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This week we are looking at benchtop surface options and each of their pros + cons.

There are a myriad of options and it can feel like an overwhelming decision, especially considering it can be one of the most expensive items in your kitchen/ bathroom/ laundry.

Many of the materials on offer have come a long way over the past decade; both in style and the colour and texture options available.

We hope this breakdown makes your decision a bit easier.

If you do need some expert advice please get in touch, our Architects have a wealth of experience and would love to help you design and specify your space.

Here are our ACCESS SKETCH Tips on how to choose your benchtops:

1. Natural Stone: This is a timeless, classic and beautiful option. However there are a few things to consider; being natural stone it is porous and will need to be sealed, plus it can mark easily. Natural benchtops  include; Marble, Granite, Limestone, Travertine (and are generally priced in that order from highest to lowest). The lighter colours are often less expensive than the brighter stones. Natural stone is expensive and requires maintenance. However if you love a classic look and don’t mind the up-keep then this could be for you. A clever, less expensive option is to use natural stone as a feature- as a splash back instead of an entire bench top.

Image by CK Stone

2. Engineered stone i.e Caesarstone/ Quartz. In Australia this is the most popular benchtop material. It is hard-wearing and comes in a huge range of colours and finishes. The designs often try to emulate the look of natural stone. This is a great option, very durable, stain resistant, scratch resistant, moderately heat resistant. It comes in various thicknesses. Very easy to clean. The cost does vary given the finish and can be as expensive as some natural stones.

Image via Caesarstone + mjharrisgroup builders

3. Solid Surface benchtops i.e Corian : These surfaces are an acrylic resin with a filter of alumina. The beauty of these surfaces is that they can be moulded to include sinks for a seamless finish. They can also be formed into large pieces with no visible joins- and can be repaired easily without needing to replace the entire benchtop.

Image: Gardner construction

3. Timber benchtops: Timber/ Wooden benchtops have been around forever and are a warm, natural option. They will show marks- scratches etc but that can be part of their beauty. One benefit is that they can be sanded and re-stained rather than replaced if they are marked. They are also generally more affordable and come in a huge range of timber species with various grains and colours.

Image: Blackburn cabinets and kitchens

4. Porcelain : Porcelain surfaces are hugely popular overseas and are starting to grow in popularity in the Australian market. They are extremely durable, stain resistant, high-heat resistant and easy to clean. They are also non-porous. They come in a huge variety of colours, textures and finishes.

Image via Dekton

5. Concrete : Concrete has been very popular over the last few years. It is easy to see why- as it can be custom made in any size or shape. It can come in any colour you can dream of, and has a nice textural finish. Concrete does need to be sealed. It is porous and will show marks and scratches. A concrete surface will have a more imperfect looking finish but with lots of character.

Image: Slab Shapers

6. Laminate: This material has been around for a long time… and has come a long way from the daggy installations of old. It is extremely durable and very affordable. Laminate has a huge range of colours and textures that imitate more expensive materials such as timber and stone. Laminate is easy to clean but can scratch and is not heat proof so always use a chopping board for hot pans.

Image via Laminex AU

We always suggest looking at a large slab or finished bench top in your chosen material to see the full colour and texture before you buy.

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