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BENCHTOPS

Choosing a benchtop is one of the first things people tend to start with when first embarking on their kitchen design project.

Once upon a time

choices were fairly limited; these days the variety of materials, colours, patterns and lately, finishes, is becoming quite bewildering. Once again, availing yourself of the services of a good designer is essential in order to achieve the desired result, especially when the price variance from one type and price range to another can be substantial.

Laminate benchtops

Are available in a wide range of colours and designs and mimic more expensive materials such as timber or stone, making them budget-friendly. While resistant to stains and scratching, as well as easy to keep clean, it is more prone to scorching, as it is not overly heat resistant.
It is an economical option that is not only flexible, but also durable. Brands like Laminex, Formica and Polytec are popular brands, known for their reliability, ranges and customer service. Be aware that not all laminates are able to be specified for benchtop use, so it is critical to avail yourself of good advice.

Acrylic surfaces

The main brands in the market are Corian®, Staron®, Freestyle®, and Hi-Max®. As the name implies the main material is an acrylic polymer. They are available in an extensive range of colours, are silica-free and non-toxic. They are the surface of choice to create artistic flowing benchtops and other design elements.
These are also referred to as Solid Surface benchtops and are popular because of the seamless joins between each piece. These joins are invisible after installation, so that the benchtop appears as one continuous surface. Solid surface benchtops can be repaired by the manufacturer if damaged. They are also germ, stain, and mould resistant.

Engineered stone

Caesarstone or Talostone, comes in a wide range of colours, is very durable and is easy to clean. Engineered stone is a mix of natural crushed quartz, bound with polymer resins. Durable and beautiful, engineered stone is resistant to stains, heat, cracks, mould, mildew, scratches, and is non-porous.

Concrete benchtops

Excellent in an industrial-style space and add a raw contrast to timber and joinery. They are generally formed and poured on-site. Also, hygienic, and a firm favourite for the industrial style.

Stainless steel

The perfect choice if you are looking for a more modern or very forgiving finish. It is heat and stain proof, hygienic, and very hard-wearing, hence its use in commercial kitchens. Will scratch to eventually create a honed-finish effect, but may be buffed back.

Timber

A lovely addition for a classic or country farmhouse style anywhere in the home, especially kitchens. The character and warmth of a benchtop, such as American or Tasmanian oak suits such styles perfectly. Timber also works wonderfully well against white in any application, so good to consider for a bathroom, or other room in your home. For a ‘green’ touch, consider using recycled timber. Requires more maintenance both on a daily basis and over time. Need to carefully consider, particularly where there are wet areas.

Bamboo

Less expensive and eco-friendly, and can be an exciting addition to any style of kitchen. Refinish it every couple of years to refresh its look.

Natural stone

Granite and marble, are beautiful, timeless, and sophisticated. Some stones, such as marble and limestones do require significant upkeep as they are softer and more porous, while granite can withstand just about whatever is thrown at it. However, the beautiful classic and textured appeal of Carrara or Calacatta marbles make these popular choices regardless. They add instant elegance and a luxurious touch to any style.