Engineered stone benchtops have dramatically risen in popularity over the years as they offer a cost effective and low maintenance alternative to natural stone that still offers the same elegance and charm of a marble or granite kitchen benchtop. As with all materials that go into a kitchen renovation, there are a few key factors to take into consideration when making your selections to ensure a product that will be the perfect fit for your needs and lifestyle.
What is Engineered Stone?
Engineered stone is made up of a combination of quartz and resins to create a structurally sound surface finish that is almost completely non-porous, making for an excellent and cost effective alternative to natural stone benchtops such as marble or granite which are well known for requiring additional maintenance and care in the home. Engineered stones (also known as composite stone) can be easily kept clean while also offering a highly stain resistant surface that is perfectly suited for the busy home cook!
Is Engineered Stone resistant to heat?
Engineered stone benchtops should not be placed in areas where a direct heat source will come into contact with the surface as the products itself is not completely resistant to heat. An engineered stone should not be used as a splashback for example, in installations where there is a gas cooktop with a burner that sits within 200mm away from the splashback – In these situations, a fire safe material such as porcelain should be used as an engineered stone (as well as natural stone splashback) will be affected by the radiating heat of the gas cooktop. Alternatively, if your kitchen layout requires this sort of installation, an induction cooktop will be the best fit as the heat from the cooktop does not radiate in the same way as the gas cooktops would.
Engineered stone kitchen benchtops should also not have hot trays placed directly onto the surface without the use of a chopping board or trivet that will protect the surface from burning or from temperature shock caused by the rapid change of temperature. This drastic change of temperature can lead to cracking or burn marks on the surface of the stone which will normally require complete replacement to rectify.
What Engineered Stone Colours are available?
There are many different colour options as well as textures and finishes to choose from when selecting your new engineered stone benchtop, from simple pure white options to sleek marble-look stones and even textured concrete-look varieties, offering a vast range of design possibilities to suit each and every style of home.
Can Engineered Stone Benchtops chip or crack?
With the right installation and care, an engineered stone benchtop should not crack or chip. Cracks are most likely in installations where the stone has been installed in such a way that it is not structurally supported, leading to sagging and eventual cracking in the stone. Cracks can also be a result of the stone coming into contact with direct heat that causes a drastic change in temperature (referred to as temperature shock) which is why the use of a trivet or chopping board to rest hot trays on is always recommended.
Chips too should not occur with the right care and use however, any exposed edges in the stone can be susceptible to chipping when hit with extreme force. Should this occur, it is always recommended that you contact your stone benchtop’s manufacturer for their best advice in repairing the damage.
Engineered Stone Slab Sizes and Joins
Most engineered stone products are available in slab sizes of approximately 3050 x 1440mm. It is important to keep these dimensions in mind when planning your next kitchen renovation in order to ensure that your new stone benchtop will fit into these measurements with minimal joins required. Joins are often inevitable and should be planned for accordingly to ensure their presence is as discreet as possible. A quality join should blend in well with the benchtops’ main colour, making it less noticeable in the kitchen’s overall design scheme.
Does an Engineered Stone need sealing?
As an engineered stone benchtop is almost completely non-porous, it will never require sealing. Although liquid spills cannot penetrate into the stone itself, it is however recommended that stronger coloured ingredients (such as spices for example) or acidic substances be cleaned away immediately from the surface as they can sometimes cause some discolouration to occur if left to sit on the benchtop for too long.
An engineered stone benchtop offers many benefits in the home, from allowing for a more cost effective alternative to a natural stone benchtop to offering an excellent low maintenance finish for the busy home. Our design team at Perini Renovations will assist you in selecting the perfect benchtop for your kitchen renovation, ensuring your preferences, needs and budget are all met in helping you create your dream kitchen!