Whether you’re doing a kitchen renovation or building a new home, deciding on a benchtop surface can be tricky. There are plenty of options available, each with their own pros and cons.
To help you narrow down the options, we’re going to give you a quick run through of five of the most popular kitchen benchtop materials.
- Natural Stone
When it comes to kitchen benchtops, some common natural stones include marble and granite. As the name suggests, these stones occur naturally and undergo very little processing between the quarry and the showroom. Slabs will be cut and polished, but other than that they remain naturally occurring stone products.
Natural stone benchtops are a stunning addition to any kitchen. They have a depth and beauty that is unsurpassed by other materials. Depending on the type of stone you choose, there will be some variation in characteristics. Marble, for example, has a wide range of pros and cons. While it’s beautiful and luxurious, it is a soft, porous stone that is prone to scratching and chipping and sensitive to staining.
Granite, on the other hand, is incredibly tough and naturally resistant to scratching and chipping. Because of its density, it is much less prone to staining and acid damage than marble. On the downside, granite is extremely heavy, so you may need to reinforce the support structure prior to installation.
While there is a great deal of price variation among the different types of natural stones (marble in particular), marble and granite will be among the more expensive benchtop options.
- Engineered Stone
Engineered stone is an increasingly popular choice for kitchen benchtops. Engineered stone combines some of the aesthetics of natural stone with the durability and low maintenance requirements of a purpose engineered product.
Engineered stone products are made from crushed stone mixed with an adhesive polymer resin. The result is a slab that is stronger, more consistent and easier to work with than natural stone materials. They tend to require very little maintenance, beyond occasional surface sealing.
Caeserstone benchtops, for example, are made from about 90% quartz aggregates, organic pigments and enhanced polymer resins. The resulting surface is heat, stain, scratch and chip resistant.
Engineered stone products are available in a wide range of colours styles and finishes across a range of price points.
Natural timber benchtops are another popular option. As a natural, renewable resource with a low embodied energy, timber is one of the most environmentally friendly benchtop options. Available in a range of timbers — from hardwoods like oak, ash or jarrah through to fast-growing bamboo benchtops — timber can provide a modern or a rustic aesthetic that can fit with a range of decor styles.
Timber benchtops need to be regularly sealed to protect the wood from stains and moisture damage. Timber can also be prone to scratching and other forms of physical damage.
One of the major upsides of timber is that the surface can be sanded back and refinished to remove any damage and return the surface to as-new condition. Most other benchtop surfaces cannot be so easily repaired or resurfaced.
Pricing for timber benchtops can vary significantly depending on the type of timber and where you source it from.
- Polished concrete
Polished concrete benchtops can be poured and finished onsite. This means that they can easily be custom shaped to any kitchen design and won’t be broken up by joins or seams. Since concrete is a porous material, the benchtops will need to be sealed before use to prevent moisture damage and staining, and to create a hygienic work surface.
Polished concrete surfaces can be finished in a range of styles and textures, depending on your aesthetic requirements and design style.
As with granite, concrete is extremely heavy and so you may need to reinforce your under-bench cabinetry to support the weight of the concrete.
Polished concrete is definitely not a cheap option, but you will end up with a custom made, incredibly durable surface that will last a lifetime.
- Laminate Benchtops
If you’re looking for a budget benchtop option, then a laminate surface might be the way to go. Laminates are available in a wide range of colours and designs, many of them designed to imitate other materials, like timber and natural stone. This way you can get the look of a high end surface without the hefty price tag.
Laminates are resistant to staining and require very little maintenance, but they can be easily scratched and damaged by heat.
When it comes to choosing a kitchen benchtop material, there’s a wide range of options available. It’s vital that you do your research to ensure you get the perfect work surface to suit your kitchen.