Friday, August 14, 2015

Kitchen - the benchtop

First things first: this will be my last post on this blog. But fear not! (she says conceitedly) I'm reviving my old writing home, and starting next week will be putting my renovation updates there, along with some recipes and other lifestyle stuff. I hope you'll join me over there... Sorry for messing with your reading platform. ;-)

I will move our to-do list and the posts I've written here over to that site so that I have everything in one place, but will still be writing a new house-related post a week and I'll do my best to make it easy for anyone who doesn't like food (is that a thing?) to jump straight to the reno stuff.

A much better texture than chipboard. 
Right, down to business - we now have a proper benchtop. Bye bye chipboard! Bye bye manky old stainless steel! Bye bye leaky taps! It's a pretty flash one - engineered stone - so was kinda pricey but I love it.

Not so much a DIY affair, but it does feel like a monumental step towards kitchen completion, and there was a fair bit of thinking in the process.

There are lots of options in the benchtop realm: granite, marble, engineered stone, stainless steel, treated wood of varying varieties, laminate. Last time around we went with a laminate top, which was fine, but we really like the look (and resilience) of stone so wanted to try that this time around.

Bramco supplied our bench - we got a couple of quotes and theirs was the cheapest, but our dealings with them were excellent so I'd highly recommend them on service as well. They have loads of options, but we narrowed it down to three samples, took them home and pretty quickly settled on white with a visible aggregate.

Can you see the join? 
Mostly for aesthetic reasons, but also to provide a nice high working surface, we wanted a 60mm thick bench. Stone comes in 20mm and 30mm thick sheets, so to get a thicker bench they mitre the corners and construct the edges from separate pieces to give the illusion the whole bench is 60mm thick. You can't tell unless you know - and I'm sure the folk who installed it were glad not to have to carry double the weight up the stairs.

We opted for a waterfall end on our peninsula (is that the most pretentious sentence so far in this post?). We were planning to gib the end, as we've done around the top cabinets, but that wouldn't have been as robust (it's a pretty high-traffic area) and the waterfall looks fantastic.

Our sink is this black composite stone double bowl model, which we ordered online. And the tap is a Methven Kiri. The arm of the tap doesn't stick out as far across the sink as I'd like but design won the day and it was still the right decision given the available options.

The installation took about two hours on a Friday morning - pretty quick - though because we opted for an undermount sink we had to wait 24 hours to hook up the plumbing (lest the pressure be too much for the partially cured adhesive).

I got to roll up my sleeves for the plumbing bit. My dad had plumbed in our temporary bench, so all the appropriate pipes were in place, but I got the honour of installing the new mixer tap on my own. I might have called him twice while I was doing it (which, as he'll tell you, is low call volume for when I'm on DIY duty) and I may possibly have connected the hot and cold backwards, but it works and the house did not flood. Winning!

(we don't have the second sink plumbed in yet, as that's beyond my very limited abilities - waiting for Dad to come visit us again)

What do you think? And do you think stone is worth the cost or do you prefer a different look?


  1. Pretty hard to beat stainless steel - but the white stone should be good for pastry. Having a stone waterfall should be more family proof than gib board too! Perhaps some drawer handles next....

  2. Ha, yes, we will eventually install the handles... It is a bit annoying without.