When choosing a kitchen countertop it's important not only that the material suits the look and style of your kitchen, but that it suits your lifestyle too.
Some natural materials develop a rich patina, others become more characterful with wear and tear, but if you prefer a more pristine look, or you want low maintenance, they may not be for you.
See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens
'There are many options to achieve your dream kitchen look, however, it's essential to understand the practical benefits of each surface,' Doyeon Kim, Marketing Associate, Staron.
Kitchen countertop ideas
Read on and consider the practicalities, as well as the aesthetics, before making your final decision.
1. Make a statement with a brass kitchen countertop
For those who want to make a real statement, then a metallic worktop
could be the way to go.
While stainless steel designs are commonly found in industrial chef’s kitchens, brass or copper are warmer, more stylish options to incorporate into the home.
Naturally, these surfaces have antimicrobial properties, which make them a good option for a kitchen or a bathroom, though they are destined to acquire a patina over time and therefore will need regular polishing in order to maintain a gleaming appearance.
2. Create rustic style with wood
A firm favourite in farmhouse-style kitchens, solid oak worktops bring charm and warmth. ‘We often specify a solid oak top for a prep table,’ says Peter Humphrey, design director and founder of Humphrey Munson.
Bear in mind that heat and humidity can impact wood. ‘As a rule, wood and water do not mix, so always specify quartz or stone for a sink area,’ he adds.
- See: Small kitchen ideas – turn your compact kitchen into a smart, organized space
3. Go for stand out looks with stone
‘When choosing a real stone surface do consider that each piece is unique and therefore can vary in its appearance,’ says Hege Lundh, marketing director at Lundhs.
This can bring an element of individuality to your space – they are highly heat-resistant and extremely durable too. These benefits are reflected in the price you’ll need to pay.
4. Combine luxury looks with low maintenance
One of the most popular choices of worktops in kitchens (and bathrooms), quartz is a non-porous, low-maintenance and long-lasting surface. You can find finishes that replicate the look of granite, marble and concretes, so the drawbacks are minimal.
However, it is worth noting that quartz tends to have a more contemporary appearance, be more expensive than these types of material and will require specialist installation.
- See: Kitchen tile ideas – to inject personality into your space
5. Make a commitment with marble
Beautiful to look at and cool to touch, marble is highly desirable. ‘It’s one of our favourite countertop options,’ says Claire Birkbeck, kitchen designer at Neptune.
‘Carrara marble, with its subtle grey veining, is always timeless.’ In a kitchen, it is great for rolling out dough, and in bathrooms it can emulate the look of a luxury spa. However, take care maintaining an authentic marble worktop to prevent staining.
6. Opt for a low-key laminate kitchen countertop
Laminate work surfaces are more affordable and easier to install, but less robust than other materials. However, today’s premium finishes can be a good solution, particularly for areas such as kitchen and utility rooms.
7. Go for a creative composite surface
Thanks to modern technologies, engineered solid surfaces can mimic traditional materials and be made to fit your exact requirements with a seamless finish. These kitchen surfaces are usually made of a mixture of acrylics and natural stones – which make them extremely hard wearing, easy to clean and highly heat- and scratch-resistant. Be aware that you’ll need a trained specialist to install a composite worktop, which can add to the cost.
- See: Kitchen flooring ideas – for a floor that works with the rest of your kitchen
8. Invest in a strong granite worktop
Stylishly hardwearing, granite remains one of the most popular choices for a kitchen worktop. Incredibly versatile too, it suits contemporary, traditional and classic kitchen environments and be used to add depth and an element of real luxury. As well as the hundreds of different types of granite available, there are also the various finishes to consider – polished, honed, leathered, hydro or antiqued but what you choose depends as much on the color and style of your cabinetry as much as personal taste.
9. Pick a stain-resistant ceramic surface
Ceramic (porcelain) worktops are extremely resistant to stains, heat, acids and scratches. They are growing in popularity not just because of these properties, but also because they come in a good variety of colors and finishes, including concrete, metallic and natural stone looks.
10. Marvel at a metal countertop
Durable, heat resistant, hygienic and impervious to water, stainless steel is the restaurant kitchen favourite and great for creating the industrial aesthetic in your home. It will scratch however, but some say this adds to its well-worn appeal.
Other metals coming on to the worktop market include an on-trend copper. Coated with a specialist nanotech protectant, it is easy to clean and care for.
11. Enhance an industrial kitchen with concrete
The industrial look of concrete makes it a current choice. It’s also designed to withstand plenty of heavy duty use, and comes in a range of standard concrete mix colors (from white to grey) and can be mixed with pigments for stronger colors. Polished concrete worktops are flat and smooth, but concrete is porous and can stain, and it is heavy so extra reinforcement may be required.
How much does it cost to replace kitchen counters?
Worktops can take up a significant amount of your total spend, so have a think about what you can afford early on in the planning process.
It may be that you choose two types of surface – such as a practical quartz around the edges of your kitchen and a standout marble or wood for a central island, to balance your budget.
How do I choose countertop material?
It’s important to see your chosen worktop material in person before committing. If opting for a natural marble or granite, try visiting a stone merchant.
‘Not only will you be able to select the exact piece of stone, the expertise of the team will ensure you are selecting the best material and finish for your home,’ says Hege Lundh.
Can you install countertops yourself?
You’ll most likely need to bring a specialist installer on board, who will be able to measure up, cut in tap holes or drainage grooves, then fit the worktop securely into place.
‘Don’t forget to consider upstands,’ adds Peter Humphrey. ‘If the sink is in front of a window, consider running the worktops up and into the sill to create a seamless finish.’
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