The heart of the home is the kitchen, and the heart of the kitchen is the benchtop!
Are you tired of your old benchtop that is ageing the look of your kitchen? Would you like a beautiful new benchtop to make your kitchen renovation exceptional and be a central welcoming meeting point in your home?
There are a wide range of options now for benchtops as new materials come onto the market. This is exciting but can make the decision more difficult! Whether you are looking for a contemporary, industrial or warm natural look, there is a benchtop for you. But as well as looking great, other factors such as resilience, ease-of-cleaning and budget are important considerations.
To help you identify the perfect benchtop for you and your lifestyle, we have set out the latest benchtop options below with some tips on each.
Granite is extremely durable and will be a life-long feature in your home. If your budget allows it, a natural stone like granite is a great option. It looks stunning and resists chipping and abrasion. But it is a porous material so it’ll need to be sealed to give it stain resistance and you’ll need to continue to reseal it regularly.
Marble’s natural colour and variability, and elegant timeless look, means it is a sought after choice for today’s high end kitchens. No two slabs are the same, so you’ll be assured of having a unique benchtop for your home.
Marble is a natural stone like granite, but is softer and more porous. It more readily absorbs liquids so sealing and ongoing maintenance is a must. Its softness means extra care is needed to avoid scratches and chips.
Bamboo and butcher block
A bamboo or butcher block will give your kitchen a lovely warm natural feel. Bamboo is eco-friendly and also a more cost effective option. These benchtops can be sealed with oil or with polyurethane.
If you choose to have an oiled finish, keep in mind that you’ll need to regularly re-apply the oil to prevent drying out and cracking. A polyurethane finish is more resistant to staining.
A polished concrete benchtop exudes a modern industrial feel and is currently a very trendy choice. Many factors, like cement, aggregate and sand, will influence the final look of your concrete benchtop. So it can be finished precisely to your liking and your benchtop will be unique. However, raw concrete is porous so will need to be sealed/polished to avoid staining and damaging the surface. Also, fabricating concrete benchtops requires alot of skill and experience and this is reflected in the price.
If you’re after practicality, quartz is the answer. It’s probably one of the most popular choices at the moment – it comes in an array of colours and designs and is more cost effective than natural stone. It’s also non-porous so you won’t need to seal it. Quartz is scratch, cutting and abrasion resistant and it resists heat damage and staining. There are various manufacturers to choose from so be sure to shop around.
If you’re on a budget, or looking for a cost effective option for a pantry, a laminate benchtop is worth considering. Laminate (layers of paper over a chipboard, ply or MDF board) has been around for a long time and has come a long way. Now you can get a laminate benchtop to suit any style you’re after – woodgrains, marble and granite looks are all achievable with laminate. You can even create a waterfall finish with seamless joins.
Porcelain is a relatively new and increasingly popular choice. It is versatile, you can use porcelain sheets for furniture, flooring and in outdoor areas. It is also lightweight, you won’t need to seal it and it’s available in large slab sizes.
Porcelain is stain, heat, cut and abrasion resistant. Note though that installers do not recommend that you use porcelain with undermount sinks because of the risk that the edges will chip with everyday use.
Solid surfacing (Corian)
If you’re looking for versatility and durability, a solid surfacing (Corian) benchtop is worth considering. Solid surfacing is an acrylic resin with a filler of alumina. These materials give strength and fire retardant properties. Solid surfacing gives you the possibility to mould your kitchen sink in the same seamless piece as your benchtop, and it’s ideal if you have a large benchtop or island.
With no cracks or crevices to trap food and dirt, it’s also a hygienic option. Corian is waterproof and UV resistant so it’s also an option if you have an outdoor entertaining area. It’s also translucent, so you can backlight Corian to create a stunning feature. If the Corian is damaged, the affected piece can usually be cut out and filled in with a new piece, with the same seamless finish.
If you like a restaurant vibe in your kitchen, consider a stainless steel benchtop. It’s a hygienic option and is durable, and definitely one for the cooking enthusiast.
You can place a hot saucepan on the surface without damaging it, and it’s fairly stain resistant.
Ultra compact (Dekton)
Thinking outside the square? An ultra-compact surface is an alternative to consider. It’s manufactured by putting the raw materials found in glass, porcelain and quartz under extreme heat and pressure. Its UV resistance makes it an option if you have an outdoor kitchen/entertaining area. It also comes in large slabs, limiting the amount of seams required; depending on the size of your kitchen, it may even eliminate the need for seams all together.
A tiled benchtop is quite unusual and allows for different colours, style textures and patterns to give your kitchen a unique look. Also, it can be quite inexpensive.
Tiles tends to be cut and scratch resistant, however you may find tiled surfaces can be a chore to clean, especially the grout. It’s important to have your grout sealed to avoid staining and fiddly cleaning situations. Using a darker grout (if possible) will also help to hide stains.
Many thanks to Choice for their opinions and assessments of these benchtop options.
Before you select your builder, make sure they are appropriately qualified and experienced professional builders. To help you do this, we have prepared a FREE guide: The 7 Critical Questions to Ask Before You Choose Your Builder.
Download it now to learn:
How to check whether your builder is up to the job
How to avoid getting caught out by builders charging you more than you were expecting
and more handy tips