The price difference between laminate, man-made stone and natural stone is significant; which is probably why we’ve all found ourselves wondering “should I upgrade to stone benchtops?” while making selections for our new homes.
When my boyfriend and I signed our building contract at the start of 2020, my only request was that stone benchtops be included in our base quote. Why? Because I knew just how significant the cost would be (and just how desperately I wanted them). I needed to make sure that they were budgeted into our build right from the get-go.
For me, stone benchtops were a necessity.
If you share my mentality, there’s likely nothing I can do to convince you otherwise (and nor should I). In my opinion, stone benchtops are one of 8 must-have builder upgrades for your new home.
If, however, you’re unsure about outlaying all that cash, I’ll aim to answer the question once and for all: Should I upgrade to stone benchtops?
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Why choose engineered stone benchtops?
Kitchen and bathroom benchtops take a beating. So, it probably goes without saying that you should take wear and tear into consideration above all else. Especially if you’re considering renting out your space or living in your home long term.
In my opinion, engineered stone is the clear winner when it comes to longevity. It comes in miles above laminate, and natural stones like marble or granite). When properly maintained, it’s a hardy, waterproof, non-porous, and scratch-resistant surface.
Comparatively, laminate benchtops are easily scratched and marked, and natural stones tend to be porous.
Therefore, I’ll choose engineered stone over almost every other material every time. Not only is it the longest-lasting, but in my opinion, it’s also the most attractive!
Question 1: Are you building your forever/dream home?
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a forever/dream home is one you intend on spending the rest of your life in (or at least, a significant chunk of it).
Perhaps it’s a home you intend on raising your family in, or plan to retire in. Either way, you have a lot vested in your new home and aren’t particularly fussed about resale value or the property’s next tenants.
If this describes you and your situation, I 100% recommend investing in stone benchtops. Not only do they look and feel luxurious, but they’re incredibly hard-wearing and long-lasting! I’d even go so far as to say that a man-made stone benchtop is likely to outlast even the youngest and most spritely of us.
Think of it as investing money in your future self (and happiness). In the grand scheme of things, a few extra thousand dollars on a home loan is unlikely to break the bank. The last thing you want is to be looking at a chipped laminate benchtop in 10-15 years time, wishing you’d made a different decision.
Question 2: Where are you building?
If you’re building a home as either a rental, investment, or short-term living solution, stone benchtops probably aren’t at the top of your priority list – and neither should they be. At the end of the day, there are plenty of other builder upgrades that will add more resale value to your home than stone benchtops; such as extra bedrooms, outdoor/alfresco areas, and raised ceilings… just to name a few.
Whether or not your future buyer pool expects to see stone benchtops however will ultimately depend on where you’re buying/selling. Before heading into your design/selections appointment I would recommend checking out a few comps (comparable homes for sale in your area). Look into whether other new construction homes in your suburb have upgraded to stone benchtops. This should give you a good idea of what kinds of homes buyers are looking for in your postcode.
If you’re building in a more affluent neighborhood, you’ll likely find that most new homes will include them. However, the farther out from the CBD you travel, the less common stone benchtops become.
Ultimately, if you’re building a high-end luxury home (with the intention to resell)… you should probably include them. If that doesn’t describe your situation, however, you can probably give them a miss!
Question 3: Can you afford to upgrade to stone?
Perhaps this should have been my first question, as budget tends to be the biggest limiting factor in any decision. Especially when it comes to upgrades. At the end of the day, no upgrade is worth stretching yourself too thin or putting yourself in financial distress. Unless you’re self-funding a build with an unlimited budget, money is the first thing you should consider.
Question 4: Are you willing to forgo other upgrades?
Building a home is all about compromise. Most of us don’t have access to the kind of budget that would allow us to have everything on our wish list.
If you’re having trouble deciding which upgrades are worth your time and which aren’t, I’ve got a few articles that might help. Here you can find a list of upgrades you should avoid, and here is a list of those that I think are essential.
Structural changes to your home (such as windows, doors, extra rooms, storage etc) should always be prioritized over cosmetic upgrades such as paint, benchtops and tiles. Any money that is leftover can be divided up according to your taste.
Choosing to upgrade your benchtops might mean missing out on things like faucets, flooring upgrades, or floor-to-ceiling tiles.
Should I Upgrade To Stone Benchtops?
To recap: If you can afford them, and are building your dream/forever home, then stone benchtops are absolutely worth the upgrade. If however, you’re building an investment property or only intend to live in your home short term, it largely depends on the location and quality of your build. It’s best to check out a few comps to see whether stone benchtops are a common upgrade in your area.
The Bottom Line
If you’re still wondering whether upgrading is the right decision for you, many volume home builders will have sales representatives/consultants who can help talk you through these kinds of decisions. Friends, family members, and local real estate agents are also great people to speak to.
If all else fails, you can always take your query to facebook or instagram. The building communities on these platforms are chocked full of helpful insights and information! When it comes to spending your hard-earned cash, however, nobody knows your situation better than you do. Make the decision that feels the best to you!
So now that I’ve answered your burning question, are there any others you’d like me to answer?