Let’s explore safer alternatives to high-silica engineered stone for kitchen benchtops.

As of July 1, 2024, Australia has banned using, supplying and manufacturing engineered stone for benchtops, slabs, and panels under work health and laws due to health concerns related to silica dust exposure.

Given our love of the cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing engineered stone, this leaves a large hole in the kitchen benchtop market. In this blog, we’ll discuss various options for engineered stone that you can install for your kitchen benchtop and their pros and cons. 

Acrylic Solid surface Benchtops

Corian Kitchen Benchtop
Corian Kitchen Benchtop

Acrylic solid surface materials, such as Corian, Meganite, Staron, and Evostone have gained popularity as an alternative to engineered stone. 

Pro's

  • Silica-free: These benchtops contain no silica, ensuring safety for homeowners and professionals.
  • Seamless Appearance: Acrylic solid surface benchtops can be joined seamlessly, creating a sleek and continuous surface.
  • Easy Maintenance: Non-porous and resistant to stains, they are simple to clean.
  • Design Versatility: Available in a wide range of colors and patterns, acrylic solid surface benchtops allow for creative kitchen designs.

Con's

  • Scratch Susceptibility: While durable, acrylic surfaces can scratch. Avoid using sharp objects directly on the surface.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Acrylic benchtops are not as heat-resistant as some other materials. Use trivets or cutting boards to protect them from hot pans.

Natural Stone Benchtops

Quartzite Kitchen Benchtop
Quartzite Kitchen Benchtop

With engineered stone no longer available, natural stone can be a timeless option. Consider the following:

Pro's

  • Quartzite: Often mistaken for quartz, quartzite is a natural stone with excellent durability. It’s heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, and doesn’t contain silica.
  • Marble: For a touch of elegance, marble benchtops are hard to beat. They exude luxury and sophistication without compromising safety.

Con's

  • Porosity: Natural stone can absorb liquids if not sealed properly. Regular sealing is essential.
  • Maintenance: Marble requires periodic resealing and care to maintain its pristine appearance.

Porcelain Benchtops

Porcelain Kitchen Benchtop
Porcelain Kitchen Benchtop

Porcelain benchtops offer a blend of aesthetics and practicality:

Pro's

  • Silica-Free: Porcelain is entirely silica-free, addressing health concerns.
  • Resilience: These benchtops are resistant to scratches, heat, and stains.
  • Natural Stone Look: Porcelain can mimic the appearance of natural stone, providing a similar aesthetic without the risks.

Con's

  • Brittleness: Porcelain can chip or crack if subjected to heavy impact. Handle with care during installation.
  • Cost: Porcelain benchtops may have a higher initial cost compared to some other materials.

Timber Benchtops

Timber Kitchen Benchtop
Timber Kitchen Benchtop

For those who appreciate warmth and natural beauty, timber benchtops are an excellent choice:

Pro's

  • Biophilic Design: Timber brings nature indoors, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
  • Variety: Choose from different timber species, each with its unique grain and color.
  • Sealing: Proper sealing ensures longevity and protection against moisture.

Con's

  • Maintenance: Regular oiling and sealing are necessary to prevent warping and water damage.
  • Susceptibility to Moisture: Timber can swell or warp if exposed to excessive moisture. Wipe up spills promptly.

Tiles as Benchtops

Tiled Kitchen Benchtop
Tiled Kitchen Benchtop

Tiles offer an interesting alternative for benchtops:

Pro's

  • Affordability: Tiles are budget-friendly and come in various price ranges.
  • Design Options: A wide variety of colors, patterns, and sizes are available.
  • DIY-Friendly: Homeowners can install tiles themselves with basic tools.

Con's

  • Grout Lines: Grout lines can be harder to clean and may require periodic maintenance.
  • Durability: Tiles may chip or crack under heavy impact. Use cutting boards to protect them.
  • Uneven Surface: The surface can be uneven due to grout lines.

Remember to consider your lifestyle, aesthetics, and maintenance preferences when choosing a benchtop material. Each option has its trade-offs, so weigh them carefully.

Happy renovating!

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