The best types of kitchen worktops for your dream kitchen (2024 guide)

Kitchen worktops are an integral part of any kitchen renovation, so choosing the right type is important. In this guide, we’ll explore the different materials available—laminate, quartz, granite, marble, and Corian—looking at their pros and cons and costs to help you make the best decision.

By Rachel Ogden

October 19, 2023
kitchen worktops in a modern kitchen

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Jump to: How much do kitchen worktops cost? | How to choose a kitchen worktop | What are the best kitchen worktop materials? | Other worktop materials | Our recommendation | FAQ

Kitchen worktops are asked to do a lot. As the main food preparation surface in your fitted kitchen, they can be splashed, knocked, and exposed to stains, acids, knives, hot pans, cleaning products, and more every day. This is why you’ll need to choose the material carefully when planning your kitchen renovation. Some, while beautiful, require more upkeep than others, and expensive materials can take up a significant part of your project’s budget, especially after fitting and finishing are factored in. 

Alongside durability, you’ll need to consider hygiene and maintenance. Many engineered materials, such as composite quartz countertops and Corian worktops, are antibacterial because they’re nonporous and can often be seamlessly joined or include integral sinks, creating fewer places for grime to gather. Meanwhile, laminate worktops provide a good balance of low maintenance and hygiene but can have design constraints.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you need to consider when choosing a kitchen worktop, as well as the upsides and downsides of some of the most popular materials on the market.

How much do kitchen worktops cost?

How much you pay for your kitchen worktops will depend on the material you choose, where you live, and how much your fitter charges for installation. Laminate tends to be the least expensive material and the most affordable for installation because it’s easy to fit, while granite and marble worktops are usually the most expensive because they have to be cut to fit your kitchen. The table below outlines the average cost for each material listed in our guide, based on online prices given by retailers.

Worktop materialCost (excluding installation)

Laminate

£30–£200 per linear metre

Solid wood

£50–£250 per linear metre

Corian

£150–£350 per square metre

Granite

£315–£470 per linear metre

Quartz

£300–£500 per linear metre

Marble

From £315 per square metre

How do you choose the best kitchen worktop?

There are three main factors that will determine which worktop is the best for your project: your budget, the size and style of your kitchen, and how you’ll use your worksurfaces.

Budget

Kitchen worktops can cost anything from £50 per linear metre to £300+ per square metre for the raw material, meaning that the price tag can be a few hundred pounds or several thousand.

What also affects the cost is whether your worktops can be installed DIY or by a fitter on-site at the same time as the kitchen, or whether they need to be templated and fitted later. This is where a template is taken of the units and wall, taking into account holes for sinks and hobs and fabricated to fit perfectly. The cost of this and the fitting add to the total, as do extras, such as edge profiles (where a decorative edge is added), integral draining grooves, and special surface finishes and textures.

Examples of DIY surfaces include laminate, wood, and installer-ready solid and quartz surfaces. Granite, Corian, and many composite quartz worktops need to be templated and made to order.

Use

Different worktop materials have different qualities in terms of withstanding heat, impact, and moisture. For example, if you love to cook, look for worktops that have good heat, scratch, and stain resistance, such as granite and composite quartz. However, if you rarely cook from scratch and low maintenance is at the top of your wishlist, a different material, such as laminate, might be a good fit. 

Mixing materials may suit kitchens with multiple uses, with durable worktops around hobs and sinks, a section of timber used as a chopping block, and a decorative material serving as a breakfast bar or tabletop.

Style and size

Worktops take up a significant portion of your surface space, meaning that choices about their colour, thickness, finish, and material affect the look of your kitchen significantly. For example, if you have a small kitchen, it may be best to stick to light-coloured worktops, or those with a glossy finish to help reflect daylight. In a larger kitchen, mixing materials or colours adds interest to an island or peninsula, or breaks up long runs of the same material. 

Similarly, some materials complement different styles of cabinets, such as timber adding a rustic feel to traditional kitchens, and Corian worktops maintaining the sleek feel of contemporary designs.

What are the best kitchen worktop materials?

Laminate worktops

Black laminate kitchen worktops in a kitchen with white floor cupboards and wooden wall cupboards
Laminate worktops are the most cost-effective option for new kitchens. (Image credit: Adobe)

Laminate worktops are typically made from a wooden particleboard core with a decorative layer and a coating on top that’s then sealed to prevent water from reaching the core.

Modern H.D. printing techniques have opened up a world of exciting designs, meaning that laminates can now mirror the look of natural materials, such as granite, wood, and stone. They’re also more durable than the laminates you may be familiar with from decades gone by, especially those that are high pressure laminates (HPL), made using layers of paper impregnated with melamine under high pressure and temperature. 

Most laminates offer excellent value for money—great if you’re trying to stretch your kitchen budget. They provide durable worktops that should be able to withstand scratches, stains, and heat—though it’s advisable not to put very hot pans directly on it. Once fitted, they shouldn’t need any further maintenance beyond cleaning. However, over long stretches of surface, you may have joins.

You’ll also need to choose an inset sink rather than one that’s undermounted, so the core of the worktop isn’t exposed to water ingress. More advanced laminates may be compatible with undermounted or flush-mounted sinks, though, so check before you buy. Prices start at around £50 per linear metre, with many sold in lengths of 2.4, 3, or 3.6 metres.

Upsides of laminate worktopsDownsides of laminate worktops

Most affordable worktops

Cheaply made worktops can be prone to damage

Easy to clean and maintain

Can be damaged if water seeps into a join

Can be durable

Can have a shorter life span than other materials

Wooden worktops

wooden kitchen worktop
Solid wood is a popular kitchen worktop material, but it requires a lot of maintenance. (Image credit: Adobe)

Timber is relatively cost-effective compared with other worktops. However, as a porous material, it requires regular oiling to keep it free from water ingress and protected against spills and stains. It’s also prone to dents and scratches. While wood can be used all around the kitchen, for a low-maintenance life, avoid installing it around hob and sink areas as it can scorch and be damaged by standing water.

How much maintenance it needs depends on the type you choose. There are several varieties of wood, including beautifully grained oak, beech, and maple, as well as those with a naturally high oil content (e.g. iroko) that makes them more water-resistant. Bamboo is another option. While technically a grass, as a kitchen worktop, it’s naturally water-resistant, hardwearing, and—as it grows quickly—a sustainable choice. 

The main reason many choose wood is the character it can bring to your kitchen with its colour variation and grain. Different oils can change its look—plus, if it’s damaged, it’s usually easy to repair by sanding out the scratches or stains and re-oiling. Timber costs from around £60 per linear metre.

Upsides of wooden worktopsDownsides of wooden worktops

Can be affordable

Prone to scratches and dents

Timeless look

High maintenance

Easy to change the look by using different oils and stains

Can be prone to water and moisture damage

Quartz worktops

A marble-effect quartz kitchen worktop in white with grey veins.
Quartz worktops are non-porous, making them hygienic and easy to clean. (Image credit: Adobe)

Also known as engineered stone, quartz composite is a mixture of quartz crystals/minerals with binders and pigments. It may also contain recycled materials, such as glass. It usually has good scratch, heat, and stain resistance, and is hard-wearing. It can be joined seamlessly and because it’s non-porous, is antimicrobial. 

Its most appealing factors are colour uniformity—unlike natural stone—and a large choice of stone-effect options, including marble and concrete, without the higher maintenance of those materials. Once installed, all it should need is cleaning, with light scratches able to be buffed or polished out, and deeper marks filled with resin. Prices range from £300–450 per square/linear metre for popular branded surfaces, such as CaesarStone and Silestone, but unbranded or less well-known versions can cost less.

Upsides of quartz worktopsDownsides of quartz worktops

Wide variety of colours and patterns

Expensive

Very durable and low maintenance

Can be prone to heat damage

Can be joined seamlessly

Some colours don’t suit classic kitchen styles

Granite worktops

Close-up of a beige granite kitchen worktop.
Granite is one of the most popular kitchen worktop materials thanks to its durability. (Image credit: Adobe)

A favourite worktop for many, granite is a hard-wearing stone that’s resistant to heat (though to protect the finish you should use a trivet), staining, impact, water, and acid, and will be sealed to help boost these properties. As a natural product, each piece will be different, so it’s advisable to choose your own slab from the supplier.

It’ll also need joins on long runs and larger islands, as while it’s possible to install large pieces, they’re prone to cracking when being fitted. New worktops are more vulnerable to damage, but once the stone is in place, it will harden as it oxidises. Choose a polished surface finish, and you’ll find that it requires little maintenance, although resealing as a precaution is recommended. Honed, brushed, and leathered finishes may need more regular resealing. 

As well as being practical, for many, granite’s appeal lies in its natural beauty. Each piece may have inclusions, crystals, and veins of colour running through it that give your kitchen a unique look and timeless style. Prices vary, with eye-catching varieties of granite often costing more, but expect to pay from around £250 per square metre for popular but more plain stones, such as Nero Assoluto.

Upsides of granite worktopsDownsides of granite worktops

Variety of colours and patterns, and each piece is unique

Expensive

Hard-wearing and durable

Some colours can be hard to source in certain locations

Easy to maintain

Prone to acid damage

Corian worktops

A white Corian kitchen worktop in a modern kitchen.
Corian worktops can be shaped during manufacturing to fit unique spaces. (Image credit: Adobe)

Corian is a branded engineered material, similar to quartz composite worktops, but its ‘recipe’ is different. Often referred to as a solid surface, it’s made from one-third acrylic resin and two-thirds natural minerals, which gives it different properties to the countertops that are mainly quartz. As it’s flexible when heated, it can be ‘thermoformed’ into shapes to create integral sinks and curves—it can even be worked like wood for perfectly round edges. This also means it can be seamlessly joined so there’s nowhere for bacteria to gather.

Corian is stain-resistant and durable but prone to heat damage from hot pans, meaning trivets are a must and it’s not advisable to pour boiling water directly into a sink. While there’s minimal maintenance overall, Corian can sustain light scratches, but these can be buffed out. 

Like quartz, colour consistency is part of Corian’s appeal, as well as its softer, warmer feel, making it ideal for breakfast bars and tabletops. Prices vary by supplier, but Corian costs roughly £150 per linear metre at Wickes.

Upsides of Corian worktopsDownsides of Corian worktops

Wide variety of colours and patterns available

Very little heat resistance

Can be shaped without joins or to create an integrated sink

Can be discoloured by harsh acids and certain chemicals

More affordable than quartz

Can be damaged if water seeps into the core

Marble worktops

An elegant white kitchen with white marble worktops.
Marble worktops offer a timeless, classic look. (Image credit: Adobe)

Marble worktops have become popular over the years because marble comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns, with each piece being unique. This natural stone is often seen as a luxury material, adding a touch of opulence to modern and classic kitchens alike. Out of all the different worktop materials available, marble is also the most likely to add value to your home in a kitchen renovation. 

The downside of marble is that it’s quite high maintenance and is prone to scratches. Your worktops will need to be sealed upon installation and ideally should be resealed at least every six months in high-use kitchens. If the seal wears out, the stone is vulnerable to stains, which are hard to remove once they seep in. To avoid scratches, you should use chopping boards for preparing food, and although marble has good heat resistance, you should use trivets to avoid direct heat on the surface. 

Since each piece of marble is totally unique, we recommend picking out the slabs that will be used to make your worktops in person so you can see what the veining pattern is like. Each piece will need to be cut to size by specialists, so it’s slightly more difficult to install than laminate worktops, for instance. Expect to pay from around £315 per square metre for marble, though you may be able to find less expensive options if you shop for less elaborate colour patterns.

Upsides of marble worktopsDownsides of marble worktops

Luxurious and stylish look

High maintenance

Wide range of colours and patterns

Prone to scratches

Adds value to your house

Can be expensive

Other kitchen worktop materials

While we’ve outlined the most popular types of kitchen worktops, there are other materials you can consider depending on how you plan to use your kitchen.

If you’re looking for the most durable and easy to clean surfaces, you can opt for a favourite among commercial kitchens—stainless steel worktops. They are incredibly hard-wearing, hygienic, and heat-resistant, making them ideal for avid chefs. However, stainless steel is prone to scratches and dents, as with any metal surface. Stainless steel worktops can cost as much as marble, so they might not be the best choice for anyone on a budget.

Another hard-wearing material that not many people think of when it comes to kitchen worktops is concrete. Concrete worktops are extremely customisable, as they can be poured to fit. They are best suited for modern kitchens with an industrial feel and can be made in a variety of colours and finishes depending on the sealant used. While it is possible for concrete worktops to develop cracks, it can be really easy to fix. Concrete worktops will usually cost about the same as quartz or granite, so they are a good alternative if you’re looking for something more durable than either of those materials.  

An increasingly popular stylistic choice for homeowners is glass worktops. Offering perhaps one of the most versatile surfaces, glass worktops can be made in virtually any colour and finish, and some manufacturers can even include lighting within the glass. Glass is very durable, being resistant to scratches and heat damage, and it’s easy to clean and hygienic thanks to its nonporous surface. It’s also considered to be eco-friendly because it can easily be recycled after it’s removed. Even though glass worktops are known for their durability, any chips, scratches, or cracks that do occur can be difficult to fix. Glass is also one of the most expensive types of worktops, costing around £360 to £560 per square metre.

Our recommendation

In terms of value for money, design choice, and minimal maintenance, laminate worktops are a smart choice and suit a wide variety of kitchens. As laminate is more budget-friendly, buy the best you can afford to guarantee longevity. 

For low maintenance coupled with plenty of design options, choose quartz composite worktops. Their durability, consistency, and variety mean you can create your dream kitchen knowing that it’ll stay looking great for years to come.

Before you select your worktops, be sure to request plenty of samples, and speak to different suppliers to ask for quotes so you can make the best choice.

Kitchen worktops FAQ

What is the best finish or sealant for a kitchen worktop?

Whether you’re fitting worktops made from wood, concrete, granite, or another stone, such as marble or slate, they’ll need to be sealed initially and possibly resealed. The type of sealant depends on the material, but it’s best to ask your supplier what they recommend. Good sealants for timber include Danish oil, linseed oil, and hard wax oil—all food-safe oils that won’t develop odours. Quartz and Corian won’t need sealing.

What is the best thickness for kitchen worktops?

How thick your worktops are often depends on the style of your kitchen and the material. For example, deep granite worktops add impact and show off the stone beautifully, while ultra-slim ceramic countertops suit a contemporary kitchen. An average thickness for granite is 30 mm—this is also because thinner slabs are prone to cracks during cutting and fitting. Quartz composites can afford to be thinner, with thicknesses ranging from slim 12 mm, through to the more common 20 mm and 30 mm. Wooden worktops tend to be chunky with average thicknesses of 40 mm.

What is the most durable kitchen worktop?

If you prize durability above all else, then stainless steel is the best kitchen worktop to choose—there’s a good reason that it’s what you’ll find in a professional kitchen. However, for most, a balance of durability and style is offered by granite, quartz composite, ceramic, and laminate worktops.

How do you care for kitchen worktops?

No matter which material you choose, the best way to care for worktops is to protect them from damage. That means using trivets and pads for hot pans, cleaning up spills and food that can stain straight away, avoiding harsh cleaners, and using chopping boards rather than cutting directly on the surface.

Can you paint over kitchen worktops?

However worn your worktops become, resist the urge to paint them. While repainting cabinets is a great way to refresh your kitchen, worktops need to withstand more impact, heat, and moisture than cupboard doors. Over time, paint is likely to chip and become unhygienic. Better options if you’d like to avoid the upheaval of replacing your worktops entirely are renovation products, such as Rust-Oleum’s Worktop Transformation Kit—which is a specialist coating for laminate—and quartz overlays, which fit over existing countertops.