Today, compared to twenty years ago, the spaces in a home are more fluid and they communicate with each other. The food preparation area is often an integral part of the living space; it is no longer enclosed in a separate room. For this reason, more attention is given to the design of kitchen furnishings as elements to be seen and which give value to the home.
If we add an increasingly widespread interest in the world of cooking, it is clear that the choice of materials for the kitchen area is not secondary. The materials most used to cover work surfaces- and any islands and peninsulas – are mainly: marble, stone, quartz and porcelain stoneware . In this article we will focus in particular on the latter two.
What are the main requirements for a kitchen countertop? Among the most important are certainly ease of cleaning, the least possible porosity, unalterability of the material over time and, last but not least, the aesthetic variety available.
Ease of cleaning
Quartz tops are composed of fragments of this mineral combined with resins and pigments that influence their colouring. Quartz is therefore a largely natural material that has good technical characteristics . However, as it is “a compound”, its quality varies depending on the manufacturing companies. If the quantity of quartz used is lower, then the use of resins and pigments is higher: the quality of the material will be poorer and vice versa.
Unlike quartz, porcelain stoneware is composed of clays, sand and other finely ground natural materials. It undergoes an industrial process of pressing and cooking at very high temperatures, which guarantees unparalleled technical characteristics. The resulting material is resistant to abrasion, is not porous and adapts well to changes in temperature and the attack of chemical agents.
Porosity and liquids
A key consideration in choosing a kitchen countertop is the extent to which it absorbs liquids. With a coefficient that is on average less than 0.5%, porcelain stoneware stands out as a less absorbent material than quartz. In this sense, it is the ideal choice for all kitchen countertops, even professional ones. Porcelain stoneware therefore lends itself to use in the home as well as in the kitchen areas of restaurants and hotels.
Unalterability over time
Thanks to porcelain stoneware, the desire for materials which are extremely durable and which maintain their aesthetic appeal can be realistically fulfilled in today’s architectural world. Indeed, porcelain stoneware material can come into contact with extremely hot objects and maintain its unaltered appearance.
Quartz, on the other hand, is so heat-sensitive that, if placed in contact with a very hot object (such as a pot just removed from the stove), it can change colour. This is because quartz contains a small percentage of resins which are strongly affected by high temperatures.
Whether light or dark colours are preferred, whether a natural look or a rich texture of contrasts is sought after, the best choice is porcelain stoneware: it does not change colour over time, it does not lighten or darken; it remains identical to how it was on the first day of laying and will therefore last over time.
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In addition to its technical characteristics, its availability in a variety of finishes, textures and patterns is certainly a point in favour of porcelain stoneware when compared to quartz; this variety offers a truly wide range of possibilities.
Porcelain stoneware permits an infinite choice of materials inspiration (marble, wood, stones, cements, metals, resins, fabrics, etc.) while maintaining high technical performance. For even greater refinement, some stoneware products undergo special surface treatments capable of transmitting the tactile experience of the materials they are inspired by. As far as quartz is concerned, however, the variety of aesthetics and material interpretations is more limited. As for the thickness of the stoneware slabs, it is possible to configure three different sizes that are suitable for any type of context: 6, 12 and 20 mm. Quartz slabs have an average thickness of about 2cm.