What is the Best Material for a Kitchen Worktop?

You can read lots of informative posts on different types of materials for worktops, but really, what is the best type of material to use? Having started a renovation project in our kitchen that dates back 400 years, the choices are wide ranging and the advice is plentiful, but no one really told us what was the best. Here is our experience and advice that comes from that experience.

What should you consider when choosing a worktop?
  • Price. You can spend a fortune and you can do it at a great price, get a worktop budget in your head and stick to it!
  • Usage, is the worktop going to be heavily of lightly used? That can have a significant impact on the material that you choose.
  • Quantity. How much worktop are you going to require. If you have a small kitchen, your budget might stretch to a really high quality worktop and vice versa.
  • Light, possibly an odd thing to say at first but actually the light in your kitchen is important and here's why. Scratches and colour. If you have a dark worktop that can scratch, you wont notice it in a dimly lit kitchen, if your kitchen is light, it will show up like a sore thumb and drive you mad!
  • Installation. Who is going to do the installation? Wood worktops are easy to install, marble worktops not so easy, glass worktops require an experienced team of fitters.
  • Quality. What do you want from your worktop? If you are renovating a home to sell on, something cheap will be fine, a heavily used kitchen with spills and heat, you will need something of a good quality to stand the beating!
  • Colour. Contrast with your tiles, looking for a contemporary finish, what colour worktop do you want? This is really important, white shows up all of the spills, block colours show up dirt and smears and black will show up scratches very quickly.
Have a browse through the questions above and note down your answers, you can even do some research online and look at the reviews for different types of worktops, if you like a specific worktop, make sure you read reviews, even for similar worktops from other sellers.

The price and quantity required are both essential, work out how much worktop is required in metres squared, then start looking at prices. The cost of worktops vary considerably from the super expensive stones and handmade worktops in slate that are delivered and fitted at your home, to cheaper options from DIY stores. We found a good selection at our local Wickes and B & Q stores, both similarly priced but Wickes deliver for free. If you are buying online, make sure you check out those worktop delivery charges, the price might be great but delivery charges generally start from 50GBP which is fair enough as they are heavy.

The DIY worktops tend to be laminate or solid wood, generally in oak or beech. If you are on a tight budget, wood or laminate worktops will probably be your best choice. Have a look at the thickness as well, laminates tend to come around 48mm thick but you can get a solid wood worktop thinner for a more contemporary look. Laminates are hard wearing generally and they usually have a wrap around lip so that the laminate covers at least part of the underneath. This is important as water or damp intrusion into laminate worktops can easily cause warping, they need to be kept really dry and be mindful of this, especially if you are covering appliances such as dishwashers that produce hot water vapour when opened.

Solid wood worktops have a more natural feel and finish and are generally supplied in beech or oak. They do require a bit of maintenance though and need to be regularly sealed. There are a variety of sealants and oils that you can buy, Linseed oil is a good natural preservative and several coats should be applied when the worktop is first installed. Natural wood really needs looking after and sealing where there is potential water intrusion such as around sinks. The great benefit of natural wood is that if you get a mark or a stain, you can usually just sand it out so they can last for a very long time.

Stone kitchen worktops come in a huge range of colours and finishes, they are more expensive and heavier but they are usually highly durable. Fitting tends to require a specialist as well, but the finish is often well worth the cost. We looked at granite and quartz as well as some sintered stone worktops. Our favourite was the natural slate worktops from Ardosia, they are made in the UK and are really nice aesthetically. You can see the grain and colouring of the slate and of all of the stone choices, this was our favourite.

Glass is another choice, really rare but if you want a complete wow factor, it is quite stunning. There are some issues with glass though, first, they are extremely expensive and require specialist manufacture and fitting, especially if it is for a bespoke size and finish. They are also a bit of a pain to clean and to keep clean, especially in light kitchens. We thought that a glass worktop would look fantastic in a kitchen that wasn't used as a kitchen, that certainly doesn't apply to our house.

Our final decision was between the natural wood worktop and the slate worktop, we fell in love with both because they are completely natural materials where you get a really good feel for the grain and unique markings. Both of these materials are really good for worktops, they are within our budget and environmentally friendly as we wanted to avoid the use of plastics. Slate really does have the wow factor and the solid wood worktop was actually the lowest cost worktop that we could find! We went for the slate in the end, once it was fitted, there was no need for treating and the dark grey colour looks fantastic in our light kitchen!

We did look at a range of the fashionable worktops in stone and laminate with the sparkles, they tend to be darker in colour, typically black. Having read a lot of reviews, we really turned against this. The laminate sparkly worktops were prone to scratching, especially with a gloss finish and apparently they were a huge pain to keep clean. We also concluded in the end that is was more of a fashion fad and would date our kitchen quite quickly.

Article kindly provided by ardosiaslate.co.uk