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The ultimate top kitchen worktop material cheat sheet

One of the most important design decisions you’ll make is choosing the right kitchen worktop that fits with your lifestyle. Not only can this be tricky, but also expensive!

Would you prefer an easy-to-maintain surface?

Is stain resistance a concern?

Does style matter most to you?

A wealth of options is available on the market, ranging from natural stones like granite and marble to engineered ones like quartz worktops. Material cost and longevity are also factors to consider that would most likely influence your final decision choice, as well as appearance.

While some materials entail extra care, a few are almost maintenance-free.

So before splurging on such a design-changing decision, get a good grasp of the pros and cons of the top kitchen worktop materials to help you pick the right one for your space.

Below is a synopsis of the pros and cons of top kitchen worktop materials including a “Right for Your Home” section, which is a relative opinion in terms of the material’s suitability for average residential kitchen use.

Take for example materials such as slate, aluminium, zinc and stainless steel. Although they’re definitely unique and exciting, they’re not feasible for the average homeowner. Not only are they too expensive, but also they’re hard to maintain for most consumers.

On the other hand, solid surface, laminate, quartz and granite are more practical offerings worth considering.

Granite Worktop: The Safe Bet

modern granite worktop

As a natural stone, granite worktops are gorgeous. Granite’s classic elegance exudes a distinction in both the bathroom and the kitchen. Matched with outstanding durability, worktop material could be the last counters your home will ever need.

However, note that worktops made out of granite do require some TLC. Plus, they don’t come cheap!

If you are committed to granite’s care and maintenance, then it will deliver the performance and look you want for your home for decades to come.

Pros

  • Increases a kitchen’s value
  • Among the most beautiful kitchen worktop materials
  • Help accentuate the appearance of quality kitchen cabinets
  • Ideal for those who prefer eco-friendly counters
  • With proper care, features excellent strength and durability
  • When sealed properly, resistant to scratches and damage from heat such as hot hair tools and pans, easy to clean, stain resistant

Cons

  • Has a porous surface so regular and correct sealing is required
  • Improper sealing could lead to staining
  • Poor sealing could lead to bacteria build-up
  • Corners could break or chip if a heavy object falls on them
  • Expensive, especially if you’re on a budget

Are Granite Worktops Right for Your Home?

Below is a list of questions to help you weigh in whether granite is the ideal worktop material for your home or not.

  • Are you willing to allocate the right budget for a good-quality granite slab? “You get what you pay for” easily applies here. While there are more affordable lower-grade granite, most experts, designers and architects, highly recommended you opt for high-quality materials and make the most out of your money. This also applies to your hired skilled professional installers, who will be handling your granite slabs.
  • How long do you intend to live in your current house? The better the value of granite becomes the longer you stay in your current home.
  • Is cleaning a concern? If you don’t want to be bothered by wiping stains immediately or using a cutting board, then granite might not be for you.
  • Is it important for you to have environmentally friendly materials in your home? If the answer is yes, then granite is the excellent choice since it is a natural material, requiring no harmful products during manufacturing.

 Quartz Worktops: The Combination of Natural and Manmade

Quartz Worktops

Because of its attractive elegance, quartz easily takes kitchen or bathroom counter to the next level. It is one of the strongest and toughest worktop materials available in the market. It can deliver durable service for decades while maintaining its unparalleled beauty.

Among its appealing features is the vast colour options you can choose from.

Quartz differs from granite in one significant way—it is an engineered stone. This means 93% to 95% of this is made out of pure quartz crystals with the rest being polyester resin and pigments for colour.

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Doesn’t require regular resealing
  • Excellent options for patterns, texture, colours and finish
  • Non-porous, hence stain-resistant and hygienic
  • Easy to clean (use only non-abrasive cloth and mild cleaners)
  • Very hard surface, scratch-resistant
  • More depth to the finish
  • Thanks to the resin, it doesn’t easily chip
  • Less visible seams

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the look or feel of a natural stone (Note: this isn’t considered a “con” for those who prefer a more contemporary kitchen look)
  • Not as heat resistant than granite
  • Direct sunlight over an extended period could cause fading and also produce surface cracking or warping
  • Premium-quality quartz is one of the most expensive materials on the market

Are Quartz Worktops Right for Your Home?

Consider the following questions as you weigh in whether quartz is best-suited for your home.

  • Do you have children who could leave a mess on the kitchen counter? If the answer is yes or if you have a very busy kitchen, then quartz is the perfect solution for everyday cleaning. Since it has a non-porous surface, it highly stain-resistant. Your worries of a stained kitchen counter will be over.
  • Are you planning a move over the next couple of years? To get the best value for your quartz surface, you need to at least stay in your current home for 10 years or more.
  • Are you willing to pay more for extremely durable and low-maintenance worktops? If yes, then you can’t possibly go wrong with quartz—minimal clean-up effort and time.

 

Solid Surface Worktop: The Manmade

solid-surface-worktop

Largely an acrylic polymer-based material, solid surface is a fairly new type of material used in both bathroom and kitchen remodelling projects. As the name implies, solid surface is made from a solid synthetic material, giving its many of their characteristics as well.

Leading solid surface brands are Corian, Swanstone, Hanex and others. Solid surface offers very good durability and versatility in a wide range of colours. Sturdy acrylics are used to produce solid surface worktops for kitchens and bathrooms.

Pros

  • More affordable than quartz or granite
  • Appearance approaches that of quartz or granite
  • Minor scratches on the surface can be buffed or sanded using fine sandpaper
  • Very durable surface
  • Popular brands like Corian and Swanson are tough, solid and non-porous, making them very easy to clean and maintain
  • Can be custom-made and made to look seamless for any kitchen or bathroom

Cons

  • Not as resistant to heat compared with other surfaces
  • Prone to scratching
  • Although much cheaper than natural or engineered stone surface, this should never be considered as a bargain alternative

Are Solid Surface Worktops Right for Your Home?

  • Are you looking for more colour or pattern variety and a better material than laminate? Solid surface is a stronger material than laminate and comes in a wide array of colour options and also can mimic the look of natural stone.
  • Do you want a surface that can look like natural stone but on a tight budget? Solid surface is your go-to solution. Not only is it durable, but also cost-effective and looks better all the time.
  • Do you have a busy household? Because they’re fairly easy to clean, they’re perfect for busy families, especially those with children.

Laminate Worktop: Hollow Feel, But Good Looks

laminate-worktop

Because they are probably the most affordable counter material on the market, laminate remains a very popular choice for many kitchens and bathrooms. This worktop material offers excellent versatility and value and comes in the widest possible range of colours and patterns.

Often called plastic laminate, its surface is plastic. Laminate worktops contain a hard particle board topped with layers of laminate sheets.

Today’s laminates are high-quality thanks to a refined manufacturing process. It is now fairly durable and tough, and its colours and patterns are made to mimic the appearance of more expensive surfaces such as granite or marble.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to clean
  • Solid surface, meaning no pores
  • Seams can easily be hidden
  • Easy to DIY if you buy prefabricated slabs

Cons

  • Still considered by some buyers as “cheap”; this might not fly well if you are planning to sell your house in the future
  • Prone to scorching, chipping and peeling
  • Because of the particle board base, the entire worktop might feel a bit “hollow”
  • Doesn’t have a solid feel unlike natural stone or engineered stone

Are Laminate Worktops Right for Your Home?

  • Are you looking for the best choice on a limited budget? If the answer is yes, then laminate surfaces are the material you have been looking for. They offer attractive finishes in a wide variety of colours sure to match your kitchen’s décor. And they do so at a very affordable price.
  • Do you want a surface that’s easy to clean and doesn’t harbour bacteria? Since laminate doesn’t have a porous surface, it is hygienic and easy to clean, making it ideal for busy kitchens and households with children.

 Stainless Steel: Strictly For Serious Cooks

stainless-steel-worktop

Stainless steel surfaces have now officially entered homes and left restaurants. It combines elegant beauty with outstanding practical benefits for both the kitchen and bathroom.

Because a great number of large kitchen appliances now feature stainless steel finishes, you can easily select a worktop material that seamlessly blends with your dishwasher, range, refrigerator, and more.

While many are familiar with this material, only a handful have actually considered stainless steel as a kitchen worktop material. They are more often common in contemporary or retro-inspired kitchen styles.

It gives off a clean, beautiful and efficient appearance to the space and blends well with contemporary lighting, fixtures and accents.

Pros

  • Looks gorgeous on about any surface
  • Easily complements natural stone flooring or wood cabinetry
  • Durable
  • Should last for about 15-25 years, depending on service
  • One of the most sanitary materials you can use
  • Non-porous

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to fabricate

 Are Stainless Steel Worktops Right for Your Home?

  • Do you enjoy prepare meals at home? Stainless steel surfaces are the perfect choice for gourmets who love to stay at home and prepare their own meals, especially using vegetables and raw meat.
  • Do you prefer a more modern look? This surface material is perfect if you want to achieve a contemporary kitchen look.

Concrete: Trendy and Chic Yet Practical?

conc

Relatively one of the newest types of kitchen and bathroom worktop surface offered, innovations in concrete manufacturing make this surface material light and can be produced in a wide selection of colours.

The additives make it thinner, lighter yet still durable and strong enough as kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Concrete is more of a custom material that’s often poured right in the kitchen, although can still be made offsite.

Pros

  • Very hard and durable
  • Doesn’t easily chip
  • Can be custom-made to fit oddly shaped areas of the kitchen or bathroom
  • Can be pigmented to achieve any colour
  • Can also be textured

Cons

  • Expensive, in the price range of quartz or granite
  • Some level of maintenance is required
  • Regular sealing is necessary
  • Susceptible to coffee or juice stain
  • Can crack if a heavy weight is placed on the corner

Are Concrete Worktops Right for Your Home?

  • Do you want to get creative and create a unique worktop surface? Concrete is the perfect medium to channel your inner Picasso. You can embed shells, collared stones or glass and even tiles. The possibilities are endless.
  • Are cleaning and regular sealing not an issue? Just like natural stone, concrete surfaces might need a little more elbow grease when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. It can stain, so immediate cleaning is required when there are spills on the surface. Additionally, for your concrete surface to last, make sure to have it re-sealed on a regular basis.

Conclusion

So have you decided which surface material is perfect for your kitchen? From the classic natural beauty of granite to the durability of quartz worktops to the innovative concrete, you have a number of options to choose from for your next project.

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