The right worktop is important, it is a major part of your kitchen and must suit the way you cook and your budget. Once you start considering what’s available you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed with choice. Kitchen surfaces come is a wide range of materials, each with their own properties.

Here’s a quick round up of the most popular on the market.

Laminates

Laminates have come a long way in the last few years. They’re a great, cost-effective surface available in a vast array of colours, finishes and thicknesses. They don’t need specialist templating and will last for years to come.

It’s best not to pair a Belfast sink with a laminate worktop, because water can get in under the veneer. Joins are neat, but visible. Laminates are strong and don’t scratch easily, but they are difficult to touch up if they take a big knock. Always use a trivet!

Hard wood

Wood surfaces will look great in a traditional or contemporary kitchen. They can be great value and still give a luxury feel. There is large selection of woods out there, from a classic light prime oak to a naturally striking black American walnut. No specialist templating or fitting is required. Hard wood surfaces will take on knocks and scratches, but they look lovelier with age. Many are concerned about water damage, but with proper maintenance and installation there should be no problems. It’s best to use a trivet and oil every 6 months or so.

Granite

A popular choice in high-end kitchen. Some slabs are almost white, others solid black. Many have marble-like veins running though, while others appear to sparkle. No two natural stone worktops look the same. Granite needs little maintenance and can be repaired if chipped. This surface is heat resistant up to 200 degrees. Granite can be expensive, and requires specialist templating and fitting. It’s very heavy and has no flexibility. It can be quite nerve racking seeing your worktop installed!

Engineered stone

With similar properties to granite, this man-made alternative to natural stone is available in a range of colours and offers a more contemporary and uniform finish. There are several Quartz brands one the market, including Cosentino Stilestone, DuPont Zodiaq and LG Viatera. Chips and cracks can be repaired and joins are almost undetectable. Stone is a great options of pastry chefs as it’s cold to the touch.

Quartz is heat resistance, less so than granite. It is also expensive.

Solid surface

There are many brands of solid surface out there. DuPont Corian, the most well-known, consists of 33% acrylic resin and around 66% natural minerals. It’s super hygienic and can be moulded into any shape. Joins are invisible and it’s resistant to stains. It’s easy to repair if damaged and comes in any colour you can dream up. It’s certainly an excellent choice for today’s modern kitchen.

It’s an expensive choice, and needs specialist templating, fabrication and fitting.

All the others

Glass. Looks impressive, but is a pain to keep spotless.

Stainless steel. Quite a statement, scratches easily.

Porcelain. Hard wearing and versatile, but expensive.

Marble. Nothing like the real thing. Expensive, stains and chips easily.

Concrete. Unique and durable. Porous and can take on stains.