It may be the end of a construction project, or you may be planning a new kitchen for an established house, whatever the reason, planning a new kitchen can be both exciting and daunting. There are so many decisions to make. If you are organised you have decided on the style and what you want to put in your kitchen. If you are super organized, you have also made the choices of what colour palate, materials and appliances you will have in your new kitchen. Many people base their choices on magazines they have read, research they have done or the experience of friends. When choosing a kitchen countertop it is important to consider not only the aesthetical appearance of the countertop, but also the pratical qualities of the material you choose for the countertop. It is important to consider how the material you choose will help you to keep the countertop clean. Certain materials are prone to bacterial infestation and as such not the best materials for countertops. homify has done the research and found the top materials for kitchen countertops.
One of the most traditional materials for a countertop is wood. Traditional country kitchens are common places to find a stunning timber countertop. Wood comes in a variety of style, sizes and types. Some come in a single large piece, taking up the entire countertop. Others are made from many smaller pieces, bound together. It is known as one of the most environmentally friendly materials as it is a renewable resource. When it comes to its ability to keep a surface clean, there are mixed opinions. Researched has proven that bacteria can become absorbed into the surface of wood, although they do not multiply and eventually die. It is suggested that wooden countertops be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after coming into contact with raw meat.
Granite is one of the most popular materials for kitchen countertops. Granite is formed over millions of years by compressed molten rock fusing together. It contains many elements including quartz and feldspar. This gives the surface the depth, patterns, colour and sparkly glitter like appearance. Granite is one of the hardest natural stones found on earth, and as such has the highest scratch resistance of all kitchen countertop materials. It can also claim to have the highest resistance to heat. When it comes to kitchen cleanliness, granite again proves to be one of the best. Tests showed that granite had a very high reduction of bacteria after washing and rinsing with water. This makes it a wonderful option for a kitchen countertop.
Laminate countertops are one of the most common countertops used, due to their versatility of style and their economic prices. These countertops consist of a thin sheet of laminate adhered to a wood product, usually fibreboard or plywood. They are cut to order from a large manufactured mass produced pieces. These countertops are popular as they can be made in any colour, pattern or style to look like wood, stone and granite. This can make it a good option if you are looking for a countertop in a certain colour. This bright red countertop is a good example. It matches the red tiles and complements the grey cabinets. This countertop is made by Ansidecor The cheaper price makes it possible to replace more often. Laminate does have the negative qualities of a low resistance to heat and scratching. This can make it susceptible to germs and bacteria.
Marble countertops are often seen in higher end kitchens. Marble is a metamorphic rock that started as limestone. Other materials caught in the stone give it the colour and veining. As marble is made of calcite, it can react to acids such as vinegar, wine and fruit juice. It is as such not recommended for kitchen countertops. Cultured marble is a man made material that combines high strength polyester resin and real marble stone dust. It has the appearance of marble, but is stronger and more durable. As cultured marble is made to measure, it is made in a single piece. This means there are less places for bacteria and germs to reside, making it a more hygienic material for kitchen countertops.
Stainless steel is the material of choice for commercial kitchen countertops. It is often seen in the kitchens of major hotels, hospitals and cafes. This popularity is based on the qualities of stainless steel. A stainless steel countertop is made to order, so it consists of a single sheet of stainless steel. This is usually cut and fitted on site. The stainless steel surface is very long lasting and durable, requiring very little maintenance for its upkeep. The most important quality of stainless steel is its hygiene qualities. Stainless steel has excellent antibacterial qualities, having properties that repel germs and bacteria. Stainless steel countertops make a wonderful addition to any industrial kitchen. This stainless steel countertop is made by Rokusa of Japan.
Concrete counter tops may have seemed like an outrageous option in the past, but they have become very popular in recent times. When concrete was first used as a kitchen countertop it was a very crude version. These days the material used for kitchen countertops is barely recognisable as concrete. It can be coloured and textured to meet any individual requirement. Although how hygenic is concrete as a countertop material? This is often based on the finish of the surface. A surface with pits and cracks, no matter how small will trap food, dirt, grease and moisture, which can be a food bank for bacteria. These bacteria need moisture to survive and areas like this can provide the perfect position. Concrete can be finished with a hardner or densifier to reduce the porosity of the concrete to zero. When properly finished and sealed, concrete can become virtually impervious to fluids such as water. Some coatings can also provide antibacterial protection.
Stone is one of the most natural countertop materials. They come in a range of stunning colours and natural patterns. Some countertops can also be ordered to include precious gems and stones. Stone countertops are often cut individually from a single slab of stone. One of the biggest drawbacks with natural stone is the need to seal the stone to prevent bacteria growing in the porous surface. In recent years there have been developments in stone countertop technology. It is now possible to use an alternative to this sealer. By using oleophobic impregnators it is possible to avoid using sealant on natural stone. Enabling the natural surface to remain fresh.
Now that the hard work is done on a new house, or simply a renovated kitchen plan, it is time to make the difficult decisions. One of the most difficult decisions to make is the material for the kitchen countertops. When considering this important material, consider the style of the house, the colour palate of the space and the practical use of this material. Hygiene is something that is often forgotten when choosing a kitchen countertop, although this should be one of the most important considerations. Some materials will make it easier to keep the kitchen clean and hygienic. Stainless steel and granite countertops provide a good defence against bacteria, although they are very expensive. Laminate and wood countertops are more economical, although do they provide the same sanitary benefits? For more new kitchen inspiration see 6 Important Aspects to Have in a New Kitchen.