How to choose your tops

We loved hearing your most pressing questions on the kitchen design process on our recent IG poll. One question that came up quite a lot was how to go about choosing your tops. It is a major part of the kitchen design process, and often one of the most tricky due to the vast array of options. But, do not fret, we have broken this down into and easy to understand guide to help you along the way. 

When it comes to kitchen counters there are a few main characteristics that need to be explored before you can make your final decision. 


It is important to ask how the material is going to wear as it performs its intended function. An example of this is, if the counter houses a sink or if its in a wet area then you would want something that will withstand moisture such as granite, quartz or marble. These materials can be a bit more expensive than other materials such melamine, but the benefit is that they are durable and long lasting, meaning that you will not need to replace the tops regularly. Hardwood is another alternative but would not be advised for wet areas as it will eventually decay under the stress of moisture or if moisture gets under the sealant, which can happen if the counter is scratched or if there’s shrinking in which fine cracks can appear. 

Stainless steel is also an option for areas like the scullery and laundry and is commonly used kitchens with an industrial style. 

Look & feel

Hard woods like oak and ash wood, which are both suitable for kitchen counters, lend themselves to a more country style, whereas engineered stone such as Caesarstone, Eaziquartz or Teramo quartz, to name a few, are more suited to modern country and contemporary kitchen styles. The other material worth mentioning is ceramic surfaces like Neolith and Dekton. Although they are quite pricey, they are extremely durable and come in plenty of colours and textures. 

Marble is another stone option if you’re going for an opulent look and feel and although some marble variants are susceptible to staining, as long as they are properly treated they make an awesome statement in any kitchen. We have also added marble splash-backs and shelves to kitchens to take them to the next level of extravagance.


An important factor to look at when choosing your tops, especially in a kitchen, is how you would like the space to feel. Although stone or quartz would be very practical and easy to maintain, it can be cold and, especially in winter, this can be a bit off-putting if the island is used as an informal dining space. In this case, many people go for wood as the preferred surface for kitchen islands. It is important to ensure that the wood is treated properly to withstand wear and tear and to resist staining. Having said that, the wooden kitchen island is, after all, a work top and marking will be inevitable so its important to keep the top clean so that liquids don’t get a chance to seep below the protective surface treatment. its also important to remember that solid wood surfaces can also be sanded down and resurfaced every now and again and they will look as good as new. We like to say that marks on your wooden surface add character to your kitchen and create a feeling of comfort and homeyness. 


The factor we get asked about most! This is something you will need to discuss with your kitchen designer to find a material that works for you and well as your budget. The tops you choice will add value to your and therefore need to be long lasting and durable in their intended function. 

From cheapest to most 

  • Melamine or post form top (not offered at Holly Wood due to it’s non-durable nature)
  • Timber 
  • Quartz
  • Granite
  • Marble 
  • Ceramic 

Stainless steel would fit somewhere in the middle depending on the fabrication and installation costs.

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