All About Kitchen Countertops & Benchtops in Auckland Kitchen Cabinet Making Market:
- Engineered Stone (check the wiki link if you want to know about it) is a composite slab stone made up of approximately 90% crushed Quartz stone bound together by a polymer resin. It may also have other materials like colored glass, shells, metals, or mirrors added for aesthetic reasons. It can be used in all the same places as other slab stones like Granite and Marble, but is primarily chosen for kitchen and bathroom counter tops.
Engineered Stone products are gaining in popularity and are sometimes preferred over natural stone products because this man made version of slab stone is more resilient. Compared to unsealed granite, it has better resistance to stains as it is completely non-porous. This means that liquids spilled on the surface are not able to soak into the stone, therefore in most cases can be removed with a recommended surface cleaner. These non-porous properties also make it a more hygienic choice for public wet areas. Engineered Stone is also typically more uniform in structure than natural stones, adding superior strength to its core values. Don’t be misled, however by thin laminate stone over MDF or wooden benchtops, ask for solid, 100% stone for luxury that will last. There are several ranges of Composite Stone available, in varying contemporary and elegant shades to compliment your Interior Design.
✩ Whether it is Primestone, Caesarstone, Silestone or another Engineered Stone you have seen and love; with very special care and unsurpassed attention to detail, we would love to turn it into your dream stone surface.
- Granite is the most popular natural stone and countertop material due to its versatility and superior performance characteristics. Granite is the second hardest stone known to man. It is believed to have been formed as long as 300 million years ago. It polishes beautifully, will not fade and is almost maintenance free. It is easy to clean and is one of the most beautiful countertop materials available on the market today. It can withstand extremely high temperatures and when properly installed it is virtually indestructible. So if beauty, durability, value, ease of care and safety are important factors in your buying decision, welcome to the world of Granite.
Granite is composed primarily of feldspar, quartz, and mica. It may also contain hints of muscovite, biotite, hornblende, and pyroxene and other minerals. These minerals are what give it its various colors. Granite is drilled and blasted from the quarry in large blocks, cut into slabs by a gang saw, and polished to uniform thickness by automatic polishing machines. It is cut and fabricated into countertops using diamond saw blades and bits; Granite (wiki).
✩Granite Selections: Black Range, Brown & Red Range, Cream & Gold Range, Green Range, Grey & Blue Range, White Range
- Marble countertops are some of the most beautiful stone countertops in the world. The stone used for marble countertops is extracted from a limited number of quarries around the world and the process for turning the stone into a viable countertop material takes precision and skill to retain the natural beauty of the stone.
One of the biggest benefits to choosing a marble countertop for the home is the natural beauty of the stone. Marble is considered to be one of the most attractive building materials in the world, used throughout the ages in palaces, castles, and mansions and recently being added to our family homes. Although the price of a marble countertop is still considered to be one of the most expensive countertop materials on the market today, the price of marble slabs have actually become more affordable in price over the years.
Marble is one of the most elegant and luxurious of stones. Marble’s beauty will last for generations. It is versatile enough for use throughout the house, such as fireplace facings, ornamental furnishings, walls and window sills. The natural depth and character cannot be matched by any man-made surface. For the ultimate elegance and luxury, choose Marble.
✩Marble Selections: Bianco Carrara, Emperador, Beige Serpente, Arabescato Marble
It’s no accident that plastic laminate counter tops have adorned kitchen cabinets for more than half a century. Plastic laminate is a tough, affordable material that, when applied to particleboard, medium-density fiber-board MDF or plywood underlayment, is ideal for kitchens and other wet areas. You can order custom-made counters from many retailers. You’ll be able to choose from various nosing styles, built-in backsplashes and a tremendous selection of colors. Skip the matching backsplash if you’re planning a tile backsplash. Use sample chips to test the durability of colors you like. Attack the samples with sand-paper and a knife to see how easily they scratch.
- Screw build-up strips to your cabinet tops at the ends, over joints and at least every 45cm. You can skip buildup if you have a sufficient amount of face frame exposed above the drawer face’s top edge.
- Temporarily bolt together mitered corner pieces from below with miter bolts and an open-end wrench. Make sure miter is flush on top as you tighten. With bolts tight, slide counter into corner and check its fit along the wall.
- Open compass ascribing tool to the width of the widest gap between counter and wall. Scribe entire length of each countertop on each wall. Carefully pull out counters and trim to your scribe line using a belt sander with 80-grit paper.
- Following your new sink’s instructions, mark sink cutout on top of counter. From above, drill holes to mark corners. Flip counter, mark cutout and cut hole. To avoid damaging laminate, support cutout until cut is complete.
- Trim end of counter top, if necessary. First, apply masking tape and mark cutoff line. Cut slightly outside cutoff line and then belt sand to line. Carefully cutting from the back side with a circular saw also works well.
- Cut and glue end caps for trimmed ends. Use a fine mill file to fine-tune end cap so it conforms to countertop shape. Use half-round file for inside corners.
- Take apart miter joint. Squeeze a bead of colored silicone onto each mitered edge. Join miters together as before, making sure surfaces are flush as you tighten the bolts.
- Attach countertop to cabinet sides using L-brackets and short screws. If counters lie flat on the cabi-nets, you can sil-icone counters to cabinets.
How to select the right countertop for your kitchen?
Select a countertop you can live with and enjoy for a long time. Texture, cost, glossiness, color, how natural the material looks and feels and how it fits in with your kitchen design and home are all part of the equation. Explore the idea of mixing materials—a laminate top with a tile backsplash, a laminate top with a solid-surface nosing or a granite island top with solid-surface work areas for other countertops.
Countertop material, installability and it’s cleanability are three key factors you need to consider before you decide which type to go with your kitchen. In terms of installation, edge installs are simple; surface installs are hard to blend. When it comes to counter top installation, Icon Kitchens has summarized a list of installation and maintenance practices to make sure it is installed once and correct.
- Granite is difficult to install, but rarely needs installing, light damage can be sanded out.
- Sharp knives, abrasive cleaners, hot pans, water in seams, cutting, severe impact and hot pans can pop seams and discolor surface.
- Damage can be sanded; wood must be resealed.
- Severe impact. Grout is subject to stains.
- Applying quality penetrating sealer annually.
- Re-sanding and sealing every 5 to 7 years.
- Resealing tops with oil-basal, or special wood countertop, finish as needed.
- Seams are more easy to clean, temporarily shows depending on water marks, seams are visible and must be very well sealed.
- Keeping grout lines sealed.
- Mend a chipped or broken countertop before water increases the damage. Alway cut through laminate with a sharp utility knife to create a clean edge.
- Scrape off old adhesive, apply contact cement to exposed under layment and patch wiht cement dry but slightly tacky, apply the patch.
- File new patch to the contour of the countertop edge; file at a slight angle to avoid scratching the countertop.
- Disguise the joint with special laminate seam filler. Seam filler can also be used to fill small dings, dents and seams.
Maintenance on most countertops is minimal, but fail to do it and costly damage can occur. Preventive daily maintenance includes mopping up spills, using hot pads and working on cutting hoards. Long-term maintenance involves caulking, sealing and cormtertop finish touch up.
It is different in character in that the main feature is shaped. The ellipse has to be cut out, and it is necessary to support the veneer between two pieces of material such as thin plywood. Thin plastic would probably do just as well. The whole idea is to support the veneer so that it does not crack. If two balanced panels are needed both pieces of veneer can be sandwiched. Set out the ellipse on paper by the pin and thread method and leave in the axes marks. These marks should be transferred to the veneers enabling them to be accurately positioned. The outline is sawn round with a fretsaw and the shape trued with file and glass paper held on a flat block. When accurate the ellipse is fitted down on to the paper pattern and the ‘quarters’ fitted up to it. The four can be fixed together as a packet with thin ply facing and backing, and the shape cut. The elliptical template already cut out can be used for marking.
It sometimes happens that an ebony or boxwood line has to be fitted around the ellipse. This is fitted after the latter is in position. A light smear of glue is put on the edges, the line bent round and held with occasional veneer pins. The joint is spliced. Afterwards the quarters are fitted up. As the inlay is invariably thicker than the veneer, it is necessary to reduce it after it is in position before the whole veneer is laid. Otherwise the caul will press on to the inlay without touching the main veneer. A block plane set fine and used with care can be employed. It is as well when laying the veneer with the caul to interpose several sheets of newspaper so that any inequality is taken up.
Another method sometimes followed is to cut a template of the ellipse in ply and cut through both quartering and center ellipse in one operation. Triangular veneers assembled and assembling design with center ellipse. In this case the quartering is fitted to the design-first, the inner edges projecting over the ellipse. The veneer for the ellipse is marked with the template and cut away about 10mm full all round. After being placed in position the template is placed above and held down with cramps. A cut is then made around the edge with an extremely thin, keen knife. The waste pieces are re-moved and the parts fitted together and held with gummed tape. It is, of course, essential to retain the lines of the axes so that the template can be positioned accurately. When a cross banding is to be fitted around the edge. it is often an advantage to add it after the main portion has been laid. It ensures that the cross-banding is of equal width all round, since the cutting gauge can be used to cut the veneer, this being used from the edge of the panel. This is especially advantageous when the banding is narrow, as any variation in width would show badly.
This consists of a double layer of veneer at each side. The inner veneers can be of a plain kind, and the grain is at right angles with that to the ground-work. Face veneers are at right angles with those beneath—that is, in the same direction as the groundwork. When the hammer is used, put the inner veneers down immediately one after the other, and allow to harden before face veneers are laid, again one immediately after the other.
You can tile countertops, too
Whether you’ve chosen ceramic, marble or granite tile, the steps for installing a tile countertop remain basically the same. Here we’ll focus on granite, one of those natural products that will be as stylish 50 years from now as it is today. Although granite was once only accessible as large slabs affordable to those with equally large budgets, the huge selection of affordable granite tiles now available makes an extraordinary coun-tertop a reachable dream for anyone doing kitchen remodeling.
Although it might seem intimidating to work with stone, it’s no more difficult to use than manufactured tiles. You can’t score and snap it like ceramic tile, but it cuts easily using any wet saw equipped with a diamond blade. When granite is installed, the biggest problem you’re likely to have with it is being able to spot the messes and spills that need cleaning up.
Tile Countertop Materials and Tools
To calculate the number of 12 x 12-in. tiles you need, multiply the lineal footage of a standard-width countertop by 2.5 ft. Add as many tiles as you need to cover wider peninsulas or islands and subtract for cooktops, stoves and sinks. Add 10 percent to the total to allow for breakage, miscuts and bad tile. In addi tion to the tile, you’ll need thin set mortar, grout and color-matching caulk for inside corners, polished-granite sealer, a plywood or IVIDF base, tile backer under layment, fiberglass joint tape and tiling tools, including a wet saw.
A solid installation requires three layers: a solid base firmly attached to the cabinets, a tile backer underlay-merit and the tile surface. Glue the layers together with thin-set mortar.
Tile has many virtues. It’s affordable, do-it-yourself friendly, available in an astounding variety of materials and colors and offers design flexibility. Some drawbacks are that its piece-meal nature means some surface unevenness is inevitable and the grout lines are vulnerable to staining. Not all tiles are created equal. Granite, porce-lain and glazed tiles are the least porous and are quite durable. Marble, unglazed clay or limestone tiles are more porous, softer and usually not recommended for kitchens. Here are some other points to consider before you buy:
- High-gloss and solid-color tiles tend to show scratches.
- Create a flatter surface by choosing a flat tile instead of one that has a slight pillow effect.
- Use larger tiles with straight edges, instead of wavy edges, to reduce the number and width of grout lines. Grout lines are prone to staining unless they are well sealed and maintained.
- Back splash tiles are fess subject to abuse and thus open to more options than the surface tile.
Preparing the Substrate
Completely strip the old countertop from your cab-inets. Create a new substrate for the tile top with a base of firmly supported plywood and a suitable tile backer under layment.
- Install support cleats along unsupported back edges. Cut plywood base and screw it to cabinet tops. Cut out sink based on manufacturer-supplied instructions. Use polyurethane to seal exposed plywood edges on sink cutouts and next to appliances.
- Set tile backer underlayment on base and mark cut lines from underneath with black marker or carpenter’s pencil. Make sink cutouts using a jigsaw and straight cuts using a scoring tool or knife.
- Adhere tile backer to base with a thin layer of thin-set mortar and with cement-board screws. Cut tile backer for counter nosing and attach with galvanized roofing nails. Seal underlayment seams with fiberglass joint tape and mortar.
Laying the Tile
Installing tile on a counter top is essentially the same as tiling a floor, but with a little less stooping and bending. The following instructions show how to add a decorative border and nosing to complement the surface or field tile.
- Mark layout lines for tiling, planning for the border. Then pre cut some field tiles to dry-fit a section. Tile the top in workable sections. Spread mortar with a notched trowel, leaving layout lines exposed. Then set the tile.
- Cut webbed backing to separate strips of decorative trim tiles. Install the trim tiles, making sure they sit flat in the mortar. Leave space for a grout line between the field tile and nosing tile.
- Clamp straight 2x2s to the face frame to support nosing tile. Adhere nosing with thin-set mortar. Apply mortar to the back of tile instead of nosing underlayment. Use spacers to bring nosing flush with surface.
Applying Sealers and Grout
Seal the stone before grouting. The sealer penetrates the stone and prevents grout pigments from being absorbed into its surface. Choose a water-based sealer if you want to retain the stone’s natural color; oil-based for a deeper color.
- Coat the stones face with sealer. Roll out the flat areas and brush any contoured edges. Apply two coats for extra insurance and let dry between coats.
- Mix grout to toothpaste like consistency with grout additive, unless otherwise instructed. Push grout into joints using a grout float. Work in manageable sections and keep grout out of inside corners.
- Wipe excess grout from tile with a dense grout sponge. Wash sponge frequently and thoroughly. Wring sponge out dry before wiping tile. Several passes are necessary to clean grout from tile. Seal grout lines and caulk inside corners with color-matched caulk.
Yes, many people call it benchtop too. The notion that quality begins with planning and preparation is closer to the truth for tiling than for most home-improvement projects. Perhaps that’s because tile and stone embody a sense of permanence that’s hard to match. The planning involves substrate, grout-line width, layout lines and design. Designing is a challenge because the choices are infinite when considering tile type, size, color and layout. Carefully plan your project on paper by making a map of the space, including fixtures, cabinets and doors. Make multiple copies of the map and experiment with layouts, tile sizes, borders and colors. Include grout lines in the drawings and color in the tiles.
Planning and Installation Tips
- When you’ve determined your final design, draw over chalk or pencil layout lines on the floor with a black permanent marker. That way, layout lines will show through if they’re covered with adhesive.
- Dry-fit your file layout, especially on diagonal installations. Use layout lines to place a few full tiles and work toward the pieces to be cut. Once the fit is assured, apply adhesive to the grid and install the tile.
- Except for self-spacing wall tile, most tiles have slight size variations that make cross-shaped spacers difficult to use. For wall installations, however, plastic wedge-shaped spacers are necessary to keep tiles aligned and in place.
- Clear out adhesive that squeezes up between tiles with a small putty knife. For dried adhesive, use a linoleum knife or narrow, flat-bladed screwdriver.
- If you’re down to a small area where you can’t use the notched trowel, butter the back of each tile instead of the substrate before installation.
- Don’t use white, or even light, grout in heavy-use areas. Even with a grout sealer, you’ll be inviting a maintenance headache.
- After the initial grout cleaning with a sponge, you’ll have a heavy grout haze. For the second cleaning, use a damp, smooth cotton cloth T-shirt material folded into a square pad. Avoid digging into the grout lines while you work.
The most common natural stones available in New Zealand market in tile form are granite, marble, limestone and slate. Of these, granite is the hardest and most durable; however, any natural stone in a heavy-use area, like a foyer, will require maintenance. Granite and marble are usually polished; limestone, slate and tumbled marble are sold with a more natural surface. Voids and pits axe normally filled in polished marble but left open in limestone. Slate files may vary in thickness because the pieces are fractured across the face rather than cut.
Adhesives, Grouts and Sealers
- Adhesives. Thin-set mortar, a cement-based powder, is the adhesive of choice for most tiling jobs. Available, commonly, in gray or in white, for use with lighter grouts and marble, some thin-set adhesives are poly-mer-modified or latex-fortified for added strength and flexibility; however, a compatible liquid additive is available for most. Pay attention to the set time, some thin-set mortars are very fast setting, and if installing natural stone, make sure thin-set is suitable. Another option is a premixed latex mastic. Mastics work well for walls in dry areas. They’re convenient and offer better slip resistance when installing smaller tiles, but they are much slower drying and don’t have the strength of thin-set mortars.
- Grouts. Grout is a cement-based powder that’s mixed with water or latex additive. Some grouts are already polymer-modified, and others can be mixed with additive in place of water. These addi-tives strengthen grout, making it more resistant to water, shrink age and cracking. Buy unsanded grout for joints 3mm wide or less and for use with polished marble. Sanded grout works best for wider joints.
- Sealers. Unglazed tile, stone and grout all require a sealer. Either water-based or solvent based, some sealers penetrate, soaking into the material, and some are topical, form-ing a surface coating. Water-based sealers are expensive but tend to be invisible, retaining the orig-inal color of the grout or stone. Solvent-based seal-ers can sometimes darken the surface.
- Manufactured tile includes any tile, whether machine or handmade, that is baked or dried. The tiles may be glazed or unglazed and vary with respect to wear rating and porosity. Wear rating refers to a tile’s durability and porosity may affect its suitability for use in wet areas or outdoors. Ceramic is a general term refer-ring to most manufactured tile; porcelain refers to impervious ceramic tiles, which have the lowest possible absorption rating.
Some cutting is involved with nearly every tiling job. If you have just a few tiles to cut, some specialty tile stores will cut them for you at a reasonable price. For larger projects, it’s much more convenient to rent or buy the tools for doing the job yourself.
- Straight cuts. Snap cutters are excel-lent for cutting straight lines in most glazed floor and wall tiles. Depending on the tile, snap cutters make clean diago-nal cuts for installations or decorative inlays. They work best for making cuts of 2.5 cm or more. To make very narrow cuts, or for cutting thick tile or stone, you may need a wet saw. An inexpensive wet saw will meet the needs of most do-it-yourselfers. Larger, higher-grade wet saws can also be rented.
- Angles and miters. Most wet saws allow you to miter, or bevel cut, up to 45 degrees. Use these on outside cor-ners when installing tile base, wain-scoting or decorative trim. Bevel cut a long edge to avoid exposed edges if the tile wraps around an outside corner.
- Curves. For the most part, when you need to cut a curve or hole in tile, it doesn’t need to be pretty. Decorative faucet and fixture plates usually cover the hole’s edges. Cut the curves around valves and toilet flanges by making a series of relief cuts with a wet saw and using a tile nipper to snap off the waste.
- Holes. Use a ceramic-tile hole saw for small holes, keeping the bit wet as you drill. For odd shapes, larger holes and electrical outlets, use a glass/tile bit to drill closely spaced holes around the perimeter.
- A snap cutter is essentially a guided glass cutter equipped with a measuring gauge, a foam pad and breaker arm for snapping tile.
Wet saws cut any tile, ceramic, stone or concrete, using a diamond-coated blade that spins through a tub of water to keep cool. Tile nippers nibble away small bits of tile to create curves, like those around tub or shower valves.
Grouting Basics Grout fills the spaces between tiles, making the wall watertight and more attractive. Mix grout thoroughly until it has a uniform color and a toothpaste consistency. If necessary, use additive in place of water. Allow grout to sit, or slake, for 10 minutes and then remix before using it.
Don’t grout inside corners or where tile meets another material. Instead, use a high-quality latex sealant or silicone, the same color as the grout, to seal these gaps. If you’re installing unglazed tile or unsealed stone, seal the tile before grout-ing. The sealer acts as a grout release and keeps the grout from staining the tile.
- Working one area at a time, use a float to distribute the grout and push it into all joints. Holding the float at an angle, scrape away excess grout.
- Allow grout to firm up, then remove excess grout and shape grout lines with damp sponge. Use circular motion and clean sponge frequently. This may take several passes.
- After the grout dries, polish off any remaining grout haze with dry cheesecloth. Apply grout sealer after grout has cured for a week.
- Wear rubber gloves while grouting. Cement-based products can cause an alkali burn.
- After initial cleaning with sponge but before polishing, clean heavy haze with a damp, smooth cotton cloth, such as a T-shirt.
- If you have large tiles with wide grout lines, use a grout bag with a spout to squeeze the grout directly into the joints.
- If the grout hardens before you have a chance to remove it, clean it off with one of the specialty grout removers available
Standard melamine kitchen doors and panels (particle board)
Standard melamine kitchen doors and panels (MDF)
Thermoformed kitchen doors and panels
High Gloss Acrylic kitchen doors and panels