New homes - the benchtop is it Formica or Engineered Stone?
I recently visited a home, where the owner was proudly showing me their beautiful engineered stone kitchen benchtop.
You see, I am lucky in my job to be able to identity what is an truly engineered stone bench top and what is not.
What is an Engineered Stone?
It is a slab stone made up of approximately 90% crushed Quartz bound together by a polymer resin. It may also contain other materials like coloured glass, shells, metals, or mirrors added for aesthetic reasons. Engineered Stone benchtops are often preferred over natural stone for their resilient properties. They have better resistance to stains, scratching and heat than Natural Stone. At the moment this kitchen bench dazzles first time home buyers.
Engineered stone benchtop
On the other hand a laminated or Acrylic (a melamine resin product), replicate the beauty and magnitude of natural stone and colour variations and veining deliver a unique and luxurious look that’s perfect for benchtops - the brown line on the edge of laminate tops are coloured by matching the colour of the surface therefore no line to differentiate between the two.
high pressure laminate benchtop
So if you did not know any better you might take one for the other.
But does it matter?
Here is a snippet of an article from Your Home and Garden Magazine to explain some of the different kitchen benchtops available on the market:
High pressure laminate: Its upside is that there are many colours, patterns and textures to choose from and it’s very cost-effective, but it can be seen to be a bit cheap and doesn’t stand up to heat and impact damage.
Stainless steel: This is a good budget option. It ticks the ‘industrial’ look but can be very reflective, so be mindful where you use it.
Wood: Can add warmth to a space but can be expensive – consider using wood as a highlight rather than a full bench top if money is an object.
Engineered stone: Hard-wearing and competes well on price comparatively. It also comes in good colour ranges. I would be careful choosing thickness, as this will greatly change the price point.
Acrylics: Excellent for long bench tops where you want to avoid joins but be aware that it can scratch easier than concrete and stone tops.
Concrete: Provides an industrial and contemporary finish but is at the expensive end. It can crack (superficially) and may stain if not re-sealed regularly.
Natural granite: A very hard surface to work on and because of that it’s very resistant to heat and impact damage. Some colours can be expensive and like concrete, will need re-sealing to stop staining.
I leave you with this: if you want to find out if your engineered benchtop is 'real' then open your cupboard and look underneath your bench - if the bench (not your cupboards) is mounted on a wooden frame then it is probably a look alike laminate/Acrylic or some sort of Formica - which are cheaper products.
Does it matter? it matters if you paid more for a stone engineered benchtop.