Kitchen worktops must necessarily be aesthetic and practical, durable and comfortable. However, not all attractive materials are convenient to use and reliable. Therefore, choose stone countertops, in which a magnificent appearance is combined with certainly high strength. Stone for creating kitchen worktops can be artificial or natural - it affects both aesthetics and technical characteristics.
Countertops made of natural stone will always look noble and luxurious.
It is impossible to ignore the natural pattern - countertops made of natural stone will always be different from each other, since it is impossible to find two identical plates in nature. The main characteristics of such work surfaces are stability, durability, resistance to wear and mechanical damage.
If we talk about the characteristics in general, the stone countertop has the following advantages and disadvantages:
- Heat resistance that allows you to position the surface close to the stove;
- Durability, wear resistance - manufacturers claim that the table top made of natural stone serves at least 12-17 years, but practically this material turns out to be several times more durable (of course, if you provide it with proper care);
- The possibility of easy restoration - the formed scratches can be easily removed by polishing;
- Large weight - the installation will require preparation of the base of increased strength (approximately the same strength of the structure requires a concrete worktop);
- Installation, cut the product is better to trust the experts;
- The high price will be a significant disadvantage in case the budget for repairs is limited.
- In addition, do not forget that the stone will always be cold on sensations.
Most often, a stone countertop is either granite or marble. It is also possible to manufacture kitchen surfaces from onyx, gabbro (hardened magma), quartz.
The color of the product depends on the field in which the stone is mined. For example, the granite of Karelia and the Urals is greenish-gray or gray-brown, reddish-brown with green splashes, but in Kazakhstan and on the Adriatic coast more bright granite is extracted - scarlet, pinkish, purple.
Granite can be a surface with intricate patterns - interspersed with different types, and may look laconic. Depending on the complexity of the pattern varies and the cost of the material.
In general, granite is famous for durability, mirror shine, a variety of colors. It looks beautiful stone surface in black.
He is not afraid of either water, or concentrated household chemicals, or hot, and the products here can be cut without a board.From this stone, you can get perfectly smooth, smooth tops, even curly shapes with non-standard edges.
Granite surface gets along well with smooth walls, and with an apron in the form of a brickwork.
The gray tabletop of this stone can fit not only in cuisine classic and close to it stylesIt looks great in modern interiors.
But the countertops made of natural stone, marble are considered more capricious. Characteristics of the material in this case are as follows:
- Scratch resistant;
- Good polishability;
- The porous structure, which is why coloring liquids (wine, coffee) can leave unpresentable stains on the surface.
Photos of marble countertops in their traditional classic setting:
This stone is light in itself, which is why it is often combined with a white kitchen unit.
Very effectively marble contrasts with dark furniture.
Which apron is better to combine such a tabletop? The best pair in the work area will be her apron of the same marble, tile "pig" (brickwork), white glass.
Keep in mind that marble can be of different colors, such as in the following photos.
To avoid the appearance of stains, marble should be covered with a special protective agent.
Artificial stone for kitchen countertops
The tabletop made of artificial stone is more accessible, much easier and easier to install, and it looks nothing like the tabletop made of natural stone, but the choice of color of the surfaces is much wider.
Get the agglomerate from a mixture of natural stone and acrylic resins, and then the composition is applied to the base of plywood. Agglomerate is absolutely not porous material, which means it is completely waterproof. It is easy to handle and can take even the most complex curved shape. Mortise sinks, which are now coming into fashion, can be installed in such stone countertops.
Some types of artificial stone are scratched or cracked by strong blows. But they can be restored without any problems, filling the place of damage with glue and polishing it.
Depending on the technology used to make artificial stone countertops, they can be quartzite (agglomerate) or acrylic.
Thus, the tabletop of sinter is produced on the basis of quartz chips, which is subjected to high-temperature vacuum pressing. It also includes pigments that allow the mixture to change shade. The binder in this case is polyester resin. It is important that the quartz components here are at least 90%, and, therefore, the material is no different from natural stone. Therefore, from the point of view of the price and practicality of natural marble, it is better to prefer a surface of agglomerate.
Among the advantages of such tabletops from sinter:
- Mechanical strength;
- Resistance to high temperatures;
- Color stability
However, it is impossible to create an overall seamless surface from such a composite - if there is a need for large areas, then the parts are butt-fit, as shown in these photos:
Acrylic artificial stone is considered the most budget in this segment of materials. Such stone countertops are pigments and mineral fillers in acrylic resin. These surfaces can be joined with each other using special glue. Then the joint is polished - this is how the complete absence of seams is ensured. The thermal conductivity of such products is less than that of a natural stone countertop, which means that it will be warm to the touch. In addition, acrylic products are less chipped than chipped countertops made of sinter, but scratch easier. There is also no resistance to high temperatures - red-hot dishes can leave traces on such a surface, and resistance to acids or acetone.However, acrylic stone is easily polished with fine sandpaper and polished with GOI paste. But pollution on such a surface is rare - the structure of the acrylic stone is not porous and only soapy water will be enough for regular maintenance.
A few guidelines for choosing
Before choosing a work surface, you need to compare the factor "quality-cost". On kitchen countertops made of artificial stone, the price directly depends on the thickness of the facing layer. Actually, the thickness affects only one operational factor - the possibility of repeated polishing. Interestingly, the agglomerate, the closest to the natural stone in terms of properties, is cheaper than acrylic.
The most stylish kitchen countertops made of artificial stone - rich dark colors (asphalt, graphite, chocolate). However, on such planes (especially if they are glossy) all scratches are clearly visible. Light products - light gray, coffee, cream - are deprived of such defects. By the way, the palette of acrylic products is much wider.
In addition, from acrylic perform the tabletops of the most complex forms, but from the agglomerate it will not always.
In a modern kitchen, a concrete worktop will be perfectly acceptable - it can be polished “under a stone”, turned into granite or tiled.
How to install the surface
Stone countertops are usually expensive, heavy and difficult to install with your own hands. Therefore, it is best to entrust its installation to professionals. To prevent the product from cracking due to internal stresses, it is mounted only on a fully assembled and well-fixed kitchen set.
Countertops made of stone are mounted in the following sequence:
- The surface is fixed at 4 corners of the kitchen module (from the outside and from the inside), after which the fastening is carried out with a step of 0.5-1 m along the perimeter.
- For fasteners, you will need plastic dowels, self-tapping screws that fix the plates or mounting angles, or a universal adhesive.
If acrylic tabletops are mounted, then the cloths are interconnected by bushings with screws, after which the seams are additionally glued.
- A wall edge is installed, for which silicone glue-sealant or a standard adhesive composition is used.
- If the surface needs grinding, it is carried out only after installation and final drying of all adhesive joints.
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