There is no right or wrong top for your bench. Your décor, personal taste, room size and budget will help determine what is right for your home. So before you make your decision think about what uses you have for your kitchen. If you have a small home the kitchen will probably be more multipurpose than that of a larger home. Do you eat at the kitchen bench? Do you like to make pastry, rolling and needing it on the bench? Are you a tidy or messy cook? Are you a fastidious house keeper?
There are a myriad of choices in materials, finishes, colours and textures available.
Laminate one of the most affordable products on the market and although now not as trendy, it is still a reliable and versatile product. When we think of laminate we think Laminex and Formica but there are many companies that produce laminate in not only a large choice of colours but is also available in timber, bamboo and stone look finishes. While moisture resistant it is will not stand up to direct heat from hot pans or cuts so you must always use trivets and cutting boards.
- Engineered Stone
There are a number of well known brands of engineered stone on the market including Caesarstone, Quantum Quartz, Silestone and Smartstone. These products are made up of approximately 95% ground stone/quartz and the remainder bonding agents and adhesives. There is a huge range of colours and patterns to choose from. They are hard wearing and are heat, scratch and stain resistant but all companies recommend the use of trivets and cutting boards to avoid damage to the bench surface and to your knives.
As granite is a natural product, the graining and colour can vary considerably from one piece to another, we recommend you choose your own actual slab of granite rather than choosing from just a small sample. While granite will need to be sealed it is more heat and stain resistant than marble and other stone products on the market.
There is no doubt marble create a stunning look but is very porous so any spillages need to be wiped immediately particularly red wine, coffee, lemon or tomato juice and vinegar. Be prepared to look after your investment.
Onyx is an unusual stone similar to marble but is richer and almost translucent in colour. It can be polished to give an almost mirror or reflective appearance or honed to give a more matte finish. It is a softer fragile stone.
Also beautiful products but high maintenance. A sealer is necessary as they highly absorbent and like marble if there are spillages they need to be wiped up immediately. Also susceptible to chips & dents so cutting boards are a must.
- Stainless Steel
A product of choice for most commercial kitchens because of its easy care and hygienic nature. Stainless steel has become very popular in contemporary domestic kitchens. Although it does scratch easily, even by abrasive cleaners, there is textured stainless available to help hide the wear and tear. Stainless steel is an ideal product to have around the cook top as it is very heat resistant.
More often than not we associate tiled bench tops with a Country style kitchen, and while now not as trendy as other surfaces there is a huge variety of tiles available which can create a more contemporary look.
Yet another less common bench top but the colours and textures available can give you a very unique looking kitchen. Glass does not absorb moisture therefore it will not stain.
When we think of concrete bench tops we think industrial but did you know that with coloured aggregate and the addition of oxide dyes to the wet concrete mix can create more choices than just grey. Concrete is stain, heat & scratch resistant.
Timber bench tops are available in a number of different Australian and imported timbers. We usually associate timber with Country or Colonial style kitchens but with clever design choice you can create a sleek, warm contemporary look. The timber can be coated with polyurethane or wood oil. The polyurethane requires less maintenance and more durability while a wood oiled finish will look more natural and can be sanded back to remove damage before a new application of wood oil.
Corian is a brand name for a product composed of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate. It is heated to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F) allowing it to be shaped or molded into just about any design. It provides a continuously seamless bench top and can include a molded sink. Corian claims to be stain and scorch resistant though if badly damaged is repairable. It is effectively plastic and cannot withstand temperatures of more than 150 degrees C (300 degrees F) so more suitable for a bench that does not include your cook top.
There are so many choices and quite often you may see a combination of two different bench tops in the one kitchen. For example stainless steel on the bench where your cook top is and maybe stone on your work bench or island bench. Kitchens can be expensive, but a smart well planned kitchen will definitely add value to your home. An investment you will be very glad you made.