What Are Fenix Worktops? – The Self-Healing Countertop
I was first introduced to Fenix about 7 years ago (back in 2016) while working for an independent kitchen design company in London. We specialised in a particular brand of contemporary Italian kitchens called Doimo Cucine and they used this innovative material for a variety of applications, including kitchen worktops.
But what exactly are Fenix worktops, and why do they keep popping up in the world of kitchen design?
In this post, I’ll explain what Fenix worktops are, their pros and cons and answer some common questions about the topic.
Let’s get into it!
What Are Fenix Worktops?
Fenix worktops are high-quality surfaces designed for kitchens and other applications. Produced by Italian manufacturer Arpa Industriale, Fenix worktops are developed through advanced nanotechnology processes and crafted using next-gen acrylic resins.
This provides them with desirable properties such as high resistance to scratches, heat, and abrasion, and low-light reflectivity for a soft matte finish. They are non-porous, hygienic, and easy to clean.
But the magic doesn’t end there. Should a Fenix worktop sustain a small scratch, it can self-heal with the application of mild heat. This might sound like something from a science fiction novel, but it’s an everyday reality with Fenix worktops.
As well as this, the surface of a Fenix worktop has a beautiful matte finish that is not only stylish but also significantly reduces fingerprints.
The closest comparable kitchen countertop would be a laminate worktop or a compact laminate worktop. However, calling Fenix a laminate worktop is a little unfair as they’re not exactly the same. Almost though.
Types Of Fenix Worktop
In the world of Fenix worktops, there are typically two types: Solid Fenix and Bonded Fenix.
Each type comes with its unique manufacturing process, characteristics, and applications. Understanding their differences will help you make an informed decision about which one might be best suited to your specific needs.
Solid Fenix worktops, as the name suggests, consist entirely of the Fenix material. This means the worktop is Fenix all the way through, from the top surface to the bottom. The solid composition lends these worktops superior durability and a uniform appearance that remains consistent even when viewed from the edges.
The manufacturing process involves pressing layers of paper, soaked in thermosetting resin, together under high pressure and heat. This results in a compact, homogeneous material that is both sturdy and elegant.
They are most commonly available in 12mm thick slabs. As the surface is solid all the way through you can cut drainer grooves into them and install undermount sinks.
On the other hand, Bonded Fenix worktops are a composite construction. They consist of a layer of Fenix material that’s bonded to a substrate, typically made of high-quality plywood or particleboard.
In essence, you get the beautiful Fenix surface with the added strength and support of a sturdy core. The manufacturing process involves bonding a Fenix laminate to the substrate using high-quality adhesives under pressure.
Because these are made using a substrate they can, in theory, be any thickness. However, you typically see them in slabs 39mm thick.
The main advantage of bonded Fenix worktops is their affordability. They offer the aesthetic and practical benefits of Fenix at a reduced cost compared to solid Fenix. However, unlike solid worktops, the colour and texture of the Fenix material aren’t consistent through the thickness of the worktop and you can’t cut drainer grooves into them or install an undermount sink.
Advantages Of Fenix Worktops
Fenix worktops come with an array of advantages that make them a popular choice for modern kitchens. Here’s a detailed look at these benefits:
- Scratch and Heat Resistance: Fenix worktops are highly resistant to scratches and heat. The surface can withstand the rigours of a busy kitchen, from knife marks to hot pots and pans. This longevity means your Fenix worktop will continue to look its best, even after years of use.
- Self-Healing: One of the most impressive characteristics of Fenix worktops is their ability to self-heal. Minor scratches on the surface can be repaired with the application of mild heat, helping to maintain the pristine appearance of your worktop.
- Hygienic and Easy to Clean: Fenix worktops are non-porous, making them hygienic and easy to clean. They won’t absorb spills or harbour bacteria, which is a significant benefit for a kitchen environment. All it takes is a simple wipe-down to keep your Fenix worktop looking clean and fresh.
- Matte Finish: The matte finish of Fenix worktops adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any kitchen design. It’s also practical, as it helps to reduce the visibility of fingerprints and smudges on the surface.
- Durability: Thanks to the robust construction and high-quality materials used, Fenix worktops are extremely durable. They’re designed to withstand the demands of everyday use, ensuring they’ll serve you well for many years to come.
- Sustainability: The materials used in the construction of Fenix worktops are recyclable. This means that choosing a Fenix worktop not only benefits your kitchen but also contributes to a more sustainable planet.
Disadvantages Of Fenix Worktops
Despite their numerous advantages, Fenix worktops also come with a few potential drawbacks. It’s important to weigh these against the benefits when deciding if a Fenix worktop is right for your kitchen.
- Cost: Fenix worktops, particularly the solid variety, tend to be more expensive than other comparable worktop materials such as laminate or wood. This increased cost is due to the advanced technology and high-quality materials used in their construction. While they offer excellent value for money in terms of durability and aesthetic appeal, the initial outlay may be prohibitive for some budgets.
- Repair Limitations: While Fenix worktops can heal minor scratches with heat, they’re not invincible. Deep scratches or gouges can’t be repaired in the same way and may require professional intervention or replacing the worktop entirely.
- Not Suitable for Outdoor Use: Fenix worktops are designed for indoor use and may not fare well in outdoor environments. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause discolouration, and extreme weather conditions could potentially damage the material.
- Limited Natural Look: If you’re aiming for a natural or rustic aesthetic in your kitchen, Fenix may not be the ideal choice. While it’s available in a wide range of colours, it lacks the natural grain and texture of materials like wood or stone.
- Edge Appearance in Bonded Worktops: With some bonded Fenix worktops, the substrate material will be visible at the edges. If you’re aiming for a uniform look throughout, this could be a disadvantage.
What are Fenix worktops made of?
Fenix NTM (Nano Tech Matte), is a smart nanotech surface material with a host of unique properties.
This material comprises a next-generation acrylic melamine resin surface thermally fused with multiple layers of kraft paper. The surface layer undergoes a nanotechnological treatment where it is hardened and fixed through an Electron Beam Curing process.
This endows it with its characteristic properties, such as thermal healing capabilities, low-light reflectivity, soft to the touch, anti-fingerprint and high resistance to scratches and heat. The result is a durable, hygienic, and aesthetically pleasing worktop material.
In simple terms, it’s sort of a fancy type of laminate worktop.
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Is Fenix A Laminate Worktop?
Well, the answer is yes and no. It’s a little more complex than a traditional laminate, with some notable differences that set it apart.
While Fenix worktops could be categorized broadly under the umbrella of laminate worktops, they’re actually a distinct breed of their own. This is primarily due to the high-tech manufacturing process involved in their creation.
Traditional laminate worktops are typically made by bonding a thin layer of laminate (a decorative, durable plastic) to a wooden substrate, usually particleboard or MDF. They’re popular due to their affordability and wide range of colours and patterns.
Fenix, on the other hand, is created with a proprietary process that involves the use of next-generation acrylic resins, applied through advanced nanotechnology. The result is a surface that’s extremely resistant to scratches, heat, and common household cleaning agents. And of course, let’s not forget the unique ‘self-healing’ feature of Fenix, which isn’t found in conventional laminates.
So, while it’s true that Fenix could technically be considered a type of laminate worktop, it’s also so much more. It goes beyond the traditional laminate offerings with its improved durability, thermal healing properties, and a refined matte finish that conventional laminates simply can’t match.
Are Fenix Worktops Expensive?
The cost of a Fenix worktop can be subjective and often depends on your perspective and budget. Compared to basic laminate or wood worktops, yes, Fenix worktops are generally a little more expensive. However, when compared to high-end materials such as natural stone or quartz, Fenix worktops are often seen as a more affordable option.
As a quick price guide:
- A typical 3m x 645mm x 12mm length of solid Fenix is around £495.
- A Typical 3m x 645mm x 12mm length of bonded Fenix is around £365.
There are a few factors that contribute to the cost of Fenix worktops:
- Material Quality: Fenix worktops are made using advanced nanotechnology and high-quality materials. This gives them superior durability and aesthetic appeal compared to many other worktop materials, which can justify a higher price tag.
- Type of Fenix Worktop: The cost can also vary depending on whether you choose a solid or bonded Fenix worktop. Solid Fenix worktops are typically more expensive as the material runs throughout the entire worktop. In contrast, bonded Fenix worktops, which have a Fenix layer bonded to a different substrate material, can be a more cost-effective option.
- Thickness and Size: The thickness and size of the worktop can influence the price. Larger or thicker worktops will use more material, thus increasing the cost.
- Installation Costs: Don’t forget to consider installation costs. While Fenix worktops are relatively easy to install, professional installation can ensure a perfect fit and finish. This can add to the overall cost of your Fenix worktop.
How do you clean a Fenix worktop?
Cleaning a Fenix worktop is simple and straightforward. For everyday cleaning, use a soft cloth or sponge with warm water and mild dish soap. Wipe the surface and then dry it with a clean, soft cloth to prevent water spots.
For more stubborn stains or smudges, you can use a non-abrasive household cleaner. Always remember to rinse and dry the surface after cleaning. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or harsh chemicals, as these could potentially damage the surface.
How do you remove scratches from Fenix?
One of the standout features of Fenix worktops is their ability to self-heal. This means that minor scratches can be repaired with a simple process:
- Wet a microfiber cloth with warm water.
- Place the cloth over the scratch.
- Apply a hot (but not boiling) iron to the cloth for a few seconds, making sure to keep the iron moving to avoid overheating in any one area.
- Remove the cloth and the heat should have allowed the material to “heal” the scratch.
- If the scratch is still visible, repeat the process.
It’s important to note that this process works best for minor scratches. Deeper scratches may not fully disappear and could require professional attention. Also, always remember to exercise caution when using a hot iron to avoid potential burns.
Can you put a hot pan on Fenix?
Fenix worktops are designed to be resistant to heat, but it’s always recommended to use a trivet or heat pad when placing hot pans or other cookware directly onto the surface. This will help to prevent potential damage, such as scorching or discolouration.
While Fenix can withstand higher temperatures better than many other worktop materials, prolonged or repeated exposure to very high heat could potentially damage the surface. Hence, taking precautions with hot items is a good practice to extend the longevity of your Fenix worktop.
Where are Fenix worktops made?
Fenix worktops are made in Italy by Arpa Industriale, a leading manufacturer in the high-pressure laminate industry. The company utilizes advanced technology and a proprietary process to create the unique, high-performance material that distinguishes Fenix worktops.
Arpa Industriale prides itself on its commitment to quality, innovation, and sustainability, all of which are evident in the design and production of Fenix worktops.
Where else can Fenix be used in Kitchen Design?
Fenix’s superior features and elegant finish make it an ideal material for numerous applications within kitchen design, beyond just the worktops. Here are some examples:
- Kitchen Cabinet Door & Drawers: Fenix can be used for kitchen cabinetry, providing a sleek, contemporary look that’s also highly practical. Its resistance to scratches, ease of cleaning, and broad colour range make it a great choice for cabinet fronts.
- Splashbacks: Fenix can be used to create stylish and functional splashbacks. Being non-porous and easy to clean, it’s well suited to this purpose. It’s also heat resistant, meaning it won’t be damaged by the heat from your hob.
- Shelves: Given its durability and range of colour options, Fenix can also be used for contemporary-looking shelves, contributing to a cohesive look throughout the kitchen.
- Integrated Sinks: With its water-resistant properties, Fenix is suitable for creating integrated sinks within the worktop, giving a seamless finish and contemporary feel to the kitchen.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about Fenix worktops.
From its resistance to scratches and heat to its impressive sustainable construction and self-healing properties, Fenix worktops are a strong contender for any kitchen renovation project.
However, they’re certainly not for everyone. With limited ‘natural’ looking colour and finish options available along with a very matte appearance, they may not suit everyone’s style and taste.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.