Kitchen benchtops truly add the finishing touch to a kitchen, so it makes sense to choose a benchtop material that suits your style, adds functionality and is aesthetically pleasing. There are a myriad of choices in the marketplace, so below is a description of some of the more common benchtop types.
Two major factors will influence the design of your kitchen benchtops: personal choice and budget. Kitchen benchtops are the first thing you see when you enter a kitchen and are the most visually dominating element – so it is important that you choose a material that matches your existing décor and that suits your lifestyle. For example, if you are a serious cook, you may be better off with a heat and scratch resistant material such as a quartz based stone benchtop, rather than laminate which cannot take heat at all. However, if you are looking to add warmth to your kitchen, textured stone or timber benchtops are a perfect solution.
Types of Kitchen Benchtops
The most common benchtop styles are:
Granite is a very durable and scratch and chip resistant. You are able to place hot items directly on the benchtop as well as use the benchtop itself for food preparation. However, because granite is porous, it will need to be sealed regularly, usually around once a year.
Corian is a patented blend of acrylic and natural minerals. It allows for a seamless finish and is hygienic, non-porous, and resistant to stains. It comes in many different colours and is available in matte, semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes.
Marble has many of the same qualities as granite and because it is such a smooth surface, it is favoured for the preparation of dough and pastries. However, because it is so porous, it will require sealants to be applied more often than granite.
Stone/Quartz is the most durable stone benchtop. It has the look of natural stone and is highly resistant to staining. Quartz surfacing is low maintenance, non-porous and very hygienic. Stone benchtop brands include Quantum Quartz, Caesarstone, Silestone and Essa Stone.
Concrete can be pre-cast in a mould or cast on site. It is rapidly rising in popularity but it needs to be sealed in order to resist stains and water damage.
Laminate is the most traditional and common of all benchtops. It is an economical alternative and is made up of several layers that have been pressed together. It does not have the durability of stone but it is highly versatile in that it is available in a wide range of colours, finishes and textures. Laminate brands include Laminex, Formica, Wilsonart and Abet Laminati.
Tile is commonly used as a splashback or as trim, but stronger tiles can be used as a benchtop. Tiles may have raised, inset or painted designs and are commonly made from materials such as ceramic, porcelain, glass or natural stone. If unglazed tiles are used, they must be sealed.
Hardwood are generally constructed from narrow timber strips bonded together. Hardwood benchtops, commonly known as a “butcher block”, are generally between 1 ¼ and 6 inches thick and are highly favoured by chefs and serious cooks.
Stainless Steel is the defining the look of a contemporary kitchen, and is used commonly in industrial-style kitchens, both as a benchtop and splashback material. It is recommended that 304 stainless steel for domestic use and 1.2mm sheets for splashbacks and 1.6mm for benchtops. Stainless steel does scratch and should be cleaned with non-abrasive cleaners.