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Kitchen Options - Laminate, Two Pack, Reconstituted and Granite

Updated on March 13, 2012

When it comes time to renovate or choose a new kitchen for your existing or new house, the kitchen is an area that involves a lot of decisions.

From choosing the layout and location of drawers, cupboards and appliances to picking colors, handles and finishes, there are just so many things to decide when renovating a kitchen.

If you're a bit confused when it comes to picking the right finish for your kitchen, this is a basic guide. This will help you decide what you want or need as a kitchen finish for your drawers and counter tops based on your budget, family and requirements.

Read on to discover more about how to make your kitchen look and feel the best it can be.

An example of a rolltop laminate kitchen bench with small splashback. Photo courtesy Augie Schwer on Flickr.

Laminate Countertops

Laminate is a thin coating made of resin, paper and plastic that is then heat sealed onto a piece of board such as plywood or particle board.

Laminate is one of the cheapest options when it comes to designing your kitchen. It also provides one of the largest color ranges.

There are many companies that make laminate so you have a wide range to choose from. Companies include Laminex, Formica and many more.

Laminate also comes in many finishes including but not limited to slate (uncut rock type finish), dimenisions (dimpled), gloss (shinier) and flat (smooth surface.)

Pros: Cheap, Wide color range.

Cons: Harder to clean, wears over time, easy to accidentally burn with hot items such as saucepans.

Special Finish Laminate Countertops

Some laminate finishes are available that come with special finishes. An example of a special finish would be diamond gloss which, when applied to a granite appearance laminate almost matches the appearance of real granite to the untrained eye. 

Some special finishes cost extra while some are included in the standard price.

Pros: Gives the appearance of a more expensive benchtop, cheap.

Cons: Like normal laminate it wears fast and extra glossy finishes can dull over time. It also is prone to marks if you leave a hot item on it.

Reconstituted Stone/Granite Countertops

If you want a kitchen top that looks like stone but don't want the hefty price tag attached, a reconstituted granite or stone top could be the solution.

Reconstituted stone is basically the left over stone dust, particles and small rocks left over from granite quarries. These remains are then glued together.

Reconstituted granite is more expensive than laminate but often a lot cheaper than granite. It is fairly durable and a great mid way option.

Pros: Cheaper version of granite. Better for leaving hot objects on.

Cons: Needs to be maintained in similar ways to granite, limited colors.

Cut granite bench tops come in a wide range of stunning colors.

Granite & Solid Stone Counter Tops

If you have the money and want a beautiful top class kitchen, granite or solid stone is the way to go.

Granite and solid stone look great, is sturdy and harder to mark.

However you'll find stone benchtops can cost up to 5-10 times the price of a laminate benchtop depending on your location, color availability and size of the slab required.

Pros: Can take heat from hot saucepans etc, provides a unique pattern instead of a repeated one, looks great.

Cons: Most expensive, needs to be maintained with an annual or bi-annual clear coat.

Laminate Cupboards

For more information on laminate cupboards, scroll up to the laminate counter tops section.

Laminate cupboards are a great cheap way to build your kitchen. There are plenty of colors and you can mix and match them with a laminate, reconstituted or granite benchtop.

Pros: Cheap, wide color range.

Cons: Harder to clean, wears over time.

Two Pack Cupboards

Two pack is basically a painted finish that is of the same quality as standard automotive paint.

Generally, two pack comes in almost every plain laminate color.

It is tough and harder to scratch or wear than laminate.

Pros: Easier to clean, lasts longer.

Cons: Expensive.

An example of a granite and timber kitchen. Photo courtesy of granite-charlotte on Flickr.

Timber Cupboards

If you're looking for a classic style kitchen, timber is a favourite option. There are plenty of timber colors and styles available from deep browns and reds to lighter colors.

However timber cupboards can get expensive especially if matched with a reconstituted or granite benchtop.

For a cheaper timber look, many laminates are available in timber grain.

Pros: Looks great if you want the natural timber look, unique wood grain patterns in every part.

Cons: Expensive, more easily faded and scratched.

Tips for your Kitchen

  • If you want a nice centre piece for your kitchen but without spending a large amount, try having an island bench with granite and keep the rest of the kitchen laminate only.
  • If you plan to install a kitchen in an investment home it's probably best to go with laminate if you plan to rent it out.

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