Kitchen worktops: which material is right for you?

Jesmonite worktop and purple cabinetry

My dream one day is to build a home with a large open-plan kitchen, complete with a huge island with concrete worktops. While I may be a little off my self-build ambition, I’m happy to day dream (for now). Instead, I’ll help you unravel what sort of surface will be best for your kitchen.

Whether you’re completely overhauling your space, or buying your first kitchen, finding a worktop to perfectly suit your needs is vital. It’s an area I would always suggest allocating a chunk of your budget too, as well. The surface you choose needs to be durable, long-lasting, hard-wearing and, of course look good too. No one wants to be too afraid to put anything down on in case it marks or scratches, right?

There are many material types available, each with their own properties, pros and cons. Read on for a breakdown of what’s on offer.

Lapitec or Dekton
If you’re a keen cook, then this worktop could be one to consider. Sintered stone is a composition of natural materials, fused together using pressure and a very high heat, known as sintering. Being heat and temperature resistant, non-porous and having antibacterial properties are ideal if you kneading dough straight onto the surface, for example. Lapitec and Dekton offer the beauty of natural stone, but with added durability.
Dekton worktop

Dekton provides a resistance to wearing – making it a long lasting option. Dekton marmor black fusion worktop, from £12,000, Atmos Kitchens.

Plastic
If splashing out on a worktop isn’t on top of your wishlist. Plastic is regarded as the low budget alternative to natural materials, however thanks to improvements in laminate – technology have raised the standard, making it a worthy alternative for smaller budgets. When choosing laminate, don’t be tempted to get the cheapest as they can be prone to chipping.
Laminate worktop

Laminate worktops are very hard-wearing and easy to maintain, not forgetting they also come in an extensive range of colours and textures. Good Homes travertine-effect laminate worktop, £68 per sq m, B&Q.

Composite or engineered
Composite or engineered stone worktops offers the natural beauty of stone, combined with the durability. Quartz is one of the main components due to its extreme hardness and resistance to acids. Quartz and wood worktops work well together, and are great for a kitchen island or breakfast bar for example. Another benefit is its versatility.
Composite worktop

This durable material is ideal for keen cooks or bakers. Pair it with handleless cabinets for a contemporary kitchen scheme. Compac pure white worktop, price on application, Brayer Design.

Concrete
I love the industrial look, and concrete would be my worktop of choice (did I say that already?).  As it is cast in a mould, concrete is very versatile. It works well with other materials such as wood. However due to its porous nature, concrete must be sealed on installation, followed by regular waxing to reduce the risk of staining. So keep your hot pots and pans away.
Concrete worktop

Pair concrete with a matt black tap for the ultimate industrial look. Futura concrete worktop, kitchens start from £12,000, Mereway kitchens.

Wood
You can’t go wrong with wood. Versatile and priced for a variety of budgets, it adds warmth to your kitchen. Consider that changes in humidity and heat can cause the wood to expand or contract, so solid wood worktops should be fitted with a small gap between that and the adjacent wall for breathing. They also require thorough oiling prior to installation, followed by re-oiling every six months to maintain and keep it looking pristine.
Real wood worktop

If rustic is more your style, mix a real wood worktop with brass accessories for a modern feel. Free Standing Empire Belfast Sink Cupboard with real wood worktop, £1024, Scumble Goosie.

Marble
If your set on luxury, marble is hugely popular. Thanks to its cool finish, it’s ideal for making pastries and dough. Carrara is a favourite, but it is porous so care must be taken to avoid staining. It also doesn’t fare well with hot pots and pans so they should be placed on trivets.

 

Marble worktop

Marble can add luxury to any space, it’s available in a range of finishes such as polished and honed. Finsbury kitchen, from £7500, Burbidge.

One trend I have spotted lately is mixing and matching worktops. Think a breakfast bar area with wood and a cooking area with quartz for example. It’s a great way to create an individual look and could even help you balance the books as you’ll need smaller quantities of each material – smart and stylish, eh?

Featured image: This bespoke kitchen island worktop is made from Jesmonite – a durable material that’s made from a water-based cement. It’s available from Emily Marlin.

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