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20 JAN 2017   POSTED BY

A Simple Guide to Choosing Kitchen Finishes [Expert Advice]

'Ocean View Villas' wall mural

The modern kitchen is the epicentre of the home. It is a meeting place, an eating space and a place to socialise (oh, and where you happen to cook your food). It is an important part of your home and you want to be sure to get it right.

Choosing materials and finishes for your kitchen is one thing that can quickly make your head spin. Here’s a quick run-down on the typical options you might want to consider.


Kitchen Cabinets and Doors

Laminate (Melamine) 

A great budget option that provides a quality finish, with a wide selection of colours and finishes. Go for ABS edge strips to be sure you have no issues with peeling corners.

Vinyl Wrap

Currently, the most popular material used for kitchen cabinetry. It is similar to laminate but the finish is wrapped over the substrate then heat bonded to create a more seamless look. It comes in a large range of colours (not as many as with regular laminate) and is relatively low cost.


'Let's Cook' wall mural by Valentina Harper at


This is a baked enamel surface which can be up to 20% more expensive than laminate. You can have absolutely any colour or finish you can think of and there are no joins. It is more vulnerable to chipping but, unlike vinyl or laminate, damaged doors can be repaired and resprayed and don't have to be replaced. 

Timber Veneer 

Veneer Thin slices of wood are applied to boards then sealed with a clear 2-pack finish, making it the most expensive option. However, it can be hard to beat the natural, warm finish of timber. 



Kitchen Splashback Finishes 


Wall tiles come in an endless range of colours, patterns and materials and can be paired with a variety of different coloured grouts. They are relatively durable and easy to keep clean. The price of tiles can vary widely, and don't forget to include the additional labour costs for a tiler in your budget. 


'Wine Cellar' wall mural

Toughened Glass 

Glass splashbacks need to be toughened to ensure they can withstand the heat from cooktops. They are easy to clean and available in an endless range of colours and image prints, making for an exciting and relatively unique solution


Mirrored splashbacks are particularly effective in narrow kitchens as they bounce light back into the room, making the space feel larger. Like any mirror, they will show fingermarks and splashes a bit more easily, so expect to spend a bit more time cleaning. 

Stainless Steel 

Very easy to clean and ultra-durable. Some people choose to have a stainless steel splash back behind their cooktop only, then use tiles or toughened glass for the remainder to save money. 



Kitchen Benchtop Ideas

Natural Stone

This is the glamorous, top of the range choice. It showcases the unique beauty of a natural product and looks absolutely stunning… if your budget can stretch that far. Stone is highly durable. It will withstand heat and is difficult to scratch, though it is porous and may need resealing occasionally.

Engineered Stone 

A great mid-priced option and a perfect all rounder. Depending on the product, it is made of quartz or stone granules mixed with resin and comes in a range of colour and patterns. It is durable, hard to scratch and won't need resealing. 


'Lush Green Mountains' wall mural


Easy to install, neat and cheap, this is a solid budget option. Laminate comes in a range of colours including timber and stone effects. Sadly though it is relatively easy to scratch, especially with darker colours. Also, avoid placing hot pans or dishes directly on it as the heat can cause the laminate to peel away. 


Timber benchtops are either made using a thin veneer or from solid wood. They need to be sealed with oil or a more durable (but more gloopy-looking) polyurethane finish. Unlike other materials, scratches and stains can be sanded out and refinished. Always ensure the timber for your bench has been sustainably sourced, and avoid tropical hardwoods. 

Stainless Steel 

This material creates an industrial, professional kitchen style but it can be expensive. It is easy to maintain and very durable but it does scratch easily. It also shows up every little fingerprint. Stainless steel sinks can be fully integrated for a seamless finish and you can put hot pans on it straight from the stove without any adverse effect.



Kitchen Wall Ideas

Don't forget the walls! They often sit alongside your cabinetry so it is important to ensure the finishes and colours are complimentary. You might choose timber panelling or solid board finishing to match the cabinet doors. Alternatively, you could deliberately contrast your wall finishes, creating a feature wall using a large format wall mural.


'Sunset Starfish' wall mural


Founder of Architect Yourself, Mark Gregory, gives us his expert advice on choosing the right kitchen finishes for your home. He’s worked for one of London’s top architecture practices, building homes for the super rich. Mark has now left his hectic life behind and immigrated to Australia with his family who live in a house they designed and built themselves.

If you're considering you own home build or renovating a property, then head to Architect Yourself for help on designing your own home. The blog features fundamental design skills and insider knowledge that will help you create a simple, affordable and meaningful space.


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