If you’re planning a new kitchen, choosing the right worktops is just as important as picking your appliances. After all, the work surface is where you’ll do your food preparation, and visually they’re a significant part of the kitchen layout.
The right worktop makes such a big difference to the overall look and function of the kitchen, so asking ‘what are kitchen worktops made of’ will help you pick out the right choice for you.
We will look at laminate worktops, the most popular choice for many home kitchens. We will also show you other alternative materials if you want something different.
Laminate Worktop – The Most Widely Used Choice
For many people, laminate worktops are the perfect choice for their kitchen. They’re easy to clean, tough, and available in a massive range of finishes.
Laminate kitchen worktop material is named after the method by which it is produced. Melamine plastic, fibreboard, decorative layers of paper, and overlay are joined by pressure and heat to make the finished laminate product.
The decorative layer is produced using high-definition printing, which results in a visual appearance that could match natural materials or natural stones. This feature makes modern laminate worktops suitable for many different styles, including a traditional or a modern kitchen. You can choose from realistic wood or natural stone finishes or a vast range of colours in matt and gloss.
A laminate worktop is waterproof, heat-resistant and hygienic. Laminate worktops are more cost-effective than natural materials and are easy to cut and install, so you can use them without professional installation.
Although they are hardwearing, using a chopping board on laminate surfaces is still recommended. Similarly, it is good not to put hot pans directly onto the worktop.
The only maintenance that laminate counters need is cleaning with soapy water and a soft sponge or damp cloth. Abrasive cleaners can scratch the surface, so you should avoid them. Damage to laminate surfaces is effectively impossible to repair without replacing or covering the whole surface. So, although laminate worktops are tough, some care needs to be taken.
Different Alternatives to a Laminate Worktop for Your Perfect Kitchen
Depending on your preferences and budget, you might want to consider different worktop materials rather than laminate worktops. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives.
Solid Wooden Worktops
If cost is less of an issue, many people prefer more expensive solid wood worktops. Beautiful materials such as beech, oak or maple add a refined and long-lasting look to a traditional kitchen. You could even have bamboo if you’re planning a more modern kitchen.
When correctly maintained, solid wood worktops can last for a very long time. Unlike many composite or laminate materials, damage in solid wood can be sanded away and the surface stained or varnished again to bring it back to its original condition.
Solid wood needs frequent oiling to stop watermarks from becoming permanent. Wood is also damaged easily by hot pans, so you should never put them directly onto the kitchen worktop.
Solid Laminate Worktops
Unlike regular laminate worktops, which have a fibreboard core, solid laminate comprises multiple layers of laminate material. This gives them high strength while coming in a low-profile finish that is ideal for modern kitchens.
Another excellent feature of the solid laminate is that no edging strips are required as the colour is carried throughout the thickness of the sheet. This means it can be cut and shaped while maintaining its finish. It’s even possible to route drainage grooves into the worktop with an under-mounted sink.
Solid laminate is entirely waterproof and has high heat, chemical and impact resistance. It is available in many finishes, including matt textured designs that look incredibly realistic.
Natural Stone Worktops
Many people interested in what are kitchen worktops made of, want the texture and natural stone worktops in their kitchen, and many different types can be used.
A granite worktop can give your kitchen a feel of luxury that’s hard to match with other materials. Granite is hardwearing and will likely outlast the rest of your kitchen so long as it’s sealed and maintained correctly.
Of course, granite is one of the more expensive materials. However, such is the appeal that it has been found to increase the value of homes once it’s time to sell.
Granite is available in thousands of colours and effects. It is naturally resistant to heat and effortless to clean. It is very heavy, so you need to ensure that your cupboards are suitably strong to carry the weight.
Like granite, marble is a solid stone worktop material that has the feel of luxury about it. While it’s not that common to use marble for a complete home kitchen, you might like to consider it for a kitchen island or other features.
Marble does need maintenance to keep it clean and prevent staining. It’s best to look for sealed marble that resists liquids or other damage marks.
Quartz worktops are made from engineered stone containing natural quartz crystals. They come in many colours and make excellent worktops thanks to their non-porous, heat and scratch-resistant properties.
Unlike marble, you won’t have to re-seal a quartz worktop, which is considerably easier to maintain. All that’s needed is a clean with soapy water. However, unfortunately, quartz worktops come with a similar price tag to granite and marble.
Ceramic Tile Worktops
Ceramic tile worktops are easy to clean and durable, with excellent heat resistance. They are often chosen because you can match the design of your wall tiling.
Tile is relatively easy to install, so anyone with average DIY skills can consider it. There is an almost unlimited choice of colours and patterns, like wall tiles.
You’ll want to be careful to clean the grout as soon as anything drops on it, as it can suffer from mould. You also need to be cautious with heavy objects, so you don’t chip the tiles.
Glass is a popular choice in modern kitchens thanks to its glossy, stylish finish. You can get glass worktops in many colours and designs, including a cracked effect.
A glass worktop has excellent water and heat resistant properties and will never get mouldy. It is straightforward to clean and can be considered one of the most hygienic worktop materials.
You do, however, need to be careful with acidic food spills as these can damage the surface of the glass if left. Glass worktops are pretty heavy, and it is an expensive choice. However, for many people, it’s worth it.
Solid Surface Material Worktops
Solid surface worktops are made by bonding a surface layer of pigmented plastic resin onto a wood base. The result is a sheet material that can be made into large worktops without seams.
These worktops are available in many colours and are non-porous. Because the surface is solid rather than a thin laminate, it is possible to clean and buff out minor scratches and damage. However, solid surface worktop plastic isn’t as resistant to heat as stone or even laminate worktops.
Stainless Steel Worktops
Stainless steel is the material of choice in restaurants and other commercial kitchens thanks to its durability, heat resistance and ease of keeping hygienic.
For a home kitchen, the look of stainless steel will be down to personal preference, and you do need to take care when cleaning as it’s easy to scratch. It can also be quite noisy to use, and you definitely want to use a chopping block for your cutting so as not to damage it.
The Best Materials for Kitchen Worktops
As we’ve looked at what are kitchen worktops made of, we’ve seen various choices.
The most popular are laminate worktops. However, the ideal material for you will consider your budget, whether you will install it yourself or have it done professionally, your needs for ease of cleaning and maintenance, and your unique design and colour preferences.
Luckily with the options out there, you’ll be able to find your perfect kitchen worktop material and enjoy them in your new kitchen!