Which Kitchen Benchtop is Right For You?

As a focal point of the kitchen, it is no surprise that choosing the right kitchen benchtop for your home is high on the priority list when planning a new kitchen build or refresh of your current space. It is here that family and friends gather, prepare meals, converse about their day-to-day experiences and often celebrate special family moments. 

As an important decision in building your dream kitchen, we have done the groundwork for you, covered some crucial topics to consider, and revealed the wide range of options available. Knowing the pros and cons to be aware of will assist in making your planning as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Let’s get started. 

The first step in your kitchen benchtop journey is confirming the budget you aim to work within and the functionality requirements of your ideal benchtop and kitchen layout. It is always wise to consider your home’s space and surrounding aesthetics to ensure that you have a seamless result that compliments the existing style and adds value to your home.

Whether a small kitchen benchtop for meal preparations or a feature island-style benchtop, the choices of materials and finishes are endless. Considering the desired size of your benchtop slab and the level of maintenance required in your chosen material is essential in selecting the ideal benchtop to serve your needs, add beauty to your kitchen space and increase the overall value of your home.

Kitchen Benchtop Options 

Laminate

Laminate is a highly sought-after material for kitchen benchtops. More technically known as cellulose-reinforced plastic, laminate is made by compressing layers of this reinforced plastic with moisture-resistant wood such as MDF or particleboard and a final decorative paper sheet. 

Pros:

  • Extensive range of options in colours and finishes 
  • Budget-friendly
  • Versatile and easy to install
  • Easily Maintained
  • Long-lasting
  • Non- porous/ Anti-bacterial qualities

Cons:

  • Not moisture-proof
  • Prone to scratching & denting
  • Not heatproof
  • Not as durable as other materials. Life span of approximately 10 years

Maintenance:

Though not requiring the same maintenance as natural materials such as stone and granite, laminate benchtops are more susceptible to damage if extreme heat is applied, such as hot kitchen pans. Laminate can also scratch easily if sharp items or direct cutting occurs on the surface.

Laminate is a cellulose-based material that is affected by humidity and can cause it to shrink or expand. Both the laminate and the material it is applied to should be treated.

Engineered Stone

Engineered Stone can be simply explained as artificial stone manufactured in a factory. Consisting primarily of quartz, one of the world’s most robust materials, the remaining components of engineered stone are synthetic.

Pros:

  • Resilient – scratch, chip and stain resistant
  • Customisable – artificially manufactured through a reliable factory process ensures a consistent result in your specified size and shape
  • Cost-effective – comparatively lower in price than its competitor, natural stone
  • Easy to clean

Cons:

  • Prone to chipping
  • Reduced temperature resistance – can crack, show discolouration or burn marks if extreme heat is applied, such as hot pots and pans

Maintenance:

As engineered stone is not as porous as natural options such as granite or stone, it does not need to be sealed and requires little to no ongoing maintenance.

Natural Stone

Natural Stone, such as granite and marble, are popular options due to their aesthetically pleasing appearance and superb durability. 

Pros:

  • Visually appealing
  • Unique – each slab has individual beauty in the colourings and natural veinings that run through the slab. No two pieces are the same.
  • Good investment – increases the value of your home
  • Durability – extensive lifespan

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Reduced temperature resistance -have been known to crack under extreme heat, such as kitchen pots.
  • Prone to scratch and staining if not regularly sealed

Maintenance:

Highly sought-after natural stones such as granite and marble are considered luxury materials and require regular maintenance such as cleaning, sealing and polishing. As natural stones are generally porous, sealing will provide increased resistance to scratches and surface damage from exposure to acids in various foods and kitchen products and foods.

Solid Acrylic Surface

Solid Acrylic Surface is a non-porous homogenous surfacing material made from natural minerals and acrylic resin. Solid and seamless, this material offers a wide range of styles and colour options.

Pros:

  • Low Maintenance
  • Stain resistant
  • Seamless/ No visible joins
  • Wide range of styles and colours
  • Custom-made to your specifications

Cons:

  • Not scratch resistant
  • Reacts negatively to strong chemicals
  • Increased price point – generally more expensive than other materials such as natural or engineered stone

Maintenance:

A non-porous material, benchtops made of a solid acrylic surface require minimal maintenance, making them a popular option for many kitchen spaces.

Timber

Timber kitchen benchtops are a coveted choice for homes wanting a more natural look, such as country and traditional styles.

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly option
  • Cost-effective: the use of recycled timber can significantly reduce financial outlay
  • Unique in appearance 
  • Versatile – can be stained and polished to compliment the surrounding colour palette

Cons:

  • Not heat resistant – can incur damage when extreme heat is applied, such as kitchen pots and pans.
  • Prone to scratching and staining

Maintenance:

Timber requires low maintenance due to its natural qualities and can outlast most other materials. Timber needs to be oiled yearly to remain protected. Wear and tear can add character to timber’s earthen beauty if that is the desired look. However, the material can be easily resanded and sealed to return to its original pristine quality.

Concrete

Concrete is a practical and highly workable material used in modern kitchen benchtops. With a modern and sleek look, concrete kitchen benchtops are highly durable and require minimal maintenance.

Most commonly used in 2 types of concrete:

  1. Traditional Wet Cast Concrete – poured into one solid slab, eliminating the need for joins and grout
  2. Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) offers a lighter option that can be developed into more complex designs and reduces the slab’s weight. GFRC is less susceptible to cracking.

Pros:

  • Versatile – can be cast into any shape and pigmented, stained or textured with a vast range of shades and colours
  • Durable – the mixture of sand and cement makes the surface as strong as the footpaths we walk on every day
  • Easily repaired
  • Modern visual appearance

Cons:

  • Prone to cracking – sometimes affected by the pressure of natural movement of the home
  • Prone to stains and scratches
  • Porous material – requires sealing on installation to avoid absorption of moisture or bacterial growth.
  • Not suitable for a wide range of homes or styles

Maintenance:

Though requiring sealing at the time of installation, concrete benchtops can last a lifetime with minimal upkeep. Scratches and chips can add to concrete’s rustic, urban feel or be easily repaired for a freshen-up that requires minimal effort.

As the home’s most used room, it is no surprise that choosing the ideal kitchen benchtop is often a long and detailed process. From the choice of materials, styles and applications available in today’s market, there is a benchtop that is the perfect choice for every home.

Call Modern Kitchen Northside today on 07 3889 9054 for expert advice from our kitchen specialists on your upcoming build or kitchen renovation.

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