When it comes to benchtop materials, it's hard to compare the combination of beauty and durability that comes with stone. However, natural stones such as granite, slate, and sandstone do not available cheaply, and large benchtops covered in natural stone may be out of reach for many homeowners looking to renovate their kitchen on a strict budget.
low-cost and the best alternative to solid, natural stone is engineered stone. This material is made from crushed pieces of stone, which are then made into a solid surface using tough binders made from polymers or epoxy resin. However, while these types of benchtops have several 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 use your hard-earned cash.
- Price: Engineered stone's main advantage over natural stone is its much lower cost, and even high-end engineered stones made from quartz and other semi-precious stones can be considerably affordable than solid stone counterparts.
- Durability: Engineered stone matches natural stone for its immense durability, weathering dents, scratches, and heat damage quickly. 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 dust can accurately mimic the look of solid stone, giving the rich appearance you seek without the accompanying price tag. Engineered stone made with more coarsely ground stone can also be very attractive, reflecting light off of the countless tiny shards to produce a distinctive 'sparkling' effect. Whichever type of engineered stone you choose, you can choose from a wide variety of colours and shades.
- Ease of maintenance: Unlike other natural stones, engineered stone is non-porous, allowing it to shrug off most stains. This also makes it very easy to clean, using harsh cleaning chemicals that can damage more weak solid stones and other benchtop surfaces.
- Price: While engineered stone is commonly cheaper than solid stone, it can still be more expensive than other high-quality benchtop materials, like butcher block wood.
- Difficult repairs: Engineered stone is very tough, but not invulnerable, and aging or poorly-designed benchtops can become cracked and marred after years of service. These types of damage are difficult to repair due to engineered stone's complicated manufacturing process, and heavy damage to an engineered stone benchtop generally requires replacements rather than repair.
- Installation costs: Many engineered stone benchtop manufacturers suggest that their benchtops be installed only by professional kitchen renovators and fitters, and the heavy, ungainly slabs of material can be tough to fit safely and securely by yourself. If you try to install them yourself, be aware that this may avoid your benchtop's warranty, giving you heavily out of pocket if an accident should occur.
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