Polyester and acrylic are two popular materials used for solid surface countertops. Understanding the differences between the two can help homeowners make an informed decision when choosing countertops for their kitchen or bath.
Solid surface countertops provide a seamless, non-porous surface that is easy to clean and maintain. The material is made from either polyester or acrylic resins that are combined with natural minerals and pigments. The combination is molded into a solid, continuous surface for countertops and other applications. Both polyester and acrylic solid surfaces have advantages, but also some distinct differences in performance, feel, and cost.
One of the biggest considerations for countertops is durability and resistance to scratching, heat, and stains.
Polyester resin countertops are tougher and more scratch resistant than acrylic. Tiny scratches and scuffs can be buffed out of polyester with relative ease. Polyester countertops hold up better against impact and heavy objects being set down forcefully. They resist scratches from knives and withstand abrasion wear over time.
Acrylic solid surface is softer and more prone to scratching. Minor scratches can be sanded and buffed out, but acrylic will show wear and tear over time with heavy use. Acrylic countertops need to be treated more gently to keep their smooth appearance.
Both materials resist stains from spills remarkably well. Neither material is heat proof, so hot pans and appliances should be used with care. Overall, polyester rates higher for heavy duty durability.
In terms of appearance, both polyester and acrylic solid surfaces come in a wide array of colors and patterns. Seamless installations can be created for a custom, high-end look.
Polyester has a slightly glossier, shinier appearance compared to acrylic. Complex patterns and bold colors are easier to achieve with polyester. It offers a luxurious, deep finish.
Acrylic lends itself to a satiny, matte look. While colors and patterns are still available, acrylic has a more muted, quiet aesthetic. The finish looks and feels more like natural stone. Back-lighting acrylic countertops creates a lovely glow.
If matching other materials and decor is a priority, polyester’s glossier finish may coordinate better with metal, glass, and lacquered furnishings. For a warmer, more organic style, acrylic’s matte surface may blend in better.
There is a noticeable price difference between polyester and acrylic solid surface countertops:
- Polyester is approximately 30% to 50% more expensive than acrylic. Installed costs typically range from $80 – $120 per square foot.
- Acrylic is the more economical choice. Installed costs range from $55 – $85 per square foot.
Polyester’s higher cost is due to the higher quality materials and more durable, scratch-resistant finish. For many homeowners, the added cost is worth it for a longer-lasting countertop that keeps its beauty over time. Acrylic provides an attractive, seamless look at a lower price point.
The resin composition gives polyester and acrylic countertops distinct differences in how they feel to the touch.
Polyester has a smooth, hard finish. It maintains its rigidity and feels cool and solid. The hard surface makes it extremely durable.
Acrylic has a softer, warmer feel. It bends slightly when pressure is applied. The material feels more yielding and malleable, almost like plastic. Some people prefer the softer tactile experience of acrylic.
The firmer polyester surface is easier to keep clean since liquids and debris do not penetrate the tight finish. Acrylic requires more frequent maintenance to keep the porous surface from trapping dirt and bacteria.
Basic maintenance is straightforward for both solid surface materials:
- Use mild soap and water for routine cleaning.
- Disinfect occasionally with a diluted bleach solution.
- Avoid exposing the surface to harsh chemicals that can damage the finish.
- Reseal and buff periodically to maintain the glossy appearance.
Acrylic requires extra care to keep the porous surface from trapping residue:
- Clean frequently with soap and warm water.
- Sanitize more often using disinfecting cleaners.
- Avoid abrasive scrubbing that can damage the surface.
Polyester is more stain resistant and needs less frequent cleaning to stay looking pristine. It does not require specialized cleaning products or frequent sealing to maintain its durability.
For environmentally-conscious homeowners, polyester has a slight advantage when it comes to sustainability:
- Polyester resin is usually derived from recycled PET plastics. This gives it an eco-friendly appeal.
- Acrylic is a plastic material derived from petroleum. Not as earth-friendly, but recycling advances are improving acrylic’s green factor.
Both materials can be recycled after their useful life as countertops. However, acrylic plastic is more easily and widely recyclable compared to polyester resin.
Polyester and acrylic both make attractive, low maintenance countertops. Polyester is the clear winner when it comes to durability. The scratch-resistant surface stays looking new despite heavy use. Acrylic provides an affordable alternative, though it requires more careful handling to prevent scratches. For a balance of aesthetics, performance, and cost, polyester is often the best solid surface countertop choice for busy kitchens. Comparing the unique strengths of each material will help guide homeowners to the right countertop for their needs and budget.
FAQs About Polyester vs. Acrylic Solid-Surface Countertops
Is polyester or acrylic better for kitchen countertops?
Polyester is generally better for kitchens due to its superior durability, scratch resistance, and stain resistance. It also cleans up easier than acrylic. These performance advantages make it ideal for the heavy use of a kitchen.
Which solid-surface material costs more, polyester or acrylic?
Polyester resin countertops are significantly more expensive, costing 30-50% more on average than acrylic. The higher cost is due to the more durable composition and quality of polyester.
Is acrylic or polyester more eco-friendly?
Polyester made from recycled PET plastics has a slight edge regarding sustainability. But acrylic can also be recycled and is improving its green factor with advances in manufacturing.
Can you repair scratches in acrylic and polyester countertops?
Light scratches and scuffs can be sanded and buffed out of both materials. But acrylic is more prone to showing visible scratches that require repairs. Polyester is more scratch resistant.
Does acrylic or polyester feel warmer to the touch?
Acrylic has a softer, slightly warmer feel compared to the hard, cool finish of polyester. Acrylic bends more easily when pressure is applied. Polyester maintains its rigidity.
Which material requires more maintenance, polyester or acrylic?
Acrylic demands more frequent cleaning and occasional sealing to keep the porous surface free of residue. Polyester is less porous, so it resists stains and needs less maintenance to stay looking pristine.
When choosing between polyester and acrylic solid surface countertops, key factors like durability, appearance, cost, and maintenance should be considered.
Polyester stands out as the more durable option that will withstand years of wear and tear while keeping its flawless finish. It provides superior resistance to scratches, heat, and stains with only basic maintenance required. Though it comes at a higher installed cost, polyester offers homeowners a countertop that will retain its beauty and function over the long term.
For those seeking a more budget-friendly option, acrylic countertops can also provide an attractive, seamless appearance. However, the softer acrylic surface requires extra care and maintenance to prevent scratches and keep the surface hygienic. Homeowners will need to be diligent about using hot pads, avoiding abrasion, and cleaning frequently to keep acrylic countertops looking their best.
Taking the time to compare the unique advantages of each material will pay off when determining the best choice for your home and lifestyle. Consider the look you want along with performance factors like durability, ease of care, and cost. Evaluate the options carefully to find the ideal solid surface countertop to withstand the demands of your kitchen.