Global search

Primary navigation

‘Kitchen Week’ has just finished on The Block, inspiring another wave of viewers to think about conducting their own home renovations or builds. When it comes to kitchens, engineered stone benchtops have been a popular choice, both on and off-screen, due to their price point. However, concerns regarding silicosis have caused homeowners to seek alternative materials for their benchtops.

This week, we saw contestants reveal kitchens using Silestone, a cheaper alternative to Caesarstone with a ‘lower silica’ content. While we encourage the use of alternatives to engineered stone, no amount of silica is safe.

We see far too many clients with terminal dust diseases due to exposure to crystalline silica dust, and therefore, we strongly urge homeowners undertaking DIY renovations to consider sticking to alternatives with zero silica to eliminate their exposure risk entirely.

Silicosis is an incurable and progressive lung disease caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica particles that can cause scarring on the lungs, often resulting in severe breathlessness, chronic immobility, organ failure and, ultimately, death. Silicosis has become a growing concern for those who work with or install engineered stone benchtops, as they contain up to 97% silica.

A broad range of alternatives to engineered stone benchtops offer unique character and functionality and prioritise safety by minimising or eliminating exposure to silica dust in the manufacturing and installation process.

Related articleEngineered stone and silicosis: what The Block doesn’t reveal

Zero silica alternatives

  • Timber
    Timber benchtops add warmth and come in various wood species, including oak, walnut, teak, and bamboo. They require regular maintenance such as sanding and re-oiling but develop character over time, making them unique and safe as they contain zero silica.

  • Stainless steel
    Stainless Steel benchtops, with zero silica content, offer both durability and a sleek, modern appearance. While they can scratch and dent, their resistance to heat, stains, and bacteria makes them a preferred choice for many.

  • Solid surface
    Solid surface benchtops, devoid of crystalline silica, ensure a safe working environment. Their seamless appearance, ease of maintenance, and repairability make them a practical and attractive option.

  • Laminate
    Laminate technology has advanced significantly over the years. Modern laminates offer over a hundred realistic prints, textures, and colours, including self-healing nano-particle flat matte laminates. While they may not be suitable for everyone, they provide an affordable and low-maintenance option for kitchen surfaces. Additionally, laminate materials do not contain crystalline silica, making them a safe and budget-friendly choice.

Low silica alternatives

  • Recycled glass
    Recycled glass benchtops are a unique and eco-friendly choice with little to no silica. They're made by mixing recycled glass particles with a binding agent, offering durability, scratch resistance, and easy maintenance.

  • Porcelain
    With their low crystalline silica content, porcelain benchtops combine durability and low maintenance. Their resistance to scratches, heat, and stains makes them an excellent investment for homeowners seeking a long-lasting and safe choice.

  • Concrete
    Concrete benchtops may contain about 30% crystalline silica, but compared to engineered stone, they are a safer choice. Their durability, heat resistance, and customisation options make them attractive for those seeking a unique kitchen aesthetic.

  • Natural stone
    Natural Stone provides an authentic alternative to engineered stone. While it contains some silica, the levels are significantly lower than those in engineered stone. Marble is the best alternative compared to granite and limestone. This makes natural stone a safer option while retaining the aesthetics that homeowners typically desire.

Register your silica dust exposure

Documenting any dust exposure in case you develop a lung or other related disease later in life is a good idea. We have created the free National Dust Register to provide an easy way to do this.

Recording the details of your silica dust exposure, regardless of how recent or long ago it was, can help any future claims for compensation you may need to make. It's free to register and obligation-free as well.

We can help with disease exposure claims

Our experienced lawyers have a long history of fighting for the rights of people suffering from asbestos, silica and other dust related illnesses. If you've been diagnosed with a dust disease, you may have a claim for compensation. 

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

Office locations

We’re here to help. Get in touch with your local office.

Select your state below

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.