Kitchen Countertop Materials
There is now a wide range of materials available for kitchen countertops,
and an equally wide price range. The following provides an overview
of these options from the least expensive to the most expensive.
As a pricing rule of thumb, if:
- A laminate bench top costs $1000
- Wood or stainless steel will cost $2000
- Engineered or natural stones $3000 or more.
Replacing a kitchen countertop in an existing kitchen can transform
it over night.
Laminate over MDF is the most cost-effective counterop material,
and the most popular. It is not as durable as other options and
cannot tolerate heat or highly abrasive cleaning products. There
are different qualities of laminates so ensure the product you get
is thick enough to withstand reasonable wear. Edges can be hard
or rounded. Butt joints at the back need to be sealed carefully
to stop moisture getting in.
Stainless steal is certainly the most practical and hygienic of
all countertop surfaces and is available in standard or custom sizes.
The design advantage is that you can get a custom fit done that
is a continuous looking fitout including countertops, splash-backs,
sinks and bullnose edging.
Stainless steel is extremely durable but it does scratch and dull
over the years. Simple repolishing can buff out all the aging and
restore it to new.
It is now available in high gleam, brushed or dimpled effects.
Be careful using SS in high sunlight areas as the glare can be a
Poured concrete benchtops are becoming very popular and can look
stunning in contemporary and classical kitchens alike. After a frame
is made in situ, the concrete is poured and left to cure. The frame
is removed, the surface buffed and several coats of sealant applied.
Make sure the sealants you use are suitable for contact with food.
As this countertop is quite heavy you need to ensure that your kitchen
flooring is of suitable weight bearing properties.
Wood was a popular countertop material in the 80's and 90's and
is still favored by some. It is ideal when the kitchen includes
breakfast bars and other utility activities.
Wood must be specially finished to be used around wet areas and
food preparation surfaces and is generally laminated from strips
to stop warping.
Wooden surfaces can be re-finished when it shows signs of wear.
Corian is made from a mixture of mineral fillers and acrylic resin.
Each kitchen is custom made with integrated sinks and splash-backs.
Although Corian is claimed to be hard wearing and heat resistant,
my experience has been otherwise. The surface is highly intolerant
to heat and the remedy to rid heatspots is not effective. Further,
the corners around the gas cooking tops continually cracked from
the heat intolerance of the cooktop. Whilst my experience was 15
years ago, I have little knowledge as to how the product has been
improved to remedy these issues, so my advice is get a water-tight
guarantee and warranty.
Stone Composite [Engineered stone]
Engineered stone is one of my favorite countertop materials. It
is made of crushed stone, mixed with polyester resin binder to form
a very hard wearing and impervious synthetic stone. It is available
in a good range of colors and design with better color color consistency
than natural stone or granite and is more stain, scratch and acid
resistant due to the resin.
The slabs are manufactured to a standard size, and then cut for
The most expensive countertop material, granite is very popular
at present. It is available in a good range of colours. As granite
is a purely natural material is varies from the samples somewhat.
My advice is to custom pick your stone, and have it custom cut to
The look of polished granite is superb, is resistant to scratches
and stains, and high temperatures. In its natural state, Granite
is prone to erosion and staining my acid based liquids and foods
such as red wine, vinegars and tomato sauce. It must be sealed with
a resin to prevent liquids being absorbed into microscopic fissures,
and to provide acid resistance.
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