Your choice of benchtop surface can make a lasting impression, transforming your kitchen from the workshop to a stylish family hub. Here we show you how to choose the right kitchen benchtop with tips on care and maintenance.
You’ve chosen your kitchen design, now it’s time to think about your benchtops.
With so many materials available, it can be hard to figure out which will best suit your needs and budget. Are you looking for a durable workspace that is low maintenance such as laminate or would you rather make a statement in style with Carrara marble? Can you extend the budget to include the solid stone waterfall ends, or are you hoping to cut down costs by opting for a laminate top in a stone look? Whatever your dream make sure you speak to your cabinetmaker to find out what’s included in your design and how much it will cost to upgrade to your dream aesthetic.
Creating your kitchen is as much about affordability and space as is it about functionality. But for style and substance, remember to implicate the work triangle concept in your kitchen design for preparing, cleaning, cooking and storing your food with maximum efficiency.
Factors to consider when choosing your benchtop include:
There is significant difference between what is included in the most affordable options on the market and the most expensive. Natural stone, such as marble and granite needs to be shipped, cut to size and installed. When dealing with stone it’s best to leave it to the experts.
By far laminate is the most inexpensive surface on the market. Work out the look you’d like and how much you are willing to spend to achieve it and go from there.
It’s a good idea to make sure the material you choose for your benchtops matches the overall style of the home. Polished concrete might look fantastic in an ultra-modern, minimalistic kitchen, but it might not work as well in a heritage home. If your budget permits, it makes sense to use the same material across all wet surfaces (kitchen, bathroom and laundry) to give your home a uniform colour pallet.
The size of your kitchen may be the primary consideration in determining which material you choose for your benchtops. Most stone benchtops products are produced in standard sheet sizes of 3000 x 1400 millimetres, so anything longer will require a join. If you really want a seamless look, solid surface might be more to your taste as it can be joined inconspicuously.
There’s a variety of benchtop surfaces to choose from:
The most affordable and popular option for benchtops, laminate comes in a wide range of colours, patterns and textures. From imitation stone and timbers to high gloss or sleek matt finishes, laminates offer something to suit every interior at an attractive price point.
Care/Maintenance: Laminate requires little maintenance and although it can be scratched once damaged it can be difficult to repair. Always use a chopping board when preparing food and never place hot items directly onto the surface. Also be aware of harsh cleaners as these can strip the protective coating causing discolouration.
Natural Stone Benchtops
It is the natural qualities of stone that make it so highly sought after. For a contemporary yet classic kitchen, natural stone such as marble and granite are an ideal option. These hard wearing heat proof surfaces give your area a sleek luxurious look and work well when paired with timber floor or tiles.
Care/Maintenance: Marble is especially porous and susceptible to staining and chipping so regular care and maintenance including sealing is required to help protect the surface. Any spills such as wine or beetroot should be wiped up immediately. Avoid using acidic or abrasive cleaners that can dull or react with the surface. Do not use the surface as a cutting board. Stone can be difficult and expensive to repair.
Engineered Stone Benchtops
Engineered stone was introduced to the market in the late 1990’s to meet growing demand for a product with improved density and a more consistent finish. This man made product is generally created from a combination of naturally forming quartz aggregates mixed with polyester or resins. Engineered stone benchtops are more durable and stain resistant than natural stone. They are particularly well wearing option for young families.
Care/Maintenance: Similar to natural stone engineered stone is a strong surface but still requires basic maintenance. Generally speaking, all this material requires a once over with a clean cloth, mild detergent and warm water. It is less porous than natural stone and more resistant to damage from wine, citrus, vinegar and other acidic liquids but it is important to avoid using harsh chemicals and cleaners.
Solid Surface Benchtops
If you want a long-lasting surface that will withstand conditions in even the busiest family kitchen, you might want to consider a solid surface benchtop such as Corian. Solid surface benches were originally designed for commercial use, and are made from a blend of acrylic polymer and natural minerals. Some brands offer marble or granite look options. These benches can be shaped to suit the needs of your kitchen using a heat based process called thermoforming. Sinks and hand basins can be seamlessly integrated into the benchtops, unlike any other product on offer, joins appear inconspicuous. Acrylic surfaces can be pricey but they are hygienic, stain resistant and easy to repair.
Care/Maintenance: General cleaning use soapy water, ammonia based cleaner, (not window cleaner) rinse and wipe. Stubborn marks such as beetroot and ink can be removed with Jif creamy formula and warm water, rinse and wipe off. Be mindful that solid surface is not heat or scratch resistant, so care is still needed when preparing food. Dark coloured surfaces have a tendency to show up scratch marks but damage can be easily buffed out.
Timber tops can give your kitchen a touch of country charm and are also easy to work in with other finishes, including marble stone or stainless steel. Though a timber benchtop can add warmth to the space, it is often not the most practical option for obvious reasons. Depending on the style of the timber you like, it can be a pricey option.
Care/Maintenance: Timber tops require care and attention. They need to be sealed regularly and require much more care when preparing foods as they are not scratch resistant and can be affected by heat and liquid.
Polished Concrete Benchtops
Polished concrete is having its moment in the spotlight. At first it was all about floors, but it is becoming increasingly popular in the kitchen and bathroom. This hard surface is great for kitchens with an industrial look offering a durable, well-wearing surface. You can also personalise your concrete by adding aggregates, such as pebbles or other materials into the mould for a personalised touch.
Care/Maintenance: Concrete is extremely porous so it stains easily. It also chips and can develop small cracks. Any benchtop needs to be sealed to resist stains and water damage.
Stainless Steel Benchtops
Stainless Steel’s hard wearing and virtually indestructible nature has made it a popular choice with young families. It’s versatile, easy to clean and extremely hygienic and sinks can be welded directly into the counter, giving the benchtop a completely seamless look. Also keep in mind that if not softened with warm cabinetry, fixtures and flooring, stainless steel can look cold and clinical.
Care/Maintenance: Stainless steel tends to scratch and dent which, depending on your taste, may enhance its industrial charm. Damage can be easily buffed out. You also don’t have to worry about placing hot pots or trays directly on this surface as stainless can take the heat.
With so many benchtop options available and factors to consider, if you need assistance on how to choose the right kitchen benchtop, call into our Breakwater Showroom or call us for a chat, Tel: 03 5248 7101