When you are undertaking a kitchen renovation there are so many decisions and choosing a kitchen benchtop for your new kitchen can seem a little overwhelming.
In this article we share the most common types of kitchen benchtops, which stone is more expensive and how to choose a kitchen benchtop for your new kitchen.
How to choose a kitchen benchtop
A kitchen bench not only provides a functional aspect to a kitchen, it also plays a huge role in determining the finished aesthetic of a kitchen.
The type of kitchen bench top you ultimately choose depends on what your priorities are.
Price, colour, durability and uniqueness all factor into making a decision on which type of kitchen bench top you should select.
Taking the time to really think through which kitchen benchtop is best for your kitchen renovation can take time but if you get it right the results will be so worthwhile.
Here we talk through ten of the main kitchen benchtop options for you to read up on the pros and cons and help you to choose the best benchtop for your kitchen renovation.
Marble is natural stone with a beautiful and unique finish. It is timeless and elegant and there are many different types of marble varying in colour and pattern. Marble is considered a luxury benchtop option.
Carrara marble is probably the most common marble used on kitchen benchtops in Australia and may be less expensive than other types of marble as well as being a firm favourite in Hamptons style kitchens and bathrooms.
When you decide to go with a marble kitchen bench top, you will have the opportunity to visit a supplier and personally select your slab to suit your individual taste.
Choosing a finish for your marble will depend on the style of your kitchen. Polished, honed and leathered are the most common finishes each with a different appearance.
Marble has a long history of use in residential interiors and has a reputation for being difficult to maintain. Yes, it can be delicate, but if it is sealed correctly and used as recommended it delivers incomparable beauty.
While placing hot items on a marble benchyop doesn’t result in damage, it is not recommended. Acidic products such as lemon and red wine cause a chemical reaction on the surface and dull the bench top. Etching as it is known, is perhaps one of the biggest concerns of using marble in the kitchen, but with proper care it is preventable.
2. Quartz / Engineered Stone
Quartz or Engineered stone is a man-made product that contains approximately 93% crushed quartz crystals combined with resin to bind it all together. Pigment is added to create the large range of colours available. It is often referred to a Caesarstone however there is a range of other brands on the market in Australia including Quantum Quartz, Silestone, Smartstone and Essastone.
The price for engineered stone varies depending on colour and pattern and varies from standard to luxury ranges. Engineered stone is popular and practical due to its large colour range, consistency in colour and pattern, and price.
Engineered stone is resistant to scratches, cracks and spills however care still needs to be taken to treat an engineered stone kitchen bench with care. It is available in a variety of finishes including polished, matte, honed, concrete and rough.
Engineered stone is not recommended for uncovered outdoor applications as it will fade.
Engineered stone comes in a standard 20mm thickness with 30mm offered in some colours and 12 or 13mm available by some brands for vertical applications. Slabs vary in size from standard to jumbo and availability may affect your selection if you have a larger kitchen island or bench.
3. Polished Concrete
If you’re after an industrial style kitchen, then you’ll no doubt be considering concrete for your kitchen benchtop. Polished Concrete can vary in colour depending on the mix of cement, aggregate and sand.
If left unfinished it is porous and to avoid staining should be finished and can be re-polished if damage occurs to the surface.
Like both natural and engineered stone polished concrete chips easily and care needs to be taken not to drop items onto it.
4. Solid Surface
Commonly referred to as Corian, solid surface is manufactured from a natural mineral refined from bauxite and blended with pure acrylic resin. Its unique composition gives it strength and fire-retardant properties.
Solid surface is able to be moulded and provides a seamless surface making it a great choice for large surfaces like a kitchen benchtop. It is extremely hygienic as there are no joins and very easy to keep clean if used to cove where the kitchen benchtop meets the splashback. It can be used on the fronts of cabinetry for a seamless finish and is translucent meaning it can be backlit for a stunning effect.
While solid surface does scratch if objects are dragged across it, it is repairable by the manufacturer and entire pieces can be cut out and replaced if required.
The most popular budget option, laminate has been popular for years. Huge advances in laminate now mean it is available in colours and finishes to suit just about any kitchen style.
Laminex, Polytec and Nikpol are all brands of laminate.
Laminate is a man-made product made of layers of paper over a chipboard, ply or MDF board. It is known to be extremely durable to scratching and can tolerate heat briefly. It can swell if water does get into areas where the surface may be damaged.
Laminate is a great choice if you want the designer look for your kitchen benchtop but don’t have the budget. It can be used to create almost any look and can be used to produce a waterfall edge and seamless joins for larger surfaces.
Timber kitchen benchtops are becoming increasingly popular for their organic nature and rustic appearance.
Timber has the ability to be repaired and is a soft surface to place items onto. It needs to be finished with oil or polyurethane to protect the surface. Oiled kitchen benchtops require you to regularly re-apply the oil to prevent drying out and cracking. Spills should be wiped straight away with a damp cloth for an oiled surface and warm soapy water or spray and wipe type products for polyurethane surfaces.
Care needs to be taken not to place hot pans or trays onto a timber bench. Timber can be sanded back and refinished if damage occurs to the surface.
7. Stainless Steel
If a gourmet kitchen is your style, then stainless steel could be a great choice. Stainless steel is hygienic and durable and both heat and stain resistant. It can be wrapped around bench edges for a seamless edge on your kitchen benchtop.
Stainless steel can dent if items are dropped on it and does show fingerprints and accepting its changing appearance over time would be required.
Stainless steel is an expensive but long wearing kitchen benchtop option.
Porcelain slabs are becoming increasingly popular for kitchen benchtops. A lightweight option with large slab sizes allows it to be used for both the benchtop and splashback in a kitchen.
Patterns can even be book-matched for oversize areas making it impressive for feature a splashback.
One of the biggest drawbacks for porcelain has been the higher cost of fabricating charged by stonemasons. Setting this aside, it is a great option for a durable benchtop.
It is resistant to heat and scratching and suitable for both indoor and outdoor kitchens.
Granite is a natural stone that suits both contemporary and classic kitchens. Granite resists staining and bacteria as well as resisting heat and scratches.
Granite can also be polished to a very high gloss level and are not affected by acidic products such as lemon juice and red wine. For an alternative to a polished finish consider honed for a matt look, leathered for a sophisticated, textured appearance or hammered for a textured, rustic look.
Granite is probably the most durable of all kitchen benchtop options, however it doesn’t have the same pattern as the more commonly used marbles. Granite should be regularly sealed to keep it looking in good. This is usually done once a year.
Made from a mixture of inorganic raw materials found in glass, porcelain tile and natural quartz, ultra-compact is more commonly known as the brand name Dekton.
Highly resistant to impact, scratches and abrasion Dekton is ideal for use in high-traffic areas and has very low water absorption.
Large slab sizes are available and its resistance to UV make it ideal for outdoor kitchen benchtops and splashbacks. Its thickness can vary between 8 and 30mm depending on the application.
Dekton have trained fabricators who specialise in dealing with this harder than usual benchtop surface. Be aware that while this is a more expensive benchtop option it is a durable, quality product with high visual appeal.
Which type of stone is more expensive, Engineered Stone or Natural Stone
A common perception is that natural stone is more expensive that engineered stone but this is not always true.
Engineered stones have different price ranges depending on the colour and pattern type while natural stones vary greatly in price depending on the colour and type of stone. The high-end engineered stones can in some instances, be more expensive than say granite for example. A large granite slab may end up being more cost effective than two slabs of engineered stone.
The only way to get a true comparison is to take your short list of kitchen benchtop options to a stone fabricator and request a quote.
10 Tips for getting the most from your benchtop
Researching the best benchtop for your new kitchen can save a lot of headaches further down the track and ensure you get the best product for your home.
Like to read more on creating your dream kitchen? You can check out more here and here.
If you after reading the pros and cons you are still unsure of what type of kitchen benchtop to choose, then an experienced kitchen designer can be engaged to assist with the selection process. Together you will work through how your kitchen will function and your individual or family requirements.
If you still can't decide on a benchtop send me a message and let's talk through making a selection.
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Award-winning Interior Designer at Bella Vie Interiors.