We’ve spent so much time in our kitchens over the last 12 months that this area of the home is getting a lot more wear and tear than ever before. Choosing materials that are easy to keep and are going to last has become a high priority when planning a kitchen makeover. The worktop is one material that will need to be hardwearing. If you are looking for durability, look no further than the man made surfaces available. Here are some of the things to consider to help you make the best choice.
The two most popular man made materials are Quartz, a product like Silestone, for example and Dekton, the latest innovation in worksurfaces. Both products are created in a large slab which keeps joints to a minimum.
Quartz is made up of raw materials mixed with resin. It has a high scratch and heat resistance and is also stain resistant. While it is generally maintenance-free, it does require some looking after. This is due to the resin component.
Dekton, on the other hand, is an ultra-compact surface made without the use of resin. It is almost indestructible. It can withstand very high temperatures and is scratch resistant. You can chop directly onto your worktop without the need for a chopping board. ‘Unless you take a hammer to your Dekton worktop, it’s very hard to damage it.’ says Ciara McWilliams, Design specialist for Cosentino Ireland.
Like natural stone, both products come in a range of finishes, including polished, textured and suede. Unlike natural stone however, which becomes more porus the less polished the finish, both Quartz and dekton are non-porus so your choice of finish won’t impact durability.
When it comes to price, there are options to suit most budgets. Quartz, for example, is priced in groupings ranging from one to six, one being the least expensive and six being the most costly. Do bear in mind that the details you choose will impact the price. Things like specifying a recessed or fluted drainer, a recessed hob, your choice of edge design and whether or not you go for a splashback will all impact the cost.
Dekton takes longer to manufacture and requires a lot more skill to cut than Quartz. This longer fabrication time adds to the cost. It is a relatively new product, but as people are getting used to working with it, the fabrication price is coming down. Like Quartz your choice of details for your worktop will add to the cost, so speak to your kitchen supplier or stonemason about the cost implications of what you are considering.
Mixing finishes, great way to make your budget go further. It’s also a great way to introduce finishes and designs that you love without worrying about durability.
Mixing timber with Quartz, or Dekton for example, will significantly reduce the price. You might like to go for a timber feature section on an island or have a Dekton or Quartz countertop. If you are mixing timber and Quartz or Dekton, there needs to be an expansion joint built into the countertop to allow the timber to expand. Otherwise, there’s a risk the Quartz or Dekton might crack.
Mixing Dekton and Quartz is also becoming popular. Perhaps you’ve fallen in love with Quartz but are concerned about heat in a particular area. In this case, you could choose a complementary Dekton for the places where you need extra durability and go with Quartz elsewhere.
Finally, mixing materials is a great way to introduce natural stone without the worry of maintenance. You might go for a decorative natural stone as a splashback and then choose complementary Quartz or Dekton for the worksurfaces.
Because both Quartz and Dekton are nonporus, they are naturally antibacterial. It also means stains cannot penetrate the surfaces, making them much easier to keep than other worksurfaces.
The most common issue with staining around a sink is limescale. To combat limescale, try a product called Professional Limescale Remover by HG. You leave to work on the area to be cleaned for five minutes and then rinse off with hot water.
For day-to-day care for Silestone, McWilliams recommends a product made by Silestone called Q-Action, which can be purchased from the stonemason. For a more widely available product, try Cif Actifiz.
Stay away from washing up liquids and everyday household cleaners. This includes antibacterial sprays. These products tend to leave a film behind after cleaning, which shows up as dirt after a few weeks and will need to be cleaned away to bring it back to the polish on your work surface. The best thing to clean human-made work surfaces is hot water. Quartz and Dekton are naturally antibacterial, so there is no need to use an antibacterial cleaner.
You should also avoid harsh chemicals or bleach as there is a risk they will remove the polish from the worktop. For very stubborn stains like red wine or turmeric, try Barkeepers friend, Power Cream.
Finally, McWilliams last word of advice when choosing Quartz is to go with a branded product. ‘There are inferior materials on the market that aren’t as durable as the more reputable branded products, so do your research.’ she warns.
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