Solid surface countertops have been around for over 50 years now and are a mainstay in kitchens and bathrooms. What might have once been considered trendy is now so established that few countertop materials, except for quartz, have managed to achieve the same status.
Solid surface is a perfect mid-range countertop material. Buyers not interested in laminate but still looking for an affordable countertop often gravitate to solid surface. It is one of the few counter materials that a homeowner can resurface with just an orbital sander. While visually it lacks the depth of real stone or even quartz, it does resemble stone far more than laminate does. Solid surface is where a lot of countertop buyers naturally end up after carefully considering its high and low points compared to other materials.
Solid surface materials began with DuPont’s Corian. The idea behind its invention was to have a surface that looked reasonably like natural stone, but unlike stone, would be non-porous. When you slice granite open, you will see a wild, chaotic conglomeration of particles forming the slab. While this is beautiful, it offers multiple avenues for cracking and breaking.
The word solid in solid-surface reinforces the idea that this is a stable base, unlike bouncy laminates which are mounted on medium-density fiberboard. But solid has another, more important, meaning. Dupont’s true intent was to create a surface that was the same from top to bottom, a homogeneous product. A cross-section of solid surface shows that you can keep delving deeper into it and still get the same product, and this is essential in terms of damage repair.
- Nearly Non-Porous: No surface is completely non-porous, but tile, quartz, and solid surface come as close to being non-porous as any countertop material. Solid surface’s extremely low porosity keeps bacteria away, promoting a cleaner and more sanitary countertop.
- Homogeneous: Unlike laminate or ceramic tile, solid surface’s material goes all the way through, from top to bottom. As a result, it visually fares better after impact than a multi-layered product like laminate.
- Easy to Repair: Yes, solid surface will scratch if you cut on it. But with an orbital sander and fine grain sandpaper, even the homeowner can sand down scratches.
- Weak (Impact, Scratches): Homeowners who have solid surface countertops should be extra careful to use cutting boards, as solid surface is relatively soft and can be scratched by knives and sharp utensils.
- Heat Deformation: Solid surface can hold up against boiling water’s temperature of 212 F. But some solid surfaces will begin to deform at temperatures not much higher than that (250 F). This means that hot, dry pans (such as a frying pan, which is typically hotter than hot) and wet pans (such as a pot of pasta with boiling water) should not be placed on a solid surface counter.
Solid surface countertops are about 33 percent binding resins and 66 percent minerals. Those minerals are a bauxite derivative, aluminium trihydrate (ATH). ATH is a kind of fine, white powder that helps solid surface maintain its smooth consistency.