Kitchen benchtops buying guide

Showing the way through the choice of kitchen benchtop materials.
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  • Updated:1 Jul 2008



The kitchen is often described as the heart of the family home. No longer just a place for cooking and washing-up, it’s become one of the key entertaining areas.

With all this activity, most people want their kitchen benchtops to look good, as well as being durable and easy to clean.

Our buying guide looks at the most popular materials:

  • Granite
  • Engineered stone
  • Marble
  • Laminate
  • Solid surfaces
  • Stainless steel
  • Timber

Please note: this information was current as of July 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market. 


As a general rule, a benchtop along a wall should be around 600–650 mm in depth — any deeper and it becomes too far to reach. If one person usually prepares the food it should be a minimum of 600 mm long; 900 mm is better. If two people generally prepare food side-by-side the length should be 1200–1500 mm.


Benchtop edges come in a variety of styles and can give a cheaper counter some added flair, but some options can be expensive and may not be available in all materials.

Most materials have a standard thickness for edges (for example, 20 mm for granite). Thicker edges or edges that require more workmanship, such as the bullnose or bevel styles, will cost more. But you might want to consider rounded edges if you have small children as they hurt less when bumped into.


Splashbacks protect the wall behind the countertop and can be made from:

  • a continuous run of one material, including the same material as the benchtop
  • tiles with grouted joins
  • glass.

A splashback should be waterproof and easy to clean. If you have a join between the splashback and the benchtop it should be properly sealed so dirt doesn’t collect there.

Some benchtop surfaces, such as laminate, solid surface and stainless steel may be ‘coved’ to continue up the wall so there’s no join at all.

Glass splashbacks are also a very popular choice at the moment. They’re available in many different colours and designs, and are very easy to clean as you don’t have to worry about dirt collecting in the grout, as you do with tiles. They’re usually made from 6 mm toughened glass for strength and durability.



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