The Zero Stress Guide to Kitchens


What You Need To Know Before You Buy a Kitchen

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Kitchen worktops

Top tips

  • Choose a material to suit your lifestyle, not your aspirations
  • Bear in mind any maintenance required
  • Trivets and chopping boards will be needed to protect some materials

Kitchen worktops

The fact that your worktop needs to be practical doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. There are plenty of choices, from man-made materials to natural products:

Stainless steel

Often associated with professional kitchens, stainless steel is stylish and contemporary. It is highly durable and can be shaped in many ways – for example, the sink and splash-back can be made from the same piece of steel, ensuring that there are no awkward corners or gaps in which food or dirt can be trapped. Stainless steel is hygienic, heat and corrosion-proof and is the only surface that can be safely bleached.

On the downside, it is expensive, high maintenance and can be scratched and dented (although newer designs can include textured finishes that can hide scratches).


This inexpensive option, which comes in a variety of colours and patterns, is a very popular choice for kitchen worktops. It is not particularly hard-wearing and although it is stain-resistant it is susceptible to being scratched or burned. If it does get damaged it cannot be repaired. Laminate should not be used as a cutting surface or for hot pans – use trivets and chopping boards as protection. Note, too, that any joins will be visible due to the dark backing sheet used in the production process – this is more evident with light colours.


Granite is the most common type of stone used for work surfaces. Quarried worldwide, its colours and patterns reflect the region and the geological conditions that created it. Each slab is unique, with random and inconsistent patterns for a stylish finish. It is highly durable, heat-resistant, it doesn't scratch or burn, and retains its colour. Granite is, however, very expensive and will need occasional resealing to prevent staining.

granite countertops

Picture of a modern kitchen with granite countertops and Granite Island


Oak, maple, cherry, red beech, walnut, teak, and mahogany are all hardwoods favoured for worktops. A warm and aesthetically pleasing material, it adds great character to any kitchen. It is, though, susceptible to scratching, cutting and burning so trivets and chopping boards are essential accessories to protect the surface. Cuts will show but can be sanded out. The wood needs rubbing periodically with Danish oil to restore the wood. (On the plus side, wood is one of the only surfaces that will not damage your knives!)


Quartz surfaces are hygienic because the material – available in dozens of colours – is non-porous. It is also highly durable, being resistant to scratches, stains and heat. However, prices can be up to 10% higher than granite although, unlike granite, it does not need periodic resealing.

surfaces are hygienic


A worktop that consists of a solid plastic all the way through is said to be a solid surface countertop, as opposed to those built up in layers like laminate. They are hardwearing, resistant to scratches, scorching and heat. If the surface does get damaged it is repairable. The cost is around three times more than laminate and twice as much as wood. A wide range of colours and styles are available to choose from and most suppliers offer a good guarantee. Corian, which has been around for 30 years, is the most famous brand.


Very much a statement worktop that is fairly practical but, like stainless steel, has a tendency to highlight every little mark – from fingerprints to stains – so needs constant cleaning.



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