Kitchen Bench Tops
Kitchen bench tops truly add the finishing touch to a kitchen, so it makes sense to choose one that suits your style, adds functionality and is aesthetically pleasing. There is a myriad of choices out there, so listed below is a description on some of the more common bench top types to try and make things a bit easier.
Two major factors will influence the design of your bench top and those are personal choice and your budget, with different materials varying in price. The kitchen benches are the first thing that you see when you enter a kitchen and are the most visually dominating element so it is important that you choose a material that matches your existing décor and that suits your lifestyle. For example, if you are a serious cook, you may be better off with a heat and scratch resistant material such as a quartz based stone bench top, rather than a laminate which cannot take heat at all.
Types of Bench tops
There are several different types of bench tops, meaning that there is an option to suit any style of kitchen. The most common styles are outlined below:
• Granite– very durable and is scratch and chip resistant. You are able to place hot items directly on the bench top as well as use the bench top itself for food preparation. However, because granite is porous, it will need to be sealed regularly, usually around once a year.
• Corian– is a patented blend of acrylic and natural minerals. It allows for a seamless finish and is hygienic, non-porous, and resistant to stains. It comes in many different colours and is available in matte, semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes.
• Marble– has many of the same qualities as granite and because it is such a smooth surface, it is favoured for the preparation of dough and pastries. However, because it is so porous, it will require sealants to be applied more often than granite does.
• Stone / Quartz– is the most durable stone bench top. It has the look of natural stone and is highly resistant to staining. Quartz surfacing is low maintenance, non-porous and very hygienic. Stone bench top brands include Quantum Quartz, Caesarstone, Silestone and Essa Stone.
• Concrete– concrete bench tops can be pre-cast in a mould or cast on site. It is rapidly rising in popularity but it needs to be sealed in order to resist stains and water damage.
• Laminate– the most traditional and common of all bench ops. It is an economical alternative and is made up of several layers that have been pressed together. It does not have the durability of stone but it is highly versatile in that it is available in a wide range of colours, finishes and textures. Laminate brands include Laminex, Formica, Wilsonart and Abet Laminati.
• Tile– while more commonly used in a splashback or as trim, stronger tiles can be used as a bench top. Tiles may have raised, inset or painted designs and are commonly made from materials such as ceramic, porcelain, glass or natural stone. If unglazed tiles are used, they must be sealed.
• Hardwood– commonly known as a “butcher block”, these bench tops are generally constructed from narrow timber strips bonded together. Hardwood bench tops are generally between 1 ¼ and 6 inches thick and are highly favoured by chefs and serious cooks.
• Stainless Steel– defining the look of contemporary kitchens, stainless steel is topping the popularity stakes as a bench top and splashback material. It is recommended that 304 stainless steel for domestic use and 1.2mm sheets for splashbacks and 1.6mm for bench tops. Stainless steel does scratch and should be cleaned with non-abrasive cleaners.