Looking for alternatives to engineered stone? Here are some of the best options and why we love them.

Looking for alternatives to engineered stone? Here are some of the best options and why we love them.

What to use for your benchtops instead of engineered stone? Here are ten options. 

Engineered stone is now banned in Australia. While many manufacturers have already launched their "Silica-free" (where the silica content is under 1%) benchtop ranges to replace the old products, we've been getting lots of questions and interest around what alternative materials are out there for benchtops. 

Here we'll explore some of our favourite alternatives to engineered stone that you can incorporate into your kitchen or bathroom design. Get ready to be inspired!

green vanity with pink stone top

Natural Stone

Natural Stone is a timeless and versatile material of incredible beauty, and has long been a popular choice for benchtops due to its striking colours and veining, and durability. It is formed by nature over thousands of years, resulting in unique patterns and colors that add that touch of luxury to a kitchen or bathroom design.

Some of the most popular natural stones used in Australia include marble, granite, dolomite and quartzite, each with its own distinct characteristics. Not only does natural stone make a striking statement in your home, but it is also practical. With its heat and scratch resistance, it can withstand the demands of your busy kitchen or bathroom.

black kitchen with porcelain benchtop

Porcelain

Porcelain is an incredibly versatile and durable material that's been quickly gaining popularity as a choice for kitchen and bathroom benchtops. Made from a composition of fine clay, minerals, and other natural materials, it's a hard-wearing, non-porous surface that is resistant to stains, scratches, and heat and also resistant to bacteria and germs. 

Porcelain comes in a multitude of colors, finishes and patterns from dramatic veining to minimalist black or white. In fact, many porcelain designs emulate both natural stone and engineered stone so well many people can’t tell the difference. Porcelain is low-maintenance, is very easy cleaning and can also be used for outdoor kitchens and splashbacks. 

Note that not all porcelain ranges are the same. Until quite recently,  the veining or pattern was "printed" only on to the surface of the porcelain slab. However we are now seeing new porcelain products where the veining runs right through the body of the slab, rather than just on the surface, just like natural stone. So if the material is cut, the vein will show. 

black kitchen benchtops

Laminate

Laminate benchtops have changed a lot since the 60’s and for a cost-effective option, laminate benchtops are definitely worth a second glance. In fact, the range and quality of options available on the market now will probably surprise you with a huge variety of profiles and textures, thousands of colours and a range of thicknesses. Laminate benchtops can mimic the look of natural stone, wood, or even concrete. 

Laminate is designed to be tough, resistant to heat and stains, and very low-maintenance, making them an ideal choice if you've got a busy household.

 

Timber

If you're aiming to infuse warmth and natural charm into a space you really can't get better than timber benchtops.  There's something undeniably inviting about the rich grains and earthy tones of wood that can instantly create a sense of comfort and zen in a kitchen or bathroom.

One of the key reasons people opt for timber is their unique ability to develop character over time. As wood ages, it gains a beautiful patina that adds depth and personality, creating a lived-in and authentic feel that's hard to replicate with other materials.

With proper maintenance and sealing, timber countertops can last for decades, making them a worthwhile investment for any home. 

tiled bathroom vanity top modern green

Image credit www.dwell.com 

Tiles

Tiles have been used on kitchen and bathroom counters for time immemorial and keep making big comebacks in design trends. While tiled benchtops were a big thing in the 90s, today's version can make you think of holidays in Southern Italy or Greece or transport you into a playful mid-century vibe, full of personality.

The sheer variety of tiles that we can source now, there is so much opportunity to do something unique with your benchtops - think texture and pattern, size and shape, handmade vs smooth and sleek. And with proper sealing, tiles can withstand heat, moisture, and stains, ensuring longevity and durability in kitchens and bathrooms.

More alternative benchtop materials

Sintered Stone:  A fairly recent product to the market, it is similar to porcelain but made from different raw materials. The ingredients used will differ between manufacturers.It is a highly durable material and non-porous, making it resistant to stains, scratches, and bacterial growth. An advantage of some sintered stone is that the pattern continues through the stone (sometimes called a "through-vein"), meaning it is visible along the edges, mimicking natural stone. See sintered stone. 

Stainless steel - a sleek and modern look and exceptional durability and functionality. With their non-porous surface and resistance to stains and heat, stainless steel defies trend cycles, is neutral enough to go with most designs and will look good in a kitchen over a long time. 

Concrete - an extraordinary material that combines practicality, texture and a utilitarian aesthetic. Homeowners love the fact that you can create virtually any shape and texture, opening up endless possibilities for kitchens and bathrooms. Concrete surfaces are also highly resistant to heat and stains. 

And even more...

Recycled Glass benchtops are a fantastic option for this seeking a highly sustainable benchtop material. The closely emulate all the characteristics of stone while diverting glass from landfill. 

Terazzo benchtops are a striking benchtop option that being a European vibe to a space. Made from stone chips set in cement, you have some of the beauty of natural stone and can get bold with pattern and colour. 

 

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