How to select a kitchen benchtop

Your kitchen benchtop can often be the single most expensive item for a kitchen renovation and it is therefore really important that you get this choice right, both in terms of practicality for you and your family and in terms of colour and design for the look that you want to achieve.  A fact for many of us too is that budget constraints will also play a role, but there is a lot of choice – sometimes too much – so don’t despair there will be a solution that is right for you.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Caesarstone Alpine Mist

How to select the right kitchen benchtop

The Natural choice for a kitchen benchtop

Natural stone is beautiful and can really make a statement.  A granite benchtop is extremely durable and in a simple black is a great choice for a long lasting, classic style look.  Lovers of warm neutral brown schemes will also find that there are granites available that will suit this palette and again this is a very classic and homely kitchen look.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – House Tweaking

Popular at the moment of course is marble, which looks really stunning.  You do have to really love it though as it can make quite a bold statement and you need to remember that although you love this now, 10 years on it may not give the classic look that you had hoped for.  Don’t let me put you off – I absolutely love the style – but you must too as it is a big investment.  Of course there are many different types of marble and you can choose one that has less dominant veins throughout if you want a more understated look.

How to select a kitchen benchtop

Think carefully about your colour scheme as marble comes in lots of variations, not just the classic white and black and the veins running through the piece will vary greatly too and will include whites, varying tones of grey and lovely rich browns.

How to select a kitchen benchtop

A great selling point for marble is that it is beautifully cool to the touch so if you are a cook, and in particular love to bake, then a marble bench top is great to work with.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Style at Home

There are two really important points to remember when selecting a natural stone:

Firstly, you must look at the slab or slabs that will be used in your scheme.  As this is a natural product it will vary greatly and a piece that you fell in love with from a small sample may bear no relation to the end product installed in your kitchen.  This can entail a bit of legwork but it is worth it or you can engage a designer to do this for you.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Arizona Tile

Secondly, natural stone will stain so you need to appreciate that this type of benchtop will need more maintenance and you will need to ensure that you wipe up spills immediately, particularly from foods that are acidic like tomatoes, citrus and vinegar.

This is therefore not a great option for a rental property or holiday home that is shared throughout the family.  I don’t want this to put you off though as it just takes a little more care.  A honed finish does provide a little more protection as it is less porous but it is still a natural product that will mark. Natural stone can also be sealed to offer more protection.

Some people do not let this worry them though and beautiful slabs of marble are passed throughout families in Italy and transported from home to home.  It really depends on how much of a perfectionist you are and whether small marks will bug you or remind you of a great party or family gathering!

Kitchen benchtops of engineered stone

The market will always respond to these challenges and reconstituted quartz stone is a great alternative to natural stone.  These stones have a high density and are non-porous and resistant to cracks and chips.  This is not to say that they are completely impervious – nothing is – but they do withstand a fair amount of wear and tear.

There are a lot of manufacturers on the market now who offer a wide range of colours from pure white through to imitations of natural marble.  Depending upon the look there are cost implications with some suppliers having a wide range of prices.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Caesarstone Statuario Maximus

A simple black or white engineered stone with a slight fleck is a timeless look that is also very durable.  My clients love the pure whites and blacks but remember that if you have a slight fleck throughout, the benchtop is a lot more forgiving.  So if over time you have the odd chip or stubborn mark it is less obvious.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Smartstone

Laminate kitchen benchtops

Laminate bench tops have played second fiddle to stone and are seen as the poor relation but a good quality simple laminate can be a great solution.  I like the plain colours or ones with just a hint of a design.

They just provide a very effective, long lasting and durable benchtop that will look good for years.

Laminate benchtops don’t break the bank and leave you more funds to furnish your kitchen with beautiful artworks, rugs and furniture that bring great personality to a space.  So don’t feel pressured to select a stone if it is financially out of reach as this is not something that you absolutely need to have.  Remember that less can be more and a kitchen doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive to be beautiful and practical.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Polytec

Timber kitchen benchtops

I am starting to see a lot more timber benchtops in kitchens which I love as it is such a beautiful warm and natural product.  Of course, a timber benchtop will mark but if you are careful and use chopping boards and heat resistant pads – as you should with any benchtop – then you will have years of use from this.

The beauty with natural timber is that it can be sanded and re-finished to update the kitchen when necessary.

You can of course just opt for timber on an island bench and use a more practical stone or laminate for the working areas.  This is a great way to introduce a point of difference and makes the island more like a piece of furniture.

Remember when selecting the timber to use that there are varying levels of hardness which can make an enormous difference to the durability of the piece so ask this question before you commit.

How to select a kitchen benchtop

Stainless steel kitchen benchtops

Undoubtedly, this is the choice of the professional chef.

Stainless steel benchtops abound in commercial environments and for the true home cook, this can also be a great solution.  Cool to the touch, durable and heat resistant, stainless steel is the obvious choice for anyone who loves to give their kitchen a good workout.

Depending upon the style of cabinetry, this choice of benchtop can look super contemporary or can fit into a cottage country style.  Clearly a great choice for an upmarket New York style loft apartment and great for anyone who loves the industrial look.  I particularly like stainless steel partnered with timber.

This way you have the durability and convenience of stainless steel for the working areas and the beauty and warmth of natural timber for the island and servery section of the kitchen.

How to select a kitchen benchtop

Acrylic Kitchen benchtops

Corian is the best known amongst the makers of acrylic surfaces and I absolutely love to work with these.  The beauty of Corian is that it is a seamless product.  Joins are invisible and therefore if you have an extra-long or wide stretch of bench top you can have a finish that is completely seamless.

Corian is also very malleable which is why it is such a great commercial product and an excellent choice for healthcare and education environments.  For the humble kitchen it offers a lot more than many other types of benchtop.  As it is so malleable and seamless you can have your kitchen sink made from the same product as your benchtop which means there are no nooks or crannies for bacteria to hide in and you can also extend your benchtop to work as a splashback.  Be careful though as you do see the join at this point unless you use a pure white.

The downsides are that it is not as heat resistant as stone, however as I have mentioned, I wouldn’t put anything hot down directly onto any surface.  Corian does also scratch more easily but the beauty with it is that any marks, stains, cigarette burns or scratches can be easily repaired. I know people who have had this style of benchtop for years and with a little care and renovation keep it looking good.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Corian

A matt or a polished kitchen benchtop?

There is something about a matt black bench top that I find really appealing.  Using a strong colour on the bench top, particularly if you partner it with white cabinetry, can be quite confronting but I feel that when you have a honed matt finish with black, the look is softer and although provides a great tonal contrast is not as obvious as a highly polished finish would give you.

I have found though that the matt finishes from some of the reconstituted stone manufacturers mark very easily and although it looks great to begin with, they can be tricky to maintain.

As mentioned before, honed natural stone surfaces can be less porous so this can also be a practical solution.  It really boils down to the look that you like and the overall mood and style that you want to create for your home.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Cheshire Furniture Company

Selecting colours for a kitchen benchtop

I have touched on colour but what I really wanted to say is that a benchtop can either provide a strong statement and tonal variation to the cabinetry or you can select one that is the same colour.

White on white is very popular and gives you a timeless, classic look that will be popular for years.  However if you want a point of difference, the benchtop colour is a great way to introduce this and varying degrees of tonal variation can give the kitchen a nice lift.  You do need to consider this as part of the entire look, so do take into account your splashback ideas too.

How to select a kitchen benchtop
Image – Caesarstone Cosmopolitan White

I would love to hear about your kitchen dilemmas and benchtop choices and it would be great if you followed me on Pinterest where I have a lot more kitchen inspiration.  Hope to hear from you in the comments section below.  If you are stuck choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen, I can help with my online colour consultation service.  You can find out more here.

How to select a kitchen benchtop

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Related: How to choose the right kitchen splashback


42 thoughts on “How to select a kitchen benchtop

  1. John says:

    Agree with the article that stone can make for a really good-looking benchtop. The article mentions too that durability is the hallmark of a stone benchtop. Are there different benefits that come from a specific type of stone you use? I’d be curious to know.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      HI John My clients are starting to go back to granite as it is so tough – they love marble but are concerned about staining. Some see the appeal of anti-bacterial properties of some of the reconstituted stone on the market. There seem to be pros and cons with all stone but definitely more pros!

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      I love polished concrete – it’s very durable but you need to ensure that it is laid by a professional. If it isn’t done correctly at the start it will crack. You can have it plain or showing the aggregate, which I love. Lots of options but you do need an expert involved.

      • Kathy says:

        Hi Samantha
        I would love your advice I have already selected dulux natural white shaker kitchen cupboards inn satin finish and Cesar stone organic white bench tops
        Do I go gloss or Matt in brick style splash back ?? This has been doing my head in ! Also I have lappatto beige floor tiles
        Kind regy kathy

  2. Sue says:

    We are considering using Dekton for the kitchen benchtop in our new house. Do you have any experience with this product? We are looking for a semi industrial look and will have polished concrete floors. Not sure about colours yet for the upper and lower cupboards, island and benchtops but are thinking of using two different colours.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Sue I haven’t specified this product before but have seen it in the showroom. The products from Cosentino are very good and I have used their Silestone in the past. They really seem to be at the cutting edge of technology and were there in the early days of matt stone surfaces which I love. 2 colours for your kitchen work well but you will need to consider the benchtop colour too and how much of a statement you will make with this. Perhaps tie your lower cabinetry into the colour of the polished concrete or link this somewhere else in the kitchen so that you don’t have too many different colours in the room. Sounds interesting – I hope it goes well. Samantha

  3. Paula Maharaj says:

    I’m installing white carerra mable countertops in my kitchen and bathroom. My husband likes polished, while I prefer honed. What are the pros and cons, and what is your personal preference?
    Thank you!

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Paula honed marble is more durable as it doesn’t stain as quickly as polished marble however they will both mark but polished or honed can also be sealed each year which is a fairly straight forward process and this should help to protect the finish. Once the stone is polished, more of the colour comes through so for Carrara marble the grey tones are more obvious and the stone appears more vibrant. Your choice will really come down to whether you want more of a laid back look in which case I would opt for a honed finish or whether you want a slick contemporary feel in which case you should go for a polished finish. Personally, I love matt finishes but it really does depend on the other materials that you are going to use – kitchen cabinetry, flooring etc. Either way – Carrara marble is gorgeous!

  4. Braden Bills says:

    I want to make sure that I get the right benchtops. I didn’t know that stainless steel was such a great choice! I love that they are heat resistant and easy to clean. I’ll have to see if I can have that used.

  5. Annika Larson says:

    Right now my husband and I are remodeling our kitchen. We want to find a benchtop that we will love that will also be low-maintenance and durable. As you mentioned, marble is a stunning choice, but you have to be sure that it is something that you will love for a long time as there are many options.

  6. Max Jones says:

    I’ve been looking for some new kitchen benchtops that we could have put in after we finish our remodel, and I think that I would like the fleck in in like you talked about. My kids aren’t the most responsible, so being able to have some fleck in our kitchen benchtops to hide future imperfections would be really helpful! I’m going to have to see what I can figure out and what kitchen benchtops my wife and I would like!

  7. Karen Thorne says:

    I have chosen a navy kitchen island (Dulux Presidential) White handleless shaker cupboards(Dulux Snowy Mountain quarter) Caesarstone calcutta nuvo benchtops. I have two splashbacks opposite sides of the kitchen. Would the marble on the splashbacks be too much and take away from the island or should I do plain white glass. Also is painting the walls white the exact same as the cabinets too white or should I paint them full strength snowy mountain.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Karen There really is no right or wrong here – it just depends how much you love the Calacutta Nuvo and how much of it you want to see. It really does make a dramatic statement as a splashback and looks gorgeous but you have to love it. If you want something simpler then glass works well and you can pick up one of the very light soft greys from the marble rather than pure white – just play around with some samples though as a glass splashback is a big investment. For your walls, again it is personal preference. If you want your kitchen to stand out more you should use a darker strength on the walls – think too about the aspect of the room, the amount of natural light and the overall mood that you want when thinking about the depth of white for the wall. Hope this helps! Samantha

    • Robyn McCallum says:

      I am thinking of putting Ceasarstone cosmopolitan white on my benchtop, Does cosmopolitan white go towards the brown or grey tones.

      • Samantha Bacon says:

        Hi Robyn Cosmopolitan White is a lovely warm grey and if anything I would say more brown than grey. Hope you love your new kitchen Samantha

  8. John Billows says:

    I’ve been thinking of replacing the wooden benchtop I have in my kitchen. I have seen a lot of different ideas, but I am not sure which one I like the best. I like that the marble is naturally cool, and doesn’t heat up much at all either. Thanks for the great tips on kitchen benchtops.

  9. Margaret says:

    Hi Samantha,

    I hope it’s not way to late for this thread as I’m seeking your advice as to weather a corian glacier white bench top would look OK with dulux vivid white joinery 60 percent gloss.


    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Margaret I think that Corian’s Glacier White looks good in most settings – you really need to assess it too with your wall and splashback colour too – put all the whites/neutrals etc. together in a very light space so that you can see how they work together – you may need to paint a semi-gloss sample board of Vivid White to get the right effect – but do remember it is all the other things in the room that will make an impact too. Good luck Samantha

  10. Sonia Wee says:

    Hi Samantha
    I have just discovered your website and have found your tips and advice so helpful – I just wish you lived here in Perth so I could access your personalised advice for my home.
    Hoping you can help me with choosing the best white for kitchen cabinetry (2 pack shaker style) and walls to match caesar stone Statuario Maximus benchtops and jarrah floorboards!
    Kitchen is a separate room ( ie house is 1880 period so rooms aren’t open plan).
    Rest of house is painted in Dulux Berkshire white but thought this too creamy yellow for the statuario maximus so painted kitchen walls in natural white. But at this point I can change wall paint.
    Thank you so much for your generous time.

  11. Max Walker says:

    It is hard to pick for the perfect benchtop for your kitchen. I love the way you pointed out several details that every homeowner should consider in picking out a benchtop for their kitchen.

  12. Reena says:

    Nice article Samantha. Hamptons style kitchens make my heart skip a beat but unfortunately the the shaker cabinetry from our big builder is way too expensive. I loved your suggestion of a dulux grid colour on the cabinetry but wondering if the room will look smaller due to the dark bold colors. Would you suggest another color for the cabinetry without ghe shaker profile, that will suit the hampton style home.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Reena you can also create a Hamptons look with a mid grey blue. Dulux Boathouse is a lovely blue for feature island cabinetry for this look. Good luck Samantha

  13. Clare Lyon says:

    We are renovation. We are doing the floor in a pale oak and this will come in from the lounge to the kitchen. We also want a wooden bench top and are thinking of a pale “Feature Grade Blackbut” or a recycled wood with lots of character. We need to keep everything as light as possible as our apartment is small. What colour would you suggest for the cabinet’s?

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Clare you need to consider the overall look of the space and the wall colour. If it is all light, bright and airy then I would just do the kitchen cabinets to match and let the flooring and the benchtop be the feature. However if you have more of a soft neutral on the walls then consider the same for the cabinetry. Basically with the standout timber bench you need to keep the cabinets in line with the walls. Hope this makes sense Samantha

  14. Annie says:

    Hello Samantha we would love your wonderful colour experience with this problem. We have chosen a Corian benchtop in glacier white. Our dilemma now is which white will go with this for cupboards . There is a heap of natural light coming into the room. We are thinking Dulux Natural White but are a little ocncerned it may look dirty next to the glacier white. Can you help please.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Annie Corian Glacier White is a cool white which may not work so well with Natural White which is a warm white. I think you need to reconsider the white choices and use this as a starting point. Good luck Samantha

  15. Victoria Addington says:

    It’s great to know some tips on how to select the best kitchen benchtop. I’ve been looking for a company that offers installation services here in our area, which is why I’m glad that I’ve read your article about choosing the right benchtop material. I like what you said that natural stone is elegant and can provide a statement. Hopefully, I can find a provider here in town.

  16. Jane says:

    Hi Samantha, thank you for all your most helpful information in your blogs. I’m hoping you can give me some advice too please – our walls will be dulux natural white with the trims and ceiling in natural white half. Floors are a very light colour smoked engineered oak but still some warmth that goes well with paint colour. What caesarstone or other brand benchtop is a close match to natural white or natural white half? I don’t want any vein or marble look and would like as little fleck as possible. Going for a very white, handleless look, clear mirror splash back to reflect our south-facing bush outlook. Whole south wall has very large glass sliders in clear anodised. Will accessorise later to add interest but the benchtop decision is keeping me awake at night!! Thanks so much for any suggestions. ??

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Jane I like Quantum Quartz Alpine White as it has some warmth but is very plain. You need to ensure that the benchtop is related to the white of the kitchen cabinets as well as the walls etc. Good luck Samantha

      • Jane says:

        Hi Samantha, thanks so much for your reply. I actually happen to have a sample of Quantum Quartz Alpine White amongst all the others I’ve collected(!) and after experimenting with sample pots of the natural white I agree that it’s a great match! Many thanks! ⭐️??

  17. Kitchen Renovations Sydney says:

    These are great tips! It’s obvious that we spend so much time in our kitchen, making wonderful family memories there. Lighting plays a major role in this area of the home. Accent lighting is a very important aspect of my home. I love to highlight favorite furniture pieces and textured surfaces. This is a very valuable post.

  18. Charmaine Todd says:

    Hi Samantha, Thankyou for reading my email. I’m losing sleep over choosing the right stone top and whether to have a warm or cool white on my shaker door. I ordered engineered oak flooring and it’s a medium tone but more rustic than the sample showed! I love a white on white hamptons/ modern farmhouse kitchen and will choose a shaker door but now with the rustic floor am unsure if the Michael Angelo quantum quartz ( the stone shop lady suggested with half strength snowy mountains as doors ) will be too busy? Apparently Michaelangelo has changed and is a softer vein than previously. I’m scared I won’t like the veining in it on a big slab- I’m not sure if you know of another stone top that has a softer/ less vein but a whitish background. I love a white top. My mum thinks I should go plain like alpine white and shaker door and dress it up with handles/ pendant lights etc. But will alpine white look cream!? Is that old hat ? Am I better with a vivid white or lexicon quarter door or is that too bright or cheap looking? I have a large island 3mx 1.3 m with a white farmhouse sink to go in it and the room gets lots of light all day plus morning sun . I just don’t know if a marble look stone top is too busy with rustic floors? If you’ve read this novel , you need a medal! And clearly I should have got an interior designer( I’ve tried today to find one in our area but no luck) Thankyou for your time you’re very kind.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Charmaine I think you really need to try to see a large slab of the Michaelangelo. Your local stone supplier may have a slab in stock or if you live in a capital city you should be able to get to see this easily. Alpine White isn’t cream but it is a warmer white. I use it a lot and it looks very nice with oak and Dulux Snowy Mountains Half. In terms of your kitchen colour, you need to consider the colours of your walls and internal trim. Hope this helps Samantha

  19. Janine says:

    Hi Samantha, we’re replacing our very dated brown granite and cream cupboards with a white kitchen. I never thought this would be so hard. I’ll have Dulux Natural White on the walls with vivid white in satin cupboards. I really like Caesarstone Organic White but fear it doesn’t give enough contrast because I want the splashback to be the same as the benchtop because I dislike tiles and grout. We’re also looking at Caesarstone Ocean Foam or YDL Stone Diamond White but is this speckled look dated now? Are there any other options you could suggest that we could consider. Thank you.

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