Photo courtesy of Premier
Solid surface countertops are a generic term for materials that are composed of two main ingredients: natural mineral filler and a resin binder. Along with a few other elements such as pigments, UV absorbers, stabilizers and catalyst these materials are then cast into ¼’’, ½’’, ¾’’ or 1 ¼” (3cm) sheets that can be fabricated into numerous projects, one of the most common being kitchen and bath countertops. Solid surface products are some of the most unique materials for countertops and other surfaces. The acrylic-based resin solid surfaces can actually be heated and bent to almost any imaginable shape.
There are a vast number of advantages to using solid surface for your kitchen or bath countertops. First of all, with so many manufacturers offering solid surface like Corian, Staron, Hi Macs, Avonite, and Gibraltar, there are a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from. The selection ranges to a basic solid snow white to patterns and colors that mimic granite, quartz, concrete and marble. The design possibilities are endless.
One of the features that make solid surface materials unique, is the appearance of seamlessness. These products can be installed in a kitchen or bath without the visible seams of natural stone or quartz. You also have the option to seam or “cove” your backsplash to the countertop, as well as integrate a kitchen or bathroom sink. Because it is a nonporous material, stains and bacteria are not an issue. Most manufacturers offer a ten year warranty on their materials and integrated sinks.
There are a few drawbacks to the use of solid surface in the kitchen. It is a softer material than natural stone, so it can be scratched with knife blades or course pottery. It is also sensitive to high heat exposure. Most manufacturers do not recommend that you take a hot pot or pan off of the stove and set it directly on the material.
Solid surface is an excellent choice for both residential and commercial applications. It is diverse in its color choices and patterns. It is non porous, so it can be used in the food prep and health care industries. It is also resistant to many chemical compounds which make it a good product for laboratories.
Generally speaking, solid surface is one of the most repairable countertop materials available. It can be machined with typical woodworking tools (sanders, routers, saws). If scratched, burned or cracked, most patterns can have a section of the countertop removed and a “plug” glued in place, sanded out and the countertop is repaired with little or no noticeable damage.
- Staron by Samsung
- Corian by Dupont
- Affinity Surfaces
- Formica Solid Surfacing
- LG HI-MACS
PROS - Many colors and patterns to choose from. Seamed-In sink option. Nearly invisible seams. Non-Porous which requires absolutely no sealing. Many options like color lines, endless edge designs, cove (one piece) splash, drainboards and more.
CONS - Scratches easier than granite or quartz. Not as heat resistant as natural stone counters.
CARE & CLEANING - Matte finish needs light cleaning with all purpose cleaner of glass cleaner. For satin or high polish, just a glass cleaner is recommended. For solid surface sinks, use an abrasive cleaner with a Scotchbrite pad.
WARRANTY - 10 to 15 Year warranty is standard with most solid surface manufacturers. Be sure to read what the warranty covers before your purchase.
COST - Solid surface is also one of the more affordable of the “high end” countertop materials. The cost for solid surface runs from $35 square foot for some of the more simple patterns to $75 Square foot for the granite and marble patterns.