A solid-surface countertop is an excellent choice for any kitchen remodel or new construction project. Made from an acrylic-based blend of minerals and polymers, these countertops offer unparalleled versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about solid-surface countertops to determine if they are the right choice for your kitchen.
What is a Solid-Surface Countertop?
A solid-surface countertop, also known as an engineered stone countertop, refers to a seamless countertop made from a mixture of acrylic, polyester polymers, and aluminum trihydrate. The combination results in a non-porous, highly resilient material that can be molded into practically any shape.
Solid-surface countertops are most commonly made from brand names like Corian, Avonite, Swanstone, and Gibraltar, although many smaller manufacturers offer similar acrylic-based products. These countertops are made by blending the raw materials into a dough-like consistency, molding them under heat and pressure, then polishing them into a beautiful finished product.
Unlike natural stone surfaces, solid-surface countertops do not have seams, pores, cracks, or inherent flaws. The material allows for a virtually limitless array of colors, patterns, and custom configurations. The non-porous surface resists staining, is easy to clean, and does not facilitate bacteria growth.
Benefits of Choosing Solid-Surface Countertops
There are many advantages to using solid-surface countertops in kitchens and baths:
Solid-surface countertops are highly resistant to scratches, burns, and dents. The material is so durable it can even withstand pots, pans, and other kitchen tools being dragged across it without damage. The resilient surface does not chip like natural stone and retains its flawless look for years.
Since solid-surface material can be molded into custom shapes, countertops can be fabricated without seams or joints. This gives you the ability to have stylish countertop configurations, waterfall edges, and integrated sinks without disjointed seams.
Ease of Maintenance
Solid-surface requires very little maintenance to keep it looking pristine. The non-porous material prevents staining and resists bacterial growth. It can be cleaned easily with warm water, mild soap, and a soft cloth. No sealing or polishing is required.
With countless color options and unlimited configuration capabilities, you can fully customize solid-surface countertops. Mix colors, inlay designs, create drainboards or trivets, and integrate cooktops or sinks. You are only limited by your imagination.
Minor damage like scratches, scorches, and stains can easily be sanded or buffed away. Seamless repairs and spot touch-ups can be made without having to replace the entire top. This repairability makes solid-surface a budget-friendly option.
Liquids do not penetrate solid-surface material making it very hygienic and easy to disinfect. Bacteria cannot penetrate below the surface leading to fewer stains and less risk of mold or mildew growth.
Drawbacks of Solid-Surface Countertops
Despite the numerous advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider:
- High Initial Cost – The raw acrylic materials used in manufacturing solid-surface countertops are expensive. Installation also tends to be more labor-intensive and costly. This can make the initial investment higher than some other countertop options.
- Limited Heat Resistance – While generally durable, exposure to very hot cookware could potentially damage a solid-surface countertop. Using trivets and taking care is advised.
- Prone to Scratching – Solid-surface is less scratch-resistant than quartz or granite. While scratches can be buffed out, daily wear and tear may result in a frequently scratched appearance over time.
- Lacks Natural Stone Appeal – For those who prefer the natural veining and variations found in materials like granite and marble, a solid-surface countertop lacks innate visual interest. The consistent coloration may be perceived as too uniform for some.
Solid Surface Countertop Materials
There are a few different acrylic-based materials used to manufacture solid-surface countertops:
The original solid-surface countertop material made by DuPont. Over 100 unique colors and styles are available. Known for durability and extensive customization capabilities.
Manufactured by Aristech Surfaces LLC, Avonite offers the largest color selection of solid-surface materials with over 500 choices. Provides the appearance of natural materials like stone, concrete, and wood.
A durable and affordable solid-surface material made by Swan Corporation. Available in matte and glossy finishes. Provides a less acrylic appearance than Corian or Avonite.
Made by Wilsonart, Gibraltar solid-surfaces are marketed as being more rigid and dense than other acrylic materials. Thicker surface options available for heavily used applications.
Staron Solid Surfaces are made by Samsung and offer unique acrylic-based materials like Tempest granite, First Galaxy, and Original Moon. Known for vivid colors and patterned options.
No matter which brand you choose, all solid-surface countertops offer similar performance benefits of durability, customization, and easy maintenance. The variety of colors, patterns, textures, and looks available ensures you can find the perfect solid-surface material to suit your kitchen design vision.
Solid-Surface Kitchen Countertop Costs
On average, expect to pay $55 to $100 per square foot for materials and professional installation of solid-surface kitchen countertops. Here are a few factors that influence overall costs:
- Brand – Respected brands like Corian and Avonite cost more than lesser known, generic acrylic brands.
- Complexity of job – Simple countertop configurations are cheaper than highly customized layouts with unique edges, cutouts, and built-in features.
- Thickness – Standard 1⁄2 inch options are affordable, but 3⁄4 inch+ surfaces cost more.
- Edge profiles – Decorative edges like ogee, chamfer, and bullnose add labor and expenses.
- Additional features – Integrated sinks, cooktops, special lighting, and other enhancements increase costs.
- Existing countertop replacement – New installs are cheaper than tear-outs of old countertops prior to replacement.
- Professional installation – Hiring an experienced fabricator and installer results in higher project expenses.
Ultimately, most homeowners spend $3,000 to $5,000 on new solid-surface countertops for an average 10×10 kitchen. Luxury kitchens with expansive surface areas and high-end customization can reach $10,000+. Nonetheless, solid-surface remains very competitively priced with natural stone and quartz options.
Pros & Cons of Solid-Surface Kitchen Countertops
| Pros | Cons |
| Durability and resilience | Higher upfront cost than laminate |
| Seamless appearance | Not as heat resistant as some materials |
| Easy to clean and maintain | Prone to cuts and scratches |
| Highly repairable | Lacks natural stone aesthetics |
| Resists staining and bacteria | |
| Endless customization options | |
| Non-porous | |
Solid-Surface Brand Comparison
| Brand | Prices | Colors | Styles | Best Features |
| Corian | $$$ | 100+ | Matte, glossy | Largest color selection, gold standard |
| Avonite | $$ | 500+ | Natural looks | Most color choices, realistic visuals |
| Swanstone | $ | 50+ | Matte, glossy | Budget-friendly pricing |
| Gibraltar | $$$ | 50+ | Matte, glossy | Density and rigidity |
| Staron | $$$ | 50+ | Patterns, textures | Vivid solid colors, unique aesthetics |
Caring for Solid-Surface Countertops
Caring for solid-surface countertops is simple, without the extensive maintenance required by natural stone surfaces. Follow these tips to keep them looking flawless:
- For everyday cleaning, use a soft sponge or cloth with warm water and mild soap. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Disinfect periodically with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution to kill bacteria.
- For stubborn stains, use a delicate scrub sponge and baking soda or other non-bleach cleanser.
- Avoid exposing the surface to extremely hot pots or pans. Use trivets and hot pads.
- Cutting directly on the counter will result in scratches over time. Always use a cutting board.
- Apply wax occasionally with a soft cloth to enhance the shine.
- Repair minor damage like scratches or scorches by sanding and re-polishing the spot.
Following these simple care instructions will prevent damage and keep solid-surface countertops in impeccable condition for decades. The minimal maintenance is a major perk for busy kitchens.
Are solid-surface countertops better than granite?
This depends on your priorities. Granite is harder and more heat-resistant but requires sealing. Solid-surface lacks the natural beauty but is seamless, repairable, and customizable. Granite remains cool while solid-surface warms up to room temp. Both are excellent options.
Do you need to seal solid-surface countertops?
No. Solid-surface is non-porous so liquids do not penetrate the material. No sealing is required.
Can you cut on solid-surface countertops?
It’s best to avoid direct cutting on solid-surface countertops. Use a cutting board to protect the surface from knifes which will scratch over time. Minor scratches can be sanded out though.
Do solid-surface countertops stain?
Solid-surface resists stains very well but is not 100% stain-proof. Accidental spills should be cleaned up immediately. Very stubborn stains may require sanding and re-finishing a small spot.
Is solid-surface expensive?
Solid-surface countertops range from $55 to $100 per square foot installed. This is comparable to mid-range granite, making solid-surface a very affordable option in relation to many other countertop materials.
Is solid-surface better than quartz?
Quartz is slightly harder and more scratch resistant but cannot be seamlessly installed or fully customized like solid-surface. Both offer durability, non-porous easy care, and resistance to bacteria and stains. Personal style preference will determine if quartz or solid-surface is the better choice.
Is solid-surface eco-friendly?
Most solid-surface companies use recycled materials and environmentally-responsible processes to manufacture their countertops. Solid-surface is generally regarded as an ecologically-sound option for green building.
Can you repair solid-surface countertops?
Yes, one of the major perks of solid-surface is that minor damage like scratches, scorches, and stains can be repaired on-site without needing to replace the whole countertop. Small repairs are simple with sanding and re-finishing.
Solid-surface countertops offer unparalleled customization, durability, and easy care for busy kitchens. The affordability, repairability, and endless design options make acrylic-based materials like Corian and Avonite a top choice when choosing new countertops. With routine care, your solid-surface countertops will maintain their flawless beauty for decades to come. If personalizing your kitchen is a priority, solid-surface allows you to achieve practically any look imaginable. For those seeking innovative, seamless, low-maintenance countertops, solid-surface is sure to satisfy.