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Pros and Cons of Various Kitchen Benchtop Materials

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A kitchen's benchtops are very important, as they provide the surface needed for food prep and cooking but will also affect the overall appearance of a kitchen. When choosing new benchtops for your home's kitchen, you want an attractive surface that can withstand the wear and tear of cooking utensils as well as the humidity and heat of a kitchen. Before making your choice of benchtop materials for your home's kitchen, note a few pros and cons of each choice so you can determine the best one for your space.


A butcher-block countertop can be very natural and even a bit rustic looking and can tone down the look of stainless steel appliances. Wood is easy to install and eco-friendly if you find recycled pieces to use. However, a butcher-block benchtop needs consistent sealing and may be the most delicate of all the surfaces, as it's often easy to scratch, burn, or stain wood, even with a quality sealant.


A contractor can often fit a piece of stainless steel over your kitchen's benchtop, allowing you to forego the expense of having the current benchtop torn off. Metal is also naturally hygienic, as it resists dirt, germs, and bacteria, and is easy to clean. One drawback with metal is that it can be overwhelming in the space and may make your kitchen seem a bit industrial.


Laminate is another budget-friendly option; this is a treated plastic or paper that is applied over layers of very inexpensive wood. The laminate surface will be painted or stained to resemble another material, but note that it will always have an artificial look and feel to it. Laminate may also eventually come away from the bottom layers of wood, so you would need to have the top layer reglued on occasion.


Stone is very natural-looking and attractive, and is also very dense and durable, so a stone benchtop is not likely to hold germs and bacteria. Stone is also very resistant to moisture and heat, so it won't get damaged just from the humidity and high heat of a kitchen. The density of stone also means that you can usually prep food right on the surface without worrying about chips and scratches. Stone does need to be sealed and may also need an occasional buffing to bring out the shine, but it's often one of the most desired options because of how strong and attractive it is as a benchtop material.