One of the biggest decisions to make when renovating a kitchen is which bench top to choose? Select the cheaper Laminate or timber option, invest in Quartz Stone or go all out with Marble or Stainless Steel? Each option has their own pros and cons and each kitchen will require a different treatment. The three main factors to consider with bench tops are; the style you are aiming for, your budget and the level of durability or care that will be required to maintain your bench top's look. Below we take a look and explore the five most popular options to help clarify what could work best for you. 1. Laminate - When it comes to bench tops, laminate is by far the cheapest option. Coming in a variety of colours, finishes and textures the options are endless. Laminate's main downfall comes with its plastic finish, which is not as durable as some other options, hot pans or dishes should never be directly placed onto this type of bench top. Likewise, chopping or using sharp knives should be avoided as the surface can easily scratch and once damaged, it is very difficult to repair.
2. Solid Timber - Similar to laminate, solid timber bench tops can be very cost effective (depending on the timber you choose). Available in a variety or timbers and finishes, timber bench tops can be suited to a variety of styles from rustic, or classic country, to a more modern look. Most commonly finished with 2-pac polyurethane or by simply oiling the natural product, this type of counter is very durable as it can be sanded back to re-finish as required. Similar to laminate, solid timber bench tops also require care with hot objects as the surface can burn and easily mark.
3. Engineered Stone - Stepping up a bit in the price scale, quartz or engineered stone is made from (approximately 95%) quartz or granite granules, marble dust or glass chips which are mixed with a resin or polymer base. Its appearance and durability make it a very popular choice in today’s market. Available in an array of colours and textures, engineered stone is well suited to a huge variety of styles. This type of bench top is extremely durable and able to withstand extremely high temperatures and much less porous than natural stone, it also doesn't require sealing - making it one of the lowest maintenance options available.
4. Natural Stones - Marble and Granite are the two main contenders here. While both are absolutely stunning they are another step up in the price range due to being a completely natural product. Marble is somewhat more delicate than granite and extreme care must be taken with acidic foods, wine, tea and some cleaning products due to its porous nature. Both finishes are an excellent choice for cooks or bakers wishing to make pastry as the surface remains very cold. Unlike, engineered stone both marble and granite will require regular resealing to ensure the product maintains its good looks.
5. Stainless Steel - Is the most hygienic option which is why it is often found in commercial kitchens, it is well suited to modern or industrial style kitchens and homes with a finished look that is very sleek. Stainless Steel is very easy to keep clean and capable of withstanding very high temperatures. The largest drawback for this type of bench top is that it can be relatively easy to scratch, will show fingerprints and can be noisy. On the pricing scale, stainless steel is generally the most expensive option - depending on desired thickness.