Kitchen Benchtop Materials: 6 Safer Alternatives to Engineered Stone
Engineered stone has become a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms due to its appearance, low cost and durability. It is not hard to understand why it’s commonly specified in homes with its likeness to natural stone without the price tag and rigorous maintenance requirements. However, engineered stone can be very dangerous to work with because it contains silica dust. When this dust is inhaled, it can cause silicosis, a serious lung disease.
Engineered stone contains up to 95 per cent silica compared to less than 40 per cent silica in natural stone. The cancer causing silica fibres are inhaled by workers during the cutting, sanding, polishing and grinding of the stone. Increasing evidence suggests that, much like asbestos, there is no safe way to use silica even with the introduction of control measures and personal protection equipment.
Read on to discover 6 alternatives to engineered stone that will look just as beautiful in your projects but also keep construction workers safe.
Timber benchtops add a warm, natural look to any kitchen. If you are heavily invested in biophilia and want to bring a natural aesthetic to your interior then look no further! The wide variety of species available means you can find any colour to suit your interior aesthetic.
If you are the type of cook who has a million pots and pans on the go and not enough heat mats, then Porcelain is the answer to your woes! Fireproof, highly UV resistant and scratch and stain resistant, porcelain benchtops are a popular choice for family and outdoor kitchens.
3. Solid Surface
For those of you who have an eye for detail, you will appreciate the seamless design capabilities of a solid surface benchtop. Made from an acrylic resin with a filler of alumina, the joints between each piece of benchtop are invisible after installation. You can even have the sink moulded into the benchtop for a truly seamless and hygienic design. Solid surface benchtops are also UV-resistant, stain-resistant and scratch-resistant. A triple threat!
Laminate has come a long way in recent years and is a stylish and affordable option, so please, put that image of the 70’s brightly coloured kitchen out of your mind! Available in the ranges are muted hues, soft neutrals, matte finishes and textured timbers.
5. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel benchtops are very durable and easy to keep clean but this is not the only reason to specify this industrial material in your next project. Stainless steel adds a modern edge to your interior and can be seamlessly formed into sinks and splashbacks.
6. Recycled glass
Recycled glass countertops are fairly new to the market and have become popular for their terrazzo-style aesthetic and ecofriendly resume. Most recycled glass countertops feature a colourful mosaic of glass shards offering a unique aesthetic to each project.