With the increasing number of interior design programs coming to light, no doubt inspired by Kevin McCloud’s ‘Grand Designs’, more and more members of the public are beginning to imagine themselves as designers.
Fresh perspectives and creativity are great things for designing living spaces, but what many self-styled designers often lack is formal training in materials. Architects spend years learning and understanding the materials used in design and construction, and the same is true for anyone who designs homes and interiors on a professional level. These people understand which materials are best suited for which functions, recognizing their pros and cons, while many members of the public only know what they have seen on TV or in their local kitchen showroom.
The selection of materials available to these people is actually much broader than you might imagine. Typically, many will be aware of your typical MDF surfaces, solid woods, wood veneers, and steel wainscoting. However, there are a host of other surface materials; Solid woods and particle board are readily available and fairly inexpensive, which is especially true of faced MDF, but there are other common alternatives that may work better for your needs.
Stone is reasonably common, is incredibly strong, and adds character to any facility, as no block of stone is the same. It is also heavy and can be difficult to install, so you should consult expert kitchen installers if you want to use it as part of a fitted kitchen installation. The types of stone offered can vary and can include marble, granite, and more. Seams in stone tend to be quite noticeable and should be avoided by those seeking a sleek, minimalist look, unless using single, seamless slabs. The stone also comes in limited sizes, unless customized to order, which makes it expensive.
Engineered stone or cast stone is usually a more common option. It retains all the great properties of the stone, as well as being available in a wider range of colors and textures. It can be made to order and is available in a wider range of sizes. The joints with this type of stone are noticeable, but less than with natural stone.
Corian has recently become a more popular option. In architectural design, Corian serves a variety of purposes and is certainly not limited to kitchen installation. Made of super strong resin, it can be molded into any shape; this ease of fabrication makes it less expensive than its stone counterparts and also allows for greater creativity, allowing sinks to be molded into the countertop of the same material. This ease of molding means fewer lines break the surface, eliminating the need for joints, so there are fewer crevices to clean. In the event that the countertop is burned or damaged, it can be refinished with the exact same resin for another flawless finish, perfect for high-use built-in kitchens.
Tempered glass is another popular alternative, often used in modern, minimalist kitchens. Glass is non-porous and easy to clean with the right sprays. Some come painted so you can add a pop of color to your kitchen and countertops in this variety come in a variety of sizes and are much easier to install than heavier stone countertops. Unlike stone, however, glass is more prone to scratches and scratches and needs to be cared for as it is more difficult to get a good finish after scratch filling. Glass tends to be a more expensive option.
Stainless steel is a more common material featured in built-in kitchens. Since gourmet cooking has become more popular, the industrial look of steel in the kitchen has become more popular. It can make the panels resistant to corrosion; they are generally quite durable and will last a long time. However, as you would expect, steel is not scratch resistant and requires special care and attention during use and cleaning if you want to maintain a flawless finish. Steel is best used for cabinets and drawers for those averse to markings on their counters.
Tile is a less fashionable alternative, but it can provide a distinctive finish that other surfaces can’t match, plus damaged tiles can be replaced. This is a cheaper alternative, but the grout used to hold it together can be difficult to keep clean; this is generally reserved for splashbacks where it is harder for dirt to settle.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it does serve to illustrate some of the pros and cons of some lesser-regarded kitchen design materials. To learn more about kitchen equipment and which materials will best suit your lifestyle, it’s always best to consult with an experienced kitchen planner or team of kitchen designers before making a purchase.