Why the design of kitchen countertops and its consumer properties have become so important to us? Maybe because we are talking about the room, which is traditionally called the heart of the house? Perhaps this is the case.
After all, the kitchen not only prepares food, but it is perhaps the most important component of our life. Here we are going with friends, we hold intimate conversations and arrange meals that unite the whole family. The tabletop is almost the first in a series of very significant elements of the interior of the kitchen, and in this article we discuss the rather complicated problem of its choice.
Here is the main question: is it possible to choose a work surface that will meet the requirements of all the inhabitants of the house? Let's try to find an answer to it together.
The specificity of the room determines the nature of any component of the interior. In particular, the main factors that need to be taken into account when choosing a kitchen countertop are humidity, constant temperature differences and a high probability of contamination of surfaces. Do not forget about the aesthetic properties - they are extremely important for building a harmonious design.
Criterias of choice:
- resistance to temperature extremes;
- water repellency;
- resistance to mechanical stress;
- ease of care;
- aesthetic appeal, compatibility with other components of the interior - the facades of cabinets, for example;
- availability for a specific family budget.
We are talking about chipboard worktops, covered with a layer of plastic from 0.8 to 1.2 mm thick. However, this coating itself consists of several layers, moreover, it is impregnated with various mastics and is processed under the influence of high pressure.
The top layer, consisting of a polymer substance, and determines the appearance of the table top. The main advantage of this material is a variety of variants of its execution: it can be of any color, matte or glossy, as well as imitate wood or stone.
Artificial stone with acrylic filler
In fairness it must be said that the tops of this material are the most popular today. They consist of plywood and a layer of artificial stone pasted on it about 12 mm thick.
The top coating is essentially an acrylic resin with granules of different colors and sizes, imitating natural material. The most important advantage of this variety is the flexibility that allows you to create models of complex shape, which is often necessary.
Artificial stone is light, smooth and warm, unlike its natural counterpart. From it you can create surfaces of all shapes and sizes, without joints, but with holes for sinks and other elements.
Countertops made from quality material can last for decades, so we advise you to give preference to proven brands when you buy them.
Artificial stone with quartz filler
Such surfaces are made of a mixture of quartz, granite, marble chips and polymer resin. Plates of this material are produced at high temperatures, under vacuum, according to a special technology.
Unlike natural stone, its artificial substitute is resistant to acids and solvents. The height of these countertops is about 30 mm. They are not subject to the formation of cracks and scratches, and the joints between the plates may be virtually invisible.
Countertops made from this material are the most beautiful and expensive. Obviously, even a very high-quality imitation will never surpass the natural pattern of a stone in expressiveness. But the choice in favor of such surfaces is associated with large expenditures, and the point here is not only in the high cost of marble, granite, or, say, quartz.
Countertops made of natural stone are heavy, their installation is possible only when the cabinets have a sufficiently strong frame. Unfortunately, there are other disadvantages. So, marble surfaces always look great, they can transform even the most mediocre interior. However, there is no reason to talk about their practicality: they quickly become covered with scratches and stains from products.
The most popular type of stone in this area is granite. It is not so porous and soft in comparison with other options. Anyway, any natural stone requires special care, which makes many buyers look for an alternative to it.
But it is important to remember that it is also the most durable material, provided that the product is properly installed and carefully maintained.
Products from a natural tree look remarkably and fill with heat any interior. They are quite solid and durable, which guarantees their durability - with proper care. A wooden countertop must be treated from time to time with a special compound. It can only be cleaned with a damp sponge without the use of chemicals.
As a rule, these countertops are made of birch wood, oak, teak and wenge, and they are very durable and beautiful. They look good in any kitchen, regardless of its style, palette and decoration.
Obviously, the main advantage of stainless steel worktops is their incredibly long lifespan. Such surfaces are not afraid of high temperatures and humidity, they are resistant to aggressive detergents, acids and alkalis. It is not surprising that these countertops are commonly used in restaurants. Steel surfaces fit perfectly in any modern interiors, as well as in spaces designed in high-tech and loft styles.
But there is another feature: they quickly appear scratches, which greatly spoil their appearance. Therefore, these countertops have to grind from time to time, and this is associated with additional costs.
Glass and ceramic cladding
Glass is relatively rarely used to produce countertops designed for home kitchens. The high cost and capriciousness outweigh the obvious aesthetic advantages. Scratches, chips and cracks on glazed surfaces are common. Therefore, they are not often seen in modern projects.
Countertops, decorated with ceramic and mosaic tiles, are just as uncommon. As a rule, they look unusual and creative, but do not differ in practicality. Ceramics themselves are able to withstand the effects of high temperature and moisture, but the joints between the tiles quickly become dirty, which does not add to the attractiveness of the kitchen. Such heterogeneous surfaces are a favorable breeding ground for bacteria.
How to calculate the size of the countertop
Tabletop - this is primarily a functional element, and not a component of design. You have to keep this in mind when designing the kitchen space, choosing furniture and arranging household appliances. Therefore, the size of the tabletop must be determined at the very initial stage of design.
The installation height of the tabletop is very important. This parameter has a critical effect on convenience when cooking, and, accordingly, should be calculated taking into account the growth of the hostess.
If your height does not exceed 150 cm, for you the recommended installation height of the table top is 76 cm; with growth from 150 to 160 cm - 82 cm; with growth from 160 to 170 cm - 88 cm; from 170 to 180 cm - 92 cm. If the growth of the one who works in the kitchen more often than other family members exceeds 180 cm, the tabletop should be set at 95 cm from the floor. Very tall people will be comfortable to use the kitchen, where the countertops are located at a level of 100 cm from the floor.
As for the width of the tabletop, it should be calculated taking into account the dimensions of the room. In small kitchens, work surfaces are not wide. As a rule, their width does not exceed 60 cm. And even in very spacious kitchens, there is no point in installing too extensive countertops, since they are inconvenient in operation.
Installation of worktops
The cost of installation of tabletops must be considered even at the stage of choosing the material. Laminated surfaces are the most beneficial material in this sense. In some cases, a curb or baseboard installation is required to close the gap between the worktop and the wall.
Adapting steel worktops to kitchen options can be very expensive. The maximum length of such products is 3.7 m. For the installation of a wooden tabletop you will have to pay twice as much as in the case of steel. Services installers working with natural stone, will be the most expensive.
We hope that our review will help you choose the perfect countertop for your kitchen.