The kitchen worktop is one of the most important elements of the kitchen. However, it sometimes gets overlooked – or at least put behind the choice of doors and cabinets when it comes to people’s priorities. The thing is, the worktop is a crucial part of any modern kitchen. It has to deal with the day-to-day use that the contemporary family kitchen goes through. Of all the different worktop materials there are to choose from, you need a surface that is hard-wearing, durable, stain and heat resistant – and that looks fabulous, retaining a style that befits your overall kitchen design.
These days, there are a vast array of different worktop materials to choose from. They all have fantastic qualities and looks. This means that deciding on the material for your surfaces can be a tough choice to make. So that you can end up with the dream worktop surface for your dream kitchen, we have put together a comprehensive guide about the differences between granite, quartz, marble, and acrylic worktops. We will give you all the information and guidance you need so that you can make a truly informed choice.
Different worktop materials: Layout, budget, and materials
Before you start making this all-important choice, you need to cover a few basic things: layout, budget, and materials. You need to understand the layout of your kitchen before you do anything else. Things to think about include the size of your kitchen and the colour of your existing cabinets. You need to think carefully about whether they would be able to withstand a heavy material, such as granite. If you are unsure, just get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team. We will be happy to advise you. Other considerations should be whether you require a sink cutaway and what the largest piece of material is that you need for your new kitchen worktop.
A brand-new kitchen worktop surface can be on the pricey side – but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a worktop surface out there somewhere to suit all budgets. The key thing is to work out what your budget is – and stick to it. Factor in delivery and installation costs, as well as the cost of the different worktop materials.
Different worktop materials…
And that leads us nicely to materials. In 2022, you can have all manner of material types for your kitchen worktop surface. However, for the purpose of this guide, we haver decided to narrow things down to four different worktop materials: granite, quartz, marble, and acrylic.
What are the benefits of a granite kitchen surface?
No discussion of different worktop materials in the kitchen would be complete without taking a look at granite. For many homeowners, granite worktops simply make the perfect pick for their kitchen. It doesn’t matter if it’s a renovation project or brand-new look.
The kitchen is perhaps the most used space in the entire home. Because of this, durability is especially important with any worktop surface material. Not only that, many homeowners prefer an option that can be categorised as low maintenance. On both fronts, granite delivers! Compared with some other materials, you don’t always get the range of choice with granite. This is because granite is cut from its natural state as it is a natural stone.
But there is a great benefit that should not be overlooked. Each and every piece of granite that is sourced is different. This means that, if you choose granite as your worktop surface for your kitchen, you can guarantee that it will be totally unique. However, you should call in the experts, as designing a kitchen around your chosen slab of granite is a job that really needs the skill of professionals. It’s not really something that DIY enthusiasts should take on.
Why are granite worktops so popular?
At the heart of granite’s enduring popularity is its uniqueness – and the fact that it can be used in so many innovative ways. Because of this, it is unlikely that granite will ever go out of fashion. Other surfaces may offer more choice, but granite remains as popular as ever. Well, natural stone will always be seen as appealing because of the durability it offers and the unique qualities that it provides. A granite kitchen worktop is all about minimalist and understated elegance and class. Although, you do not need to seal once a year, granite also provides a very hygienic surface – one that is highly resistant to germs, dirt and bacteria.
Black granite slabs are particularly popular and on-trend. Ideal for a classic and contemporary monochrome look, homeowners and kitchen designers alike are opting for black granite in their droves. Black granite is the perfect contrast and complement to an ultra-modern white high gloss kitchen. Ita creates a luxurious feel. But this is only one of many great granite looks that you can use in your kitchen.
What are the benefits of a granite kitchen worktop?
The hardest working part of a kitchen is its worktop. It bears the brunt of spills and knocks. The worktop also has to be exposed to a wide array of food stuffs and substances. Therefore, any kitchen worktop needs to be strong, durable and resilient. The worktop is essentially the engine room of the busiest room in the modern home. Things can get messy too, so easy cleaning is another important consideration.
Granite fits the bill on many fronts. Certainly, in terms of being both hard-wearing and durable. As a natural stone, granite is non-porous. However, it is worth bearing in mind that granite does require sealing on an annual basis. Granite stands up well to heat, is scratch resistant. And, assuming the worktop is adequately sealed, it is stain-resistant too.
Is quartz or granite better for my kitchen?
This can be a difficult decision to make. If you have focused your search for the perfect worktop surface on uniqueness, durability, and ease of cleaning, it’s likely that you will have narrowed it down to either quartz or granite. Both quartz and granite are excellent choices for a kitchen worktop. Carefully consider the unique benefits, and individual nuances of each material before you make your final choice.
Marble Worktops: The ultimate worktop surface?
Marble is another material that never really goes out of fashion. Although it has a reputation for being traditional, it can work superbly in the most modern and contemporary of settings. One thing is constant. Marble exudes a feeling of class and elegance. If you want to bring a touch of opulence into your new kitchen, marble is the inspired choice.
The limitations of marble
The limitations of marble as a material – in the kitchen and elsewhere – are well-known. Although these should not put you off choosing marble as a kitchen worktop material, it is well worth considering a few important things. Firstly, as marble is a relatively soft material, it is prone to chipping and scratching. A really heavy impact can even result in the marble cracking.
You should also be careful with marble, as it is porous. This means that staining can be an issue too. Everyday items and substances can cause problems. Furthermore, you need to be choosy with the cleaning products that you use on marble. Harsher products can cause damage. And, as a porous material, marble can accumulate bacteria. However, this should not be a major problem if you take the trouble of sealing the surface every six months or so.
The thing with marble is that when something looks this good, many people will be prepared to accept a few negative aspects. Of course, there is no sense in trying to gloss over the bad stuff. You are making a major investment when you buy a new kitchen worktop surface. You definitely need to make any decision with your eyes open.
Is marble is a high-maintenance worktop material
Wines, oils, juices – they are all the enemy of marble. These are staining agents that marble is vulnerable and susceptible to. Liquids can seep deep into a marble slab. If this happens, it can be difficult to address. Indeed, once the damage is done, there can be very little that can be done about it. However, if you ensure that the surface is professionally sealed during the installation of the worktop, staining need not be a constant worry. Unfortunately, you will need to continue the sealing process. As previously mentioned, you really need to seal the surface twice a year. This can be done easily yourself with a quality sealant.
You can’t avoid it… be prepared to see scratches
Although there are plenty of things that you can do to minimise scratches on a marble surface, you need to accept that some scratches are almost inevitable. Prolonged exposure to acidic substances will remove the sealant from the finish. This makes it appear duller to the eye. At the same time, the surface becomes more vulnerable to scratches. Another option is to hone the marble. This results in a less polished – almost matt-esque finish. This will undoubtably make scratches less visible. But it won’t stop scratches from appearing altogether.
Different Worktop Materials – Acrylic countertops: The Lowdown
One of the biggest choices you’ll make in a kitchen or bathroom is the surface material for countertops. There is a world of options, like stone and quartz, zinc and concrete, laminate and a product that revolutionized kitchens back in the Sixties: acrylic. Acrylic is a solid-surface material. When acrylic countertops first appeared on the market, they were a real gamechanger. These days, you can pick acrylic composite countertops in a wide variety of styles and designs. This means that there really is something for every décor.
What exactly is an acrylic countertop?
Occasionally, acrylic gets a bit of bad press. It’s sometimes seen as something of the poor relation – especially when put alongside the likes of quartz or marble. Of course, the thinking behind this is the fact that it has a reputation for being a ‘plastic’ countertop. In reality, this is unjustified and unfair. A typical acrylic countertop is only about one-third resin based. The rest is actually made up of mineral components – hence the reinforcement that acrylic is renowned for.
Acrylic countertops are one of the man-made – or engineered – kitchen surface materials that come under the umbrella of solid surface countertops . Essentially, the acrylic-based plastic is heated to a liquid state and then poured into a mould. The resulting material is extremely tough and hard, and a uniform, solid colour is created – with an impressive matt finish.
Advantages of Acrylic Countertops
The shiny look of a quartz countertop isn’t for everybody. Acrylic provides a more understated and less brash look. However, a real advantage of acrylic is that it seamless in appearance. Either in a single mould or when two pieces and different moulds are joined together, the result is seamless. You can also add a moulded backsplash or sink with your acrylic kitchen design.
Another plus point of acrylic countertops is that do not need to be sealed. Nor do they require specialist cleaning. However, as with any aspect of kitchen design, due care and attention needs to be given. An acrylic countertop is not completely impervious to warping from extreme heat. Of course, you will be using high heat in the kitchen, so it is important not to place very hot pans directly onto the countertop surface. Cutting boards and trivets should be used to protect the surface from scratches and stains.
And there’s more…
Another advantage is that acrylic countertops are generally more affordable. One disadvantage of the seamless acrylic countertop design is that if one section is damaged in some way, the whole thing needs replacing.
Acrylic countertops can still be expensive. However – generally speaking – they are an affordable option. Naturally, in the kitchen you will want a hygienic choice of countertop. An acrylic countertop certainly gives you that peace of mind, as acrylic is a non-porous material.
Also, if the worst was to happen and you were to damage your acrylic countertop, it should not be the end of the world. If a small chip or burn were to occur, trade professionals are usually able to either buff or sand out the damaged area.
Are there any downsides?
Well, nothing is ever completely perfect. Whilst it’s true that if there is a minimal damage to an acrylic worktop, this can often be fixed by sanding or buffing – you should not be complacent about this. Hot pots and pans are the enemy of acrylic countertops and don’t think that all stains and marks will be able to be dealt with.
Different worktop materials : Quartz worktops – The Verdict
Quartz worktops are man-made, combining quartz sand with resins. As quartz is a natural stone, it obviously delivers a truly natural look. It has the coloured swirls and pigments of a natural stone. Complete uniqueness is guaranteed. The ratios of resin: quartz stone vary too.
Worktop materials? Advantages of quartz worktops
Quartz worktops come in such a wide range of colours, patterns, and styles. This is the first major advantage of quartz – there is just so much choice. You can rest assured that they’ll be a quartz worktop to meet your needs and personal taste in the kitchen. When compared with the likes of acrylic, quartz worktops come with a more glossy finish to their surface. Not only that, quartz worktops are incredibly durable. They are scratch-resistant and can withstand extreme temperatures (up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, in fact!).
Generally speaking, quartz worktops are in a higher price bracket than acrylic. But while quartz is a bit more costly, it’s durability is worth it. Acrylic worktops are much more likely to become damaged with normal day-to-day use when compared to quartz. You may find that acrylic countertops occasionally need polishing to maintain their original sheen. Acrylic can also be prone to warping from heat.
What are the benefits of a quartz kitchen surface?
Not only is a quartz worktop one of the most hard-wearing man-made materials you find anywhere, its durability is matched only by its attractiveness. Non-porous, stain-resistant, and resistant to bacteria – quartz can do no wrong.
But don’t think that quartz is all about practicality and functionality. Quartz provides so much more. It gives you substance and style. It might be the smart choice for the busy modern kitchen with its stain and heat resistant qualities. But, make no mistake, quartz looks stunning at the same time.
Quartz worktops are ideal in both contemporary and traditional kitchen designs. The uniform, consistent patterned appearance will ensure that the worktops in your kitchen have a seamless flow to them.
Quartz worktops: The resilient countertop option
So, let’s go over the key benefits of quartz worktops again. Where else can you find such an array of traditional and contemporary colour tones? Where else can you find such a long-lasting, hard-wearing, and durable countertop surface? Quartz really is the answer to both these questions. Don’t forget, with quartz you also get a heat, stain and scratch resistant worktop too – making it appealing over different worktop materials out there.
The common problems often associated with the likes of granite, concrete and marble worktops – such as staining – don’t even come into the equation with quartz. As a virtually totally non-porous substance, a quartz worktop doesn’t need sealing. It’s hard to beat for its hygienic qualities too. Everyday and regular cleaning requires little more than a clean, damp cloth and a standard mild detergent. However, it’s probably the sheer choice of style and colours that makes quartz a genuine leader of the pack, ahead of different worktop materials.
Is a quartz countertop surface right for you?
Well, other types of countertop materials also have advantages too, but it’s not hard to see why quartz is so popular at the moment. High in durability and strength but low on maintenance, the easy-to-clean surface that quartz provides is the ideal choice for the modern busy family kitchen.
How does quartz compare to marble and granite worktop materials?
Unlike granite and marble — which can both require frequent cleaning and care — quartz worktops are as low-maintenance as it gets in the kitchen. Not only does quartz not require sealing, it can withstand the heat and substances that often cause staining issues with other different worktop materials. On top of that, not only does quartz deliver a uniform appearance, it also never loses its pattern or colour.
For those reasons alone, many homeowners will see quartz as the ideal choice of kitchen worktop surface. The kitchen is a busy space. With it being the hub of cooking and food preparation, most people accept that spills are almost inevitable from time to time. Some people might feel that granite – and marble, in particular – are a bit too prone to problems. Having said that, with thorough maintenance and care, most potential issues can be avoided. Others will look at how beautiful a marble and granite worktop surface can look in the kitchen and just think the look is well worth it. Ultimately, it is about personal preferences and your own priorities and needs.
Different worktop materials: The Overall Verdict
So, there you have it – everything you could ever need to know about the different worktop materials that you can choose for your kitchen worktop surface. The good news is that granite, quartz, marble, and acrylic all have plenty going for them. Yes, its true that none of them are completely perfect. There are things to consider carefully about all these materials. It could well be that certain factors might determine that a certain material isn’t the most appropriate choice for your kitchen.
But that really is what this guide is all about. We aimed to arm you with all the relevant information you need about these popular different worktop materials. This means that you would be able to make a fully-informed and well-considered choice about the material to pick for your kitchen worktop. If you have any questions or queries, contact the team at Kitchen Warehouse. We’re always here to help and give you all the guidance and advice you need. We want you to choose the perfect worktop surface for your kitchen.