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  • Writer's pictureJenni Robin

Kitchens, the heart and soul of Australian homes.

Welcome to the JRID journal, this month let’s dive into alternatives to engineered stone.


Interior designers specify a wide variety of materials. In Australia engineered stone grew to popularity by providing a marble or stone look benchtop for a fraction of the price. Additionally, no requirement to seal the material providing great durability.

In 2024 engineered stone will be banned for use in Australia. The question is what other options are available to clients?    


A close up professional photo of 20mm thick engineered stone benchtop.
20mm thick engineered stone benchtop.

Concrete and Terrazzo

Poured either onsite or precast in a factory, concrete and full slab terrazzo are a great choice for lovers of utilitarian design aesthetics. Terrazzo also utilised in tiled formations, noting the need to specify epoxy impervious grout. Both provide coloured options, in the case of Terrazzo coloured stone plus added aggregate provides truly unique outcomes. These products must be sealed as per natural stone and during the forming process polished and grinded to the desired appearance. This will be messy onsite so be aware for retrofitted a kitchen or other benchtop surfaces in a home.


Laminate

Commercial interior design experience led to specifying office kitchens with laminate door fronts. This product provides extensive colour options, more recently timber grains and stone look patterns introduced. Laminate provides flexible execution installation such as benchtops; however, it will need to be protected from heated elements and can scratch easily. The laminate colour or pattern applied on the top of the board only millimetres thick with a topcoat made of plastic, the substrate often MDF or plywood.


Natural Stones

A plethora of options available to suit every taste. The colours are extensive as slabs being cut directly from the earth. Veins and markings are ever evolving and recommended to be selected in person by the designer and client ensuring cuts are suitable for the design aesthetic. Including but not limited to Marble, Travertine, Onyx, Granite are stunning in their individuality to be enjoyed once in the home. Be sure to seal the stone using a product such as Aqua Mix Gold, as the natural product is porous and will absorb spills.

 

Porcelain

Porcelain is a crowd favourite based in immaculate durability. It’s non-porous, stain, abrasion and heat resistant. The hard-wearing material can be used for cladding and flooring, featuring slabs in large formats this product is a rising star.


Solid Surface

Often used in commercial applications, solid surface has the ability to be formed into fabulous, curved shapes. The product needs to be installed by a professional which increases the price point if specified in a residential project. The non-porous acrylic surface has inconspicuous seams. If marks or stains occur, they are easily removed or buffed out onsite. Sinks can be thermoformed into the benchtop, no sink lips to hide crumbs.


Stainless Steel

An ultra hygienic surface, often specified in hospitals and in commercial kitchens for its durability, non-porous quality, and heat resistance. At a higher price point it needs to be custom fabricated to suit a kitchen benchtop template, however it will last a long time albeit scratching and the lustre will alter with age creating a stunning patina.


Stainless steel kitchen door fronts and benchtop.

Tile

A tiled benchtop adds texture and colour to a kitchen with countless patterns available. All tile installations should be wary of grout lines to be cared for; these should be impervious. Grout lines can be specified, however if applying using a mosaic tile the grout thickness is dictated by the sheet and cannot be altered. Professional recommended for this installation, as any discrepancies will be noticed especially those featuring contrasting grout colours.


Burgundy square tiled island bench in a mid century inspired kitchen.
Tiled island bench in a mid century inspired kitchen.

Timber

A timber benchtop brings a sense of warmth and earthiness to the home. The timber must be completely dry and then coated to ensure the longevity of this natural product. It should be installed with caution, as the timber will wear and gracefully age. Again, recommended to be installed by professionals with special consideration to wet areas around the sink and taps. Clients should be aware it will scratch however this is one of the beauties of a natural product.


Join us next month as we discover all pf the great design at Modernism Week in Palm Springs.


Generate conversation,

Jenni

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