What are the best kitchen materials for a quality finish?
A quality finish relies on not just good materials but the coordination of several components to look good and work well together, as a whole. Modern styles favour a blending of sometimes contrasting materials to create a stylish and unique look.
When you are deciding on materials for the kitchen, there are quite a few elements to look at: bench tops, cupboards & pantries – both internally, in terms of storage spaces, and externally. The cupboard doors are the part you will see the most of, so you will want them to really suit your taste and serve their function well. And then, of course, there are the fittings, such as lights, handles, taps, sinks, filters and so on.
Regarding the fittings, it is generally considered that German or European designs are of better quality for their materials, functionality and precision craftsmanship. The quality of fittings made in Asia are not of such a high standard.
Your lifestyle plays an important part in choosing the right kind of materials to use.
A lot depends on the family or household, and the way they want to use the kitchen. With kids, or for rougher kitchen activities, you’ll need stronger, more resilient materials and you should be aware of what materials to avoid in your household. Take marble, for instance. It’s a popular, unique and quality material; however, it is softer and will scratch and stain more easily than granite, and may not be suitable for high traffic kitchens.
There’s quite a range of choices in materials for bench tops: Stone (marble, granite, soapstone and manufactured stone such as Silistone – a resilient blend of quartz and resin), tiles, solid surface (very durable acrylic blends that look like timber or stone, without apparent joins), plastic laminates, and even wood, copper and zinc. Each has its own characteristics and advantages.
Both being porous, marble and granite need to be sealed from time to time to prevent moisture seeping in, but both have long life-spans. Granite is considered one of the better materials, as it is tough and resists scratches and wear. The compensation is that it weighs more, and so the cabinets need to be stronger to hold it. Soapstone is another long-lasting, durable choice, and it even has a resistance to bacteria. Manufactured stone surfaces have the advantages and strength of stone, but with non-porous and bacteria-resistant qualities, and come in some exciting blended finishes.
Internally, kitchen cabinets are usually made from particle board, which is useful for stronger structures and resists warping or shrinking; or MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) which also is shrink- and warp-resistant. Either is coated or covered with the chosen cabinet finish to seal and protect it. MDF is considered to be inferior to particle board by some.
Doors and cabinet finishes
The materials most commonly used to seal the internal cabinetry and doors include: timber veneer, laminate, 2pac, polyurethane varnish, melamine and metal or stainless steel.
For a beautiful shine, some people choose a polyurethane finish, while others would never use this material because it might easily scratch or chip and is hard to repair, as touch-ups are not invisible. Along with laminates, this option will give a beautiful clean new finish at a lower price, but will react more to wear, scratches and heat over time. Laminates also tend to age, especially around the doors. So, for these materials, while you may have good initial value and quality in a kitchen, longevity will be reduced if exposed to more testing activities. 2Pac provides a thicker harder finish and stainless steel has a quality and look all its own.
Glass and glass-frame doors also look good and are quite thick. But they may not be as appropriate in a household full of boisterous children. A simple vinyl-coated MDF or melamine provides a durable alternative. Marine grade polymer cabinets are weatherproof and non-porous. They also look good and can last for 20 years without a scratch.
Ultimately, the quality of a kitchen has a number of aspects. The quality is found in the character of the material you use and the way it is combined with other materials; in the resilience and endurance you can expect from it; in the aesthetic qualities that appeal to you; and in the functional benefits it provides – even down to ecological friendliness and bacterial protection.
Everything is relative and depends on your needs and expectations. Ultimately, though, you must be guided by what is both attractive to your taste and practical for your household needs – with a view also to how long the chosen kitchen materials will last.
Whatever you choose, be assured that at Eurolife we will ensure a quality installation is carried out to bring out the best in the materials and fittings that will suit your unique needs.