Coloured glass splashbacks produced for Wooden Heart Designers Guild in coastal retreat colour kitchen
Coloured glass splashbacks produced for Wooden Heart Designers Guild in coastal retreat colour kitchen

The best materials for a low-maintenance kitchen

We all want a kitchen that looks stylish and welcoming as well as fresh and clean, but no one wants to spend hours every day preserving that appearance. Many kitchen materials, however, do require a lot of maintenance that sometimes causes buyers’ remorse. Stainless steel worktops, for instance, are very hard to keep smear and scratch free. Marble is porous and stains very easily. Granite requires special products and much time polishing and buffing to keep it looking clean and shiny. And tiles have grout lines that attract all manner of dirt, grime and mould. If you have better things to do than clean your kitchen all day long, look for materials that are: smooth with no cracks, crevices or unevenness; stain and water repellent; scratch and heat resistant; solid and durable; and offer a variety of patterns and finishes that won’t show every speck of dirt. A solid glass splashback, for instance, would tick all these boxes…

Flooring

Look for materials that can be laid in a large expanse with no grout lines or gaps in between. Luxury vinyl, rubber, polished concrete or high quality laminate would all fit into this category. Vinyl and rubber have the added advantage of being quiet underfoot, plus they’re available in a huge variety of patterns and finishes so you’re bound to find something that works with the rest of the room. If possible, try to roll the edge of the flooring up to the kickboard in a curved shape so there’s no hard angle between the two – it’s dirtiest place in the kitchen!

Splashbacks

It’s no surprise that we’d recommend glass for your splashback material – and with good reason. A solid glass splashback is made to fit your space precisely, so there are no crevices for dirt to build up in. Every kind of food splatter or spill can be wiped off with a damp cloth in seconds, and the panel can be quickly and easily buffed to a good-as-new shine using a microfibre cloth. Glass can withstand acidic liquids and strong chemicals if these are accidentally spilt. Our glass is also toughened to ensure it’s shatter and heat resistant – so high temperatures and accidental impacts are no problem. Furthermore, a printed image or pattern will allow you to go a few days without wiping up – no one will be any the wiser!

Worktops

The kitchen counter is probably the most hardworking surface in your home. Luckily, there are plenty of options for an easy life. Engineered stone is one of the pricier choices but it’s designed to withstand constant use and is scratch and stain resistant. If your budget is a little tighter, laminate is a great option – it’s come a long way in recent years and now looks almost as good as stone. It’s very easy to wipe clean, very hard to stain and the wide variety of patterns on offer include flecked and speckled designs that hide dirt well. For something a little more unusual, zinc provides a professional, industrial look. Although it does react with water and acid, this ultimately results in an attractive patina that’s all part of its charm.

Cabinet doors

Steer away from fussy designs with an excess of moulded, beaded or bevelled detailing – the easiest doors to clean have a flat profile. Also try to limit the gaps between the doors, keeping everything as flush as possible. A high gloss finish is easy to wipe but may need a little buffing to keep it shiny and free of smears, while a slightly matt finish won’t show the dirt quite so readily. Painted wood is relatively easy to clean although it might require a little more elbow grease than a coated finish. Finally, the easiest doors to maintain are probably those made from a stained and sealed grainy wood – these are easy to wipe down and they hide a multitude of sins!

Hobs

An induction hob – essentially a smooth panel of glass ceramic – is super easy to keep pristine. As with the solid glass splashback above, there are no nooks and crannies for food to get caught in, or grim to build up in, so you can literally just spray, wipe, buff and go. Smart touch controls reduce the dirt still further – switches and knobs and the space around them are areas that quickly become dusty and greasy. And because the pan, rather than the hob itself, is heated, food doesn’t burn onto the surface so readily. If an induction hob isn’t an option, a flat electric ceramic hob is pretty low maintenance. Or, if you prefer cooking with gas, look for pan supports that are easy to remove and wash (preferably in the dishwasher!) on a smooth surface such as glass or enamel.

Sinks

Hygiene trumps appearance when it comes to sinks – you need your sink to actually be clean, not just look clean! Stainless steel is the classic sink material and it’s not hard to see why – it’s easy to wipe down, it’s stain and heat resistant, and can generally withstand tough scrubbing and strong cleaning agents (but always check the label) without causing any significant damage. It will probably get scratched but, as the sink is less visible than other surfaces, most people don’t mind too much. (A brushed or satin finish will limit the appearance of scratches.) Ceramic sinks are slightly more high maintenance than stainless steel but they’re still pretty easy to keep clean with the right products. Whichever sink you choose, try to have it undermounted – this limits the joins and gaps where debris and dirt collect and allows you to sweep spills and messes straight into the sink.

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