Around 15 years ago, granite had a surge in popularity and until recently, it was seen to be the material of choice for our kitchen worktop. Impressive to house hunters, many opted for the material in a bid to breathe new life into our kitchens. Funnily enough, the reason it stole our hearts is now the reason that we’re exploring new kitchen worktop options.
The heavy texture and mirrored finish on most granites mean that they’re not ideal for those wanting to be subtle. As each year passes, we’re becoming more adventurous not just in our kitchens but throughout our homes. We want to experiment with colour and pattern on our walls, flooring, cabinets and splashbacks and granite doesn’t give us much freedom to do so – unless of course you’re a fan of all things that clash!
Kitchen worktop materials
What that in mind, imagine my surprise when I learnt that Zillow Digs has predicted a return to granite this year, albeit with a lighter marble stone to contrast with a darker base. Durability comes higher up our wishlist than ever before and it’s fair to say that granite rises to the occasion. While it’s hard to picture honed granite making a comeback, its polished counterpart is easier to imagine as we’re focusing on all things matte and shiny in our homes. Our preference for copper, silver and pewter metallics speaks volumes.
Hard, durable and scratch and stain resistant, it can tick all the must-have boxes for a family friendly space, as long as you reseal it once a year to protect it from heat and water damage and don’t mind parting with between £60 and £245 per square foot. The price varies depending on the colour, finish and the country that you’re sourcing the granite from but it’s generally considered to be one of your most expensive options.
If granite were to make a comeback, it’s worth considering a material which will provide some of the benefits, whilst giving you the option to update the look for the modern day. CaesarStone is a mixture of at least 90% quartz, granite and marble and comes in a stonier design, as well as a smooth, close to one colour finish. You’ll get the same protection from scratches and stains and you won’t need to seal it thanks to a non-porous surface allowing liquid to sit on top of the counter’s surface rather than sinking in.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance and cheaper option which makes it difficult for bacteria to grow, at £25-92 per square foot, this is a great option but there’s one big drawback – it’s not heat-proof and in a kitchen with pots and pans moving from surface to surface, that could cause a headache.
How well the material holds up has always been the biggest concern. Fans of granite often considered marble countertops as a way of updating their kitchens and found that not only did it equal it in cost at £60-245 per square foot, it offered less protection from wear and tear. Softer, it could be polished to remove minor blemishes but it didn’t hold up well in the face of acidic products like coffee and alcohol and it was easily scratched. Its big selling point was its heat-resistance which, coupled with its smooth surface was appealing.
Now it’s time for surprise number 2. While we’re looking for shiny surfaces which are hardwearing, we’re also favouring wooden countertops, creating a rustic, homely space. They make brilliant surfaces for food preparation but they lose their colour by the sink where they come into regular contact with soap, water and sunlight. They’re also easily damaged by spills and scratches and they need regular sealing with a food-safe sealant. The cost is equivalent to CaesarStone but they give a very different finish.
If you like the finished, glossy look then the frequent denting and less than perfect finish of wood might drive you crazy! A recent trend has seen us match our dining tables and chairs to our kitchen cupboards and worktops and working with wood is easy in terms of design flexibility. Painted, glossy cupboard finishes can accompany the rustic countertops, making your kitchen look less country cottage and more 21st century chic.
When buying a kitchen worktop, you’ll just have to decide what qualities are the most important for you. Every material has its weaknesses and a keen chef living alone might have very different needs to a family of four.
Need help choosing or installing a kitchen worktop? Post a job on Rated People in our kitchen specialist category to receive quotes from our qualified and trusted tradesmen.