Countertop Kitchen Bar
24
Aug

The Three Best Materials For Your Kitchen | Blog Post #20

What are the best materials for kitchen interiors? Today’s post looks at the top three materials for protecting and beautifying your kitchen.

kitchen
With so many materials available, let's just look at the top 3 materials in this post ©House&Home

While all materials have their individual pros and cons, every homeowner has a different set of needs that some materials may meet better than others. The three most common materials with the best overall performance are vinyl, granite, and metallic epoxy.

But just how do we define the often subjective concept of the best? In the context of the kitchen, we have a few specific criteria – hygiene, kitchen-specific damage, and general durability.

professor gif
Calculating and defining the best material is not as straight forward as it seems. ©giphy

Hygiene – Anyone who has done frying of any sort can attest to the amount of oil that floats and splatters everywhere. Even with a kitchen hood, every surface in the vicinity is inevitably coated in a layer of grease. The grease goes on to trap dust and other random debris, resulting in gross kitchen grime. Hygiene is simply a combination of how much grime a material traps, and how easy it is to clean.

cleaning kitchen floor gif
Boiling hot soup spilt on the floor or countertop? Curry with turmeric powder everywhere? ©giphy

Kitchen-specific Damage – While the kitchen does not receive as much traffic as a living room, it is exposed to more potential damage. This includes dropping heavy cooking ware or sharp objects, chemical exposure to reagents used in cooking, and sudden exposure to high temperatures.

fire heat metallic epoxy countertop
Fire? No biggie. But we strongly do not recommend setting fire to your interior surfaces.

General Durability – This last category is a catch-all for other aspects of material durability, such as changes in strength or appearance over time.

smash hammer on ceramic tile
Sometimes, the harder something is, the easier for it to break, just like this conventional ceramic tile.

Vinyl

Vinyl has been a popular material for a very long time, thanks to its low cost, durability, and wide variety of design options. But just how well does it fare in the kitchen?

vinyl kitchen countertop
Fake granite vinyl covers for kitchen countertops are extremely popular because, well, it's cheap. ©futuristicjobs

Hygiene
Vinyl does great in this section. Its completely porous surface does not trap grime and organic debris – like decaying plant or animal matter – while its relatively high chemical resistance permits cleaning with most common household cleaning agents. Great for floors, countertops, and dining surfaces.

Kitchen-specific Damage
It’s a bit of a mixed bag here. While vinyl’s rubbery nature easily handles physical impact, this same property makes it very vulnerable to damage from sharp or abrasive objects. Between kitchen knives, rough mortars and pestles, and assorted cutlery, your vinyl tiles are going to get rather scuffed and scratched.

Vinyl is also not the most thermally-resistant material – hot pans will absolutely warp and melt your vinyl tiles, ruining your countertop and pan bottom. The silver lining here is vinyl can be replaced at little cost – you’re still going to need a new pan though. Furthermore, vinyl’s chemical resistance means it’s not bothered by kitchen ‘chemicals’ like highly acidic lemon juice or hot tomato soup.

Overall, great for dining surfaces and floors, terrible near cooking surfaces.

General Durability
Vinyl doesn’t age well – it stiffens and warps when exposed to heat and sunlight over a few years. This results in warped and cracked tiles. Vinyl is also notorious for being stained by natural rubber products such as non-slip surfaces and some kitchen tools. While vinyl can be easily replaced, discarded vinyl tiles cannot be recycled and often end up in landfills or incinerated – a big concern for the environmentally conscious.

warping vinyl floor
Warping and popping is common with vinyl. ©cleanfax

Useful short-term, but consider other options if you’re environmentally conscious and prefer long-term solutions.

Globe on fire gif
Global warming is real. Do your part in reducing your carbon footprints. ©giphy

Granite

Granite is a classic material with high physical durability. Each set of tiles has a naturally unique pattern that gives the material great character and aesthetic appeal.

granite countertop
Pure granite countertops are beautiful, but they are not cheap, and neither is their maintenance ©bobvila

Hygiene
Natural granite fares rather poorly in this section. It is an extremely porous material that traps grime and harbours bacteria, while being difficult to clean. Exposure to any non-pH-neutral household cleanser will permanently discolour the stone. Furthermore, unless you pony up an exorbitant sum for a continuous slab of granite, you will require grout to fill the gaps between your granite tiles. Grout is a porous cement paste that traps dirt and is tough to clean because it is a recessed surface.

clean granite countertop
The porous properties allow dirt and bacteria to breed within. ©cnet

Overall, a pain to keep clean unless you coat your granite surfaces with a sealant, which demands regular maintenance every few years.

Kitchen-specific Damage
Granite is lacking in this area as well. While it is among the harder and tougher stones, granite still chips and cracks when subjected to impact from heavy or sharp objects. Worse still, it is difficult to patch granite back to its original look, especially if the crack is deep. It can also be permanently stained by acidic liquids like hot tomato soup or dark liquids like wine and sauces.

cracked granite countertop
The problem with stone is that, once a crack forms, it is bound to keep getting bigger, and bigger until it eventually breaks. ©pinterest

On the surface, granite has great thermal-resistance. It’s a stone with an extremely high melting point. However, it is vulnerable to thermal shock – when suddenly exposed to high temperatures, air inside the porous stone rapidly expands, applying pressure and cracking the stone.

Here, granite is passable, but an informed homeowner must be prepared for a mottled patchwork of repairs over the years. Alright for countertops, floors, and dining surfaces, but use a coaster.

General Durability
Granite gradually changes colour as it ages, but some owners view it as a plus. In the same way that wine gets better with age, granite is deemed to gain character as its grains darken. Provided you maintain your granite without fail, it can last a long while.

Metallic Epoxy

This synthetic material is remarkably competitive in all its properties except one – thermal resistance. Let’s see how it fares in the kitchen.

metallic epoxy grey kitchen countertop

Hygiene
Three words: poreless, seamless, and chemical-resistant. This unhole-y trinity makes metallic epoxy a housewife’s dream – it doesn’t trap any grime or dirt and can be cleaned with any common household cleaning agent. Furthermore, its high resistance to physical damage permits vigorous scrubbing on the regular, letting you keep your kitchen as clean as you’d like.

The non-porous and seamless design makes cleaning a breeze from coffee stains, spray paint, even motor engine oil!

Perfect for floors, countertops, and dining surfaces.

metallic epoxy kitchen top
Cleaning is a breeze with metallic epoxy countertops due to its non-porous and seamless design!

Kitchen-specific Damage
Metallic epoxy does better than vinyl in this section. While both enjoy a similar level of impact resistance, metallic epoxy is harder and more scratch-resistant. Its high chemical resistance protects it against all kinds of spills – lemon juice, wine, boiling soup.

But yes, this wonder material does have a catch. It’s not burn-proof. While it’s perfectly safe near cooking surfaces – it is thermally stable up to a whopping 200°C – you should avoid placing hot pans directly onto the material. Hot pans can reach temperatures in excess of 500°C, which few surfaces can tolerate. So unless you plan on getting an industrial steel countertop, we recommend heat-resistant cork pads for when you need to rest hot cookware.

Great for floors, countertops, and dining surfaces – just use a cork pad.

metallic epoxy black countertop gold stickers

General Durability
The polyurethane coating on indoor metallic epoxy is usually a water-based one instead of an industrial oil-based coating. Water-based coatings give off far less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause breathing and skin issues. This far safer option comes at a trade-off – over the span of years, the coating will see a degree of yellowing due to exposure to sunlight. However, its physical utility is still fully retained.

Slight discolouration over time, but fully functional.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Metallic epoxy is unsurprisingly the overall winner. While vinyl shares a large portion of its strengths, vinyl is ultimately much less sustainable in the long run. Meanwhile, granite is largely chosen for its aesthetics, since there are other comparable materials with greater practicality. Metallic epoxy can achieve a similar level of aesthetic freedom thanks to its unique design process. To find out more, head over to our blog post on how metallic epoxy is installed.

Check out “Is It Worth It: The Benefits of a Metallic Epoxy Coating: Part One and Part Two” for more information!