through the material, scratches can be sanded away.
Cons This material can be expensive and is the least eco-friendly option on the list. Installation involves professional templating and fabrication.
Price From around £175 per linear m and £310 per linear metre for brands such as Corian
Pros Affordable, durable, water resistant and easy to clean, laminate worktops realistically replicate the look of natural materials such as stone and wood. The worktops are quick and easy to install, and are one of the few options that can be tackled by a competent DIYer (although we would suggest that you always use a professional tradesman).
Cons The material can scratch and scorch, and the damage is usually irreversible. It has visible joints and limits the type of sinks that can be used – conventional inset sinks (that fit into a prepared cut-out in your worktop) are best suited for use with laminate worktops.
Price: From around £20-30 per linear m; curves and breakfast bars from around £45 per linear metre
For more inspiration on all things kitchens download a digital edition of ELLE Decoration Kitchens Volume 1 for just £2.99 via the ELLE Decoration app. Not forgetting ELLE Decoration Bathrooms Volume 1, also available for download via the ELLE Decoration app. Price £2.99.
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