February 18th, 2020 - Posted by in-toto Cambridge
Planning a new kitchen is a great endeavour, with so many different styles of cabinet doors, almost unlimited colour choices, thousands of tile options, multiple material worktops all with different properties. This can all be very daunting and overwhelming but don’t panic, because that’s what our in-toto kitchen designers are here for, to safely guide you through this labyrinth and assist you to find your preferred style and requirements.
Choosing a kitchen worktop can heavily impact the overall style of your kitchen but also its practical use. A worktop is the workhorse of any kitchen being used for preparing, serving and potentially dining and entertaining and after all that will need to withstand regular or intensive cleaning. As such you should consider the practical use of your worktop as well as its impact on the overall scheme of the kitchen.
Here are a few things you should consider before investing in a countertop:
Budget: Kitchen worktops can fit most budgets, but realistically
your choice is largely governed by how much you would like to spend.
Maintenance: Are you prepared to maintain worktops that require regular attention (example; wood worktops need to be treated two or three times a year, or as needed)
Cleaning: Are you prepared for the upkeep of a high-gloss work surface or would a matt finish be better suited (i.e. consider fingerprints if you have small children who like to touch everything). Do you clean and wipe up spills immediately as some worktops can be easily damaged through spills and staining whereas others are more if not completely resistant.
Specialised cooking: If you like to do a lot of baking or chocolate making you may want to consider a stone or marble worktop. Stone and especially Marble absorbs heat quicker than wood or plastic (what type of plastic are you referring to? How about laminate?), which means it helps cool chocolate quicker and keeps pastry cool as you work with it.
Zoning: Mixing of materials is a great way to define kitchen zones and even save money. This could be achieved by placing a more expensive stone in harder working areas such as around the cooker and sink area, whilst using a less costly material such as laminate or wood for the remaining areas. Personally, I like using stone materials for working everyday worktops and adding wood features like a Breakfast bar to add character and warmth to the overall scheme.
Island Size: Having a kitchen island will often result in being a focal point of the design and the last thing you want is a joint running down the middle. Certain materials have limitations on the maximum length. The material you choose could dictate the maximum size of your island or vice versa the size of the island may limit your material options.
We hope to enlighten you on the different properties of worktop materials available from in-toto Kitchens and their pros and cons. You can see an overview of our worksurface materials here.
Overview of the different types of worktop surfaces available for kitchens:
We would like to introduce some of the most popular choices in more detail to you.
Advantages of granite worktops
· Incredible durability – hard wearing
· Heat resistant
· Naturally resistance to bacteria
· Often cheaper than composites
(unless you’re seeking the rare colours)
· Easy to clean
Disadvantages of granite worktops
· Needs to be resealed at least once a year
· It is a heavy material and requires full support
from the cabinets once fitted
· It can’t be repaired if damaged
· Cannot be used as a cutting surface
· Cannot take hot pans straight from the hob or oven onto surface
Care and Maintenance of Granite worktops:
Controversial to popular belief you can’t put your hot cookware straight onto the worktop. Although Granite is a heat resistance material, due to its natural heritage it has impurities and veins running through the material which if a thermal shock is applied can cause the slab to snap.
Granite is easy to clean, using a damp cloth and mild detergent. Avoid any abrasive products as this will break down the sealant treatment.
Quartz is classed as engineered or man-made stone. This hugely practical, sleek and stylish material is an ideal
choice for contemporary kitchens.
Quartz worktops are fabricated from natural quartz, the 4th hardest mineral according to Mohs scale of mineral hardness, with small amounts of glass or metallic fleck added to create variety. It contains about 90-94% natural quartz crystals mixed with a small percentage of binders.
Disadvantages of Quartz worktops
· More expensive than other products
· Very heavy
· Can’t cut straight on the surface
· Can’t put hot pans straight onto the worktop
Corian is another man-made material produced by
mixing resin and bauxite pigments. It has a warmer feel to it with a nice
satin finish. Due to the high resin content, it can be thermoformed, meaning
you can have a seamless worktop with no joins and moulded upstands or even moulded sinks. It opens the possibility to create unique and pioneering kitchen designs.
Advantages of Corian worktops
· Can be formed into any shape
· Easy to clean as non-porous
· Heat and scratch resistance
· Can be repaired easily due to high resin makeup
Disadvantages of Corian worktops
· Not as hard as stone
· More costly than other materials, additional costs for seamless finishes
· Cannot take hot pans straight on the worktop
Care and maintenance of Corian worktops
Corian worktops do not require any specific treatments after installation. In case of damages or scratches, these can be sanded and polished out. Corian can be kept clean with soft, damp cloth and mild detergents. It is recommended to remove any spillage of strong-staining products immediately.
One of the first ultra-compact surfaces known as Dekton, was introduced by Cosentino in 2013. This man-made product is available in more than 40 colours and one of the few materials, hot cookware can safely be placed straight onto.
Ultra-compact worktops such as Dekton are made up of a combination of quartz, porcelain and glass. A special 25,000-tonne press with the equivalent weight of 2 ½ Eiffel Towers is used to compress the raw mixed materials into slabs.
These are then placed in an oven at 1200 °C, the same temperature as molten lava. Cosentino has basically created a process which represents an accelerated version of the metamorphic change that natural stone undergoes when subjected to high temperatures and pressure over thousands of years. Recreating the natural way Granite is created but in a more controlled environment.
Advantages of ultra-compact surface materials
· High UV resistance means it can be used outside without the risk of colour fading
· High scratch resistance, can only be marked by porcelain or diamond knives
· Highly resilient to stains thanks to its low porosity
· Tough stains such as wine, coffee, ink, or nail varnish can be easily removed
· Heat resistant allows for hot utensils, electrical appliances, pots and pans can all be
placed directly onto the surface without causing any damage
· Abrasion resistance is higher than granite, making it an ideal surface for commercial
applications and high-traffic areas
· Resistance to freezing and thawing, due to its low thermal expansion, coefficient
making this material resistant to thermal shock
Disadvantages of ultra-compact worksurfaces
· The material requires special equipment to be cut to the required size
· Patters do not run through the entire material as they are only printed on the top
· Due to the high pressure from the manufacturing process, the material can crack or chip
in the resizing process if not handled according to the manufacturer guidelines
Care and maintenance of ultra-compact worksurfaces
There is no specific maintenance required. Ultra-compact worksurfaces are easy to clean with a soft, damp cloth and mild detergents.
You can find a wide selection of samples for different worktop finishes at your local in-toto Kitchens Design Studio, including Quartz, Corian, Granite, Ultra-compact finishes, as well as Glass, or laminate. If you are not sure which one is the best for you, we suggest checking the samples to get a feel for the different finishes.
Our expert kitchen designers will assist you in finding the perfect worktop to suit your personal needs and requirements. You can locate your nearest in-toto studio here.
Are you planning to buy a new kitchen? We have some useful tips on where to start, including a checklist of things to consider. Read our recent blog about 'how much does an in-toto kitchen cost' here.
We also offer free design consultations where you can discuss your kitchen project and ideas with an in-toto designer. Book your appointment here.