Choosing your kitchen worktop can feel like a mammoth task. Even starting with internet research can quickly turn into overwhelm. There’s a lot of selling going on on the internet and not enough education. When you should be excited about making a stunning new purchase, you start to feel completely confused. What material? What’s the difference? What can I afford? What about the fact that I want mine to be the prettiest one in the whole wide world? Granite, quartz, wood, marble…..the choices are literally endless.
Making the wrong kitchen worktop choice has huge consequences. It’s a substantial purchase – if you get it wrong the chances are you’ve got to live with it! The wrong choice will ruin the look and feel of your kitchen and that’s why choosing the perfect worktop for your kitchen is a job that deserves extensive research.
Here’s what most people are looking for when choosing their worktop:
In this guide, we’ve de-coded five of the most popular worktop materials and each of them fulfils some or all of the criteria above.
Our Worktop Decoder compares the following five materials at a glance:
Let’s just mention the materials that we didn’t include. We didn’t include wood, stainless steel, laminate or cement. These are slightly less-popular materials but there’s not as much confusion surrounding them – they are what they are so to speak!
Granite is a natural igneous rock that is cut in its natural state and then polished for use in home décor projects. The best way to view granite is as a full slab – samples of this material won’t give you the full picture. This is important because ornamentation and colour can vary from slab to slab. When using this material, kitchens are often planned around your slab because each piece is different. Because granite is a natural material, it doesn’t have as large a colour selection as part-synthesised or printed materials.
Granite is a hugely popular choice among homeowners. It is an exceptionally strong material and thus resistant to scratches and high temperatures. It does need some care though – granite will stain eventually if not cared for. It’s best to wipe down daily using warm water and a mild detergent.
Black granite has dominated the home-décor market for many years. Black granite creates a sense of depth and helps accentuate other colours used in your design. While it is easy to clean and highly stain-resistant, it can be difficult to keep it looking clean. Crumbs, fingerprints and streaks show up on dark granite worktops.
Granite falls into the mid-range pricing bracket. It’s a savvy choice for homeowners who want a natural product that will make an impact. Just remember that if you don’t want any surprises when it comes to what you see versus what you get, then it’s best to select your exact worktop slab from the store.
Quartz is a man-made material that’s made from one of the hardest minerals on earth and also includes polymer resins and colour additives. It’s highly scratch, stain and scorch resistant and generally comes with a 15 year to 25 year warranty.
One of the best things about quartz is that you’ll always end up with consistent colouring and patterns. There won’t be any surprises with quartz colours and the range of colours and ornamentations available in this material is huge.
It’s a low-maintenance, extremely durable material that is perfectly suited to family-living. And what you see is what you get – your full slab will look exactly like your sample. This makes it easier to choose than natural products and also easier to predict the aesthetic finish, even with a heavily-patterned choice like Compac Calacatta.
There are a few reputable quartz brands to choose from, with Silestone and Compac being two of the most well-respected.
Quartz falls into the high-end pricing bracket. It’s worth it for the sheer scale of colour and pattern options available and also for the warranty. It’s an investment that’s guaranteed to provide almost a lifetime of value.
Dekton is a an exceptionally strong man-made material manufactured by Cosentino. Like its rival product, Neolith, it’s 100% natural. It comes in as little as 8mm width and withstands all sorts of extremities such as ice and fire. It’s ‘proofed’ against scratches and stains as opposed to just being resistant to them and it’s five times stronger than granite.
However, it’s a little industrial and often mis-behaves during installation. Edges can chip and crack and it’s essential that this material is installed by a specialist fitter.
If you are looking for a material that is completely robust to everything imaginable, then consider Dekton. It’s good for industrial applications but maybe a little too austere for a family home unless you are aiming for a super-contemporary look and finish.
Dekton falls into the mid-range pricing bracket. It needs specialist installation so make sure you deal with a reputable supplier if you’re considering this product.
Neolith is an extraordinary surface manufactured using a very high-pressure process which eliminates the need for any glues or resins. It’s 100% eco-friendly, which in our view is reason enough to choose it!
Apart from sustainability, the range of options in Neolith is simply staggering and it is virtually bullet-proof. It’s highly resistant to impact, heat, stains and scratches. The large slab sizes mean less cuts and grout which results in a super-slick finish. The marble-finish Neolith offerings are stunning and popular choice amongst homeowners who want the aesthetic of marble without the maintenance.
Neolith falls into the mid-high price category depending on the finish chosen. As with Dekton, be sure to employ a specialist installer to fit this product.
Marble is a natural stone which quite frankly, is everyone’s dream aesthetic! Marble has a luminosity, brightness and smoothness to the touch that sets it apart from other natural stones. A metamorphic rock, formed when sediment crystallises under heat or pressure to form hard rock, marble is a form of limestone. The whiter the marble, the purer the limestone. You won’t find your marble worktop in your neighbour’s house – each slab is unique as created by Mother Nature.
In one word, luxury! Nothing quite compares to the timeless aesthetic of natural marble. So why doesn’t everyone choose it then? In one word, work!
Marble requires a bit of maintenance and is susceptible to stains and scratches. You gotta be prepared to mind it.
Also, as with any natural stone, choose your full slab. This is a product that demands to be the leader of the design – not the after-thought. Make sure you visit a marble gallery that displays full-size slabs in all their splendour.
Need we say it? High, but worth it!
If you have any questions feel free to comment below. Happy to help!