By Donna Webeck, Joanna Mathers
Kitchens are called the heart of the home for a very valid reason – its where the family congregates, friends gather and where unforgettable memories are made. It also stands to reason then that the kitchen is always a key focus for renovators, propelling this hub of the home back into the modern era.
While it is, of course, critical to lock down important decisions regarding layout, colour scheme and appliances, it’s the hero of this highly-popular room which needs the most attention: the not-so-humble kitchen bench.
With a myriad of options available to renovators, starting from lower end laminates, through to mid-range stone and beyond into the ultra-luxurious marble and granite finishes, there are a variety of kitchen benchtop choices to suit every Australian’s budget. Ranging from as little as $350 per square metre for laminate, through to approx. $4,000 for a slab of superior marble, we’ve broken down your choices by basic, mid-range and high-end, to help solve your kitchen benchtop renovation queries.
“A laminate benchtop still provides the most cost-effective solution for those customers on a budget,” confirms Refresh renovation expert Nielen Prince. “Laminate benchtops come in a vast range of selections and are an affordable option, plus all installation requirements can be dealt with on-site, further saving time and money.”
A trusted choice for decades, this cost-effective material comes in an extensive array of colours and patterns, and, at times, is even mistaken for stone. It ranges through to $350 - $650 per square metre for higher-end laminates.
Laminate benchtop costs
From $350 per m2
For further inspiration, take a look at this Laminex benchtop.
If you are seeking the warmth of a timber finish for your kitchen, why not opt for a bamboo benchtop? At approx. $350 per square metre, it will be far friendlier on your hip pocket than its wood counterparts, Jarrah or Ironbark, which range from $600 to $1200 per square metre.
The warm caramel tone of Moso bamboo creates a real impact when used as a kitchen countertop. The Enspire range of Moso bamboo is sourced from sustainable suppliers (and pandas don’t eat it) so is a great choice for environmentally conscious renovators.
Crafted from strips of bamboo that are laminated together both vertically and horizontally, these benchtops are extremely hard and versatile and distinctive in appearance.
David Speedy from Gibson Veneer and Plywood (a wholesaler that stocks the Enspire range) says that bamboo stacks up well against other hardwoods. “Bamboo is 30 per cent harder than oak and 17 per cent harder than maple,” he shares. “It’s strong, straight and very hard-wearing.”
The ends of the benchtop have a distinctive striped appearance, which is ideal for retro or 70s-inspired kitchens, and the finish is smooth and even in texture.
Wood benchtop costs
From $350 per m2
For inspiration on how a wood benchtop could enhance your kitchen, check out this award-winning kitchen renovation. Alternatively, take inspiration from these solid timber benchtops or solid oak benchtops.
For those who dream of dressing up their kitchen with the modern trend, stone, the good news is there is a manufactured type which sneaks into the basic benchtop budget. Known as engineered stone, it comes with an average price tag of $400 per square metre and is a good value alternative to natural stone.
Caesarstone is no-doubt a well-known choice in kitchen benchtops, falling into the mid-range budget. Sold in slabs of 3000mm x 1400mm, expect to pay approx. $1,500 for a standard 20mm polished slab or an estimated $1,900 for a deluxe Caesarstone polished slab.
Nielen also suggests installing modified acrylic such as MiroStone for mid-range benchtop budgets. “MiroStone provides the higher-end look of a solid surface product without the associated costs of natural products,” he advises. “It’s also suitable for on-site installation and cutting, which again saves time and money.”
Another Refresh expert giving Mirostone solid surface benchtops a tick of approval in the mid-range is Paul Cree. “This is cheaper than engineered stone, but looks and feels like stone, it is heat resistant and stain resistant and has lower installation costs than stone,” he confirms. Bought per slab, Mirostone starts from $415 for 2 x 600m products.
Engineered stone benchtop costs
From $400 per m2
If you are interested in a dark engineered stone benchtop, check out this Wellington kitchen renovation for further inspiration. This villa’s engineered stone benchtop installation provides an example of a lighter product.
Stainless steel is becoming an increasingly popular option for residential kitchens. Making a move from its traditional home – the commercial kitchen – at approx. $1000 per square metre, this delivers a durable and hygienic finish.
Non-porous and very hygienic, stainless steel comes in a range of textures, although the traditionally polished look tends to be the most popular. Cleaning of stainless steel benchtops is simple – simply wiping with a cloth will do the trick – and the sheen of steel creates a crisp, clean look in the kitchen. Stainless steel benchtops can be made to customer orders, following the plans of a kitchen designer.
Stainless steel benchtop costs
From $1000 per m2
“With high-end benchtops, you are always getting something very unique, and with that, they add character and style to the kitchen,” confirms Paul. Both he and Nielen agree Granite is a popular choice in this price range. “The reason for this is mainly down to product reliability, and high-end look and feel,” he confirms.
A naturally occurring stone which boasts a striking façade and resilience, the cost of Granite includes factors such as thickness, colour, kitchen size and height, as well as the number of cut-outs required (for a sink, taps, etc.). You could be looking at a price tag around $2,500 per square metre.
Granite benchtop costs
From $2,500 per m2
Looking for inspiration? Check out this kitchen renovation featuring a granite benchtop.
Polished concrete benchtops are another popular choice in the high-end price bracket. Super solid and adored by those who boast an industrial influence in their homes, it can be fabricated with a wide variety of textures, colours, shapes and inlays to add a unique feel to your kitchen. And while concrete itself is an inexpensive material, due to its labour-intensive creation process, expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $1,750 per square metre for this benchtop finish.
Concrete is a versatile option for kitchen benchtops, allowing for many different colours, finishes and textures. These benchtops tend to be cast to the client’s specification, which means they can be completely unique.
While plain concrete is the most popular option, some people opt for aggregates such as stone, glass or shell to be added; colour can also be added to create the desired look.
Polished concrete benchtop costs
From $1,000 per m2
Renowned as the epitome of high-end benchtop finishes, marble presents as a prestigious selection for those seeking a natural stone surface in their luxury kitchen. Although its price can vary, depending on the grade of the stone, it's scarcity and shipping costs (for example, Carrara Marble is sourced from Italy) and if it is book-matched, will bump up the price. You can expect to pay up to $2,200 per square metre for a marble benchtop, depending on size, cut-outs required and depth, while some superior slabs, such as Calacatta can cost approx. $4,000.
Marble benchtop costs
From $2,200 per m2
Looking for marble benchtop inspiration? Check out this stunning kitchen!
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*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Refresh Renovations specialist. All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.