Finding the ideal kitchen worktop material for you

The knife flies through the air, as you fall you can only watch in horror as it spins towards your new, shiny kitchen worktop. Time seems to slow down until it almost seems to stop. This is it. The end. Won’t someone think of the children? Fortunately however, you’ve done your research and invested in a worktop that’s not only looks fantastic but is neigh-on indestructable to boot. The knife clatters harmlessly off its surface. In the distance a poorly designed worktop looks enviously through the window. It wonders how it’s possible, hiding its scars in the moonlight.

It can be confusing at times, trying to find the ideal worktop material to fit your space and your needs. That’s why we’ve assembled some of the best advice when it comes to finding the perfect worktop material for you. From granite to glass and concrete to composites, just relax. Read on and find the ideal surface for you.


Traditional looks


Hardwoods


Normally made from oak, walnut or iroko, these tops give a natural feel to any kitchen. Every surface will be unique due to the nature of the grain.

Pros - For traditional charm or as a means of adding warmth into a modern kitchen, hardwoods are a great option. Easy to shape, they allow a higher degree of flexibility when designing a bespoke shaped worktop. Most hardwoods are durable and long lasting, with oak particularly standing out.

Cons - Be careful when placing hot pans - as these surfaces can scorch. They are also unsuitable for cutting on. Fortunately you can sand away most damage so don’t worry too much.

Think - Days at the beach, a trip to the country, Scandinavian chic.

Granite


A timeless classic, there’s a reason it’s been around so long. One of the most durable and elegant materials. It fits seamlessly with both traditional and modern look kitchens and is available either polished or in honed matt.

Pros - It’s low maintenance, can be shaped to fit any kitchen and generally only needs resealing ten years after installation. It’s heat and scratch resistant and gives an unmatched sense of occasion to any kitchen.

Cons - Not much to be honest. You’ll have to wipe down citric acids and wine if you want to avoid damaging the surface though.

Think - Modern townhouse, country living.

Laminates


Formed by impregnating sheets of kraft paper with resin before being bound to a timber substrate, these worktops have become increasingly popular and are generally the cheapest to install.

Pros - Variety. Laminate worktops come in hundreds of patterns and colours, from natural looks to sleek monochrome styles. They are often indistinguishable from the material they appear to be, all the while being magnitudes cheaper.

Cons - It’s not resistant to high heat or steam. Like hardwoods, care should also be taken when cutting. Although highly durable, the timber content means you need to take care that water does not work its way into the joints.

Think - Whatever you want - you can’t tell.

Glass


These worktops are a favourite for those who want to make the most of the light in their home. Unlike regular glass, worktop glass has been specially toughened to deal with the strains of modern life.

Pros - Highly reflective, they can give a room a real sense of space. Likewise, they can be underlit for that extra wow factor. They are also heat, water and scratch resistant.

Cons - Although easy to maintain, fingerprints and other marks can be glaringly obvious from quite a distance. A regular glass cleaner can be used to restore that shine.

Think - Modern vibes, light and airy.


Modern Looks


Engineered Stone


A type of composite surface, these are normally formed from a mix of 95% quartz and 5% resin - effectively mimicking the properties of stone. Unlike natural stone however, colours can be mixed in for a great range of looks.

Pros - Allows for a huge range of aesthetics, from stone effect to any number of block colours. Mirrored chips can be added for a speckled look and they can be made either matt or glossy. Like stone they are stain and cut resistant.

Cons - Very hot cookware may leave scorch marks and seams, while inconspicuous, are very difficult to hide completely.

Think - Contemporary cool.

Solid Surface


Another type of composite material, solid surfaces vary in their exact make up. However, they typically consist of a mix of mineral dust, acrylic, resin and pigments. Like engineered stone, they come in an array of styles.

Pros - The major advantage that solid surfaces have over other kinds of countertops is their ability to be thermoformed. This gives total flexibility when it comes to design, allowing for smooth, elegant and seamless runs. Many people use this property to create innovative workspaces, incorporating one piece sinks, wrap around islands and even wireless charging!

Cons - Avoid cutting, as generally only experts can repair the scratches that will appear. Likewise, very hot pans can cause the acrylic component to melt.

Think - Cutting edge chill.

Minerva


Minerva is an alternative to composite stones and granites. It is an acrylic based worktop that has been manufactured using state-of-the-art technology. Resembling the look of stone but with a multitude of practical benefits.

Pros - A highly practical work surface that offers robust functionality alongside a luxurious look. Plus, unlike marble and granite, minerva is not porous and can therefore resist most household chemicals.

Cons - Minerva work surfaces are susceptible to scratches from kitchen utensils and crockery, which is particularly noticeable on darker colours. Although it is more resistant to staining than other materials, some stronger chemicals or dyes can cause damage.

Think - A touch of luxury.


Industrial looks


Concrete


If you thought concrete was only used for buildings, think again. Although tricky to pull off, with the right help it can be used to great effect, creating a semi-industrial contemporary look. Perfect for matching with light walls and natural timber highlights.

Pros - Unsurprisingly, this heavy duty material is exceptionally durable. It can come in a range of tones dependent on the amount of pigment mixed in.

Cons - Sealant is required to prevent water and stain absorption. Its weight might require extra reinforcement.

Think - Confident workspace, coffee-shop cool.

Stainless Steel


There’s a reason it’s the material of choice in professional kitchens. Exceptionally easy to maintain and hard-wearing, it can be cut as a seamless piece, lending itself to smooth countertop runs and that sought-after industrial vibe.

Pros - The most hygienic option, it maintains antibacterial properties even if damaged. Similarly, it’s simple to clean, making it ideal for food preparation. Another big reason chefs love it so much is that you can leave hot containers right on its surface - perfect for those juggling multiple pans at once.

Cons - Some people can find stainless steel too clinical looking for their tastes, with a lack of variety available. It can also be dented and scratched, although some argue that it adds to its style.

Think - Top end restaurant.


Hopefully you now have all the tools you need to go out and create the fabulous worktop your kitchen deserves. Just remember, every surface has its charms and its limitations so it's worth consulting with kitchen design experts such as Squarepeg before embarking on your own masterpiece. They can also help in choosing the right style for you and design a whole kitchen to fit your vision, from rustic relaxer to industrial trendsetter. If you need any more advice don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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