Kitchen counter-top materials

Recommendation 140
Choose the right materials for kitchen tops and other work surfaces

Chapter (theme)
installations and appliances (kitchens)

Because of
sensory issues, executive functioning

In order to
work cleanly and pleasantly in the kitchen.

As explained in the theme ‘kitchens’, this space poses exceptionally high demands on many senses and also on bodily and cognitive functioning. Those with autism who respond well to these challenges are richly rewarded, those who don’t will experience considerable disadvantages in daily life because of it. For these reasons it is crucial that optimal conditions are created through building, interior design and the choice and use of machinery and materials which is at issue here.

Counter tops must meet high demands regarding durability and solidity. They ought to be fire and heat-resistant and firmly fixed. They also should be easy to clean and disinfected. The latter is a special point of attention for butcher blocks which should be scrubbed daily with a stiff (or wire) brush.

Another special demand is that kitchen counter tops should on the one hand be made out of hard materials, but on the other shouldn’t produce a hard click when glass or crockery is set on them. This is hard to bear for many on the spectrum.

Many surfaces such as tiles, stones, synthetic material with HPL-laminate are advised against for the last two reasons (cleaning, hard click). Granite and concrete are durable but do ‘click’.
An example of a surface which meets all demands are stainless steel tops with an embossed print. These are afordable and most practical in use, contrary to HPL which leaves irremovable stains when hot pans are put on it.

For cutting, apart from a butcher block, plastic cutting boards can be used, which come in different colors, in case one wants to use seperate ones for different products such as fish, meat and vegetables.
high demands

Much of this was learned from Ahrentzen, S. & Steele, K. (2010). Advancing Full Spectrum Housing: Designing for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Board of Regents. PDF and Brand, Andrew Living in the Community Housing Design for Adults with Autism, London, Helen Hamlyn Centre, the Royal College of Art, 2010. PDF