All above pictures from JohnPorter Kitchens & Worktops
The work surface in your kitchen have to satisfy a number of stringent requirements. They should be easy to clean and without nooks and crannies that could harbor germs. They must to tough enough to withstand wear and tear, and resistant to knife marks, heat, steam and water. As every material has different qualities, the ideal solution may be different surface in different areas of the kitchen.
Buy the thickest work surface you can afford. They usually come in 30mm and 40mm thicknesses, and the latter is recommended to avoid warping, cracking and heat damage. Prices are generally in linear metres, but bear in mind that most worktops need to be fitted by a professional, which will add to the overall cost, as will cutting or shaping for corners, sinks, taps and hobs.
They are inexpensive and come in a huge variety of colours and styles, but tiled worktops have major disadvantages, the tile are liable to crack and craze unless treated gently, and their grout quickly becomes dirty.
Modern concrete is hugely versatile, can be preformed into sheets or cast on site into any size or shape, and comes in a range of colours and finishes. As a kitchen surface, it is extremely hard-wearing and be waterproof as long as it has been properly sealed. To avoid damaging the sealent it’s advisable not to place very hot pans on the surface or to cut directly on it.
Usually a value for money option, these are made from a chipboard or paper core, wrapped in a thin veneer of transparent plastic (melamine). Sandwiched between is a decorative sheet which can be printed in an almost endless variety of colours and patterns. Although they are heat and scratch resistant, it is quite difficult to repair a damaged laminate surface. Rounded edges are less likely to chip. High pressure laminates are most durable choice, as inexpensive low-pressure versions may not be terribly heat or knife-resistant. Check that the underside has been sealed, or you may get water damage from appliances underneath.
Manmade Solid Surface
These versatile and attractive composite surfaces are made from a mix of acrylic resin and minerals. In a huge range of colours and patterns, they are non-porous, easy to clean and heat and stain-resistant. Minor burns or scratches can simply be sanded out. They can be pre-formed to any shape or size, with no visible joins, but need to be installed by a professional.
Professional kitchens are almost always made of stainless steel because it is hygienic, heatproof, waterproof and hand-wearing. Stainless-steel worktops are now commonplace in domestic setting, too but they will scratch and show finger marks very quickly. Eventually, these marks wear to an attractive, all over patina. Brushed and satiny surface wear better than highly polished ones. Avoid cheap, thin steel at least 0.9 mm thick Is recommended for durability. Zinc starts off looking like stainless steel and then dulls to resemble pewter. Being a soft metal, zinc will mark and scratch extremely easily.
Stone is generally an expensive choice, but looks beautiful and last a lifetime. Granite is the toughest, most durable option, heatproof, water resistant, easy to clean and almost completely impervious to scratches. Slate, limestone and marble are more delicate, they are relatively porous and so can stain easily unless treated with specialist sealant. Treat with care, however, and they will age beautifully. Remember to ensure that the units underneath are strong enough to take the weight of a stone surface.
Terrazzo is a mix of marble, granite and sometimes glass fragments in a cement base, ground and polished to a glossy finish. The range of effects is endless, though this is not stain and is extremely durable and hard-wearing.
Elegant and timeless, solid hardwood surfaces are reasonable heat-resistant, and slight burns or knife marks cab be sanded away. If used around a sink, they require regular sealing with oil, varnish or wax to prevent water damage (some woods, such as teak and iroko, are naturally oilier than others and so need less maintenance). Wood has anti-bacterial qualities, making it a healthy choice.