Benchtops need to be more wear-resistant than cupboard doors, drawer fronts and shelves. They will need to cope with spillage, knocks, everyday wear and tear, as well as messy stains and constant scrubbing. The benchtop needs to be chosen with care as it reflects a large expanse of horizontal surfacing in the kitchen. Solid stone, reconstituted stone and resin-based solid surfaces are very popular choices for today’s kitchens.
Laminates are produced under high heat and pressure. A formaldehyde-based, resin-impregnated paper is laid over coloured paper that, in turn, is laid onto other base papers called craft paper; this is also impregnated with resin. These are then pressed under high heat and pressure to produce a very hard, plastic-like sheet.
Laminates are available in a large variety of colours, finishes and wood grains as well as “printed to order”. Laminate is an excellent product to use in horizontal applications (for example, bench tops and tables) and can also be used in a vertical application to create a design feature. Laminate is a durable material with consistent colour and finish and is highly resistant to knocks and scratches.
Laminates are applied to 32mm highly moisture-resistant (HMR) aqua board and can have a number of edging options. Front edges can be square, or 90- or 180-degree post-formed or square-formed. You can even incorporate timber or Corian edge. A kitchen with curves would require a square, solid timber or solid surface edge to the laminate. We deal with many laminate companies, each with their own colour range and availability charts.
ENGINEERED | RECONSTITUTEDSTONE
All engineered/reconstituted quartz stones are very similar in the way they are manufactured. Most slab sizes are 3000mm x1200mm but can vary with individual suppliers. The thickness of the slab will also vary from one stone to the next. Standard thickness is 20mm or 30mm. A 40mm stone is usually a 20mm slab with a 20mm edge built up to 40mm. A 60mm, 80mm or 100mm stone is usually a 20mm or 30mm slab with a mitred 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 percent combined bonding agent, special additives and pigments, making it an extremely hard wearing, practical and highly versatile surface. Quantum Quartz isavailable in a variety of tones and colours — from subtle 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 is available in a palette of designs that have been chosen to coordinate with a range of leading interior surface brands. Sheet sizes are 3040mmx 1380mm with depths of both 20mm and 30mm available on selected designs.
RESIN-BASED SOLID SURFACE
A solid material made from acrylic-based resin, natural minerals and colour pigments, solid surfaces are non-porous, stain – resistant and easy to clean. In the unlikely event of damage, these surfaces can be completely repaired; Bench tops can be curved, straight, moulded and inlaid with contrasting colours. The advantage of this material is the seamless joining of panels to form long lengths of benchtop, integrated sinks and splash backs, 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 that is millions of years old and each stone block is unique. For natural beauty and strength, polished granite is hard to beat. Polished granite bench tops, once finished and sealed correctly(dry treat), are durable, will resist scratching and are easy to maintain.
There are many colour variations and the natural stone creates a great visual impact. Granite can be used for all the bench tops in the kitchen or as a feature in one or two areas of the kitchen, such as breakfast bar, raised countertop or cooktop bench and splashback. As stone is a natural material, the actual fished colour, texture and thickness may vary the sample and the specified thickness.
Other stone choices are limestone, marble,°onyx and travertine, although they are not recommended for kitchen bench tops as they are more porous and will stain easily.
Limestone is a widely used sedimentary rock often applied in an architectural sense. It contains fossil specimens, which give the stone a unique,earthy appeal.
Marble is a metamorphic rock that began as limestone. Marble comes in a wonderful variety of colours that are created from a combination of meat, 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 commercial applications, stainless steel has also become popular for domestic kitchens. Some qualities that make it a very attractive material for a new kitchen are its sleek look, smooth lines and metallic lustre. Along with it being able to be formed and fabricated into any shape (sinks can be seamlessly integrated), it is also hard wearing, hygienic and easy to care for.
Stainless steel is a generic term for a family of corrosion-resistant alloy steels containing 10.5 per cent or more chromium. Brushed stainless steel can show marks, so it is a misconception that stainless steel is scratch resistant. Stainless steel can also be used on the vertical surfaces of your kitchen and is often used behind cooktops.
Concrete can also be used for kitchen bench tops to complement an industrial or modern design. A minimum 50mm thickness is required so ‘reo’(reinforcing steel rods) can be inserted into the mix. The ‘reo’ must be positioned so it does not interfere with cut outs such as sinks or cooktops. Concrete benchtops can be any thickness above 50mm depending on weight restrictions for support below, eg cabinets.
Concrete can be given a smooth finish by a process called burnishing (grinding through several grades of abrasive disks), depending on the finish you require, or the concrete can be sealed with a recommended product for that purpose. Concrete is a special mix of water, cement and sand. There are several finishes you can have mixed into the concrete such as aggregate, dyes and resins.Sinks can also be integrated in a concrete bench top.