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My Blog


Bench top Comparisons

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 9:22 PM Comments comments (312)
Several years ago when we renovated I spent much time thinking about the bench tops and what I wanted; Laminate, Natural stone, Reconstituted Stone, Stainless steel, Timber or Acrylic Surfaces. Too many choices!
My research on each provided great insight into the final decision.
Laminated bench tops are a less expense option and provide good value for money. It is available in a great colour range and has durable finishes such as texture and matt. Like most products that require a join, laminate tends to stand out more than most other products.  Laminate surfaces cannot be repaired if damaged and it’s very sensitive to heat and products that stain.The limitation with laminate sometimes the choice of sink to a top mounted bowl, why?  Because laminate is glued to a porous particleboard base. It’s a popular, accessible, and affordable option. 
Natural Stone- Granite/ Marble
Beautiful and natural look but definitely an expensive option!By the end of my research into stone I wasn’t a big fan. It requires waxing every three months to maintain hygiene standards and not the best surface to work on as it is a cold surface.  Very few stone bench tops don’t have air bubbles and apparently the joins are not as good as other surfaces. Compared to other products natural stone does cope well with heat however as with all natural products colour and shading is what you see is what you get and the natural stone structure can be brittle. 
Marble is not a good option for a bench top because it is so porous; liquids are soaked up extremely quickly and become a great bacteria breeding ground. If something goes wrong with natural stone, you nearly need to mortgage your first born to get it fixed. 
Reconstituted Stone
On the other hand this product ticks a few boxes; unlike natural stone it has no natural defects, virtually non porous and harder to stain, it’s also harder and stronger than natural stones. Natural products are designed by nature so the colours and variations are out of the manufactures control, however with reconstituted stone there is better colour consistency. Reconstituted stone is a man made product and as such doesn’t have the properties to handle heat very well. The joins can also be an issue but suggest checking out the work of the bench top fitter and getting the right person for the job. 
Stainless Steel
Stainless steel shrinks and buckles when it comes into contact with direct heat. Ever looked at your stainless steel sink and thought it looks great new but after hundreds of wash ups you can see the scratches. Well this happens to bench tops too. Stainless steel when clean and polished looks amazing, my in my world that a display home.
Magnificent natural product but is getting harder to get some species of timber and can be a bit on the expensive side by the time the bench top is lacquered.The lacquer will eventually wear away and most commonly this occurs where water is and it can be a bit of a job to get it re-lacquered.45 degree mitre joins are the best joins and look seamless, this allows for the bench tops expansion and contract. Timber is natural so it expands and contracts and the colour variation is part of it beauty. You can cut a sink into the bench top or have the option of a bench top mounted sink but it must be very well sealed.
Solid Acrylic Surfaces
A man made bench top with properties that are strong, easy to clean and joins are well disguised.Acrylic can be poured into any length and can accommodate curves, I have even seen the sink drains being carved into the bench tops with a sinks available in the same product. They are non porous.  I wouldn’t recommend putting hot pots on it though. Some products will stain it but they are usually the heavy duty cleaners like oven cleaner etc. It’s on the top side of the price range but is probably the complete package. 
So what did I go with in our reno? 
We went with a range of products to match the style of our home;laundry- laminate, kitchen- reconstituted stone, bath rooms- timber and outdoor kitchen- Timber.
Hope this has been a useful insight that will help you chose your bench tops.