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Ideas and tips for your dream kitchen

 
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QUICK TIP

counter height

Although standard benchtop / countertop height is around 90cm (36"), it is best to design a comfortable bench height based on the height of the person who will be using the kitchen most of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

QUICK TIP

lower bench height cooktop food peparation kneading dough

Some tasks such as cooktop (hob) cooking and kneading dough are often easier and more comfortable when performed at a lower work surface. So why not design your benchtop at a lower height for these tasks in your kitchen?

Low height benchtop countertop for hob cooktop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOT BENCHTOP IDEA: VOLCANIC LAVASTONE

volcanic lava stone benchtop countertop

Lava stone benchtops come in a range of colours with its unique surface finish. (Image by: pyrolave.com.au)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Benchtops (Countertops)

laminate kitchen benchtop countertop with metal edge

Your benchtop/countertop is an important part of your kitchen. Not only does it need to be durable for daily use, it also affects the overall design of the kitchen. Do you want your benchtop/countertop to blend in with the rest of the kitchen or do you want it to create a contrasting feature? You can also combine benchtops with different colours/materials in your kitchen. For example, a stainless steel benchtop in the cooking area and stone benchtop in the rest of the kitchen, or a raised breakfast bar in timber and the rest in plain-coloured laminate.

mixed kitchen dark stone benchtop wooden countertop

Benchtops of different finishes can be used together to create a unique look.

 

acrylic benchtop timber countertop ikea

Simple clean acrylic benchtop and timber island benchtop mix well together in this modern kitchen. (Image by: A. Fischer aka "albertsok" @ ikeafans.com)

 

Thickness of benchtops/countertops varies, but is usually around 3-4cm. However, many new designs now have either very thick front edges (around 6 - 10cm) or very thin front edges (around 0.5 - 1cm).

floating kitchen thin stainless steel benchtop countertop with splashback backsplash timber veneer

A thin "minimalist" stainless steel benchtop.

 

thick kitchen white laminate waterfall benchtop countertop side panel

Thick benchtops and matching side panels are used here to "wrap" around the base unit. (Image by Lisa D aka "lilou_2006" @ flickr.com).

 


Laminate

A popular choice in benchtop/countertop due to its hard wearing property, affordability and variety in colours and patterns, from simple solid colours to patterns that imitate timber and stone. You can also choose from a range of textures. Be aware that high-gloss laminate can show scratches easily so it is best to avoid using dark high gloss laminate for benchtops. To increase the life span of a laminate benchtop, never put hot pans onto the benchtop and never cut directly onto the benchtop. Once it's damaged, a laminate benchtop is difficult to repair.

timber effect laminate benchtop countertop

Easy-care timber-effect laminate benchtop

 

Laminate benchtops can be "edged" in many options. The most common one is post formed front edge which is safe and easy to clean. If you like a square design on the front edge but prefer the one-piece design of a post formed front edge, you can choose a "tightform" front edge which has a very tight radius that looks almost like a square edge.

postform metallic laminate kitchen benchtop countertop

Laminate benchtop with postformed front edge.

 

tightform squareform laminate kitchen benchtop countertop

Laminate benchtop with "tightform" front edge.


Other materials can also be used to edge laminate benchtops, such as timber, plastic, aluminium and acrylic mineral.

laminate aluminium edge kitchen countertop benchtop

Timber effect laminate benchtop with aluminium edges (image by: Ginny aka "ginnyfiglar"@ flickr.com).

 

white laminate kitchen benchtop countertop

Laminate with timber-effect plastic edge.

 

timber edge kitchen laminate benchtop countertop

Solid timber edge on laminate benchtops blends in beautifully with the timber floorboard (image by "Tristan-5" @ www.sxc.hu ).

 

laminate countertop benchtop with metallic plastic layer effect edge

Laminate benchtop with metallic / plastic layer effect edge

 


Granite

Granite is a very hard material and is less porous than marble, making it suitable for kitchen benchtops. Its surface is very hard so breakages such as glass onto a granite benchtop will hardly survive. Being a natural material, granite patterns and colours can vary from slab to slab, so make sure you select the slabs you like before installation. With any natural stone benchtops, granite should be resealed regularly.

black galaxy speckle granite countertop benchtop

"Black Galaxy" granite benchtop with rounded front edge.

 

granite modern kitchen

Granite benchtop with under mounted sink.

 


Marble

When compared to granite, marble is more porous so higher maintenance is required. Any spillage should be wiped off immediately to avoid staining. Marble also needs to be resealed more frequently than granite to protect its surface.

white thick marble countertop benchtop

Marble benchtop with extra thick front edge.

 


Solid Timber

Timber benchtops are warm to touch and will age beautifully with time. To protect the surface, the timber benchtop is either sealed with polyurethane or wood oil. Polyurethane usually gives a higher gloss finish, is more durable and requires less maintenance than an oiled timber benchtop. On the other hand, an oiled timber benchtop gives a natural matt timber finish, requires recoating regularly to protect the timber (which can be done by yourself) and is more environmentally friendly if you are using a natural wood oil. An oiled timber benchtop is also easier to repair too: any scratches and cuts can be sanded back and "oiled" again. Any damages on a polyurethane-coated timber benchtop however will often require professionals to repair.

oiled timber countertop benchtop oak ikea

An oiled timber benchtop gives a natural matt timber appearance.

 

solid oak oiled matt timber benchtop countertop ikea

Solid oak timber benchtop with oak cabinets and doors

 


Acrylic Composite / Solid Surface

An acrylic composite / solid surface benchtop is made of acrylic with natural minerals, and can be moulded into almost any shape. Its main advantage is that a long seamless benchtop can be created. You can even use it for splashbacks and sinks in one moulded piece with the benchtop to create one seamless surface, making it very easy to clean. Different colours and patterns can also be combined onto one seamless surface to create a unique design. The design possibilities are endless.

acrylic corian benchtop countertop moulded splashback

A one-piece acrylic benchtop with moulded splashback.

 

corian acrylic benchtop countertop integrated moulded sink draining board drainer

Acrylic countertop with integrated moulded sink and draining board

 


Stone composite/Engineered Stone/Quartz

A stone composite benchtop (or sometimes is called engineered stone or quartz) is made of approximately 95% stone powder/crushed stone and 5% binding agent such as polyester resin and acrylic, depending on the brands. It is extremely durable, able to withstand high temperatures and much less porous than granite and marble. Low maintenance is required to maintain its sheen. As a man-made product, uniform colour and pattern can be achieved throughout the whole surface and it is available in a wide range of colours.

 

caesar stone caesarstone nougat benchtop countertop

Stone composite countertops are easy to maintain.

 

quartz engineered stone caesarstone kitchen island benchtop countertop waterfall side panel

Engineered stone kitchen island benchtop with "waterfall" side panels. (Image by: Michelle Meiklejohn @ www.freedigitalphotos.net)

 

black caesarstone engineered quartz benchtop with draining board groove undermount sink

Stylish black quartz stone benchtop with built in draining groove and undermount sink.

 

grey quartz caesarstone benchtop countertop with splashback under mount sink

Quartz stone / engineered stone is also an excellent choice of material for splashback (back splash) because of its easy-cleaning property.

 


Stainless Steel

An extremely hygienic surface, stainless steel benchtops are often found in commercial kitchens and is becoming more fashionable in domestic kitchens. It is very easy to keep clean and can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for placement around the stove. However, as stainless steel is a soft metal, it is prone to scratches. Although some stainless steel benchtops have special textures that can hide scratches better.

stainless steel countertop kitchen benchtop

A stainless steel benchtop is hygienic and easy to clean.

 

curved kitchen stainless steel benchtop countertop with round edge

Satin stainless steel benchtop with polished round edge. (Image by: www.stainless-splashbacks.com.au)

 

stainless steel kitchen countertop benchtop with led light fisher paykel retractable cooktop

A stainless steel benchtop with LED lighting effect and a flush-mount cooktop create this state-of-the-art kitchen. (Image by: Fisher & Paykel).

 


Tile

A tiled benchtop offers a unique design that is both durable and affordable. Although it is more likely to be found in country-style kitchens, a tiled benchtop can also be designed to suit contemporary design. It is important that you use an epoxy grout which is more hardwearing and less porous than standard grout.

country style rustic kitchen tile benchtop tiled benchtop countertop

Tiled benchtop in a country-style kitchen.

 

Many other materials for benchtops can also be considered such as glass, concrete and limestone.

concrete kitchen countertop bencthtop

Concrete countertops are sealed to protect the surface from staining and can be dyed to achieve different colours. (Image by: "Spatgirl" @ moderninmn.blogspot.com)

 

 

 

 

 

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