To each his own. From natural materials to composites, from the most advanced performance to the most sophisticated aesthetic characteristics, with a wide selection of different thicknesses, finishes, colors and customized dimensions. The kitchen worktop is an essential module for daily food preparation activities, while also defining style and lending identity to the space. As with all furnishings, kitchen worktops have been affected by trends and tendencies over the years, with the rise, success and decline in the popularity of certain materials. Today, the quality of the workmanship and technologies used, the perfection and excellence of the raw materials, the evolution of surface protection processes and the infinite variety of aesthetic solutions allow everyone to choose the most appropriate countertop that will be in harmony with the rest of the kitchen as well as the most suitable for the work that is carried out in one of the home’s most important areas. The kitchen worktop is an important, indeed fundamental choice, because it is one of the surfaces subjected to the greatest stress in the home. It can be corroded by organic and chemical substances and is also subject to knocks, scratches and sudden changes in temperature. Very importantly, more than ever before, a countertop is also required to be antibacterial, hygienic and easy to clean. Essentially, it is a true focal point.
There are many materials available and they differ in quality, characteristics, performance and even price. Laminate enjoyed an extraordinary boom a few years ago and then fell off the radar. Today, the quality of high-pressure plastic laminate in terms of performance and aesthetics has prompted its gradual return and renewed success. Laminate kitchen tops are water-repellent, resistant to shocks, scratches and abrasions, while their aesthetic quality allows them to faithfully reproduce the image of wood, natural stone and other materials as well as an almost infinite range of colors.
Porcelain stoneware, a natural ceramic material with excellent performance and great aesthetic versatility, is enjoying great success today. This is a compact, waterproof, stain and impact resistant material that has the added benefit of being unaffected by heat, acids and solvents, as well as cleaning chemicals. Stoneware is ideal for use in kitchens because of its large format that often enables a top to be developed with even a single slab. Available in neutral tones, it is also able to evoke the aesthetics of natural stones or propose new and refined decorations through the exponential evolution of digital printing.
Marbles and Natural Stones
Marble, granite and natural stone are regaining ground and increasing in popularity because, in addition to the unique and extraordinary textures that only a natural material can have, they can also boast excellent performance because of the improvements in protective surface treatments that have taken place in recent years. These are precious materials that require a little extra care in terms of maintenance and daily use, but they compensate for this with the inimitable charm of their uniqueness and the fact that they are made of truest essence of the earth, with reflections, plays of light, delicate nuances and veining of varying degrees.
Solid surface tops such as Corian are characterized by color uniformity and formal neutrality. A composite, easily moldable, non-porous material, resistant to mold, viruses and bacteria, for high quality aesthetic results. The smooth, seamless surface, including between the countertop and the sink, ensures hygiene and easy cleaning. In case of scratches or small nicks, the surface can be restored. It has some problems with high temperatures, so care must be taken not to move hot pots and pans from the hob directly onto this surface. Among the benefits are the seamless countertop and the possibility of creating continuous, chromatically uniform organic shapes, which make it more suitable than other materials.
In recent years, full-body sintered stone tops have gained considerable popularity, presenting the same aesthetic quality throughout the thickness of the slab, without using enamel or digital printing on the surface, as is the case with laminates or ceramic slabs. Strong, durable, porosity-free and resistant to heat and frost, UV rays and scratches, sintered stone tops do not absorb liquids and prevent the build-up of dirt, mold and bacteria. Different versions and finishes are also available in terms of color.
Finally, there is a growing demand for microresin tops, which have a very attractive and contemporary shape and appearance thanks to the possibility of creating a continuous, uninterrupted surface. Though they are prone to scratches and nicks (more noticeable on smooth and shiny surfaces), they are nevertheless resistant and long-lasting, have a limited thickness and convey a general feeling of lightness. Highly customizable in color and effect, but also easy to clean, water-repellent and resistant to chemicals and acids.