22 MAY 2023

Kitchen worktops: when limits do not exist

Materials, thicknesses, colours, functionality, aesthetics, textures. Even the worktops boast their own precise personality. From the warmth of wood to the coolness of steel and natural or composite stone, from important and decisive thicknesses to dematerialized surfaces, playful volumes or continuous surfaces with integrated multifunctional areas.

TM Italia | Cucina design con isola con top in pietra, design T30 Air

Worktop materials

When designing a kitchen space, the choice of worktop is one of the most important aspects. Unlike the doors, the worktop comes into daily contact with food and performs different functions in the preparation of food, resulting in the need for its higher technical characteristics and resistance.

At the same time it must maintain the aesthetic continuity of the whole environment. While choosing the right material, therefore, two concepts coexist: that of experience (aesthetics, tactility) and that of performance.

Natural materials such as stones, marbles and metals favour the experiential sphere, while synthetic materials and solid surfaces often boast unparalleled technical characteristics.


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Worktop in marble, stone or granite

Among the natural materials suitable for worktops are marble, natural stone and composite stones such as quartz and granite. Marble and natural stones undoubtedly have their charm due to their exquisite uniqueness: no two stone worktops will ever be the same because the natural material that is extracted changes from slab to slab in terms of nuance and grain.

Among stones and marbles we find the most decisive textures, ranging from strong contrasts to soft ton-sur-ton with a more homogeneous surface. The naturalness of these materials requires a little more care due to their porosity and the particular molecular structure, which makes them vulnerable to aggressive chemicals or acid/greasy substances contained in foods.

To diminish the possibility of these natural materials from being stained,  waterproofing treatments and micro-surface processing can be applied. For greater aesthetic continuity, the sink can also be assembled in stone, thus achieving a perfect combination of function and attention to detail. Among the natural stones we also find granite, of volcanic origin, which is more resistant to both heat and abrasion.


Worktops in quartz

Quartz has physical-mechanical properties that combine naturalness with resistance and it is among the hardest minerals in the world. Quartz worktops contain about 10% resins, so they are not porous and do not need to be waterproofed.

Thanks to these characteristics, quartz resists practically everything: liquids, commonly used chemicals, heat, pressure. However, it is recommended to use a trivet to reduce the risk of discoloration or heat stress.

TM Italia | Cucine con piano di lavoro in pietra

Synthetic work plans: Stoneware, Solid Surface, High Pressure Laminate

These materials have a broad spectrum of surface finishes and colours, ranging from natural feel to more technical aesthetics. The aspect that most distinguishes synthetic materials is their performance: being specially formulated and produced by man to overcome the technical limits of natural materials, their characteristics are often incomparable.

Stoneware materials includes all the surfaces made by ceramic sintering of various mineral powders and resins, from which stable materials are obtained that are very similar to stones but decidedly more resistant to chemicals, heat and abrasion.

These surfaces, due to their mechanical characteristics, are also often difficult to work with and should not be understood as a low-cost alternative to stone or marble, but as a technical material with a precise identity.

Polished or matt finishes can create very different effects of the same material. For stoneware kitchens, TM Italia offers 14 versions of the material ranging from absolute white and solid colours to versions that reproduce the veins of stone such as Nero Greco or Verde Alpi stoneware.

Solid Surfaces are surfaces obtained from the mixture of polymers and mineral fillers, to generate resilient, ductile, resistant materials with great tactile characteristics. One of the progenitors is Corian®, which has a very warm feeling and a super-matt finish.

Although it is not as resistant to abrasion as stoneware, this material can be restored with a particular treatment on site (without disassembling or replacing the worktop) which restores its original state.


Cucine con piano di lavoro in gres e Corian | TM Italia

HPL stratified laminate consists of numerous layers of paper impregnated with thermosetting resins and compacted through the combined action of heat and high pressure.

The last surface layer is decorated to obtain a huge variety of effects and is stabilized by means of a transparent melamine film.

The result is a material that is resistant to chemicals, stains and abrasions. Its production process makes it less expensive than stoneware or solid surfaces, nevertheless, it has respectable technical characteristics.

It is easy to clean but being sensitive to heat, it is not recommended to subject it to direct contact with hot objects. From the aesthetic point of view, different patterns can be reproduced, ranging from textile inspiration, to wood-ish patterns or homogeneous flat colours.

In TM Italia’s proposal we find 21 different HPL laminates which vary from solid colours of white, dove gray and gray, reproductions of oak and elm or imitations of concrete, stone or slate.

Fenix® is a particular layered laminate made up of new generation acrylic resins which are subjected to nanotechnological applications to improve their hardness and stability.

The result is a 1 mm thick material that is super opaque, anti-fingerprint and soft to the touch. Fenix kitchens are resistant to abrasion, scratches, dry heat and commonly used chemicals.

It can be regenerated from any superficial micro-scratches through a thermal action. It is water repellent, hygienic and suitable for getting in contact with food.

This material, like all laminates, can be used for both doors and worktops, allowing aesthetic continuity between the surfaces. TM Italia offers 11 standard Fenix finishes from Alaska White, through beige and gray tones, metallic nuances, up to black.

Cucina con isola in Fenix, design T45Evo&D90 | TM Italia

Stainless steel: chef-approved worktops

It is no coincidence that all professional kitchens have worktops in stainless steel. It is undoubtedly the most hygienic material, easy to clean and suitable for contact with food. It does not absorb odors and can be sanitized very quickly.

It is heat and stain resistant, requires little maintenance and is 100% recyclable. However, it can be vulnerable to abrasion: a disadvantage for perfectionists but a plus for those who love the kitchen environment with a lived-in charm. TM Italia offers steel in three different finishes: satin, opaque and circular brushed.

Cucina con piano in Acciaio inox | TM Italia

Worktop in Ecomalta

This particular resin is created by mixing natural oils with various minerals or pigments. The result is an environmentally friendly material, made up of 40% inert materials from certified recycling, which allows for the creation of continuous surfaces without joints.

The application of the material is manual and the result will therefore be appealingly unique. Ecomalta boasts excellent resistance, possibility of restoration, low maintenance requirements.

Being a product based on natural components, it suffers heat and aggressive chemical substances. It is therefore advisable to remove them promptly. Surface effects can be similar to fabric, leather, concrete or architectural materials.

The colours can be customized with great freedom or produced on request. To sum up, this completely recyclable material represents an innovative, conscious and modern choice.



Types of worktops

The worktop has thicknesses and geometries that can vary according to the combination with the door. The simplest and most versatile is the one with straight edge where the worktop is cut at 90° leaving the edges slightly rounded so as not to create sharp points. This kind of edge can be made in any material used for worktops.

The worktop with “sbattentato” edge seen from the front is always cut at 90° but has a particular profile that embraces the door by hiding part of the thickness: this allows you to create edges that appear thinner and create a more balanced design especially when using materials such as stones and marbles that require significant thicknesses. It can be done on laminate, quartz, marble, stone and granite, steel, eco-mortar and Corian® tops.

The “EVO” top has a 45° inclined edge which joins with the door, creating aesthetic continuity and the illusion of a thin and elegant worktop. The “AIR” solution has a 30° tapered edge that protrudes from the door and gives an idea of extreme lightness, particularly striking on materials such as stone or marble. The space between the sloping worktop and the doors allows them to open. This type of worktop can be made in marble, stone, granite, quartz, steel, ecomalta or Corian®.

The “PLUS” worktops have raised edges which perform a safety function and create very distinctive aesthetics. The geometry of the edge allows liquids and food residues to be kept on the surface, avoiding their deposit on doors or cavity walls. This type of worktop is applied to the D90+ model and to the Miuccia, but it can also be supplied on request to other kitchen models.

Particolari piani di lavoro

TM Italia allows you to choose variable thicknesses for the worktop, between 4 and 80 mm, based on the material used. Different types of worktops can coexist in the same kitchen, such as for example in the kitchen project with an island divided into three parts distinguished by function (cleaning, cooking, worktop), material (travertine, Corian®, beech wood) and top (Plus, Evo, straight edge) and in addition the part of the tall units has been set up with a pull-out worktop in stainless steel.


Kitchen worktop with snack top

The kitchen is increasingly becoming a place of relationship no longer confined solely to the function of preparing food. An additional surface is increasingly required for moments of family conviviality.

Basically, there are two approaches to creating the snack top: the first  concerns the extension of the worktop with respect to the base, creating a space for legs (usually usable with stools); the second instead provides for a cantilevered snack top added to the main worktop.

While the first solution stands out for its aesthetic continuity and visual essentiality, the second allows for great variability in the choice of materials and geometry, which can range from a small additional worktop added to the island accompanied by stools, up to adding bigger surface (usually supported by special legs) that can be combined with chairs and fully replace the dining table.

The cantilevered snack top can be fixed (made to rest on the main top) or it can be equipped with a manual or electro-assisted sliding mechanism. In this case the space is more versatile: the snack top can slide to expand the available surface or it can be closed when not in use. The snack tops  can be made in all available materials, including glass and wood.


Cucine con isola e piano snack | TM Italia

Accessories, appliances and home automation for worktops

The worktop is a multifunctional element of the kitchen. Differentiated and specialized areas can be foreseen in the composition, or a single worktop can aggregate all the functions: cooking, cleaning and work space. This also depends on the layout and configuration of the kitchen space.

A linear kitchen usually features a multifunctional worktop, while a kitchen with an island can have more than one, resulting in functional specialization. In addition to the traditional visible worktop, there are also auxiliary operating spaces hidden behind the retractable doors, or compartments equipped with a pull-out stainless steel worktop.

There are different types of sinks which differ in their material and installation in relation to the worktop. We distinguish integrated/assembled sinks, made of the same material as the worktop and applied (usually in steel) which can be installed flush-mounted – with the edge flush with the worktop (recommended for stoneware worktops) or under-mounted when the sink is installed under the worktop (available for stone, marble, quartz, granite or Solid Surface worktops such as Corian®).

Even the hobs can be installed flush-mounted without having any type of protrusion, or they can be mounted on the worktop. There are also gas hobs with burners installed individually on the worktop: in this case there is no “frame” and the metal elements integrate perfectly with the worktop.

This system, used in the Petra 18 kitchen, is called PITT Cooking. Even the stoneware hobs allow the integration of cooking with a low visual impact, through invisible induction systems available for some types of material: in this case the surface remains continuous and the technology is located under the worktop.

Due to precise properties of the ceramic material, the magnetic impulses reach the pots without any alteration compared to the flush-mount hobs. Examples in the Rua model and in the kitchen with island project in Rome.

The worktop can also house air extractors and air purificators, which can be integrated into some hobs or be independent. This solution is very effective because the suction area is very close to the source of steam/odours. Downdraft worktop extractors can pop-up vertically when needed and return back to the worktop again, leaving the surface continuous, when not in use.

The worktops can be set up with home automation systems that allow for the vertical extraction of appliances or pantries. Equipped pantries, wine coolers, coffee machines, ovens or screens that appear when necessary with a simple voice command, remote controls or buttons. With some materials, such as stoneware and Corian®, it is also possible to insert induction charging.

The worktop can be also equipped with perimeter LED strip lighting which creates a suggestive visual lightness as in the kitchen project in Tel Aviv.

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