Worktops are a key element of your kitchen that will impact both the way you interact within it, and its overall look. This article summarises the knowledge our team has accumulated over years of working with clients on their bespoke kitchen projects.
We take a closer look at the three most popular kitchen worktop choices – marble, granite and quartz then discuss their unique character, benefits and drawbacks in order to give you a clear understanding of which stone countertop is the best choice for you.
The most popular types of stone kitchen worktop
The market for kitchen worktops can seem vast and daunting with an endless number of different materials and styles from which you can choose. For that purpose, we will focus only on the three most popular stone countertop choices – marble, granite and quartz. The rising popularity of these stone worktops is further fuelled by the fact that they each have a unique look and are all relatively easy to clean and maintain. While stone worktops can sometimes be an expensive choice, they still offer excellent value as a stone countertop will last you a lifetime.
Kitchens with marble countertops
A popular choice for its clean contemporary look, marble is a naturally striking stone. Marble is formed from limestone and mined in various places around the world, including the United States, Spain, Greece, Italy, Romania and Germany. Some of the most precious and expensive marbles in the world include various types of Calcutta Marble, a white or blue-grey marble with a distinctive bold veining pattern. It is mined in the city of Carrara in North Tuscany and is popular for its use in sculpting and building.
There is an abundance of different types of marble catalogued, based on colour, impurities, veining pattern and even the rarity. With its relevance to luxury, marble can create a timeless look that works in a variety of kitchen styles, ranging from a traditional shaker style to super modern. While there are many luxurious types of marble, as a kitchen worktop material it can be budget-friendly with prices starting from £50 per square foot.
Marble worktop pros
- Heat-resistant and excellent for baking
- Variety of different colours and textures
- Various price points starting from £50 per square foot
Marble worktop cons
- Strong, but not as durable as quartz
- Stains easily by acids
- Some types of marble can be very expensive
Kitchens with quartz worktops
Quartz is a man-made worktop stone made by combining quartz chips or quarts dust with resin, resulting in a heavy-weight countertop stone that does not easily stain or crack. It has become popular in British kitchens due to its hard-wearing, high-calibre quality and sleek look. This stone offers extremely low maintenance due to its non-porous finish and as a bonus, it is inherently antibacterial and easy to clean. Quartz can be made in a vast number of different colour finishes and textures. Some of the most popular quartz suppliers include: Caesarstone, Silestone, Santamargherita, Cimstone, Luna Stone, and Compac.
Quartz looks excellent in combination with almost any style of kitchen and we see them frequently used for contemporary shaker style or rustic style kitchens. Are there any downsides to quartz? Quartz worktops are not as heat tolerant as marble and in some cases are not suitable for large countertop areas. Also, as one of the heaviest worktop stones on the market do keep in mind that quartz should always be installed by a professional!
Quartz worktop pros
- Very durable and easy to maintain
- Doesn’t easily stain or crack
- Inherently antibacterial properties
Quartz worktop cons
- Very heavy needs to be always installed by professional
- Not as heat resistant as marble
- Sometimes not suitable for large countertop areas
Kitchens with granite countertops
Granite is a natural hard-wearing stone, which is formed from slowly cooling magma from volcanic activity over millions of years. During the cooling process, the magma combines with various minerals which cause its unique grainy appearance.
Known for its classic veining, granite worktops come in a large array of patterns and granite colours which reflect its unique chemical composition and make each cut unique. Granite is a very durable stone with minimal maintenance requirements and it is more resistant to stains and scratches than marble.
Depending on the style of your kitchen, polished granite creates a classical look which is frequently used to create a traditional kitchen feel. For modern kitchens, we recommend our clients try a mat finish to achieve a more contemporary style. Granite is the best choice for hard-wearing stone kitchen countertops. However, keep in mind that granite can chip easily especially around the edges. For this reason, we recommend our clients select a worktop edge profile with a rounded edge.
Granite worktop pros
- Very durable and easy to maintain
- Stain and scratch-resistant
- Heat resistant
Granite worktop cons
- Very heavy, cabinets need to be designed to provide full support after the fitting
- Can chip around the edges, cannot be repaired if damaged
- They are porous and need to be repeatedly resealed
Kitchen worktop dimensions you need to know
Kitchen worktop height
The average height for a kitchen worktop is around 900mm. However, when it comes to bespoke kitchens what is perfect for one person might not necessarily be for another.
If you are of smaller stature, under 5ft (152 cm), we recommend having cabinets no higher than 82 cm for comfortable cooking and food preparation. 90 cm high cabinets suit customers of average height between 5ft – 5.7ft. For taller customers between 5.7ft to 6ft, we aim for optimal cabinetry heights of up to 100 cm. Anybody above 6ft should definitely opt for bespoke kitchen cabinets with a height between 106-112 cm. This will prevent them from putting excessive strain on their back and make cooking more comfortable.
Kitchen worktop depth
One question which we frequently hear clients ask is ‘what is the industry standard for a kitchen worktop depth?’ Worktops come in a variety of different depths ranging from 600 – 1200 mm. However, most of the worktops you come across have a depth around 650 mm. This gives you enough space to comfortably cook while being able to store some extra jars or small appliances. Countertop stones are usually supplied a little bit deeper to accommodate any pipes, uneven walls or worktop overhang.
If you have a small kitchen, need to save space and there are not any issues with walls or pipes then you can slim the worktop depth down to 600 mm (for a clean finish without any countertop overhang). For wheelchair users, we recommend the worktop depth to be around 800 mm with at least 80 mm overhang to create extra space for knees.
Kitchen worktop profile thickness
When deciding what worktop profile thickness you should get for your kitchen, there are four elements to consider – the aesthetic, durability, cost and the supporting unit. The average thickness for the stone countertop profile is around 30mm. If you are concerned about material durability then avoid choosing a stone profile with thickness under 22mm. The thinner the worktop the higher the risk of cracks or chips. As the thickness increases, the cost grows exponentially therefore it is helpful to have a clear idea of what percentage of the kitchen budget will go towards the countertop.
The kitchen worktop weight is another important element to consider, especially with stone countertops. Our team will always integrate this aspect into the cabinetry plan, in order to create enough support for the heavy worktop.