14 Feb 2015

When building a new kitchen, one of the key things that can really make a dramatic difference is the benchtop material. The material you choose can either make or break your design, and with so many different colours, textures, and materials to choose from, it can be quite a difficult decision. The different materials available all offer their own advantages and disadvantages, and it may be confusing knowing which type is right for you. We’ve created this simple guide to give you an idea of what materials are available on the market, the benefits of each, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

When building a new kitchen, one of the key things that can really make a dramatic difference is the benchtop material. The material you choose can either make or break your design, and with so many different colours, textures, and materials to choose from, it can be quite a difficult decision. The different materials available all offer their own advantages and disadvantages, and it may be confusing knowing which type is right for you. We’ve created this simple guide to give you an idea of what materials are available on the market, the benefits of each, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

GRANITE

Granite is one of the most hard wearing and durable materials available for benchtops. It’s best known for its longevity and extravagant appearance. The sturdiness of the material means it’s not entirely cheap, rather, it’s one of the more expensive options available.

Granite is available in almost any colour, although light coloured granite is known to sometimes pick stains up easily unless it is resealed periodically. A lot of work and effort is required to build granite benchtops, requiring a considerable amount of energy and waste. If you’re after an environmentally friendly benchtop, granite is perhaps not the best option.

LAMINATE

Laminate is an incredibly popular benchtop option, and is therefore available in a range of sizes, shapes, and colours. While extremely affordable, laminate is quite long-lasting and easy to maintain, making it a great option for benchtops. Laminate can be prone to heat and impact damage, but it has antimicrobial properties, and great wear resistance.

ENGINEERED STONE/QUARTZ

Stone or quartz benchtops can be a great ‘green’ alternative for those who are after a natural, environmentally friendly benchtop. Reasonably affordable, engineered stone or quartz has very good temperature and impact resistance, and can provide a contemporary look to your kitchen. Despite having good impact resistance, this material can be prone to chipping. Engineered stone and quartz is pre-sealed, so it will not require resealing for a few years. Keep in mind that this material can be quite heavy, so you would need to ensure that your cupboards and kitchen fit out can cope with its weight.

POLISHED CONCRETE

Polished concrete is slowly becoming more popular as a benchtop material, as it’s quite cheap, easy to install, and quite flexible in its usage. Polished concrete can easily be coloured, making it a great option for a custom made design. On the other hand, polished concrete generally needs extra care to ensure it lasts and remains durable over time. It can also crack, which is more of a cosmetic rather than structural issue, but still one to consider. Polished concrete is heavier than engineered stone and quartz, so it may require special support in your kitchen.

MARBLE

Marble benchtops are by far the best looking. There is no denying how great marble can look in a kitchen. It does, however, require a lot of care and maintenance. Not only is marble very heavy and requires special installation, but it can also scratch easily and is very porous. Due to this, it can stain easily and requires regular resealing, making it a not particularly ‘green’ option. With its incredible beauty and need for maintenance, marble is one of the most expensive benchtop options on the market, generally left for the most high end kitchens.

TIMBER

Timber gives your kitchen a warm, homely feel. Timber is a light material, which is advantageous, and can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Being a natural material, timber is a lot easier to pair with other materials to create contrast in the kitchen. Due to its nature and the way it can absorb moisture, timber can be quite prone to stains and scratching. It is, however, relatively easy to maintain, requiring a bit of sanding and resealing every so often.

ACRYLIC

Acrylic benches, like laminate, are another popular choice. They require very little maintenance and so are great for those with busy schedules, or for investment properties when you don’t want to deal with maintenance. Acrylic can, however, be more expensive than some granite and engineered stone benchtops. An advantage of the material is that it has no visible joins, and so is a great choice for long benchtops. It can scratch easily, however, but it is crack resistant and can be repaired and repolished with ease.