There will be a benchtop that suits your style, no matter what it is: industrial, rustic, modern or contemporary. We often think about what will look great, but there are important considerations, such as cost and ease of cleaning, that should not be ignored.
In our labs, we tested 16 benchtop materials for their resistance to heat damage, staining and impact.
Butcher block and bamboo
You can give your kitchen a rustic look with butcher block or bamboo. Bamboo is eco-friendly, and it’s also less expensive than other options. They can be sealed with oil or polyurethane.
You will need to re-apply oil regularly to keep it from cracking and drying out. For polyurethane surfaces, spillages should be treated immediately with warm soapy water and a damp cloth. Abrasive cleaners that are too harsh can cause damage to the surface and remove its gloss.
How they did
Both types performed similarly in our tests, but polyurethane proved to be more resistant to staining. The bleach left a white mark on the oiled finishes. The impact test showed that the oiled finishes fared better than the polyurethane. They are susceptible to scratching, and you will need to remove any hot pans from the surface.
Refinish the benchtop with oil or polyurethane to repair any damage. Even if there is only one area of damage, it is possible to repair the benchtop by sanding back the surface and then refinishing the entire benchtop.
A polished concrete benchtop is a great option if you want an industrial look. However, this option can be costly. Concrete benchtop colour can be affected by many factors like cement, aggregate, and sand. This will ensure that you get a unique product. To avoid staining or damaging concrete surfaces, raw concrete must be sealed.
How it did
Be careful not to knock or drop concrete, especially around the edges and corners, which can be easily chipped. The edge was chipped during our impact test. The polish was removed from the surface, leaving obvious scratches. The surface coating bubbled during heat testing.
Repolishing is recommended whenever the surface has been damaged. The surface can be damaged by spills, which could cause permanent damage.
Granite is a great choice for your kitchen bench tops in brisbane if you have the budget and want it to be luxurious. Granite is extremely durable and will last a lifetime in your home.
How it did
Granite did exceptionally well in all tests except the abrasion test. Granite scored very high on this test. Only visible under sunlight, scratches were evident. Because it is porous, you will need to seal it to protect it from staining and continue to reseal it.
Laminate benchtops are worth looking into if you have a limited budget. Laminate is a laminate made of layers of paper on top of a chipboard, plywood or MDF board. It has been around for many years and has advanced greatly. Laminate benchtops can be made to match any style – woodgrains and marble are all possible with laminate. With seamless joins, you can create a waterfall effect. Laminex and Formica are two of the most popular brands in laminate.
How it did
Our abrasion test revealed scratches on the laminate, while our cutting resistance test left only faint knife marks. Both Formica and Laminex were dented by impact. The surface was slightly cracked. Laminex products can also sustain heat damage. The Formica benchtop left a burnt spot, while the Laminex benchtop did not show any obvious damage. Both tops were cleaned with a cleaner. Remember that if the surface has been damaged, the board underneath can swell from continued exposure to water and liquid spills.
Marble, a natural stone similar to granite, is suitable for top-of-the-range kitchens if cost is not an issue. Marble is delicate and must be taken care of properly. Marble is porous and requires regular maintenance.
How it did
Marble did poorly in the drop test. It appeared that only the edge had chipped off. However, further investigation revealed that the point of impact was on the benchtop’s underside. The surface was given a matte look and felt by the abrasion test. We also saw faint knife marks from our cutting test. The surface was initially marked by a white mark when a hot pot was placed on it. However, the mark faded over time and is now very faint. Our stain test revealed that the sample we received wasn’t sealed.
Porcelain is an interesting option. Porcelain is priced per sheet and can range from $750 to more than $1000. It is lightweight, so you don’t have to seal it. Also, it comes in large slab sizes. You can use it for flooring, furniture and outdoor applications.
How it did
It was stain and heat-resistant. We were able to test it well. When we used a weighted knife to cut across the surface, it performed well for cutting resistance. Only a few scratches were left in our abrasion tests, which were visible only under bright light. The corner and edge were chipped in our drop test.
When porcelain is installed, it needs to be supported fully. Our sample was provided on granite. The impact might be different from other supporting materials.
Quartz is the answer to practicality. Quartz is a popular choice because it can be found in various colours and designs and isn’t as costly as natural stone. It is also non-porous, so it doesn’t require sealing.
How it did
Two popular brands, Quantum Quartz and Caesarstone performed identically. Although there were some scratches from the abrasion tests, they were not very noticeable. After our cutting resistance test, barely any marks were left. It is resistant to heat damage and staining but susceptible to chipping. In our impact test, the edge was chipped. Although you may be able to repair chips or cracks, it is best to contact the manufacturer.
A solid surfacing (Corian) benchtop is worth looking at if you want versatility and durability. Solid surfacing is an acrylic resin that has a filler of aluminium. These materials have fire-retardant properties and strength. Solid surfacing allows you to mold your kitchen sink into one seamless piece. This is especially useful if your island or benchtop is large.
It doesn’t trap dirt or food in cracks, making it hygienic. Corian is also waterproof and UV-resistant, so it’s a great option for outdoor entertaining. Corian is translucent and can be backlit to make a striking feature. The cost per linear meter is approximately $400
How it did
Our impact test didn’t cause any damage to Corian. Stains were easy to remove with a cleaner. However, the abrasion test left visible scratch marks and heated left a faint mark on the surface.
Corian can be repaired – contact the manufacturer for details. Depending on its extent, you can cut the damaged piece and replace it with another piece with the same seamless finish.
A stainless steel benchtop will give your kitchen a restaurant-like feel. This is a great option for those who love to cook, and it’s also very hygienic.
How it did
It can be placed on top of a hot saucepan without damaging the surface. The surface is also stain-resistant. After our drop test, the surface, corner, and edge were dented. This is due to the reflective nature of the surface. It is not scratch-resistant – our abrasion test scratched the surface. If you choose a stainless-steel benchtop, your fingerprints will be a problem. You will likely need to purchase stainless steel cleaners to clean the surface.
Although a tiled benchtop may not be something you will see often, you can make your benchtop unique by choosing from many different textures, styles and patterns. A tiled benchtop can be very affordable, and you might enjoy doing it yourself if you are interested in DIY projects.
How it did
It was excellent for heat damage and cutting resistance. It also performed very well in our abrasion tests – very few scratch marks could be seen under the light. Tiled surfaces, particularly grout, can be difficult to clean. To avoid staining or fiddly cleaning, grout should be sealed. Darker grout will hide stains if it is possible. It could withstand stains well and only required a damp cloth to clean any marks.
Our drop test revealed that the surface failed to perform well with chipping at corners and edges. You can replace or repair any damaged or chipped tiles if you have a few spare tiles.
Think outside the box? A super compact surface is another option. This is made by heating and pressing the raw materials from quartz, glass and porcelain under extreme pressure. It is a good choice if you have an outside kitchen/entertaining space. You can also get it in large slabs that reduce seams. Depending on your kitchen size, you may not even need to sew.
How it did
The Dekton brand was tested. It failed in the drop test, and the benchtop was completely broken. This simulates what would happen if a heavy object fell from an overhead cabinet. The benchtop was the only one to suffer such damage. It also performed extremely well in other tests. It is stain-resistant and requires only a damp cloth to remove them. Heat exposure did not cause any damage to the surface. It is also resistant to cutting and abrasion.
How to get the most out of your benchtop
- Follow the manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions.
- Ask about the warranty.
- Take a look at the entire material, even a slab. Online images and magazines don’t always reflect reality.
- You should consider what type of sink you need. A top-mounted sink can work with any material, while an under-mounted sink won’t.
- It is important to ensure that the installer has the appropriate accreditation to install and fabricate the product.
- Hot saucepans should not be placed directly on the benchtop.
- Use a chopping board to cut and dice food.
- Do not allow the stain to set overnight. Wipe away spills as soon as possible.
- Be aware of the type and instructions for cleaning products you use. Some cleaning products may not be suitable for all surfaces.