A modern comfortable kitchen is the dream of every housewife. Its indispensable attribute is the tabletop. The first tops have been known since the time of Ancient Rome, they were made from natural materials – marble or bronze. On the countertop they clean and cut, pepper and salt, beat and pickle every day. And they can treat guests to her. Therefore, it is very important to choose a worktop that is functional, durable and suitable for the overall style solution of the kitchen. Furniture manufacturers these days offer a huge selection of countertops. Which one is right for you?
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No one will argue with the fact that the most important decoration of the kitchen, which sets its tone, is the kitchen set. Facades, the apron of the working area and countertops – the tops of kitchen furniture – play an important role. The worktop is a monolithic or multi-part plate that is fixed to the kitchen cabinets. Its thickness is different – from 2 to 7 centimeters, depending on the preferences and wishes of the owners, as well as on the chosen material. The width of the top usually corresponds to the depth of the kitchen cabinet. Although it is not uncommon to order a countertop for the kitchen, which protrudes above the facades of furniture.
The countertop usually consists of a base and a cladding. Its base is usually plywood. And the appearance and quality of the top depends on the lining. The first cutting structures in the history of civilization were flat stone boulders. For many decades, our grandmothers’ kitchens had tables made of solid wood covered with oilcloths. They regularly serve the hostesses to this day, however, they have passed into the category of luxury goods..
Then plastic kitchen countertops became fashionable, but time has shown that they are completely short-lived. Today, thanks to the rapid development of production technologies, the choice of material for countertops is quite wide: natural stone, laminate, acrylic, metal, wood and agglomerates are used as cladding in the production of kitchen countertops..
Kitchen furniture designers were actively looking for material for tops that would not be afraid of high temperatures and moisture, would not accumulate grease and would be easy to wash on top of everything else. In the course of these searches, all sorts of options were tested that could combine aesthetics, practicality, but were also available to the bulk of the population..
Therefore, the material from which kitchen countertops are made is a priori resistant to thermal, chemical and mechanical influences. Thanks to modern technologies, it is possible to combine the above materials in different combinations, to obtain excellent products that have excellent consumer properties..
Wood tops look simple enough, so they can naturally fit into any interior. All the veins of such a countertop are unique in their own way, each shade is unique. A soft, warm surface brings harmony and comfort to the kitchen..
For the production of such countertops, type-setting boards are used that are glued from solid wood planks. The wood is carefully sanded and carefully coated with special oils to preserve the strength of the tabletop and protect it from environmental influences and various mechanical damage. Oil processing technology is inherently difficult and depends largely on the original hairiness and roughness of the wood..
This technique allows you to avoid warping of the material under the influence of moisture and to get a spectacular appearance of the top, which resembles a miniature yacht deck. The decorative advantages of do-it-yourself wooden kitchen countertops are best manifested in the vicinity of the interior of a log or log house.
However, it is recommended to remember that tops made of wood require increased attention and require particularly careful care. It is not surprising that wood is highly flammable and deteriorates under the influence of high temperature. Thus, it is imperative to place hot items on the coasters..
From time to time, a wooden countertop should be wiped with special means in order to give the surface additional protection from the effects of environmental factors. When cutting food, it is worth using a cutting board, as the wooden top will leave scratches from the knife. If you remember these nuances about the peculiarities of using a wooden countertop, then caring for it will not give you much difficulty..
For the production of laminated tops, which are today one of the cheapest products, postforming is used – facing of chipboard material with laminated plastic. Consists of a laminate of three to four sheets of kraft paper, which is impregnated with synthetic resins and forms a durable multilayer base, as well as decorative paper with a pattern and a protective coating of melamine and acrylic resins.
It is the protective transparent layer that makes the laminated tabletop light, heat and wear resistant, invulnerable to the impact of falling dishes, scratches from sharp kitchen objects, cleaning agents, solvents and other aggressive substances. In the process of lamination of the end surfaces and the front part of the top, not a single open area remains.
Laminated kitchen tops are very durable, are not afraid of high temperatures and do not fade in sunlight. They are heat-resistant and can be used near a cooker without the risk of deformation and fire. The incision points of sinks and built-in appliances are especially carefully protected with a sealant.
The service time of the laminated kitchen countertop depends on this, because water that gets even on this moisture-resistant material provokes its gradual swelling. It is recommended to wipe off all water that falls on the top so that moisture does not seep into the base through the seams.
But at the same time, the low moisture resistance of such countertops is more than compensated for by the low cost, ease of installation and high decorativeness of laminated tops. The decorative paper layer of the product allows you to decorate it with a variety of patterns, from imitation of natural materials (glass, wood, stone, animal skins) to legendary artistic masterpieces.
In terms of its splendor, cost and significance, no material for tops can be compared with natural stone. The kitchen * stone countertop for the kitchen * is undoubtedly the queen of the room and sets the mood for the entire style. At one glance at a natural stone cutting table, you can feel the cold luxury that is worthy of palaces.
The basis for the manufacture of a top made of stone are special slabs, which are slabs of hard rock (basalt or granite), which are 2-3 centimeters thick. Sheets of stone blocks are mined from the bowels of the earth.
Plates on complex stone-processing equipment are given finished features: they go through the cutting procedure, they are polished and polished, the edges are processed – they are made straight or curly, with bends or bevels. Then cut out the openings for the installation of the sink and built-in appliances.
Such operations are very time consuming, therefore they make a significant contribution to the final price of the product, calculated individually. The cost of granite kitchen countertops may vary depending on the prices for the raw material, the area of the processed surface, the length of the edge, the perimeter of the cuts, the presence of holes.
The pattern of granite and basalt is unique. This material is dense and less hygroscopic compared to other types of stone. The disadvantage of countertops made from natural stone is the large weight of the countertop. Moreover, natural stone cannot be restored. Do not believe in a miracle! It will not work to eliminate chips with a wax pencil..
The main advantage of a marble top is its aesthetic appeal, and if the product is processed with a curly profile, then such a tabletop will give the kitchen a unique elegance. The marble countertop will fit into any interior, regardless of the style in which it is made.
Marble is not afraid of moisture and perfectly fulfills its functional duties. However, it is overly soft and not resistant to mechanical damage, the effects of coffee, lemon juice and chemicals..
Agglomerated stone blanks on a granite and quartz base are often referred to as stone countertops for kitchens due to similar processing technology and prices. These structures contain quartz, mirror or granite chips, as well as polymer resin binder..
Slabs for tops made of quartz agglomerate are made at high temperatures under vacuum on special devices – vibrating tables. The slab thickness reaches 30 millimeters. Air does not enter such material, and such countertops are considered resistant to liquids, do not absorb acids and solvents. Quartz agglomerate resistant to scratches and breaks.
The most durable, durable, moisture-resistant and hygienic countertops are brushed steel products. And tops with so many advantages will cost you 5-10 times cheaper than tops made of natural stone.
Stainless steel is attached to the chipboard with the help of “liquid nails”, after the edges are folded around the edge of the board on a press, or, at the request of the customer, they cover the entire board completely. The seam that forms at the corner is welded and sanded.
While steel countertops are only rectangular. And if you need an angular version, you will have to dock the top of two parts, attached with small ties to each other. On a matte surface, the sanded joint is practically indistinguishable, and the cutting table will take on a monolithic appearance.
In addition to brushed steel, a choice of mirror stainless steel is offered. In fact, there are many more options for processing steel, but there is no demand for such countertops yet. Manufacturers themselves recommend using brushed metal, because it is easier to wash off dirt from it than from decorative sheets, and scratches can be sanded almost without leaving a trace. But the mirror stainless steel is the most whimsical.
Nowadays, artificial stone tops are very popular among consumers. The basis of the countertop is plywood, on which an artificial stone 12 millimeters thick is glued. Artificial stone is made from polymer glue and multi-colored granules to simulate the composition of a natural stone.
Artificial stone is a fairly plastic material, and bent shapes can be created from it at high temperatures. And this is especially true for a headset with radius facades. Artificial stone kitchen countertops are available on the market in a wide range of colors and textures.
The main advantage of artificial stone is the ability to connect the top without visible joints. Such material cannot be scratched, deformed or cut. In addition, it is heat-resistant and hygroscopic. Tops made of artificial stone are easy to clean. You just need to wipe the surface of the countertop with a napkin, and it will shine clean again..
Unlike natural material, artificial stone is warm to the touch, it is able to acquire the temperature of the room and keep warm, despite the amazing “stone” luster.
Another option for kitchen countertops are tops made of specially tempered glass. Therefore, such products are heat-resistant, durable and waterproof. Glass countertops are available in a variety of colors. Care of such surfaces is simple, but care should be taken with abrasive cleaners that can scratch the even surface..
Glass in the kitchen looks mesmerizing and very stylish. A kitchen with such countertops looks very impressive. But do not forget that this is still glass, which can crack or break with some effort. In the event of a crack, the top will have to be changed entirely to avoid the appearance of fragments. And if the glass breaks completely, then in any case, large fragments with blunt edges are formed, which protects the owners from being cut.
Due to the low wear resistance of the material and the difficulty in maintaining, the prices for glass countertops are not the lowest. Chips easily appear on the glass top. But if the financial issue is not the main one for you, and you can afford to change the kitchen countertop in a year, why not buy a glass countertop?
Acrylic stone consists of pigments, mineral filler and acrylic resin, which acts as a binder. This material has a non-porous structure, so it does not absorb moisture and all kinds of solvents, it is impervious to bacteria and fungi. The surface of the material can be easily washed with ordinary soapy water without the use of special agents, dissolving liquids and abrasives.
On the surface of acrylic kitchen countertops, traces remain only from hot pans and pots. But the trace of a cigarette not extinguished in time can be removed, because acrylic is thermoplastic at temperatures close to 180 degrees Celsius. To avoid damage, strips of metal are cut into the working surface to protect against dangerous contact.
This material is also extremely resistant to household chemicals such as juices, alcohol, vinegar and fermented milk products. It is also considered to be impact resistant, but it can scratch easily enough, so it is recommended to be careful when handling knives and forks. The consolation is that when a chip appears, the acrylic countertop can be easily restored.
Now you have figured out how to choose a kitchen countertop so that the top can solve two problems at once: functional and aesthetic. The tabletop, on the one hand, is an object decorating the interior, and on the other, it is a work surface necessary for cooking and placing kitchen utensils. Therefore, a number of requirements are imposed on kitchen tops: from banal strength to resistance to lemon juice and coffee..