Expert advice: Swamped with benchtop choices?

Get your decor dilemmas solved by our resident interiors expert and colour enthusiast, Alex Fulton


Q; We’re about to renovate our kitchen and are a bit swamped with bench top choice… granite, engineered stone or acrylic. It’s very confusing. Do you have a preference?

A; I bet you’re swamped! There are many options out there and it can be a very heady world of new substrates and finishes that all add to the confusion. If I was your interior designer I would ask what your budget was, then I would ask you what your style is, and thirdly I would need to know more about your lifestyle and your needs. All three would give me clues to narrow down your selection from the wealth of bench top beauties on the market.

High pressure laminate: Its upside is that there are many colours, patterns and textures to choose from and it’s very cost-effective, but it can be seen to be a bit cheap and doesn’t stand up to heat and impact damage.

Stainless steel: This is a good budget option. It ticks the ‘industrial’ look but can be very reflective, so be mindful where you use it.

Wood: Can add warmth to a space but can be expensive – consider using wood as a highlight rather than a full bench top if money is an object.

Engineered stone: Hard-wearing and competes well on price comparatively. It also comes in good colour ranges. I would be careful choosing thickness, as this will greatly change the price point.

Acrylics: Excellent for long bench tops where you want to avoid joins but be aware that it can scratch easier than concrete and stone tops.

Concrete: Provides an industrial and contemporary finish but is at the expensive end. It can crack (superficially) and may stain if not re-sealed regularly.

Natural granite: A very hard surface to work on and because of that it’s very resistant to heat and impact damage. Some colours can be expensive and like concrete, will need re-sealing to stop staining.

I tend to limit the options to my clients based on needs, style and budget. Good luck with designing your new kitchen; I know it can be more confusing to have options! Stop, breathe, re-group and get organised to help sort out what you want and what you need for your new kitchen.

Words by: Alex Fulton

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