Who would believe that the most important tool you have for keeping your new kitchen clean would be your brain? Putting some thought into how dirt collects in your kitchen can help you choose the right kitchen countertop design to minimize the mess and make cleaning it much easier.
Here are 3 important elements to consider when designing your kitchen.
The Work Triangle
The area between the range, the refrigerator and the sink, known as the work triangle, is the most heavily used part of your kitchen. Keeping this area as small as possible will limit how far and wide the dirt in your kitchen is likely to spread. It also makes cooking much more efficient. Also consider the path of passing foot traffic. Keep foot traffic that might track dirt further afield, out of the triangle whenever possible.
Designing a kitchen so that your countertops are hygienic, easy to clean and stay looking great is a matter of matching the right material with the right job. Here are some of the more popular kitchen countertop surfaces and their cleaning pros and cons.
While stainless steel can give your kitchen a professional look it may not be the best choice if keeping your kitchen looking clean is a priority. It’s true that stainless steel is extremely hygienic but the shiny finish can show up even the tiniest deposits of dirt or grease. Fingerprints on stainless steel are a notorious problem and everything from commercial cleaners to simple soap and water can leave noticeable spots. Although very durable and nearly impervious to heat and food stains, stainless steel may be harder to keep looking clean than you realize.
Marble, granite and quartz countertops are a popular for most homeowners in Clearwater. Granite contains small micro-fissures that can absorb stains. It should be sealed to insure maximum stain resistance. Each slab is different and some are fairly porous while others are nearly impervious to liquid.
The Easiest Granite Countertops to Keep Clean
If your countertop is going to be subject to a lot of spills it’s a good idea to select polished granite with a dense consistent crystal structure. These types of granite look great and are more resistant to staining. Maintain your granite countertops by wiping up all spills immediately and resealing your countertops every 1-2 years.
Keeping Marble Stain Free
Marble, like granite is also slightly porous and reacts with acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus. Marble should be regularly sealed using natural stone sealer. Wipe up spills immediately. When cooking use trivets under hot cookware on your marble countertops and use cutting boards to avoid scratching and nicking them.
Naturally Stain Resistant Quartz Countertops
Manufactured quartz countertops are made from crushed quartz crystals and other minerals infused with resin which makes them naturally impermeable and resistant to staining. Quartz countertops do not require sealing like granite and marble.
The resin may react to extreme heat and also fades under direct sunlight. Always use trivets under hot cookware and if your kitchen is going to have a lot of direct sunlight, consider a light color that will not show the fading as much. If you still want a dark color it may be preferable to choose a different material that will not fade under direct sunlight.
Surface materials that react to heat, acidic foods or tend to absorb stains should be used sparingly in your kitchen if you want it to keep looking great. If you want the best of both worlds consider mixing materials. While marble for example, may not be a good choice around a sink where you are often cutting oranges and wiping off spaghetti sauce, it can still make a great surface for an eat-in island countertop or as the surface on a counter expressly used for baking.
The endless variety of textures and colors offered by ceramic tile make it a top choice for kitchen backsplashes. While the tiles themselves are impermeable, the grout that fills the spaces between tiles is permeable and can absorb stains and trap dirt. Cleaning grout lines regularly is part of keeping a ceramic tile backsplash looking great.
If dirt buildup and the hassle of constantly cleaning your tiles is a big concern, consider larger tiles and narrower grout lines. Larger tiles with thin grout lines stay clean longer and any dirt buildup in the grout line is much less noticeable.
Natural Stone Backsplashes
Stacked stone is a popular new choice for modern kitchen backsplashes. Dry stacked stone has a rustic appeal and lends an earthy charm to your kitchen. The roughhewn face of the stone looks great but can also collect a lot of dirt and grease in areas of your kitchen that see heavy use. If you don’t mind routine cleaning then it’s possible to keep a stacked stone backsplash looking great for years by regularly giving it a gentle scrub with a brush and pH neutral stone cleaner.
Natural stone tiles are also popular. They are often mixed with glass tiles in a mosaic pattern and are applied in interlocking sheets. Just as with ceramic, the space between tiles is filled with grout which can collect dirt and is more difficult to clean.
Natural Stone Slabs
The absence of grout lines means dirt doesn’t build up and can be easily wiped away. As with granite and marble countertops, regular sealing is recommended.
Locating your range on a kitchen island is a creative solution if you are concerned with the buildup of residue on your backsplash. You will have additional considerations such as running gas lines under the floor for a gas range and locating the hood over the range. With no backsplash to worry about spattering oil and bubbling sauces can be wiped up much more easily.