In our last post we looked at common materials for kitchen doors and the performance of each. Now, we’re going to be taking a deeper dive into a few of the more unusual (and expensive!) options on the market. A lot of these might not be to everyone’s taste, but can be added as striking accents to more conventional kitchen doors or provide a bold alternative to those looking to liven up their bespoke kitchen décor.
Valchromat is a coloured wood fibre panel that’s manufactured for high physical performance. Originally created as an alternative to MDF, Valchromat’s main difference is that its individual fibres are coloured throughout and chemically bonded by specifically developed resins that lend the panels their special properties and strength. Despite its attractive, grainy appearance, it’s completely smooth to the touch. It comes in a limited, but bold range of colours, which we love and use to create vibrant, modern designs.
Valchromat is, on average, 30% stronger than MDF with a much greater load resistance. It’s this strength that makes it ideal for projects requiring hard-wearing material such as counter tops, cabinets or kitchen doors. Whereas MDF would sometimes be unsuitable for these purposes due to bowing over a large span, Valchromat can be much more versatile.
The bold colouring of Valchromat is another advantage because, as well as looking great, it makes scratches more difficult to see. These defects can also be easily sanded out to bring the material back to a good state.
Nonetheless, the appearance of Valchromat might not be to everyone’s taste, especially since it’s limited to small number of standard shades. This engineered product also lacks the natural beauty of solid wood species such as birch or walnut.
Brass has a unique aesthetic that can vary depending on how you choose to treat it. Polished brass is shiny and sealed with a lacquer coating that won’t age or tarnish. This common finish is easy to incorporate into most kitchen designs and looks great alongside painted cabinets. However, like most shiny finishes, polished brass will show fingerprints and smudges and the lacquer can dull over time.
We prefer unlacquered brass however, which has a warm colour and a characterful “living finish” which means it’ll continue to develop a patina over time. This sort of brass requires a bit of patience and a willingness to live through the initial stages of patination when the brass may simply feel dirty! But the end result can be spectacular.
You can also apply a patina to the brass, by using cloths and chemicals to manufacture a beautiful pattern on the brass, which can either be left to patinate further, or preserved with lacquer.
Corian is a durable and easy to maintain non-porous composite material that comes in a wide range of different colours.
It’s simple to clean, stain resistant and scratches can be easily removed with fine sandpaper without marring the finish, which it makes it a great choice for kitchen doors which typically go through a lot of wear and tear. Also, due to the fact that it’s non-porous, the material is very hygienic and largely protected from mould, mildew and bacterial growth.
All these points make Corian an especially good fit for kitchen door applications, although it must be said the material not as durable as some other options which can be an issue, especially when it’s exposed to heat or sharp or heavy objects. It’s also considerably more expensive.
With the growing trend for more sustainably-minded products, Richlite stands out as a material that’s about as green as they come. This composite paper material is a lot more durable than might be assumed and can definitely be used for heavy duty applications like kitchen doors.
Richlite is one of several similar brands, each having their own blend of recycled and other materials that are then compressed and baked at high temperatures to create a robust and long-lasting product that’s harder than wood. Also compared to wood and many other materials, the non-porous Richlite is more hygienic and resistant to stains, although it does require a sealant.
Aesthetically, Richlite has quite limited design choices and the composite material does tend to darken over time, which is something you might want to take into consideration.
Stainless steel, or rather brushed stainless steel wrapped MDF doors, give a kitchen a really contemporary, industrial look that goes with many different designs and styles.
High-quality stainless steel is very hygienic and coordinates nicely with kitchen appliances such as stoves, sinks and dishwashers and has a very high resistance to heat and staining.
Although this is a strong and attractive material that requires minimal care, stainless steel does scratch and develops a fine patina of running scratches over time. Eventually, these scratches will soften and become less noticeable than when the material is new, but it’s still an issue for some. In addition, stainless steel does show fingerprints exceptionally easily, a definite downside for a kitchen door which is likely to be handled on a regular basis. A slightly more expensive alternative that doesn’t suffer this problem is aluminium.
Aluminium kitchen doors aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a contemporary design, this is a light-weight and versatile option to consider.
Aluminium doors are resilient, waterproof, easy to maintain and are less likely to warp or break than wooden doors. They also come in more colours than might be expected and can be made to fit with numerous colour schemes and interior styles.
Once an aluminium door is damaged or dented, however, (which is easier to do than you might think) it is impossible to repair without replacing the entire damaged section, so this perhaps isn’t the best choice if you have young kids who tend to throw things around. Aluminium doors can also be quite noisy, especially compared to wooden cabinets, although good installation can go towards limiting this.
Last but not least, glass. Glass doors can come either as a single framed panel or with a number of windows within the frame. The glass can be clear or frosted and can look great when paired with interior lighting within the cabinet or other glass accents throughout the kitchen.
These days, glass is toughened or laminated so that it’s able to withstand considerable force without breaking, and is actually one of the strongest materials there is. They can look really striking and are nice and easy to clean, which almost makes up for the fact that they’re one of the more expensive options – definitely a factor to consider!
Something else that’s worth considering is the fact that they let you (or your visitors) see into your cupboards. Even with frosted glass, shadows and outlines can still be seen. This isn’t a problem if the contents of your cupboards are well-ordered but, for some, arranging the inside cupboards attractively can be just another time-hungry hassle. It all depends on tastes!