If you want to give your kitchen a low-cost makeover, renovate the benchtops. Currently, the kitchen gurus are dictating light-coloured stone composite surfaces, but the new rule is that there are no rules. You can bring back the 50s with rag-roll laminates, the 70s will rock again with tiles and stained timber, or you can recreate the vibe of a commercial kitchen with stainless steel, a perennial favourite of inner-city professionals.
When selecting a new benchtop for your makeover, you should think about the mood you are trying to create, but also how practical a surface is going to be. Do you really want a snowy-white slab of marble if people are going to be spilling food and red wine on it all the time? After all, marble stains easily. A stainless steel surface is not going to create a warm, intimate atmosphere like oiled wood or 18th century Dutch tiles – but it’s easier to keep clean and undamaged if you live a fast-paced lifestyle with lots of mess. You can renovate your benchtops with the following materials, some more difficult to maintain than others, but all of which you can install yourself.
Laminate is hard-wearing and can imitate timber, stone and even metal. For a retro look you can buy laminate with a rag roll effect or containing geometric patterns popular in the 50s and 60s. Lay in your laminate with a postformed front edge, or a sloping edge, which makes it easier to clean. Laminate can be applied to the existing benchtop or applied to a cheap wooden composite material such as chipboard since the laminate provides protection.
Hardware stores sell purpose cut benchtops in a variety of timbers, but you can seek out your own piece of deep-red jarrah or blonde Tassie oak to make a statement. To finish the timber you can use a staining oil, such as linseed, or a clear lacquer. You could also try using timber floor sealer since this is more hard-wearing than regular furniture sealants. Timber will discolour and mark over time, but unlike other materials, age tends to enhance the beauty of timber.
- Stainless steel
The brushed perfection of stainless steel says your kitchen is a no-nonsense factory for food. It’s easy to wipe down, and has that commercial kitchen look. But because of this it can also seem impersonal. You can make it look less Gordon Ramsay-like by using textured finishes that look less clinical than plain metal sheet.
- Stone composite
The surface of choice for new kitchens at the moment, stone composite is comprised of pieces of quartz, granite and other stone set in a polymer resin or cement.
Also known as engineered stone, it’s easier to form into the shape you want than natural stone, but has similar properties of looking natural, hard-wearing and easy to clean. It’s also very stain resistant, which can’t be said of some stone surfaces.
Polished granite is second only to marble in natural appeal. Being made of silicate minerals, rather than the softer calcium carbonate that forms marble, it is less easy to stain and more practical than its expensive cousin. Some types of granite, for example the Brazilian Black Galaxy, are extremely dense and absorb very little. Others need to be sealed to stop them staining. You can test the surfaces yourself by seeing how quickly the stone absorbs a few drops of water.
Marble is beautiful, and makes a fabulous statement in a kitchen benchtop. But while gorgeous, it is a porous material and has a tendency to stain. You don’t want to have to cover up drink rings or spills with strategically placed vases, so be vigilant about looking after it. Don’t use it as a cutting board and make sure you clean up spills like balsamic vinegar or curry paste quickly and you should be able to take it with you if you move house, as is the custom in Italy.
One final word – you are going to need somewhere to dump the old kitchen benchtop and frame after you’re finished. It doesn’t matter whether it’s wooden, laminate, tile or granite, a skip bin is the best way to get it out of your hair – you can even use it to dispose of concrete.
There will be more waste than you think, and rubbish bin hire in Melbourne is easy. When you hire a bin to remove debris the operator will drop it off and pick it up on the days you request – and you can say good-bye to that ugly old benchtop for good. Why not give us a call? We offer skip bin solutions of all sizes, and we recycle as much waste as possible as well.