Countertops Characteristics. Aiding in Selection. Secrets
Already four centuries ago, there were tables with the countertops which were served usually as the elegant chessboards. Tables with countertops barricaded down toward the enemy in the pubs, taverns, saloons, reliably defended even from the enemy’s handguns. At present time an aspiration toward reliability and beauty is apparent, gradually replacing the lonely "something” of chipboard.
A Variety of Table Tops
It is clear that countertops of the coffee, kitchen, living room, office tables may not be the same − they perform too much different functions. But somewhere in the country side, especially when it is a seasonal residence, they are quite normally substituted for each other. And if classify them, it is the best thing to do so it in order to avoid confusion on the construction materials:
- countertops of the solid wood;
- countertops of the plastic;
- countertops of the plexiglas;
- countertops of the glass;
- countertops of the artificial stone;
- countertops of the natural stone.
This diversity allows fitting them organically into the interior of any apartment. The main thing − everything must be beautiful, comfortable, functional and environmentally friendly. If the owner wants to have a beautiful table, but it is a pity to throw out the old and durable one, he can simply order his favorite countertop and fix it on the old table’s foundation.
Solid Wooden Countertops
It is already a classic, in the old days all the countertops were made of wood. But... firstly, such huge solid trees, which were no more than one or two, were not enough to make the one-piece countertop, and secondly, technologies today are others, so their relatively easy accessibility allows doing reliable wares. And now the solid wooden countertop is manufactured in several stages. First, wooden lamella is cut into strips (the same in size). Then they are glued together. It turns out the furniture board. It is polished, cut out the countertop and form edgings. The final furnish includes tinting, painting and varnishing. Wooden countertops fit well into a country style and ethnic interior. For bars and restaurants they can be distressed and covered with an antiseptic, after all they must be frequently washed. Solid wooden countertop − natural and eco-friendly, but expensive. Apparently, it is not a bit of furniture to use in the kitchen with its fat, aggressive detergents and constant high humidity.
Rich assortment, textures and color diversity identified their increased popularity. These countertops do not swell, heat-resistant (so you can put hot pots on them), protected from scratching and mechanical damages, that is, almost not afraid of bumps and cuts. They will not fade or discolor. Plastic has no harmful chemical compounds. Plastic countertops are pleasant for housewives with their easy care: there are no need to scrape, pour for more friction, it will be enough the very light detergent. Household chemicals and acids contained in food, doesn't react with plastic.
Of course, a countertop throughout its thickness is not composed of plastic. Most often it is made from chipboard, and then is covered with plastic on the glue under the pressure. Plastic must be chosen resistant to abrasion. It needs to add one more thing for all the advantages of countertops from this material: they are the cheapest.
Artificial Stone Countertops
Acrylic stone is used in the countertops of this type. What is it and how is it produced? The technology is fairly simple:
- prepare the form for casting, oiled by antiadhesive substances, and it is filled with acrylic resin;
- add a crumb or a crumb mineral rock (up to 70% of the total volume) in the liquid acrylic resin, hardeners, dyes and other components that improve the quality of the artificial stone;
- thoroughly mix the entire composition by industrial mixers;
- the further mass is subjected to high pressure or, alternatively, by vacuum in order to remove even tiny gas bubbles;
- obtained composition is allowed to dry thoroughly;
- exposed by further processes (cut, stripped, sanded, etc).
As a result, it is a monolith. These countertops can be used in any room, but especially where they are not interchangeable, so it is in the kitchen. Monolithic surface does not absorb moisture, fats, acids, etc. Thus, that is not bad to place a hot pot on the countertop owing to heat resistance of the acrylic stone. If the surface has accidentally scratched, simple sandpaper will smooth out the damaged surface, remain merely to polish the countertop. After cooking in the kitchen the acrylic countertop can be easily cleaned with a simple soap and water. The material does not absorb odors, because of the absence even crazing on the surface of acrylic stone.
In other rooms acrylic countertops fit perfectly in the high-tech style and the country style. And let's not confuse an inexperienced buyer such names of an artificial stone like "Corian”, "Staron”, "Montelli”, "Himax” and others. They are all kinds of the acrylic stone, differing by a composition of filler, a color and manufacturer.
Natural Stone Countertops
Granite, onyx or marble countertops in our day emphasize the owner’s taste, are the decoration of the apartment and perform simultaneously their direct functions. In the manufacturing of such countertops a stone polished many times, and eventually the natural texture of it appears on the surface, catching the eye. Stone countertop is wearproof and durable: how, say, dishes can damage the granite, and what possibly could go wrong with a wet stone (yes, it is just dry and will remain the same as it was before that).
Of course, it needs to take into account the operating abilities of various types of stone. If, for example, it will not occur with the granite from food acids, then the metamorphosed organic marble is easily to give way to their influence. That is, a marble countertop will serve for a long time and nobly look like in any room except the kitchen. Natural stone countertops fit well in any style, whether it is high-tech or retro. And with their durability and permissiveness in great care, they are highly demanded after restaurants and bars and as the counter tables.
A technology is as follows:
- preparing blanks (cutoff pieces with the minimum dimensions 79x47 inches and the maximum 71x110 inches);
- sawing the blanks into slabs (with a minimum thickness of 0.4 inches);
- cutting the countertop (with allowances for machining and cutting edges);
- polishing the countertop surface. (It consists of 12 stages with changing the circles of different granularity);
- applying the pastes (in order to add shine).
Items on the glass countertop are situated as if they hang in the air. Do not worry about the fragility of it: modern manufacturing techniques allow the glass to withstand even a bullet, not a third-rate pot. Cooking temperature (even the hot bottom of the pot) is not terrible for the top. Glass is perfectly clean with any detergent, without fear of acids, even the concentrated sulfuric acid. Only the hydrofluoric acid can ruin its surface, but it is not commercially available, and it is not contained in detergent compositions. Glass is not a subject to wear, so that the things can be moved on the surface of the countertop without fear of damaging it.
The glass can be frosted, tinted, transparent. Any color also can be given to it thanks to the modern technologies. It is possible to indent pattern in the countertop with a variety of ways, including sandblasting. Such combinations can be a great many. All of this makes the glass countertop sleek and stylish piece for any interior.
Yet the plexiglas is more often used on the table surface as in the second half of the last century, simply covering the countertop. What does it do for? Here are a few examples: it needs to protect valuable wooden tabletop; to optimize a workspace (there are calendars, schedules, needed jottings under the glass); to protect ornaments and collages, changed the look of old table. Appeared and rather quickly developed the production of promotional transparent countertops, while working on that plexiglas is filled with shells, scarabs, dragonflies, crayfish − yes, any items which are thinner than a frozen acrylic plastic. They are look amazing.
The material is durable, lightweight, easy to use for pattering and secure even when broken. The disadvantages include the fact that acrylic scratches easily, is a flammable material, and has a high coefficient of thermal expansion.
It must be said there are quite numerous materials of which the countertops are made, but considerably less than the above mentioned. Why is that? After all, there are, for example, metal countertops and a countertops made of cane − antique rarities at all. Yes, because the main criteria by which we select the countertop − its practicality and cost.
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