Let’s talk about the responsibility of Interior Designers in promoting ethical and sustainable materials: here are a few reasons why Caesarstone shouldn’t be the default choice.
The dangers associated with the manufacturing of engineered stone benchtops continues to be a hot media topic in our Industry. And if you’re a 60 Minutes viewer or even just one who reads the news headlines, you will most likely have come across reports that more than 275,000 Aussie tradies are now at risk of serious illness.
Prolonged exposure to the dust produced by engineered stone when it’s cut, sanded, ground or polished is considered a risk factor for the development of Silicosis, and other serious medical conditions. And whilst these issues might not have an impact on end users, we as Interior Designers, should be mindful of the dangers and look to offer our clients safer benchtop choices.
So what are the alternatives to engineered stone? What other products can we offer our clients, that still provide a quality finish and a designer difference in their homes?
Luckily for us, there are several options available that provide a similar look, feel, and durability, without the associated dangers (and hefty price tag).
Here are some of the most popular alternatives to engineered stone:
- Laminate: Laminate benchtops offer a wide range of colours and styles and are affordable for those looking for a budget-friendly alternative to engineered stone. Laminate benchtops are made of layers of plastic and paper, making them a good choice for those who have allergies. And the good news here is they are just getting better and better, long gone are the days of your bright yellow kitchen bench top from the ’70s, Laminates such as Laminex and Polytec are introducing a new range of style at an affordable price. Available in the ranges are textured timbers, metallics, solid colours, sheen, matt and even fingerprint reducing finishes. There is such a broad range of colours, finishes and edge profiles that you would be crazy to look past this option. in their look.
- Solid Surface: These bench tops are an acrylic product that is slowly increasing in popularity with consumers. These surfaces are flexible and seamless, they are non-porous, stain-resistant, scratch-resistant and food zone approved as they are anti-bacterial. Products such as Corian and Austaron can offer matching basins to give you a minimalist look to your space. The price of these can compare to your supernatural range engineered stones, they are becoming cheaper as popularity increases. They come in a wide range of unique colours and patterns making them a popular alternative. They also have a range of sink ware which can be seamlessly incorporated into your bench.
- Granite: Granite benchtops are a classic choice and have been used in kitchens and bathrooms for years. Granite is a natural stone, making it a great option for those looking for an authentic look. Plus, granite benchtops are incredibly durable and can last for years with proper care.
- Concrete: Concrete benchtops are a great option for many homeowners due to their durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. A natural material, it is highly resistant to scratches and heat, making it an ideal choice for kitchen benchtops. It is also relatively inexpensive, easy to clean, and can be coloured and designed to fit any kitchen layout.
- Timber: Timber benchtops add an extra touch of warmth and personality to any space. Being a renewable resource makes them an eco-friendly choice, which many clients will find favourable. Visually appealing with their natural grain and texture, they offer many practical benefits including resistance to scratches, water damage, and heat. They are also easy to clean and maintain, requiring only a damp cloth and some mild detergent.
- Stainless Steel: If durability and heat resistance are high on your client’s wish list, look no further than stainless steel. Easy to clean and maintain, stainless steel is non-porous and resistant to bacteria, stains, and scratches. Whilst they can look quite austere and clinical, they could be the perfect choice for domestic kitchens when mixed with other materials, or the perfect benchtop solution for commercial interiors.
- Porcelain: Ultracompact surfaces such as Dekton are very popular for a number of reasons, possibly the most popular reason is they are fireproof and highly UV resistant, making them popular in outdoor BBQ areas. Hot pots can be placed on them with no damage and UV rays won’t break down the surface, unlike engineered stone. They are highly scratch and abrasion-resistant, meaning they will look as good now as they will in 20 years time. Unfortunately, they aren’t the cheapest product on the market, but if you can afford to pay a little extra, the benefits are truly worth it.
As you can see, it is definitely worth exploring other materials when designing kitchens for your clients. I feel like this issue is only going to get bigger and more serious in our industry. As interior designers, we have a responsibility to consider the broader impact of our material choices. Caesarstone shouldn’t be the default choice simply because it’s popular or well-known. Instead, we should be exploring alternative materials that prioritise sustainability and ethical production practices.
Do you agree?