Along with the facades, the kitchen table forms the basis of the aesthetics of the kitchen set. At the same time, additional requirements regarding practicality and wear resistance are imposed on the working surface. Today we will consider which countertop is better to choose for the kitchen and how to install it correctly. We will give the characteristics of the materials and the description of the works, depending on the choice made.
The most common materials
Most modern kitchens are developed according to an individual design, so that the furniture set forms a single whole with the decoration of the room, closely adjoins the adjacent surfaces. However, before proceeding to the development of the configuration of the tabletop, the material of manufacture should be selected in order to take into account the features of its processing and the methods of making connections.
If we do not take into account such exotic options as glass or tiled facing, there are not so many of the most popular materials for making a tabletop:
- Postforming is a budget type of countertops. It is a chipboard laminated with plastic. Found a bad reputation due to low heat and moisture resistance, although this is more a matter of price and quality of plastic and chipboard base. Preference should be given to the HPL type coating, the plate should have moisture resistance class P3, and preferably P5, which provides additional impact resistance.
- Wooden massif is an eternal classic, shields made of noble wood can serve for tens of years. However, the choice in favor of natural wood should be made only if there is absolute confidence in the integrity of the manufacturer, otherwise there is a great risk of distortion and cracking. The main disadvantage of a wooden tabletop is its tendency to absorb food dyes, the stains of which are almost impossible to remove.
- Polymer concrete is a so-called artificial stone. The most popular material today for obvious reasons: it forms a seamless surface of unlimited area, the sink forms a single unit with the tabletop, traces of wear can be removed by simple sanding. Unlike post-forming or wood, polymer concrete can withstand heating up to 200-230 °C and is absolutely not afraid of water.
It is important to know : the operational properties of artificial stone countertops depend on the quality and type of raw materials, as well as on compliance with the manufacturing technology. Therefore, you can buy such material only if there is a guarantee for at least 2-3 years.
- Natural stone – can be represented by a massive plate up to 60 mm thick or overlays on the surface and end of chipboard. Unlike artificial stone, granite, marble or quartzite are more noble materials, but they must have a radiation safety certificate. In addition, some types of stone can absorb dyes.
- Stainless steel is a material resistant to any kind of influence. It is used mainly in professional kitchens, but it can be used with the same success in everyday life. Disadvantage two: low prevalence and limited variability of kitchen design.
How not to spend extra money
The countertop is a significant part of the kitchen budget: its cost, depending on the material and configuration, can be up to 50% of the total amount. If there is no shortage of funds, it is better to immediately purchase a high-quality product made of stone or expensive post-forming.
A more economical option is to first buy an inexpensive tabletop made of laminated chipboard, use it for a while, and then use it as an insert for a new tabletop made of artificial stone. True, in this case, there will be no possibility to move the sink, but it can be mirrored along one or two axes.
How to make measurements
In order for the tabletop to fit perfectly into the kitchen, it is made according to individual measurements. There are three installation options and the specifics of performing measurements may differ for each of them:
- The tabletop is ordered after the cabinets are installed and the apron is lined. In such cases, it is necessary to measure with high accuracy the linear distances along each line of adjacency to the walls. Corners are usually not measured, instead, templates are collected from the rails in place. The high accuracy of measurements is very important, it allows you to achieve the minimum size of the gaps, accordingly, the abutment can be closed with a thin, neat plinth.
- Measurement after installation of housings and before cladding. In such cases, the tabletop can be oriented parallel to the longest wall, while gaps of up to 10 mm are allowed. After laying the tiles, they will be completely covered, most often in such cases you can not install a plinth at all or get by with the thinnest PVC strip.
- At the stage of kitchen development and before finishing. This is the most difficult option, but only in this way the kitchen will be ready for use immediately after installing the cabinets. It is necessary to take into account in advance the thickness of the tile and glue, the tolerance for the curvature of the cladding and the size of the deformation gaps, depending on the material of the walls. Recently, tile aprons are increasingly being abandoned in favor of glass or plastic panels, which allows for more precise fitting.
Angle templates and linear distances in millimeters are transferred to production. The depth of the tabletop must be measured so that its edge is at the same level as the handles of the facades of the lower tier. If the facades have pressure opening mechanisms or recessed handles, the protrusion of the tabletop should be 35-40 mm. The cutouts for the sink and cooking surface are marked according to the instructions for the specific product and taking into account the location of the kitchen body sections.
Countertop measurements are made as if it were a solid slab regardless of the complexity of the configuration. If, for the convenience of delivery and installation, it is advisable to divide the countertop into fragments, the technologist will do it himself, taking into account all technological tolerances.
Installation of post-forming and wooden tabletop
Countertops made of wood and laminated chipboard are the only type of products, the parts of which are assembled with the help of mechanical connections and H-shaped connecting profiles. The section where chipboard is exposed is the most vulnerable place, it should be carefully sealed with silicone or mastic.
There are two options for postforming:
- The simplest: a cover made of MDF or solid solid wood is screwed from below to the tabletop along the entire length of the joint. In it, oblique holes are drilled in the direction from the joint at an angle of 30-45°. At the attachment points, drill starting holes, the diameter of which is equal to the thickness of the self-tapping rod without taking into account the thread. To prevent the ends from shifting, plastic dowels are hammered into them at 20 cm intervals. Self-tapping screws twisted diagonally securely tighten the tabletop and allow you to squeeze out the remains of the sealant.
- With the help of screeds: on the reverse side of the tabletop, a Forstner drill is used to make samples for screw mechanisms, then, according to the mounting dimensions, a groove or a hole for a pin is drilled on the end. If the thickness of the tabletop is not enough, overhead bars are screwed along the joint line with a small indent.
It is quite often necessary to join L-shaped countertops, and the joint line passes 15-20 cm from the corner, for which a special cut is made. The part that adjoins the cut edge is cut with a copying cutter according to the template. At the front edge, you need to make a small oblique cut, which is equal to the width of the front chamfer or fillet. A similar shape is made from the back part, after which excess material is cut off with a jigsaw with a tolerance of 1-2 mm. A flexible H-profile made of PVC is used for docking. Some types of connectors can be installed flush with the surface, for which you need to remove small chamfers at the appropriate angle.
Joining of wooden table tops can be done by the described methods, but joinery joints on glue and slats are more often used. To do this, one or two slits are made with a router on the connecting ends, into which thin strips of solid wood are inserted. In order to achieve the minimum thickness of the adhesive seam, the countertops need to be compressed, for this, sling belts with a ratchet tensioning mechanism are suitable. In order to maintain a single plane, after tightening and removing the remaining glue, the joint is clamped on both sides with clamps between two flat overlays.
Installation of an assembled and one-piece worktop
Countertops made of natural and artificial stone, as well as stainless steel, can be assembled at the factory or at the installation site. The technologies used in this case are not available to ordinary people. However, as a result, as in the case of post-forming, a solid plate of complex shape is formed, which must be installed and fixed to the walls of the lower tier housing.
Installation is carried out in two stages. First, the tabletop is positioned with the necessary amount of gaps, then it is attached at 1-2 points to each section on ordinary furniture corners. The main fastening is located on the double walls between the sections. On both sides, metal corners are installed, which are tightened through the walls of the case with screws or pins. Corners should be installed with a gap of 1-1.5 mm from the back surface of the tabletop.
After that, the centers of the attachment points are marked, the tabletop is turned over and blind holes are drilled for the inserts. The countersunk nuts are screwed onto the quick-drying glue, then the tabletop is turned back and attached to the housings. When installing the sink and burner, it may be necessary to remove and turn the stove over again, but the strength of the threaded fastening will not deteriorate from this.