Kitchen Benchtops

Nadia Hursky on November 5, 2011

Kitchen benchtops can be a striking design feature. Though aesthetically pleasing, it is also important that they be durable, hardwearing and waterproof. Popular bench-top materials for your new kitchen include Laminate, Engineered Quartz, Natural Stone (marble or granite), Corian, Stainless Steel and Timber. Learn the pros and cons of using each material. This will help you determine  the most suitable bench-top for your kitchen.


Laminate benchtops are non-porous, easy to maintain and economical. They come in a wide variety of colours and finishes, including popular colours that mimic stone and timber surfaces. Laminate benchtops are one of the most cost effective countertop materials on the market. They are manufactured with melamine resin and decorative papers bonded together under heat and pressure over a substrate of moisture-resistant board.

A standard laminate benchtop is 38mm thick and can have several different edge profiles including rounded, rolled and square edges. Laminate benchtop manufactures include Laminex, Formica and Wilsonart. They are a versatile and a cost effective option.However, they do not react well with heat and can scratch relatively easily.

Laminate offers a clean-looking, hassle-free and modern approach to benchtops. They are cost effective and reduce the kitchen installation period by 1-2 weeks. In winter, laminate benchtops remain warm to touch and are more sound-proof than their stone counterparts. A good choice if you have kids.

laminate bench top modern

Some laminates  imitates  the look and feel of natural stones and timber quite well. This bench-top is supplied by Formica.

laminate bench top in calcutta stone

Engineered Quartz

Engineered Quartz benchtops are manufactured  from natural quartz—one of nature’s hardest material. Non-porous and highly resistant to heat, scratches and stains, engineered quartz remains a superior choice. Typically, an engineered quartz consists of 93% crushed quartz bonded with resins to make a durable and solid countertop. No maintenance is required to keep its polished look, though harsh chemicals should be avoided. The appearance of engineered stone is similar to granite and marble, but more flat and less busy. It therefore suits a more modern, contemporary kitchen. There are many colours available. Although it is more expensive than laminate, it does add value to your property and is a positive selling point for any home. The most popular brands in Australia are CaesarStone, Essastone and Quantum Quartz. A standard benchtop is 20mm thick, some colours are available in 30mm too. Another popular option is to put an edge on the stone so the whole benchtop appears 40mm thick or more.

This benchtop has waterfall ends and is given an extra 20mm on the edges making the whole countertop appear 40mm thick.

caesarstone 40mm benchtop



Natural Stone

Granite and Marble benchtops come in a variety of colours and textures. Because these are natural materials, no two benchtops are ever exactly the same. Granite is a harder material than marble, and its pattern is much tighter. Granite is low-porous, withstands high temperatures, and resists scratches and stains. Care must be taken with marble, as it tends to react to acids, including those found in foods such as vinegar, tomatoes, juice, etc. Marble benchtops with honed finishes are more durable than marble with a polished finish. Very hot or cold items may expand or contract both granite and marble, so it is recommended that you do not place these items on your benchtop.

Every natural stone benchtop is unique. The below images show marble benchtop in Calcutta; the stones natural darker veins making it one of the most appealing and luxurious benchtops.

Kitchen benchtops marble


marble meets timber bench top | Scott & Scott architects | Blue Tea kitchens Sydney

This granite benchtop is warm and welcoming. Granite typically appears grainy, mottled and textured and comes both in light and dark colours.

granite bench top in the kitchen


Corian is a completely man-made acrylic benchtop. Its main advantage is that it can be molded seamlessly and without join lines, often with an integrated sink. Corian’s colours do not have the same depth as manufactured quartz or natural stone benchtops. Unlike laminate, CaesarStone, granite or marble, Corian can be scoured with abrasive cleansers. This actually helps buff out small surface scratches and stains that occur with use. The main disadvantage of Corian is that it does not withstand heat at all. It may mark or burn if extremely hot items are placed on it, so care must be used to avoid heat as well harsh chemicals.

A Corian benchtop in light grey. The smoothness of the Corian is contrasted with the texture in the walls ensuring both a modern and rustic kitchen design.

corian kitchen bench top

The advantage of Corian is that it can be easily moulded to suit unusual benchtop shapes.

moulded corian bench top

Stainless Steel

A stainless steel bench-top can be  fabricated exactly to your specifications. This particular type of bench-top, is seamless and can include integrated sinks, however this can be a costly option. Stainless steel is non-porous, extremely hygienic and can withstand the direct heat of pots and pans. It suits an understated, industrial and modern kitchen and it commonly a favourite countertop of chefs. Stainless steel bench-tops will acquire small scratches with age, but this becomes part of the characteristics of the bench-top. Stainless steal can be a noisy choice. It can also dent if poorly treated.

Stainless steel benchtops suit minimal and industrial kitchens.

stainless steel kitchen bench top

[caption id="attachment_9150" align="aligncenter" width="564"]stainless steel kitchen by ILB | Blue Tea ILB interieur - keuken in loft te Wijnegem[/caption]


Stainless steel is usually associated with slick, modern kitchens, but when combined with more traditional kitchens, stainless steel can serve to give it an edge.


A timber benchtop is a natural product that can give the kitchen a warm, lived-in feeling and can wear well with age. It is also environmentally friendly. However,make sure to select FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) timber. An oil sealant will give timber a natural finish, polyurethane, a glossy finish. The oil sealant will make repairs easier, you can gently sand the benchtop and refinish with the oil. Polyurethane, however, makes touching up and repairing the benchtop much tougher. If you decide to get a timber benchtop be aware that it will require more maintenance than the other surfaces as it is softer and more prone to water damage, however it can make a beautiful choice.

Timber adds warmth and character to your kitchen benchtop. A practical application of timber is to use it on the kitchen island where it can be treated as a butchers block.

timber kitchen island


timber counter top in the kitchen


timber bench in scandinavian kitchen

Kitchen benchtops all have their unique qualities and characteristics. Remember that laminate benchtops are you most economical bet, both corian and stainless steel are seamless benchtops but are at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. Engineered stone is a hassle-free mid-priced option that looks stylish too. Your kitchen benchtop will get a lot of tactile and visual interaction, so choose one that suit your needs.






  1. Estelle says:

    Beautiful pictures, I especially love the photo of the timber kitchen island you posted. I’ve wanted butcher block counters for the longest time. I’ve looked at stone, steel, laminate and simulated stone, but I think wood is the best.

    1. nadiah says:

      Hi Estelle, thanks, I know there are so many choices out there- and I have only listed the major ones! Timber is a nice, warm benchtop that suits many spaces…..if you need any further info just drop me a line 🙂

  2. Hayley says:

    Hi, I found this page whilst searching for different types of kitchen benchtops. Just wanted to say great article. I love the appearance of the natural stone countertop and think we are going to go with this in our new kitchen.


    1. parsyar says:

      you very welcome Hayley

  3. Maria says:

    I must admit I had never heard of Corian before, but the fact that it cannot stand heat is a bit of a problem in a kitchen, isn’t it? I have always been a fan of granite and marble worktops; I love the fact that their patterns are unique and can look so luxurious! The white one on the pic with the dark veins is magnificent!

    1. nadiah says:

      Hi Maria, thanks for your comment…..Corian can withstand heat up to 300 degrees, but relatively speaking it is not as heat resistant as the other benchtops. Granite and marble are always going to be unique as each slab is different.

  4. Steven says:

    Awesome models of kitchen benchtops!!! Thanks for posting.

  5. James says:

    All designs looks awesome for kitchen benchtops, thanks for posting.

  6. Seth Robin says:

    Awesome kitchen benchtops designs. Love them all!

  7. Mike M says:

    I am a certified stone consultant and think you really should lean towards granite but make sure the colours are true. Many granites are dyes or “doctored” in the factory to make them look nicer and these dyes can fade or be removed if a solvent is spilled onto the bench. Marbles are beautiful but they can easily etch from spilled food products, wine, lemon juice, vinegar, and after a while will look pretty grungy. Engineered stone is nice, but in my opinion, boring. I prefer stone, each kitchen benchtop will be an original.

  8. Finley Moreira says:

    I had heard that laminate benchtops are very cost-effective, but I didn’t know that they cut down the installation time by 1-2 weeks. I’ve been looking to have my kitchen remodeled, and new benchtops are near the top of my list of things to have done. I’m on a bit of a time crunch, so it sounds like laminate would be a great option for me to pursue.