One of the most essential items in a new kitchen is the countertop. Not only does this element bear the brunt of daily cooking and food preparation, but it shapes the aesthetic of the room. Stone may be a popular option, but here are several alternate substances.
For a feeling of warmth, not many materials beat timber. These benchtops use a variety of species, including oak, maple and bamboo, each with distinctive hues and grain patterns—your home builder can advise you on what's available in your area. Various wood tones such as creams, yellows or reds can match any kitchen style.
Select between end, edge or face grain. An end-grain board or bench displays a chequerboard pattern, as the ends of multiple vertical wood pieces fit together. Edge-grain products consist of numerous parallel strips of wood. End- and edge-grain products provide extra-durable cutting surfaces. On face-grain wood benchtops, the front of the timber is displayed, showing off its natural patina.
Timber needs regular sealing with food-grade oil or wax to protect it from moisture. Wood muffles sound, but it can scratch and dent. On the plus side, you can quickly regenerate the surface by resanding it.
Concrete is no longer reserved for simple pathways; it creates many beautiful objects around the home, countertops being one of them. You can go with grey for an industrial vibe, or you can colour the concrete, selecting from a virtually limitless array of pigments. You can also embed elements such as coloured glass or pebbles into the counter. With so many customisation options, you can personalise your choice to your kitchen—no one else will have a replica.
Concrete does need regular sealing to protect it from staining and water damage. Once that's taken care of, you'll have an extremely durable, non-scratch surface that is perfect for handling the rigours of daily kitchen life. Contractors can precast the benchtop before installation, or they can pour it on site.
If you love cooking and are looking for a convenient and attractive countertop, consider stainless steel. It's scratch and heat resistant so that you can focus entirely on your baking and food preparation rather than the counter's needs. Thicker steel resists dents more than thinner options.
Smaller kitchens will benefit from shiny metal that bounces light around the room, making it seem more spacious. You can finish the benchtop in different ways, including satin, brushed or matte. Polished surfaces can show fingerprints, but after a burnish with a cloth using vinegar and baking soda, your counter will look pristine.
Contact your home builder for additional advice on your options.