03
Apr

The Most Durable Benchtop Material

From the cheapest to the priciest, all kitchen benchtop materials have their pros and cons. Our handy guide gives you all the information you need about durability, cleaning and price to make the best choice for your new kitchen.

CHOICE has taken the time to study each benchtop material and provide an evaluation. We make that information easy to digest. To go back to the source, visit CHOICE to see the results: https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/household/everyday-items/buying-guides/kitchen-benchtops

For more information on benchtop styles and designs, see our fact sheet.

Engineered stone/Quartz

This is one of the most popular choices in kitchen and bathroom benchtops. It is very durable and comes in a huge range of colours to suit any colour scheme. The low grade for impact resistance relates to the ability to easily chip the edges of this product (for example by dropping a heavy can of food from an upper cabinet) if care is not taken.

Unlike natural stone, kneading dough does not pose a staining problem.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
A+ A+ A D B A+ A $$-$$$

Corian

Benchtop material: Corian

Benchtop material: Corian in a bespoke curve.

Corian is the first choice for those who want a cutting-edge benchtop design featuring seamless angles, curves and of course Corian’s signature integrated sink. Due to the translucent properties of the product, it can also be backlit to create a show-stopping feature.

Corian is easy to maintain and relatively tough. If it does happen to become badly scratched, Corian can be repaired by the manufacturer.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
A A+ A A+ D A B $$-$$$$

Sealed Natural Stone (Marble or Granite)

Natural stone is the clear winner in some areas, only dropping a little in the cleaning department. As natural stone is a porous product, it does have some limitations. Exposure to acid (such as citrus and some cleaning solutions) can eat away the product leaving an unsightly, uneven, pocked surface. If you are a keen cook and like to knead dough or pastry directly on your benchtop, it is imperative that you seal it annually or lay cling film on the bench before kneading – alternatively a dedicated kneading slab can be created from the hole cut out for the sink. Oily or cloudy flour residue from dough can leach into the product leaving a distinct patina.

Natural stone is a premium product and therefore comes at a premium price. For some, there is no substitute for natural stone due to the unique veining in each slab. Imitations don’t have the same cool touch and one-of-a-kind look of the real thing.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
A+ B A+ A A A+ A+ $$$-$$$$

Laminate

While it is one of the humbler benchtop materials, laminates still score quite well on durability. This is why they have been a popular choice for kitchen countertops for decades and will remain so for decades to come. Stains are able to be cleaned very effectively with most domestic cleaning solutions – even natural, homemade cleaning products – and it is very resistant to cutting and heat.

Laminates are available in a huge range of colours and effects ranging from those mimicking natural materials to fun bright patterns. There are many brands of laminate, all with their own colour and price ranges. There is sure to be something to suit your style and it promises to be kind to your wallet.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
Colour dependent A+ A+ C E A A+* $-$$

* While the Laminex brand performed extremely well, the Formica brand received an F for heat resistance.

Timber

Benchtop Material: TImber

Benchtop Material: TImber in a sharp modern style.

Timber is a chameleon. Timber benchtops can be rustic, coastal, modern and many things in between. Being a natural product, it will never be out of fashion. There are a great many timbers to choose from – from light to dark, heavily featured to fine-grained. The edging can be a highly decorative double bullnose with bow ends to a modern square or shark nose.

While it does not score as well in durability as other products, it can wear exceptionally well if care is taken. Timber is also repairable to a certain degree – if marks are sustained in an oiled benchtop it may be sanded back and re-oiled.

Timber (Oiled)

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
A+ C B B D B F $$-$$$$

Timber (Polyurethane coated)

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
B A+ A+ C D B F $$-$$$$

Stainless Steel

Made popular by commercial kitchens, stainless steel benchtops are a great choice for those looking for a hygienic, heat resistant surface. They do have their limitations in that they will dent and scratch, however, some people enjoy the patina that is achieved over time.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
C A+ B C D A A $$$

Large Format Porcelain

Large format porcelain is a new kid on the benchtop material block. It performs extremely well in all areas except for impact resistance, where it may shatter if a hefty object is dropped from a considerable height. Large format porcelain is great for achieving a high fashion ultra-thin – almost floating – effect. It comes in a great range of metal, stone and other effects; predominantly colours from a natural pallet.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
A+ A+ A+ E A A+ A+ $$$-$$$$

Concrete

Benchtop Material: Concrete effect large-format porcelain.

Benchtop Material: Concrete effect large format porcelain.

Concrete has become such a fashionable material to feature in kitchens and bathrooms that concrete-effect is available from a variety of engineered stone, laminate and large format porcelain manufacturers.

While concrete may seem to be a cost-effective option, the expense comes in with the extra care required in laying the concrete to the specifications of your benchtop followed by food-grade sealing and polishing. Because it is a fairly brittle material, the imitations crafted by manufacturers of engineered stone, laminate and large format porcelain provide a more durable end result. That said, only true concrete gives the rugged, nuanced effect of true concrete.

Looks clean Easy to clean Stain resistance Impact resistance Abrasion resistance Cutting resistance Heat resistance Cost
A+ B A D E A A+ $$-$$$$