Bench tops need to be more wear-resistant thancupboard doors, drawer fronts and shelves. Theywill need to cope with spillage, knocks, everydaywear and tear, as well as messy stains andconstant scrubbing. The benchtop needs to bechosen with care as it reflects a large expanseof horizontal surfacing in the kitchen. Solidstone, reconstituted stone and resin-based solidsurfaces are very popular choices for today’s kitchens.
Laminates are produced under high heatand pressure. A formaldehyde-based, resin-impregnated paper is laid over coloured paperthat, in turn, is laid onto other base papers calledcraft paper; this is also impregnated with resin. These are then pressed under high heat andpressure to produce a very hard, plastic-like sheet.
Laminates are available in a large Varity of colours, finishes and wood grains as well as “printed to order”. Laminate is an excellentproduct to use in horizontal applications (forexample, bench tops and tables) and can also beused in a vertical application to create a designfeature. Laminate is a durable material withconsistent colour and finish and is highly resistantto knocks and scratches.
Laminates are applied to 32mm highlymoisture-resistant (HMR) aqua board and canhave a number of edging options. Front edgescan be square, or 90- or 180-degree post-formedor square-formed. You can even incorporatetimber or Corian edge. A kitchen with curveswould require a square, solid timber or solidsurface edge to the laminate. We deal with manylaminate companies, each with their own colourrange and availability charts.
All engineered/reconstituted quartzstones are very similar in the way they aremanufactured. Most slab sizes are 3000mm x1200mm but can vary with individual suppliers. The thickness ofthe slab will also vary from one stone to the next.Standard thickness is 20mm or 30mm. A 40mmstone is usually a 20mm slab with a 20mm edgebuilt up to 40mm. A 60mm, 80mm or 100mmstone is usually a 20mm or 30mm slab with amitred apron. Below are some few of our major suppliers and their composition of stone.
- Caesarstone® quartz surfaces consist of upto 93% quartz, organic pigments and advanced polymers. Resistant to stains, scratches and cracks, quartz is impervious to heat, cold and to,common household chemicals. Caesarstone®products never require sealing, making it an ideal product for wet areas.
- Quantum Quartz contains more than 93 percent natural quartz and 7 per cent combinedbonding agent, special additives and pigments,making it an extremely hard wearing, practicaland highly versatile surface. Quantum Quartz isavailable in a variety of tones and colours — fromsubtle beige through to vibrant hues.
- Laminexessastone® features up to 95 percent natural quartz with a scratch-resistant, stain-resistant and easy-care finish. The product isavailable in a palette of designs that have beenchosen to co-ordinate with a range of leadinginterior surface brands. Sheet sizes are 3040mmx 1380mm with depths of both 20mm and 30mmavailable on selected designs.
A solid material made from acrylic-based resin,natural minerals and colour pigments, solidsurfaces are non-porous, stain – resistant and easyto clean. In the unlikely event of damage, thesesurfaces can be completely repaired; Bench topscan be curved, straight, moulded and in-laidwith contrasting colours. The advantage of thismaterial Is the seamless joining of panels to formlong lengths of bench top, integrated sinks andsplashbacks, and “slab* ends to bench tops. In theory, any shape or size of bench is possible without the appearance of seams or joins. There is also a great variety of edge profiles available. The surface can also be applied to laundries, vanities or bars.
Product examples include:
Granite is an attractive natural product thatis millions of years old and each stone blockis unique. For natural beauty and strength,polished granite is hard to beat. Polished granitebench tops, once finished and sealed correctly(dry treat), are durable, will resist scratching andare easy to maintain.
There are many colour variations and thenatural stone creates a great visual impact.Granite can be used for all the bench tops in thekitchen or as a feature in one or two areas of thekitchen, such as breakfast bar, raised countertopor cook top bench and splashback. As stone is a natural material, the actual fished colour, texture and thickness may varyhe sample and the specified thickness.
Other stone choices are limestone, marble,°onyx and travertine, although they are notrecommended for kitchen bench tops as theyare more porous and will stain easily.
Limestone is a widely used sedimentary rockoften applied in an architectural sense. It containsfossil specimens, which give the stone a unique,earthy appeal.
Marble is a metamorphic rock that began as[limestone. Marble comes in a wonderful varietyof colours that are created from a combination ofmeat, pressure and chemical mineral elements in the stone. Marble and limestone could be used as a feature within the kitchen, as a wall or a raised bar slab to the floor.
Onyx is a beautiful artistic stone with translucent features that glow when light is shone through it. This brings the stone to life, creating stunning natural patterns of colour and shadow. Onyx is great for a feature area or backlit splashback.
A favourite bench top material in commercialapplications, stainless steel has also becomepopular for domestic kitchens. Some qualitiesthat make it a very attractive material for a newkitchen are its sleek look, smooth lines andmetallic lustre. Along with it being able to beformed and fabricated into any shape (sinks canbe seamlessly integrated), it is also hardwearing,hygienic and easy to care for.
Stainless steel is a generic term for a family ofcorrosion-resistant alloy steels containing 10.5per cent or more chromium. Brushed stainlesssteel can show marks, so it is a misconceptionthat stainless steel is scratch resistant. Stainlesssteel can also be used on the vertical surfaces ofyour kitchen and is often used behind cook tops.
Concrete can also be used for kitchen bench topsto complement an industrial or modern design.A minimum 50mm thickness is required so ‘reo’(reinforcing steel rods) can be inserted into themix. The ‘reo’ must be positioned so it does notinterfere with cut outs such as sinks or cook tops.Concrete bench tops can be any thickness above 50mm depending on weight restrictions for supportbelow, eg cabinets.
Concrete can be given a smooth finish by aprocess called burnishing (grinding through severalgrades of abrasive disks), depending on the finishyou require, or the concrete can be sealed with arecommended product for that purpose. Concreteis a special mix of water, cement and sand. Thereare several finishes you can have mixed into theconcrete such as aggregate, dyes and resins.Sinks can also be integrated in a concrete bench top.