I thought I could spend some time talking about worktops. Many people are either confused or misinformed on this topic, so I thought I would run through the various worktop surfaces (available through Varenna) and the pros and cons of each. I will also touch on a few overall points at the end. Let’s get started...
Laminate worktops - Oh man, people are afraid of this word! Laminate does not always mean low quality. In the case of Varenna, the laminate used is a very high quality, extremely resistant to humidity, alcohol, oil, and grease. Laminate is one of the most affordable options out there, and there are two price points available within Varenna’s laminates - standard and full-dyed. Laminate is traditionally made by sandwiching several layers of plastic and paper together, and then bonded with resins. In the case of standard laminates, only the top layer makes up the finish, and the remaining layers are often a dark brown. With a full-dyed laminate, that sandwich is made up of layers that are the same color as the top. The advantage to this is that if your top were to be scratched or damaged (a possibility with every material on this list) it would be significantly less noticeable than a standard laminate because it is the same color throughout. Varenna also offers laser-joined laminates to keep tolerances to an absolute minimum and appearances smooth. To sum up: durable, precise, and affordable, don’t be afraid!
Wooden worktops - Wood can be a great material for worktops, but there are locations where it is better to use than others. For example, I would rarely recommend using a wooden worktop by the sink, but they make great bar top surfaces across the back of an island. Sometimes wooden tops are used for prep surfaces, but it is important to note that wooden tops will show wear quickly in high traffic areas, and may even need to be replaced occasionally if they are used as prep surfaces. Now that I have scared you away from using wood tops, let me give you a great reason to consider them: wood is an organically beautiful material, and due to it’s natural variation you can be sure your worktops will be one-of-a-kind. Varenna offers water-resistant wooden worktops in several finishes. To sum up: beautiful, unique, and needs to be planned wisely!
Stainless steel worktops - In commercial kitchens, stainless steel is king, and for good reason. First, stainless steel has no pores or cracks, which makes it very hygienic and sanitary. Also, that lack of pores and cracks makes cleaning really easy. Lastly, stainless steel is almost indestructible. You can scrub it, drop things on it (within reason), and generally beat it up and it will take it. It does have one drawback - it scratches. A new stainless top will arrive with the grain traveling in a single direction. After several cleanings, that grain begins to take on an even swirl pattern or patina, similar to what you might see in the clear coat of your car after washing it. I also sometimes tell people to go to their local Chipotle restaurant because most of their tables are scrubbed stainless steel. Their steel is a bit brighter than Varenna’s, but it gives you a visual idea of what the worktops would eventually look like. So ultimately, steel can be love it or hate it. To sum up: sanitary, virtually indestructible, but an aesthetically personal choice!
Corian worktops - Corian is made from mineral and acrylic resins, and is also non-porous. It is very resistant to spills and bacteria and is very easy to clean. Corian is also fairly easy to manipulate, and as a result Varenna offers sinks made from Corian that can be built right into the worktop. Corian is actually one of the most versatile materials on this list, having been forming into handles, cabinet fronts, sinks, and even lighting. Corian is also available in many colors and patterns, though Varenna offers only solid color options. To sum up: durable, moldable, functional!
Composite Stone worktops - And now we finally arrive at my favorite worktop. Composite stone worktops are made from siliceous quartz sand and resin. One of the more mainstream brand names for this type of top would be Caesarstone. There are several finishing options for the surface of composite stone, and Varenna offers polished, mat, and “natural” - a slightly textured version. Each of these has it’s purpose, but the one I recommend most is the polished. Polished tops are best for heavy use surfaces because they resist stains and liquids better than the other finishes, but all are very good. Additionally, composite stone seems to have the “it” factor, as many people consider it to be the premier worktop surface, even more elegant than granite or marble. To sum up: elegant, luxurious, works well with European cabinetry, and resists stains too!
Natural stone - There are a few types of natural stone, and some are better suited for certain applications that others. For example, marble stains quite easily when in contact with acidic substances and therefore is not suitable for a main work surface. Of course, it can be treated, but this is not foolproof and it must also be re-treated so it is best to reserve marble for the low traffic areas. Granite is a great all-around surface, but it is somewhat overused in my opinion. For the last 15 years or so, the builder-grade motto has been “granite worktops, maple cabinets, and stainless steel appliances.” That being said, granite is a very durable option and comes in many natural colors. All natural stones are subject to variation in color and veining. Varenna does offer marble, as well as two similar stones called Fossena and Basaltina. To sum up: some stain, some don’t, all are beautiful but only some are appropriate!
Glass worktops - Glass worktops have a sheen like no other. They shine brighter than the brightest steel or polished stone, and they are often available in custom colors. Most glass tops are made from tempered, back-painted glass and are highly resistant to staining and bacteria. One downside is that glass does show fingerprints, so glass worktops often work best in lighter colors. Varenna offers glass in several color options, but only for a few of the cabinetry lines. To sum up: easy to clean and maintain, shiny, sometimes too shiny.
There are a few things that apply to all worktops. If you are using a kitchen system like Varenna, it can be a wise idea to order your worktops with your cabinets. Obviously if the manufacturer of your cabinets does not offer the worktop material you want, you may need to use a third party. If you can order your worktops with your cabinets, the advantages are an exact, precise fit and a shorter installation timeframe. Most third-party worktop suppliers require that the cabinets be installed prior to them visiting the site and templating - delivery and installation still won’t happen for a few weeks after that! Another issue to be aware of is warranty. Make sure whoever is providing your worktops will stand by their work! Varenna offers a two year warranty on all of it’s products, including worktops. Lastly, worktops are only as good as their installers. After spending many years in this business, you start to notice when things are a tiny bit off. For example, if a worktop is supposed to have a 2mm overhang (very small, and our standard), it becomes very noticeable when the edge starts out at a 2mm overhang and transitions to 4mm over the course of a cabinet run. This may seem like a small thing, but after you have spent all that money on a new kitchen, why shouldn’t it be right? If you somehow end up using someone other than Studio Como’s expert installation team, be watchful of the details - they are often overlooked by local suppliers.
If you made it this far, you are either remodeling your kitchen (congratulations! I do complimentary estimates!) or you are some kind of kitchen geek. Either way, if you have questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.