Every style of kitchen benchtop material has its own advantages, drawbacks, and price-tag. Here’s how to best navigate the countertop landscape.
September 30th, 2022
There are a huge variety of kitchen benchtop materials on the market. The most popular material for a kitchen countertop is engineered stone. Engineered stone is a material composed from crushed stone which has be bound by an adhesive. It can be made from many different types of natural and manufactured materials such as marble, quartz, polymer concrete and granite.
Historically, kitchen benchtops were made from tile. Since their invention, laminates have been steadily increasing in popularity. The most common kitchen benchtop materials to date are: engineered stone (marble, quartz, granite), stainless steel, treated timber, bamboo, polished concrete, and porcelain.
Expenses vary greatly between materials. Laminate benchtops are usually the cheapest at $400-780 per square metre on average. Low-end bamboo is affordable as well, averaging between $500-800 per square metre. Marble is the most expensive material, ranging from $800 – $2,200 per square metre. Granite is the second-most costly material, ranging from $700-1,700.
Kitchen benchtops prices vary due to a number of factors beyond the material. It is important to keep them in mind while budgeting. To replace kitchen benchtop costs will be higher than simply installation as you will need to consider the labour charge of removing and disposing of the old material (as well as the costs of replacement). Labour costs are usually around $50-$250 per hour. In total, you can expect to pay around $500-$1,000 to build and install a standard new benchtop. Extravagant benchtop designs with unique dimensions and luxury materials such as marble will probably cost you much more.
Price range: $420-780 per square metre
Laminate kitchen benchtops are one of if not the cheapest countertop materials available. Installation is easy, saving labour costs, and it is even possible to DIY. High pressure laminate kitchen benchtops are stain, heat and scratch resistant. They are low maintenance and simple to clean.
Laminate holds appeal for its aesthetic appearance as well. Laminate benchtops, like laminate floors, have a printed external layer which can be made to resemble natural materials such as marble, quartz, granite or even timber. High-end laminate can be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. However, low-end laminate lacks the natural variation of such materials – making it an easily spotted fake. Read more about the best laminate suppliers here or browse the Habitus Living Collection.
Price range: $500-$1,600 per square metre
Bamboo is generally priced very similarly to timber. This is because it shares many characteristics with timber as an organic material (although bamboo is technically a grass). Bamboo is one of the most sustainable building materials around the world because of its regenerative potential. The harvesting rate of bamboo is just 1-5 years, and replanting is not necessary as regrowth generates from the original root system.
Bamboo is hypoallergenic and non-porous, with an impressive durability. However, the surface needs to be sealed about as often as timber because it is not waterproof. Bamboo has similar maintenance needs to timber with sanding and resealing every few years. Like timber, it is somewhat susceptible to chipping, scratching and denting.
Price range: $200-$650 per square metre
To renovate a kitchen bench with timber usually entails high-quality hardwoods such as walnut, eucalypt, oak and beech. Timber is a recyclable material, making it another sustainable business practice. Another benefit of timber is that wear and tear actually enhance its aesthetic, with small scratches and nicks giving it a rustic, storied charm. Timber can be used almost anywhere in the home, and is sure to be a family favourite for decades.
Price range: $1000-$1,800 per square metre
Polished concrete has a stylish, industrial chic which is becoming more popular in homes around the world. There are many different types of polished concrete, from exposed aggregate to stained, honed or burnished.
The durability of polished concrete is unmatched in modern construction. Polished concrete has a simple cleaning process and will require little maintenance over the years. Provided it has been properly sealed with a quality sealant, your polished concrete benchtop could last decades.
Price range: $520-$1,200 per square metre
Quartz countertops are very common for modern kitchen benchtops. This is because quartz has an impressive durability and is available in a variety of styles. Quartz benchtops are usually engineered rather than solid, meaning they are made from quartz dust or quartz chips bound with resin at a common ratio of 9-1. Read more about the many benefits of quartz or the top ten types of quartz for countertops.
Price range: contact for quote
Caesarstone is often mistaken for a separate material to quartz. In fact, Caesarstone is a brand of engineered quartz which has achieved global recognition for its durability and beauty.
Price range: $1,200 – $2,000 total
Price range: $400-$600 per square metre.
The majority of engineered stone is actually made with quartz, though there are a number of other natural stone materials that you can choose from. Other materials include marble, granite, and polymer concrete. You can also purchase engineered timber.
Price range: $3,000 – $3,500 total
Granite is durable, heat resistant and low maintenance. It is also harder than most materials, meaning it will resist damage from stains and impacts with greater efficacy. Granite also has great visual appeal and you can find it in multiple styles and finishes.
Price range: $700-$2,000 per square metre
Marble is a symbol of luxury in contemporary kitchens. The beauty of marble is versatile and comes in many patterns, each with a different and unique vein. Like all natural stone, marble is heat resistant and durable (though somewhat softer than other types). Read more about marble and the 10 best kitchen countertop materials here.
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