The kitchen is undoubtedly the center of the home, and every good kitchen has a sturdy bench to gather round. When it comes to selecting a design and materials for the ideal kitchen benchtop, the options are seemingly endless and can be somewhat daunting to choose the stone that you’ll be looking at every day. As well as keeping aesthetics in mind, functionality, practicality and endurance are key to the decision making process. We’ve compiled the tips and tricks of the trade to guide you in your process of selecting the perfect kitchen benchtop to suit your lifestyle.
This multi-use stone is perfect for family use and is hard wearing. We tend to use Caesarstone, Quantum Quartz and Silestone depending on what size and colour the theme of the kitchen and cabinets require. While engineered stone is a great, sleek option keep in mind that it is susceptible to chipping, hot items like pots and pans can’t be placed directly on it and it can’t be used outdoors.
Granite is a great option for outdoor benches, as it is resilient to wear and tear. We use granite in a honed black colour, so it’s important to ensure that this shade will suit the overall theme of the kitchen before selecting it.
Marble is stunning and adds a luxurious modern touch to a kitchen. There are, however a few impracticalities to consider. Marble is susceptible to etch marks caused by contact with anything acidic. This means that the top layer is stripped and a stain is left on the surface. Marble will also require consistent maintenance, as things like red wine and curry spillages will leave a mark, so regular attention must be paid to the finish. When choosing a marble benchtop, the options will be either glossed or honed. A honed finish masks etches better than a gloss does. In essence, while marble is beautiful to look at, unless you rarely cook at home and the kitchen is not used for regular food preparation, a marble bench is somewhat high maintenance.
Ceramic benchtops are great if you’re opting for a thinner look, as the slabs are only 12mm thick. This option is hugely versatile and great for a practical and wholly functional kitchen – it is resilient against hot pots and pans, chip resistant and requires a lot less glue and epoxy to engineered stone. In terms of visual appeal, a realistic marble print is printed onto the surface, however it is important to note that the veining does not reach all the way through, therefore if you opt for a 12mm benchtop, the exposed edge will be plain rather than marbled. Additionally, if you decide on a thicker 40mm benchtop and your design facilitates an under-mount sink, keep in mind that the stone edge around the sink will only reach 12mm, as a cutout cannot be mitered.
Laminates have come a long way and are becoming much more practical and appealing to the eye. For those who are conscious of budget, a laminate benchtop is worth considering.
Natural products like solid timber make for beautiful surfaces, especially for island benches. When choosing to use a natural product, planning is key. Be sure to make the call early and keep your builder or designer in the loop – there’s nothing worse than falling in love with a slab and later realizing that the island is too long and will require a join. Making these decisions early and under knowledgeable guidance will make for a seamless process.