Start Your Engines: The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Choosing Engineered Stone Benchtops
When it comes to benchtop materials, it's hard to match the combination of beauty and durability that comes with stone. However, natural stones such as granite, slate and sandstone do not come cheaply, and large benchtops covered in natural stone may be out of reach for many homeowners looking to remodel their kitchen on a strict budget.
An excellent, low-cost alternative to solid, natural stone is engineered stone. This material is made from crushed fragments of stone, which are then formed into a solid surface using tough binders made from polymers or epoxy resin. However, while these types of benchtops have a number of advantages over other benchtop materials, they can also have a few disadvantages, so you should make sure engineered stone benchtops are right for you before you spend your hard-earned cash.
What are the advantages of choosing engineered stone benchtops?
- Price: Engineered stone's chief advantage over natural stone is its much lower price, and even high-end engineered stones made from quartz and other semi-precious stones can be considerably cheaper than solid stone counterparts.
- Durability: Engineered stone rivals natural stone for its immense durability, weathering dents, scratches and heat damage easily. Engineered stone is also less brittle than some natural stones, reducing the likelihood of overhanging edges and corners getting chipped and damaged.
- Looks: Engineered stone made from finely-crushed stone dusts can accurately mimic the look of solid stone, giving the luxurious appearance you seek without the accompanying price tag. Engineered stone made with more coarsely ground stone can also be extremely attractive, reflecting light off of the countless tiny shards to produce a distinctive 'sparkling' effect. Whichever type of engineered stone you choose, you can be assured of a wide variety of colours and shades to choose from.
- Ease of maintenance: Unlike some natural stones, engineered stone is non-porous, allowing it to shrug off most stains. This also makes it extremely easy to clean, using harsh cleaning chemicals that can damage more fragile solid stones and other benchtop surfaces.
What are the disadvantages of choosing engineered stone benchtops?
- Price (again): While engineered stone is generally far cheaper than solid stone, it can still be more expensive than other high-quality benchtop materials, such as butcher block wood.
- Difficult repairs: Engineered stone is extremely tough, but not invulnerable, and ageing or poorly-designed benchtops can become cracked and marred after years of service. These signs of damage are difficult to repair due to engineered stone's complicated manufacturing process, and heavy damage to an engineered stone benchtop generally necessitates replacements rather than repair.
- Professional installation costs: Many engineered stone benchtop manufacturers recommend that their benchtops be installed only by professional kitchen renovators and fitters, and the heavy, ungainly slabs of material can be difficult to fit safely and securely by yourself. If you attempt to install them yourself, be aware that this may void your benchtop's warranty, leaving you heavily out of pocket if an accident should occur.