The kitchen could be possibly classed as the most volatile environment in your home. Between running water, blasts of hot air from your oven, and appliances quietly emanating heat, it’s quite possibly the last place you’d want to keep a material which can dry out and warp, costing you hundreds if not thousands of pounds.
There are of course, ways to protect against many of these hazards, and in this short article, we will explore what should be done to protect your new worktops and ensure they thrive in their new home.
Any appliance in your kitchen could be considered a heat source, and the extent of this can depend on all kinds of criteria, such as type of appliance, brand, efficiency, usage and location. A none exhaustive list could include:-
While we’re not advocating cutting all appliances out of your life to protect your new worktops, it’s worth considering that any appliance you use in your kitchen could cause expansion or contraction in your worktops. Obviously some on this list will have more of an impact than others, but it is important to be aware that each of these, however unlikely, may add to a cumulative effect. Any changes in the humidity or temperature either across the room or localised (e.g. directly under or above an appliance) could cause some worktops to flex and bow.
Humidity & Moisture
While we’re all familiar how wood can rot if left in the rain for months on end, it’s hard to picture how this can also apply to treated worksurfaces kept indoors, but the concept is the same. Wood, Apollo Compact and Solid Surface worktops can all be affected by prolonged or repeated exposure to localised moisture (or aridity).
Dishwashers are a constant source of steam, which both provides heat and moisture which could be absorbed by your worktop. As this usually only affects the underside, it can also affect Solid surface materials such as Corian & Apollo Magna, which are backed by a wood composite core. In this circumstance, moisture is absorbed, adding mass to the underside and the heat can cause the worktop to expand. If this is localised (i.e just on the underside of the worktop) it could cause the worktop to bow in an cupped, convex manner.
Aga cookers have the opposite impact. As the heat they produce is very dry, this causes local moisture to be lost. If this were to affect just the underside of a worktop, the moisture lost could cause concave bowing in an arched manner.
Taps are a more obvious source of moisture, and should not affect solid surface worktops – which are completely none porous. While Apollo Compact and Wood are generally fairly resistant – it’s still worth considering that should moisture be absorbed one one face more than another for prolonged, this could cause warping. Those with solid surfaces for the same reasons should be careful about water which drips underneath the surface. This is one of the reasons that Apollo Magna has a downturn of solid surface material that continues to the underside.
Any worktops we supply can expand as much as 1mm per metre of worktop through thermal expansion. The simple explanation for this is that at higher temperatures, the molecules which make up the material have more energy, and thus take up more space.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider whether heat is dispersed evenly or unevenly across the length of your material. If certain sections of your worktop experience more expansion than others, this could put the material under strain.
To protect your surfaces, particularly for Solid Surface and Wood; we recommend using a heat seal sheet to protect the underside of your worktops. As well as this, we also recommend using Heat reflective tape for Apollo Compact hob cutouts too. This protects your worktop where it is most vulnerable.
Temperature & Storage
While the issues discussed so far are related to considerations during use, problems can sometimes occur before worktops are even installed. Particularly for Modular products, which will often be delivered days or even weeks before they installed, it is crucial to consider where they will be stored and how.
Before an installation, worktops should be stored correctly. This means laid flat, ideally in the room in which they will be installed, and separated by four equal battens. This allows the worktops to acclimatise to the local environment. Worktops should never be left leaning against a wall, as this creates tension which may contribute to the chance of bowing.
Worktops should not be stored in vacant properties. This is because vacant properties are more inconsistent in terms of environmental conditions, alternating from cool nights to warm days. In addition, they have poorer air circulation compared to an active property. These factors together could cause uneven flexing and bowing of your surfaces.
For full guidance on modular storage, download our Modular products storage guide.