6 Alternatives to Engineered Stone
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Over the past year, the risks of silica in engineered stone benchtops has been highlighted in the media. The popularity of engineered stone benchtops has increased over the last 20 years which has lead to an increase in silicosis cases has reported by installers. The silica in dust that is produced when engineered stone is cut can be inhaled; to reduce health risks to installers, safety regulations around the handling of benchtops has been ramped up. What this means to the average home renovator is longer lead times for benchtops to be installed and costs increasing. This is due to safety equipment that installers are required to purchase and a simple cut can no longer be done in your home, rather the benchtop has to be taken back to the factory.
So what are the alternatives to engineered stone? What other products are available on the market that can ofter a quality finish and a point of difference in your home? Looking for something outside of the design box? Well, check out these alternatives below!
Long gone are the days of your bright yellow kitchen benchtop from the ’70s, Laminates such as Laminex and Polytec are introducing a new range of style at an affordable price. Available in the ranges are textured timbers, metallics, solid colours, sheen, matt and even fingerprint reducing finishes. There is such a broad range of colours, finishes and edge profiles that you would be crazy to look past this option.
These benchtops are an acrylic product that is slowly increasing in popularity with consumers. These surfaces are flexible and seamless, they are non-porous, stain-resistant, scratch-resistant and food zone approved as they are anti-bacterial. Products such as Corian and Staron can offer matching basins to give you a minimalist look to your space. The price of these can compare to your supernatural range engineered stones, they are becoming cheaper as popularity increases. They come in a wide range of unique colours and patterns making them a popular alternative.
Ultracompact surfaces such as Dekton are very popular for a number of reasons, possibly the most popular reason is they are fireproof and highly UV resistant, making them popular in outdoor BBQ areas. Hot pots can be placed on them with no damage and UV rays won’t break down the surface, unlike engineered stone. They are highly scratch and abrasion-resistant, meaning they will look as good now as they will in 20 years time. Porcelain benchtops also have no joins, so are perfect if you are looking at a
benchtop longer than 3m. Unfortunately, they aren’t the cheapest product on the market, but if you can afford to pay a little extra, the benefits are truly worth it.
Natural stone is a real personal choice where you can walk into the warehouse and choose the individual slab that will become your benchtop. You can look at each piece and pick out the one you love the most. Some stones like marble, aren’t suitable for a kitchen bench as they are quite soft and will wear down over time, granites and quartz benchtops will stand the test of time. These products are slightly more expensive than your supernatural engineered stone.
Timber is such a beautiful natural product and comes in a variety of colours from your blondes in the oaks through to dark reds in your Merbau and Jarrah and browns in walnuts and brush box. Each piece will be different to the next so be prepared for natural variations. You can leave it unvarnished and oil it regularly to maintain its quality or have it painted in a 2 pack clear coat for minimal maintenance. The cost is dependant on the size of the boards used and timber so can vary greatly in price.
Concrete has increased in popularity over the last few years with the industrial trend increasing. As these are handmade there are no two that are alike. They are extremely hard wearing and can have sinks and vanities made as part of the bench. The weight is similar to natural stone and hot items can also be placed on them. Concrete is mostly pre-cast off-site and delivered to site as a finished product, to maintain control. However, on more creative designs it can be poured on-site.
As you can see, there are so many options available on the market to make your kitchen something really special. These alternatives offer different aesthetics and benefits to your kitchen. Now feeling adventurous to look at an alternative to engineered stone? Don't be afraid to look at these options for your home.
Why don’t you get in contact with us today and we can help with your dream design?