We often get asked the question, what is the best kitchen work surface, but it really depends on you and how you want to use your kitchen. One person’s dream work surface may be another’s absolute nightmare!
When looking at bespoke kitchen islands to complement a hand made kitchen you want it to be compatible in style. A work surface that suits an Industrial Style kitchen may differ to the work surface for a Traditional Country Kitchen, a Classic Shaker Kitchen, or Modern Scandi Kitchen. Aesthetics are important, particularly if you like entertaining. However, practicality must also be considered particularly if you live a busy life, have children or if you like to cook from scratch.
Traditionally, most homes fitted a laminate work surface, which still remains a popular choice because of practicality and cost. However with the increase in open plan living, the kitchen work surface has gained more prominence in the home. It is particularly important to consider when installing a kitchen island which acts as a focal point to entertain. The right work surface really can add the wow factor to your kitchen, adding value to your home if you get it right. So lets start at the height of luxury, with natural stone.
Carrera Marble is the ultimate in luxury ! Although a fairly soft stone it has been used for centuries in both practical and decorative buildings, particularly in the Mediterranean. It is strong, hard wearing and very beautiful, however it is porous, so if you are a cook that is liberal with turmeric or like to socialise with red wine, be mindful that this surface can be high maintenance. That said, the surface can be sealed and if you clean it quickly after a spill it will remain in good order. Just don’t leave anything acidic on the surface for any length of time, even lemons will stain. A compromise may be to consider a wooden block board inlaid into the marble.
A hardwood worktop in oak or iroko is particularly at home in a country kitchen and with shaker kitchen cabinets. It is relatively reasonable in price compared with natural stone or quartz, looks warm and natural but it does take a fair bit of maintenance. It will need sanding and oiling a few times a year and is prone to deterioration around sinks. Never use bleach on a wooden surface and always use a trivet for hot pans as they will burn if put straight on the top of a wooden work surface. However, if the work surface does get damaged it can always be sanded down and repaired.
A natural stone that can really stand up to wear and tear and is incredibly tactile. Each slab has a unique pattern that makes a statement all on its own. It does need sealing and fingerprints can be visible on darker colours but all in all it is a great choice as it is scratch, stain and heat resistant. If you like a dark granite but are put off by the highly polished look, the ‘leathered’ matt option is currently a popular choice which does not show fingerprints. It suits equally a Classic Kitchen and Industrial kitchen.
Granite comes in a variety of colours but these tend to be a blended rather than a pure single colour, except for black. If you want a pure single coloured pale stone work surface, the best option might be a quartz work surface. For a really opulent look, the New York edging on a granite work surface below in this kitchen we made in Derbyshire is a show-stopper.
We sell more quartz work surfaces than any other principally because of the beautiful appearance coupled with the low maintenance. It is an engineered material that looks and feels like natural stone but it is mixed with resin which makes it extremely durable. Unlike natural stone it is not porous and it is heat and water resistant. Most stains are removed with soap and water. It shouldn’t chip but if it does, repairs can be carried out by the manufacturer. All in all quartz is a favourite of ours because it just about covers all bases. It comes in an array of colours and depending on the pattern you choose, it is reasonably priced considering the wear you will have for years to come. The clients who own the kitchen photographed below in Altrincham absolutely love their quartz work surface and there is a lot of it in this kitchen!
The advantage the Corian is that it can be moulded which means no joints and that you can create a sink to give a seamless finish. Some may say too perfect so that it doesn’t look natural enough. Created from 33% synthetic polymer and 66% natural minerals it’s easy to clean but not as durable as granite or quartz as it scratches more easily and isn’t heat proof. It can also dent if you drop something heavy on it. It does come in a vast array of colours, some similar to natural stone, others in block colour so it is very versatile and will suit any kitchen style, particularly a Contemporary Kitchen. However it’s expensive and essentially it’s plastic, not stone so is not cold to touch which may be an issue if you like to prepare pastry on the work surface.
If you thought cement was a cheap option, think again, it’s actually quite expensive! That’s because it’s precast off-site to your exact specification, it doesn’t come in slabs. This does mean however that you get a lot of choice in relation to colour and edge shapes but this comes with a heavy price tag! It also has to be sealed to protect it but once in, it’s quite robust. The look is perfect for an Industrial Kitchen or Contemporary Kitchen. Hairline cracks are normal so if you are looking for a perfect finish this surface may not be for you. If you like the general effect and colour, concrete inspired quartz may be a better option.
This work surface often conjures up the image of a Michelin starred chef at work, but it can work very well in a domestic situation. It’s easy to clean, it won’t stain or mark and is heat, water and acid resistant. It does scratch, but over time this just develops into a soft patina. It’s also a very versatile surface that can be shaped. In the photo below you can see that a wine cooler has been made in the middle of the island that doubles as a herb garden by day. This Industrial, vintage style kitchen was uniquely designed by Handcrafted Kitchens in collaboration with the owners and installed in Heaton Moor. The stainless steel worktop and frame are softened beautifully by the grey patina of the oak pan drawers.
This is an extremely hard wearing quartz substance. During the process of manufacture it is treated to ensure stain resistance, UV protection, water resistance, impact resistance and heat resistance. It is available in 12 colours and comes in a range of textured finishes which no other material can provide. Gorgeous as well as practical, in this beautiful kitchen in Bramhall. even the morning room table has been resurfaced in Dekton to match the rest of the kitchen.
Last but not least, an old favourite. Similarly with laminate flooring, laminate worktops have improved immeasurably in the last 10 years. From a distance it’s hard to tell the difference from quartz as you can see from the photograph of the kitchen we installed below in Hazel Grove. Laminate is by far the cheapest option, and it is hard wearing, but make sure you use a chopping board for cutting bread and don’t put hot pans on top of it.
We hope this has helped you through the maze of kitchen work surface choices. Why not give us a call on 07894 666 301 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any further guidance or advice, we would be happy to give you a free design consultation.