Solid Surface Vs Quartz Countertop: Key Differences You Need To Know
When designing or renovating your kitchen, you will be faced with many different choices for your countertop. Of the many types of countertops in the market, premium engineered surfaces have become increasingly popular in modern kitchens.
The two most sought after choices are quartz and solid surface countertops, thanks to their excellent design, appearance, durability, and cost of maintenance. The two surfaces are strikingly similar but have some distinct differences. This article aims to help you narrow down the single-best countertop for your kitchen.
What makes quartz a strong substance?
Quartz is mainly composed of at least 90% natural quartz stone, one of the strongest materials you can use in your home. The balance consists of polymer and pigments that give quartz countertops their style, appearance, and pattern.
Solid-surface material is more of a mixture and softer
On the other hand, solid-surface material is composed of mineral dustmostly marble mixed with different types of plastics. This mixture melts upon heating and is then put into a mold to define its shape.
The finished countertop is slightly softer than quartz and is naturally thinner, with a built-up edge to make it appear thick. The different colors and patterns are obtained by mixing different ratios of pigments and mineral dust.
Quartz: Complex mechanism
Solid Surface: Convenient to install
Solid Surface Countertop Brands
Solid surface can be found at a ton of places, from a ton of different brands. These can be purchased either directly from the manufacturer or at local home improvement stores and home design places.
Some of the best and most common brands are below, this is just a small list barely touching on the surface of the available products.
Corian solid surface: Corian is often the first brand thought of when one thinks of solid surface, this is because this is one of the first companies to make solid surface, after their patent on the item ran out, it became open for other companies to begin making it.. Corian is made of natural materials blended with acrylic.
Wilsonart solid surface: Wilsonart is typically known for its plastic laminate finishes, but also came out with solid surfaces to pair with their plastic laminates. Wilsonart uses an acrylic base for their solid surface countertops. Wilsonart creates a great line of finishes that replicate wood as well as stone materials.
Formica solid surface: Formica is another brand that started as plastic laminate and took up solid surface. Formica also uses an acrylic base to make their solid surface countertops.
Material: Synthetic Solid Surface
Origin: Synthetic or manufactured solid surface countertops are made of man-made materials, most often acrylic, but also polyester resins, marble dust, and other pigments.
Environmental Impact: High. Made primarily from non-renewable resources like petrochemicals and aluminum trihydrate production and manufacturing is very energy-intensive, and the material is not recyclable.
Pros: Non-porous, so its stain-, mildew-, and germ-resistant strong and self-supporting, needs no plywood underlayment easy to buff out scratches can be installed seamless and made to imitate other high-end materials like marble and granite.
Cons: Vulnerable to heat, dents, and scratches relatively expensive.
Installation: Professional installation recommended, as these countertops are very heavy and expensive. Higher-priced solid surface may include the price of installation.
Price range: $50-$200 per foot.
Kitchn Reader Reviews:
Another vote for Corian. It requires zero maintenance, can be seamlessly repaired if ever chipped, etc, and as mentioned comes in any color or pattern you could want. The home center might not have all samples to show you, so dig a little. I chose one that is a beautiful matte white with a slight marbling effect . It is called Venaro White. Amyrl
Do not much care for the feel of Corian, and it did stain I prefer things that age gracefully to things that dont mschaitelaine
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What Are Solid Surface Counters
First off, solid surface countertops are a manufactured product made up of a combination of polyester, acrylic, epoxy, and some natural minerals. Theyre often fabricated to resemble the look of real granite, stone, and marble, but unlike these natural materials, solid surface counters are non-porous. Also, the material is solid all the way through, which makes it exceptionally sturdy.
So, what is the best solid surface countertop? Your two main options are quartz and acrylic. Both have many advantages and look beautiful in kitchens and bathrooms. Heres what you should know.
Can We Install Them By Ourselves
When it comes to quartz vs solid surface countertops, DIY options are really difficult to come by. This is because fabricators, installers, and retailers cycle the raw materials in a network of fabricators, installers, and merchants. As a result, they will be difficult to access by the general population.
When it comes to solid countertops, you can use standard routers and power saws to cut the material. Then, using seaming kits, you may quickly connect these parts simultaneously. In that situation, if you can get your hands on raw material somehow, a DIY technique wont be too difficult.
Quartz countertop installation necessitates the use of specialist gear that the average individual lacks. As a result, installing them would be more challenging even if the basic materials could be obtained.
Alternatively, you might go for scattered parts like the tops of ready-made one-piece vanity units. These are much easier to obtain and may be installed without difficulty utilizing a DIY method.
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What Exactly Is Quartz
Now that you know quartz is one of your best man-made countertop options, you may be wondering: What exactly is this material? Quartz countertops, which you will also hear referred to as engineered stone countertops, are a manufactured product. These surfaces are made by combining roughly 90 percent quartz mineral with about 10 percent polyresin. These specific percentages can vary based on different brands but will always be in the same area.
You can find quartz countertops in virtually any color or style that you desire. You can even find many styles that look just like granite, marble and other types of natural stone.
Quartz countertops are stain resistant, crack resistant and do not require the sealing that natural stone countertops do, among many other benefits.
What Is Solid Surface Countertop
A solid surface countertop is an engineered material made from quartz dust mixed in with various resins, polymers, and pigments depending on the design.
Solid surface countertops can come in many different colors and patterns you can make them resemble natural stone surfaces like granite and marble.
Solid surface countertops are sometimes called Corian countertops. Corian is a type of Solid Surface countertop material created by a company called DuPont in the 1960s, one of the big brand names of solid kitchen counters.
As a result, you may hear generic solid surface countertops referred to as Corian despite no association with DuPont.
Solid surface countertops are unique for their ability to be molded to different shapes and sizes, often featuring a dazzling array of twirls, swirls, and curves that wooden or natural stone countertops like granite cant recreate.
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What Are Quartz Countertops
Quartz tops, sometimes called engineered stone, are also man-made, however, they contain a high percentage of crushed, natural quartz. The quartz is bound with resin and recycled materials such as glass. Some of the most popular brands include Zodiaq and Radianz.
As compared to solid-surface materials, quartz countertops are more durable, scratch resistant and heat-safe up to about 400 degrees.
Visually, quartz has a glossy surface with a consistent color and pattern. You can choose from an almost limitless number of solid colors and creative patterns. Some even simulate granite, marble and other natural surfaces. You can also choose from several different edge profile options.
Understanding The Differences Between Solid Surface Countertops And Quartz
Two of those materials often get confused for one another – quartz and solid surface. Both can sometimes have similar color patterns and appearances, and both are far lower maintenance than a natural stone countertop. But there are numerous differences between the two materials as well, which homeowners need to understand in order to decide which one is right for their home.
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Plastic Laminates: Pros And Cons
Plastic-laminate tops may not grab many headlines, but they still account for 75 percent of the market. Theyre inexpensive, durable, come in lots of colors and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
Plastic laminates are multiple layers of resin-soaked kraft paper, topped by a patterned sheet of melamine thats subjected to heat and pressure. The resultant 1/16-in. laminate sheet can be made into cheap countertops in two ways.
It can be post formed at a fabrication plant to create tops with the rounded unibody backsplash and nosing. Post-formed tops can be purchased off-the-shelf at home centers in limited colors or special ordered. This style top is the least expensive, easiest to clean and quickest to install.
They can also be custom fabricated into an extraordinary range of styles. Laminate sheets are glued to particle board, then edged with laminate, wood, even solid-surface strips.
They resist grease and stains and clean with soap and water. Theyll take a good hit, and changing your color scheme wont cost an arm and a leg.
On the downside, laminate tops can be damaged by hot pans and sharp knives, abrasive cleaners can dull the finish, and if water penetrates seams, the substrate can expand and the laminate bulge. Surface damage is difficult to repair. All of these problems can be avoided through proper installation and use.
Solid Surface Countertops Can Be Damaged By Heat
Solid surface countertops are durable, but they can be stained or damaged by extreme heat. They are manufactured to withstand temperatures up to boiling water, which is 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the bottom of a hot pan or pot, especially one that is close to or exceeds 212 degrees, will likely stain, scorch, or damage the countertop. The good thing is that these countertops are easy to resurface and repair, but you still want to be careful with hot objects.
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How To Clean Solid Surface Countertops
Cleaning solid surface is relatively easy, in most bases all the countertops need is a wipe down with warm soap water. This type of cleaning can be done on an everyday basis.
Though solid surface is a non porous material if water sits on it for too long it can develop a film that gives the finish of the a dingier look, wiping up spills when they happen is the best way to avoid this type of countertop condition.
For a deeper clean there are ammonia based cleaners or countertop specific cleaners that can be used. This can help remove any films or build up that can occur over time.
Using a circular motion when cleaning the counters it best for everyday cleaning, this need only be done with a washcloth, there is no need for anything harsher than that.
Darker solid surface countertops tend to need to be cleaned a little more frequently than the lighter colored solid surface countertops. Countertops with sinks in them need to be cleaned heavier duty every few weeks, this can require household bleach.
For another related article check out our cultured marble countertops gallery here.
What Is Solid Surface Counters Composed Of
Technically speaking, solid surface countertops are made with 66 percent minerals and 33 percent biding resins. The minerals include aluminum trihydrate, a bauxite derivative. This is a fine white powder that gives the counters a smooth consistency.
You can compare the difference with quartz, which are 10 percent resin and 90 percent minerals. Its easier to identify the minerals, such as marble, granite and glass.
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Formica Solid Surface Countertops
Formica has made durable materials for the kitchen for decades. The brands solid surface products are outstanding, a fully-densified composite material that is produced by blending acrylic resin with mineral fillers. Formica solid surfaces work well for countertops, sinks, tabletops, backsplashes and more.
Solid Surface Countertops Easy To Repair
Because of how solid surface is made, it is easy to repair. Any homeowner with an orbital sander and fine grain sandpaper can remove potential scratches.
If you throw in the cost of repairing granite countertops, some repairs cost more than replacements with alternate materials.
If you take large chunks out of your countertop, such as through a rogue frying pan, replacing that section is more accessible. The creation process of molding and resin enables repair work to be done in small areas.
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Solid Surface Countertop Basics To Know Before You Buy
The Spruce / Kevin Norris
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 material. It is one of the few counter materials that a homeowner can resurface with just an orbital sander.
While visually solid surface 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 comfortably end up after carefully considering its high and low points compared to other materials.
Easy to buff out scratches
Difficult for DIYers to fabricate
How Solid Surface Countertops Are Made
When manufacturers make solid surface countertops, they mix the minerals and binding resins with a powdered filler and pigments.
These fillers and pigments play an important role in creating a unique look that can mimic the appearance of granite, marble and stone. Pigments provide customized colors that allow you to choose color schemes for their workspaces.
After the mixture chemically cures, workers heat it to 140 degrees F. This forms a solid material that designers can customize to a specific size and shape. If your application requires that your solid surface counters must withstand a greater level of heat, manufacturers can heat the countertops to around 320 degrees F to improve their resistance.
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Edges Backsplashes Sinks & Seams
Edge styles to suit most bathroom vanity top and kitchen design ideas are possible with DuPont Corian solid surface. From a simple eased or bullnose edge to a fancy Spanish style there are around 20 different styles offered.
A thick edge profile to simulate a huge block countertop, or to create the more elaborate designs is easily accomplished with a laminated edge. In most cases, the seams of a laminated edge will be invisible as well. You can typically see these seams on granite counter tops.
Backsplashes can be installed traditionally just like with granite, marble, or engineered quartz. You can use stone, glass, metal, or ceramic tiles configured in any design that suits your fancy.
You may even choose to install a full backsplash using the same Corian color as you used on the countertops. Note that the wall seam can be eliminated by molding a Corian coved backsplash into the countertop.
Corian sinks come in myriad single and double bowl configurations, colors, and sizes. They have your lifestyle demands covered for a kitchen or bathroom countertop.
Sinks can be installed in all the usual ways such as top-mounted, under-mounted, flush, beveled, or molded right into the solid surface countertop material for a seamless design.
Drainboards for sinks are commonly integrated right into the countertop to help keep the area tidy.
But, there’s no denying that an integrated sink is very stylish.
What Are Solid Surface Countertops Made Of
For most consumers, the term solid surface doesnt mean much. While you might know it is a type of countertop, that doesnt give much away about the materials used. What are solid surface countertops made of?
Solid surface countertops are made with a combination of natural minerals and resin. The minerals used are commonly marble, but the materials are consistent.
Because of this consistent material use, a solid surface is much longer-lasting than laminate countertops. Regardless of this difference, it is on par with cost when compared to laminate.
Below, we will delve into the process for making this countertop and how this process outperforms other standard counters.
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The Best Solid Surface Brands In Essential Categories
Range of Styles Wilsonart and Samsung Staron: While all of these brands offer a diverse array of colors, textures and tones, Wilsonart leads this category. It offers dozens of solid colors and aggregate blend that mimic solid wood, quartz, , granite and sandstone. With more than 70 color and style options, Staron is a very good choice for any kitchen design including traditional, country, transitional, contemporary and more.
Durability DuPont Corian: When it comes to toughness, DuPont is difficult to beat. Corian is backed by one of the best warranties in the industry. It holds up very well to heat, heavy use, cleaning products, juice and wine and heavy objects. All of these hard surface countertop brands will provide you with 12-20 years of durable service, or more, when cared for properly.
Ease of Cleaning — Tie: All of these hard surface brands are nonporous, so they resist dirt buildup, staining or harboring bacteria. For food preparation and cleanliness, any solid surface countertop will be superior to wood, natural stone, tile or concrete.
Price Swanstone: While DuPont Corian tends to be the most expensive, Swanstone offers the best value. It doesnt come in as many styles as Wilsonart or Staron, but youll find sinks, soap dishes and handy accessories for the kitchen and bathroom, all with some of the most affordable pricing in the industry.