The kitchen is the heart and soul of most households. It is the place where families gather, memories are made, holiday dinner is burnt, and morning cups of coffee are consumed by the thousands. For that reason, most homeowners would say that the decor, and ambience of a kitchen matters more than almost any other room in the house. No one wants to cook or socialize in a kitchen that feels unwelcoming, outdated, or worn out.
For these reasons, properly maintaining your kitchen worktops can be crucial to keeping your kitchen feeling cosy and inviting for years to come. The kitchen worktops are an integral part of the kitchen, and are also often a massive investment for homeowners; especially homeowners who have recently had their kitchen space renovated.
It’s often not enough to simply clean the worktops down, and call it a day; sometimes you need to have a bit of a deeper understanding on how to maintain the material, to keep it well cared for. Depending on what material your worktops are made of, maintenance on them will look a bit different. Here is how you can keep ahead of the curve, and care for your worktops no matter what material they are.
- Laminate Worktops.
Laminate worktops are made from binding a timber substrate to a stiff interior made of resin-bound paper or flakes of wood. This creates a lightweight and relatively durable worktop material that can be used almost anywhere within the house. However, by their very nature, laminate worktops do require a fair bit of maintenance to keep them looking nice for years to come.
Laminate surfaces are highly susceptible to scratching, and as such should always be protected by cutting boards and mats whenever possible. Also, laminate worktops do not hold up to extreme heat very well--always keep your hot pots and pans on top of a protecting surface!
One benefit of laminate worktops is that they are typically very easy to clean. They can often be cleaned with simply a washrag, and some mild soap. However, it is important to remember that the interior underneath the substrate can warp and bloat if subject to extreme moisture, so be careful to not over-saturate when cleaning.
- Wooden Worktops.
Wooden worktops are incredibly popular in restaurants, and bakeries primarily. However, they can be found quite often in homes depending on the tastes of the homeowner. Wooden worktops can be made in a wide range of woods and can come in all types of exotic colourations, patterns, and appearances. However, they are quite a bit higher maintenance than other worktop materials.
The main reason for wood worktops being such hard work is how porous wood is by nature. Wood will absorb bacteria, mold, and liquids like a sponge if they are left to sit. That is why properly ‘seasoning’ your worktops is a priority when they are made of wood. This involves oiling the surface and allowing the oil to naturally absorb into the wood to protect it from spills and stains. This should be done fairly regularly, and the frequency will vary depending on the type of wood...
In addition to seasoning the surface, you should also abstain from cutting directly on the surface, and never place hot objects on top of the worktop directly. Wood worktops can be stunning but will require a lot of work to keep them in great shape.
- Granite Worktops.
Granite is one of the most popular materials used for worktops due to how gorgeous it is as a material naturally. For decades, granite has been the king of the kitchen when it comes to preferred worktop material in homeowners. However, that does not mean that granite does not come without some careful care instructions that owners should observe.
Granite is a porous material, just like wood. This means that to keep stains or bacteria from building up on the surface, the worktop has to be sealed fairly regularly. On average, a granite worktop should be sealed with a wax--or other types of sealant--every five years. This can lead to extra costs that many homeowners don't consider when they have their granite worktops installed. It also means that any spills, or mess should be cleaned as fast as possible to avoid it soaking into the surface.
Also, granite is very easy to chip or crack if not treated carefully. It is a very brittle stone, as far as stone goes, and should be handled gently when possible. Try to avoid dropping or slamming any objects onto the surface, especially on the edges or overhang; this is where it is easiest for chipping or cracking to occur. Although it is very resistant to scratches, and heat.
- Concrete Worktops.
Concrete worktops are not the most common in the world, but they do exist. Concrete can be poured and moulded into amazingly beautiful patterns, shapes, and designs; this makes them appealing to those who wish to have fancy outdoor BBQ areas, or even inside the kitchen if they wish. However, it is important to remember that concrete will require some specific maintenance knowledge to keep it looking fresh.
Once concrete worktops are poured and sealed, they are generally good to work on and use much like any type of stone worktop. Just remember that concrete by its very nature is far more porous than normal stone, and should be treated gently when it comes to oils and staining agents. Concrete is also highly susceptible to damage from acid or hard water minerals. You should take care to use only gentle cleaning agents, and try to use only soft water when cleaning concrete worktops. You should invest in a water softener if your tap water is naturally ‘hard’.
On top of your careful cleaning, you should also take care to not slam or bang the concrete worktop too harshly. Concrete can crack rather easily, which can be a pain to replace or repair--not to mention costly. Concrete worktops can be gorgeous if done correctly, but they do come with a bit of care involved that the owner will need to mind.
- Limestone Worktops.
One of the primary reasons why homeowners love limestone worktops is that they can resemble marble--but at a fraction of the cost. Limestone usually comes naturally white or close to white. This means that once it is cut and sealed it can look very close to that elegant and chic appearance of marble. However, unlike marble, limestone is far more susceptible to scratches and staining. This can pose a bit of a problem for those who choose it for their homes.
Caring for limestone worktops will be very similar to caring for granite worktops. They should be resealed every several years, and owners should take great care to not subject them to harsh force or long-standing grime/liquid build-up. Limestone can stain much faster than granite due to it being more porous, and being white naturally. This means that you should wipe up any spills as soon as they occur, ideally.
In addition to staying on top of spills, you should avoid highly acidic cleaners or cleaning mixtures--this can erode the limestone over time. Limestone responds best to softer cleaning agents, and less exposure to grime build-up. Ideally, you should use only limestone specific cleaners on your limestone worktops. This might all sound like a headache, but in practice, it isn’t so bad. Just remember that limestone is a softer and more porous stone, and to treat it as such.
- Marble Worktops.
Marble worktops are considered by many to be the most beautiful and are highly sought after by those in the culinary industry because they remain cool and can be ideal for pastry making. While marble is a very hard and durable stone material, it is not without its weaknesses. Marble is a porous stone, like most stone, and thus needs to be sealed to prevent any stain build up or bacteria and mold from seeping in. However, unlike granite, marble needs to be sealed far more regularly--ideally every 3-6 months.
Another side effect of how porous marble is is the fact that acidic foods or cleaners will etch the surface rapidly. This means that if you are cooking highly acidic foods, such as marinara sauce, it can easily stain or damage the surface if you aren’t cleaning it quickly. Marble may be pretty, but it requires a lot of careful attention to keeping it that way.
Aside from frequent sealing, marble should be wiped with non-abrasive sponges or rags to prevent any scratching from occurring. Marble can scratch rather easily if roughed up too often. In general, marble worktops might be the most high-maintenance of all the popular stone worktop materials. However, many still consider it worth it because of how beautiful they are.
- Soapstone Worktops.
Soapstone worktops are sought after by those who wish to give their kitchen a chic, modern, and elegant look but with a darker tone than marble--which is popular for the same reasons. Soapstone is a relatively easy material to care for and is nonporous unlike other types of stone worktops. This means that it is very resistant to stains, mold, and bacteria. Which is great for keeping the surface clean and free of any blemishes that can come from cooking or oils.
In contrast to its heat and stain resistance, soapstone is still fairly soft when compared to something like granite. This means that soapstone worktops can easily scratch or chip if not careful. Always try to use protective mats when placing pans on the worktop, and never cut directly on the surface. So long as you treat the worktop gently, it will last you for years to come.
As far as natural stone worktops are concerned, soapstone is one of the easiest to care for and keep looking beautiful. It can be cleaned with harsh chemicals if you so desire due to its non-porous nature, and it will not discolour due to cleaning at all. Just remember to be gentle with handling it, and the rest will take care of itself. No need to worry too much about how you clean a soapstone worktop.
- Quartz Worktops.
Works worktops are known as a ‘made stone’ worktop material. This means that, while it is primarily made of quartz mineral, it is still bound together with a resin that helps seal and keep everything together. The lucky part about this is that it means that the surface of a quartz worktop is non-porous; you won’t have to worry about any stains, bacteria, oils, or mold seeping into the worktop.
In addition to being highly resistant to stains, and other unsavoury issues absorbing into them; quartz worktops are amazingly strong. Quartz being one of the hardest minerals on earth, it makes quartz worktops highly resistant to scratches, scrapes, and heat damage. It should be
noted that quartz is not indestructible though, and shouldn’t be abused beyond normal kitchen use.
Quartz is considered by many to be one of the most low-maintenance worktop materials due to all of these factors, if not the most low-maintenance. In most cases, all you will need to keep your quartz worktop looking nice is some mild cleaner, water, and a washing rag. There isn’t much beyond that that you need to do to keep your quartz worktops looking nice.
- Final Thoughts.
Maintenance and care should never be forgotten when you are choosing your worktop material. It is one of the most important factors to how long your worktops will remain beautiful, and fresh over time. Improperly cared for worktops can rapidly deteriorate, and become unpleasant to look at and use. It is important to know the proper care techniques of whatever material you choose for your worktops, to protect them and your investment for years to come. It is a good idea to always ask your contractor or expert craftsman about any maintenance or care needs you should know before choosing a worktop material. It will help out in the long run.