It’s hard to describe the transformative effects a new kitchen can have on your home. Renovating the heart of your home can make it feel revitalised and fit for purpose once again.
The finer details like fixtures and fittings and good quality benchtops are the things that make you beam with pride as your friends and family marvel over what you’ve done with the place. And with the sheer range of styles to choose from, it can be hard deciding what you like.
Benchtops are available in many different materials so how do you know which one to choose? Hopefully, these top benchtop tips (say that 5 times fast) will help you understand the differences between the materials, their durability and any associated maintenance requirements.
Historically the most popular benchtop, marble is famous for its patterns and colouring. Marble oozes class and has long been associated with opulence. It is naturally stunning and has a soft quality that makes it look like something more than stone, something also gem -ike.
The downside of marble is that is porous stone and will require sealing to prevent staining. A quality sealer lasts up to 5 years so there are some ongoing maintenance costs. It also reacts to extreme temperatures, expanding and contracting when exposed to hot and cold.
Another popular choice from the stone family, Granite is a uniquely durable kitchen benchtop that withstands staining and scratching better than most rivals. It adds a lot of character when paired correctly with other materials but it does have a limited colour range — mostly dark hues — and is the most expensive option on the market.
Caesarstone or engineered stone is one of a few surfaces with virtually no downside. It is incredibly easy to maintain due to its durable natural stone like surface and is more affordable than real stone. If marble or granite is out of your budget then caesarstone is the answer. There are a huge range of colours to choose from and few can tell the difference between it and the more expensive products.
The only “downside”, if we’re being picky, is a recommendation to re-seal darker benchtops every 5 or so years to keep the sheen but this isn’t always necessary with lighter colours.
Growing in popularity with those looking for a contemporary, industrial look kitchen, this works really well for people on a budget. The big drawbacks are that the finish can dull easily, cracks can develop and it stains extremely easily because it’s so porous.
The most attractive thing about timber is how distinctively unique each piece is. Stone has character too but wood has a special character that almost everyone finds appealing. Timber is also a warming material and gives a cottagey, homely feeling to a kitchen. It’s versatile and complements other materials like stone, marble, chromes and steel.
Timber can be really expensive if you go for something like oak. All timber benchtops will need to be sealed and maintained regularly as they aren’t scratch resistant and can bruise easily. Timber that has not been sealed in a while can also absorb liquids and start to change colour.
Mostly used in commercial kitchens, stainless steel has become popular in home kitchens. They’re easy to clean and almost indestructible however they only really work in certain kitchens. If your kitchen gets a lot of sunlight it can be dazzling and they need to be tempered with the right cabinets and fixtures. They also scratch really easily, especially if your washcloth is abrasive.
Another metal growing in popularity is copper. It has similar qualities to stainless steel but has an unctuous colour that radiates warmth — as such it’s quite expensive.
Laminates benchtops are everywhere due to how inexpensive they are and the sheer volume of choices of colour and pattern. As they are a usually a slab of MDF coated in plastic they don’t have the finish or luxuriousness of natural benchtops made from timber, stone or marble. They’re great for rental properties but they don’t add value so might not be ideal for an investment property or indeed your own home.
Budget restrictions sometimes mean compromises on some of those finer details and deciding what you want within budget can be difficult. Some people find it easier to look at the overall cost; others prefer to break the budget down into separate items.
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