A guide to kitchen benchtop materials

The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

What are the options?

There are four common materials used for kitchen benchtops:

  • laminate
  • timber
  • stone
  • solid surface
  • laminate bench top

    Laminate

    Appearance

    Laminate has the widest range of colours and textures. It’s available in solid colours, various timber looks and stone-type designs. There are options for gloss or matt finishes and it comes with square or slightly rounded edges. The latest innovation is their availability in 20mm thick profiles – allowing you to have the sleek, modern look of thin stone without the price tag.

    Installation

    Laminate benchtops are very D.I.Y. friendly. They can be purchased in straight lengths that you can cut, edge and join yourself. To make life easier, Bunnings has a range of cutting services, including cutting to length, edging the short ends or cutting the joins. There are different lengths, widths and finishes available depending on the cutting service you require.

    Maintenance

    Laminate is easy to clean, however, it can chip and scratch so always use a cutting board when preparing food.

    Price

    Although prices vary depending on the width and finish selected, laminate is the most affordable benchtop material.

    timber bench

    Timber

    Appearance

    Timber has a warm and natural feel unlike other materials. It ranges from the yellowish colour of Ash through to the darker tones of European Walnut. Bamboo is light in colour and has a very distinctive grain pattern.

    Installation

    Available in modular lengths, which come unfinished and are cut to suit your specification. Custom lengths can suit longer runs and widths up to 1200mm. Timber benchtops can be installed by the D.I.Yer or you can have them professionally installed.

    Maintenance

    Timber must be sealed to prevent staining and to help repel water. An oil finish will need to be reapplied every 12 months to maintain its effectiveness, but it’s not a big job to do.

    Price

    Timber sits in the mid-range of benchtop prices.

    stone benchtop

    Stone

    Appearance

    Stone has a sleek, modern look and a range to suit most contemporary styles. That’s why it’s the most popular choice in kitchen benchtops. It really suits a kitchen island with a waterfall edge – where the benchtop continues down the sides of the cabinets; it also works well with sinks mounted under the benchtops. The latest trend is for thin, 20mm thick benchtops that reduce the ‘chunkiness’ of the benchtop and offers a cleaner, slimmer line.

    Installation

    Due to the precision required when ordering and installing, stone is best left to the professionals.

    Maintenance

    A non-porous material that is very durable and virtually maintenance free.

    Price

    Stone is at the upper end of benchtop materials, however, given its appeal, many people opt to save money on other fixtures not so visible to the eye, such as hardware, in order to afford a stone benchtop.

    Solid surface

    Appearance

    While similar in appearance to stone, the difference with solid surface benchtops is that the joins are virtually invisible, making it seem like its one big slab. You can also include sinks made out of the same material; with no joins or seams to trap dirt and water. Solid surface is also warm to the touch, unlike stone, which feels cold.

    Installation

    Solid surface benchtops should be professionally installed.

    Maintenance

    A standard clean with soap and water is generally all that’s required.

    Price

    Solid surface benchtops are similarly priced to stone.

    Find your benchtop

    With our wide range of kitchen benchtops, there’ll be something to suit your style and budget. If you need help choosing, speak with one of our kitchen designers who will come to your house and help you plan your dream kitchen. And if you’re planning on installing it yourself, we’ve got loads of handy D.I.Y. advice and ideas.

    Health & Safety

    Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

    Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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