Kitchen Worktop Options: Costs & Key Considerations For Kitchen Worktop Materials

A durable, stylish and practical worktop is an essential feature of any modern kitchen. Read our complete guide to the kitchen worktop options to help you choose the best countertop for your home, lifestyle and budget
by Sander Tel
29th September 2023

For many, the kitchen is the heart of the home – and a space that serves multiple functions, from cooking to entertaining, relaxing and dining. Choosing a kitchen worktop that’ll both suit the space and last well over time is therefore vital to ensuring you’re able to make the most out of this zone for years to come.

A wealth of different considerations will influence your kitchen worktop choice, and it’s key to factor in aspects of day-to-day life. For instance, whether you have young children, your home’s overall interior style and the value you’re wanting to add to the kitchen space.

Budget will always play an important role in your kitchen worktop selection. Some affordable, DIY laminate or timber worktop materials start at £50 per m², while bespoke marble or granite designs can reach over £300 per m². There are plenty of options to suit every budget, however, with marble-effect laminates and vinyl coverings being popular for those undertaking home improvements on a budget.

Deciding where to delegate your funds should be a first port of call – ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend on the worktop in relation to the rest of the kitchen. The likelihood is that the more expensive the worktop is, the higher the installation costs will be – but also the longer it’ll last. “Some people may prefer to fork out on big-budget appliances and spend less on their worktops, whereas others may want to create a quality statement piece, such as a kitchen island in a contrasting material, which calls for a more generous budget,” says Cerys Ford, brand category manager at Howdens.

Whether you’re upgrading your worktops as part of a kitchen renovation or fitting a bespoke design as part of your self build, start by noting down different ideas of what you like, whether you’re going to mix and match materials and the style of kitchen you’re creating – this could be a classic Shaker-style or sleek and handleless, for example. “Order different worktop samples to test out the colours and textures. This way you’ll see how they look with the other key elements of your kitchen such as the floor, cabinets and walls,” says Matt Rotherham, CEO & founder of Gemini Worktops.

How can you whittle down the options, though? Here, we’re taking a look at the most popular worktops and their key features to help steer you in the right direction.

Wood Kitchen Worktops

It’s difficult to replicate the warming charm of timber kitchen worktops – they’ll age beautifully, and with so many species of wood to choose from, there’s something for every style of kitchen and budget. Hardwoods such as oak, iroko and walnut are popular for their durability. “An oak worktop will add a homely and characterful feel to your kitchen, and if well looked after can last a lifetime,” says Elizabeth Sherwin, creative director at Naked Kitchens.

Wood worktops require proper maintenance right from installation to ensure their lifespan is maximised. “They need oiling with a specialist treatment, once a day for a week, then once a week for a month, and finally once a month for a year,” says Al Bruce, founder of Olive & Barr.

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Wood Kitchen Worktops

This delightful pea green Devol Shaker kitchen features reclaimed Iroko wood countertops – sourced by the client herself. They’ve been sanded and re-oiled, making a functional yet homely addition

Cleaning-wise, wipe over with soapy water using a soft cloth. Be mindful to avoid direct heat contact, sitting water and abrasive cleaning products or scouring pads, as these can cause unwanted scorch marks and stains. Timber surfaces can be sanded down and re-oiled if they need a refresh after a few years, too.

The price of wooden kitchen worktops will vary with the different species on offer. You’ll be able to find affordable options for around £150 per m² (supply-only), with prices reaching up to £350 per m² for premium timbers or those with man-made surface patterns, such as end grain checkerboard.

Laminate Countertops

Laminate is well-liked as it has a knack for affordably replicating the look of more upmarket stone worktops, such as marble. “Laminate kitchen worktops are typically made from a plastic coating adhered to a chipboard subframe,” says Matt. You can choose from regular or compact laminate worktops – the former is supported by chipboard, but the latter is solid plastic (usually 20- 40mm thick) – meaning it can hold its appearance and won’t absorb water as easily. “Compact laminates are more of a middle price point, with standard laminate worktops being the most affordable,” says Cerys.

Cleaning is simple, just give them a quick wipe down after use. Be vigilant of heat damage, though, as plastic can be susceptible to melting under high temperatures – and this may require you to replace the whole kitchen worktop. “It’s resilient to scratching, staining and heat, but hot pots and pans should not be placed directly on top as this can result in the worktop bubbling,” says Al.

Laminate Countertops

B&Q‘s GoodHome light grey concrete effect worktop with upstand creates a join between the worktop and the wall, creating a clean and tidy space

Generally, this type of countertop will come in at the low- to mid-range end of the cost spectrum. “Laminate kitchen worktops can cost between £50 and 150 per m² (supply-only), with some premium laminates approaching the same price point as an engineered stone, such as quartz,” says Matt. You can expect to pay over £100 per m² for designs cut to your measurements – standard sizes that can be ordered and fitted yourself will be a more budget-friendly option.

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Marble Kitchen Worktops

Marble is a sought-after countertop that many see as the hallmark of a quality kitchen. The stone has a rich, unique appearance, with plenty of styles available from sleek whites to ‘ugly marble’ which has a characterful, variegated finish. It’s great for food preparation as it remains at a consistent low temperature, but avoid placing hot pans directly onto the surface. Marble is naturally porous, so without regular sealing is at risk of permanent staining, as liquids will be absorbed. Providing you stay on top of upkeep, it will make a great addition to your kitchen.

Marble Kitchen Worktops

Hush Kitchens’ bespoke Lugn range was specified for this home renovation by Oliver Leech Architects. Forest green cabinets are paired with Calacatta Monet marble worktops across the surface and splashback, creating a bold, characterful look

As marble is such a luxurious material, it’s sure to boost wow factor and underpin the value and quality of your home. It comes with a high price tag, though, especially when installation and long-term maintenance are factored in. “Natural materials should only be cut and fitted by qualified specialists,” says Al. Expect to pay £300+ per m² for just the material.

Granite Worktops

Granite is a super-strong, highly durable stone and has a distinctive natural beauty and finish that will complement a wide variety of kitchen designs – from traditional cottage schemes to ultra-modern. Granite can withstand high temperatures and pressure without suffering any visible damage, so it’s perfect for active family kitchens.

It requires sealing over its lifetime to maintain its original look and prevent ingrained damage. This will also guarantee it remains hygienic, as bacteria won’t be able to get into the stone. Avoid direct contact with harsh chemicals and acids.

As with other natural stones, granite is a high-quality option – so expect to pay a premium for installation (and if any repairs are needed down the line). It needs to be cut and fitted by a professional. You should expect to pay £250+ per m² before installation.

More Inspiration: Kitchen Extension Ideas: 20 Inspiring Designs

Terrazzo Countertops

Terrazzo is a popular composite material comprised of various smaller chunks of either recycled stones, marble, granite, glass or other aggregates set in a cement or resin. The mixture is then poured and polished, revealing a smooth, glassy appearance. Each blend has its own character, with plenty of colour variations to suit any kitchen. Consider using it across both worktops and splashbacks to create a cohesive scheme. When it’s sealed it’ll be non-porous and hygienic – ideal for food preparation areas that’ll need to be cleaned frequently.

Terrazzo Countertops

Yard Architects chose a bespoke West and Reid kitchen for this Victorian terrace extension in London, layered with a Diespeker terrazzo worktop with waterfall ends and matching splashback. The terrazzo features variegated green and orange flecks, adding an eye catching focal point to the space

The exact binder, stone type and whether you’re buying off-the-shelf or need bespoke-cut surfaces will all affect the price. As a rough guide, you can find options starting from around £300 per m² for material only. Think about overordering your supply to cover any future breakages, as terrazzo can be difficult to replace – especially if you’re specifying a bespoke material.

Concrete Kitchen Countertops

Concrete is emerging as a popular material for those seeking out the durability of stone worktops but with a simpler profile and more industrial edge. Concrete is designed to withstand heavy loads and is practically impossible to scratch, so makes a great option for active kitchens. It can also be tinted at the mixing stage for a statement colour or polished down for a smooth sheen – the options are aplenty.

“Concrete surfaces can be formed on site, so they often feature little or no visible joins, creating a sleek and seamless finish,” says Elizabeth. Concrete’s a porous material so requires sealing to avoid stains or heat damage throughout its lifetime, but is generally fuss-free and will last extremely well.

Concrete Kitchen Countertops

This scheme by Naked Kitchens features a combination of brushed limed-grain oak cabinets and sleek, white-toned Caesarstone concrete worktops – blending natural charm with a cool, modern feel

Concrete counters can be fairly expensive, as they’re a heavy material that requires specialist installation and are often purpose-made. A specialist concrete supplier will be able to quote for your kitchen’s size – but you can expect to pay in the region of £300-£400 per linear metre before installation costs are factored in.

Quartz Kitchen Worktops

Quartz is a familiar favourite among kitchen renovators – It’s diverse, durable and modern, so what’s not to love? “Quartz tends to come in larger pieces and so features fewer visible joins in-situ, compared to timber, for example. This allows you to achieve a more seamless, contemporary look,” says Cerys.

It’s formed by combining quartz stone with resins, minerals and various pigments that are then compressed into slabs at high temperatures – this gives it a slick and dazzling look. You can find quartz worktops in a whole host of finishes to suit your kitchen’s style, from bright whites to veined marble-like surfaces.

Quartz Kitchen Worktops

Howdens’ bespoke Silestone Eternal Noir quartz has a polished surface and distinctive, veined look. It’s made to measure and coated with an anti-stain treatment to boost its lifespan

Quartz makes an ideal worktop for busy kitchens, as its non-porous qualities mean it’ll stand up to repetitive cooking action and cleaning for years. Because of this smooth texture, it’ll be difficult to stain, but be sensible with how you’re using it day-to-day. “Though some surfaces are heat, stain, scratch and impact resistant, it’s still important to be mindful of extreme heat or toxins that you may find in some harsher cleaning products, such as oven cleaners,” says Matt.

Quartz comes with a whole host of benefits and is popular for its high-quality finish at a mid-price point. Matt from Gemini Worktops states that their quartz countertops start at £150 per m² including VAT (for just the material) – but you should always factor in installation costs.

Stainless Steel Worktops

Stainless steel is popular for those who are specifying an industrial-style kitchen. Often paired with exposed brick walls and other rustic features, its shiny, neutral yet elegant appearance will make a smart addition. “Steel is a great alternative to traditional worktops and gives a professional, chef’s kitchen look,” says Al.

Its non-porous properties make it a hygienic option and keeping it clean will be easy – with no need to worry about damage from oils, acids or direct heat contact (a massive pro for those who have busy, family kitchens or are avid home cooks). Just be mindful of scratches from knives, as steel’s glossy surface will cause light to enhance any visible marks or damage.

Stainless Steel Worktops

This Edwardian home has been upgraded with a contemporary kitchen-diner-extension. The owners chose stainless steel kitchen worktops which help to add a clean, modern feeling to the space

Steel worktops are mostly comprised of a thin layer (between 20-60mm) of the metal wrapped around a layer of MDF for stability. For just the worktop, they tend to cost in the region of £180-£220 per linear metre.

Copper Kitchen Worktops

If you’re looking to make a statement in your kitchen, then copper may be for you. “Copper is anti-microbial, eco-friendly and will continue to add character as it ages gracefully,” says Al. It’ll develop a charming patina over time, adding a beautiful touch of personality to any kitchen scheme, from rustic to the more contemporary. Copper’s a soft metal, though, so will scratch and scuff easily. It’s best to avoid preparing food directly on the surface, as it can take on an unwanted metallic taste.

Copper Kitchen Worktops

If you have the budget, consider a copper feature island or backsplash. Shown here is Olive & Barr’s Shaker kitchen with copper surfaces, balanced with a pared-back brick wall and light-blue cabinets

Copper can be expensive, so you might consider using it in isolation – such as for a statement island – and switching to another material for the rest of your kitchen. Similar to steel, copper surfaces are generally mounted onto a sheet of MDF. Prices can start at around £450 per linear metre for just the worktop, but this will depend on the thickness of the profile and where cutouts are required for sinks etc.

Recycled Kitchen Worktop

Opting for a recycled kitchen worktop is a great way to make your self build or renovation process just that little bit more sustainable. They’re made by blending together a collection of different materials, which can be coloured to suit your style of kitchen.

Looking to create a sustainable home? Take a look at these Eco Homes: 30 Sustainable Self Builds to Inspire Your Eco House

Resilica kitchen worktop material

Resilica’s British-made worktops are composed of 85% recycled content, containing glass and natural stone. They’re scratch-resistant, non-porous and food safe. You can choose your own colour mix, including matches to RAL and Pantone colours or a paint swatch. Here, the homeowners chose blues, greens and reds to complement their kitchen cupboards. You can expect prices start at £400 per linear metre for just the material.

Additional content by Jane Crittenden.

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