It’s perhaps the ultimate kitchen planning question – which type of benchtop will you go for? The colour and finish you choose will have a big impact on your room and probably influence which flooring, cabinets, sink and tiles you opt for as well.

Of course, it’s not just about looks and style; the right work surface very much depends on how you use your kitchen practically, what your personal bugbears are, and where you stand on cleaning and maintenance. Here are some of the main benchtop options to get you started.

LAMINATE | Best for Value

Laminate (a Moisture resistant MDF core coated in plastic) has come a long way, and there are lots of great new finishes around that look brilliant and are great value.

An unfussy plain white laminate, as in this smart compact kitchen, can also look simple and perfectly lovely. It’s hard to beat if you’re on a budget. However, remember to protect your benchtop when chopping food or hot oven trays, as this type of benchtop can get damaged.

STAINLESS STEEL | Best for keen cooks

Industrial look kitchens usually feature finishes such as polished concrete floors, stainless steel benchtops, chunky wooden shelves and ceiling suspended industrial shelving units.

These kinds of kitchens are usually in large open plan spaces or converted warehouses, where they match the scale of the space.

Often in new build homes kitchens will end up being be a mix of contemporary and industrial elements.

SOLID SURFACE | Best for durability and cleanliness

It isn’t necessarily the cheapest option, but a man-made solid surface benchtop, such as Corian or Laminex (composed of a mix of minerals and acrylic resin) can be the ultimate in tough kitchen benchtops.

This material’s flexibility means you won’t have to worry about unsightly joins, and it can be formed to create integrated sinks and draining boards. A solid surface benchtop won’t stain, scratch or crack easily and it’s ultra-waterproof, so won’t get soggy.

This material is also good for food prep, as it’s ultra-hygienic and easy to keep clean.

QUARTZ | Best for practicality

A manmade quartz, such as Caesarstone or Silestone offers the benefits of natural stone, being extra hard and durable but with a contemporary, clean look.

This type of benchtop (composed of crushed quartz and resin) is stain-resistant and there’s no time-consuming sealing process to put up with. Beware because lighter colour benchtops will need more cleaning but  it’s antibacterial, so you don’t need to worry about bugs multiplying in cracks and crevices.

WOOD | Best for rustic charm

Wooden benchtops have many detractors –they stain, scratch and go black and mouldy all too easily. And don’t even mention the scorched saucepan rings. You sometimes need to oil them regularly when they’re first fitted. Spills will need to be mopped up fast to avoid staining, and scratches may need to be sanded back.

Great in a area away from a sink or on an island.

CONCRETE | Best for industrial attitude

A concrete benchtop is heavy-duty, cool-looking and, as you’d expect, super-durable. It also ages beautifully, acquiring a characterful patina.

However, it’s heavy and as raw concrete is porous, will need to be well sealed to avoid stains and marking. You’ll also have the odd seam to contend with. As it’s cast in slabs, concrete is more versatile in shape than stone; plus you can opt for different types of surface finishes, from polished to matt.

CERAMIC | Best for minimal looks

Ceramic benchtops are gaining ground in kitchens brands such as Laminam and Dekton offer a wide range of finishes. Ceramic is tough and durable, yet it’s slimmer than surfaces such as granite – ideal if you want a modern, streamlined look.

New technology and manufacturing methods mean ceramic benchtops can now feature longer lengths without joins. They also tend to be stain, scratch and heat-resistant. Ceramic can crack, though so you’ll want to avoid dropping anything heavy on it.

GRANITE | Best for long-lasting looks

Natural granite can last a lifetime. It’s not cheap, but it’s heat-resistant, which means you can put a hot saucepan down on it. It’s also easy to keep clean, it has natural good looks, and there’s a wide choice of types and colours available (ranging from grey to brown, black and white).

Granite is heavy, though, so it will need to be well-supported. And if it does get damaged, it is not easy to repair and it should ideally be resealed every couple of years.

MARBLE | Best for indulgence

Nobody really needs a marble benchtop in their kitchen; there are plenty of other tough alternatives on the market. And yet nothing says light, upmarket elegance and five-star style quite so wonderfully.

Natural marble is cool to the touch (and great for rolling out pastry), and each piece will be individual. It does scratch, however, and you’ll need to keep acidic solutions away from it (so watch out for that stray lemon half), as they can corrode it. Certain substances such as red wine, may also stain if not mopped up speedily.


Be inspired! Visit Hettich’s Intelligent Kitchens covering every aspect of new kitchen planning.