Natural stone benchtops are considered by many to be the ultimate in kitchen luxury -- unfortunately, they have equally luxurious prices and can be prohibitively expensive for large kitchens or those of us seeking to renovate their kitchen on a budget. However, there is a ready alternative to expensive, fragile cut stone.
Engineered stone is quickly becoming one of the most popular benchtop material choices for modern kitchens and its easy to see why. This material is constructed from innumerable shards or particles of ground stone, which are formed into highly durable benchtops using tough plastic resins, and this 'synthetic' offers a number of highly attractive advantages over more traditional natural stone benchtops.
The process used to create engineered stone creates a product that resembles natural stone under all but the closest inspections. Numerous types of engineered stone are available, which seek to emulate certain types of natural stone or create a look that's wholly their own -- for example, some engineered stones contain reflective glass or metallic particles to accurately recreate the shimmering effect of black granite benchtops.
The sheer number of different engineered stones also gives you a fantastic range of versatility when it comes to matching your benchtops to the kitchen's overall aesthetic. While natural stones are generally quite limited in colour to a narrow range of relatively dull shades, engineered stones are available in practically every shade and colour imaginable, ranging from muted, convincing colours to bright, vibrant shades ideal or contemporary kitchens.
As you can imagine, any material made from rock and resin is as durable as it sounds. However, engineered stone also beats out natural stone in certain areas of durability, particularly when it comes to brittleness -- while overhanging edges and corners of natural stone benchtops may become chipped or cracked by repeated impact, engineered stone is much more capable of absorbing these blows without showing physical damage. Engineered stone is also much more resistant to cracking caused by intense heat than certain types of stone, so you can place your hot pots and pans on an engineered stone benchtop with confidence.
Engineered stone is a non-porous material, unlike many commonly-used benchtop stones that have porous surfaces when unsealed. This makes engineered stone benchtops highly resistant to staining and discolouration and allows any liquid spills to be simply wiped clean from the top of the benchtop. This non-porous surface is also particularly useful when it comes to maintaining proper food safety, as porous surfaces can provide hidden areas in their pores in which bacteria and viruses can thrive.