For more than fifty years, homeowners have been installing solid surface countertops in their kitchens and bathrooms. Dupont created the first solid countertops in 1967 by combining an acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate.
Solid surface countertops were designed to provide homeowners with a virtually maintenance-free and easy-to-clean type of countertop for kitchens and bathrooms.
Over time, Dupont discovered that adding pigments and stone particles to acrylic polymer and ATH combination creates a countertop that is reminiscent of natural stone countertops.
However, unlike natural stone countertops, solid surface countertops resist stains, germs, and mildew. Furthermore, when two pieces of solid surface countertops are joined together, the seam is practically invisible.
Pros and Cons of Solid Surface Countertops
When considering new countertops for your kitchen or bathroom, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages that each type of countertop offers. As you will see, solid surface countertops provide numerous benefits and only a few drawbacks.
Pros of Solid Surface Countertops
- Stain Resistant – Items like fruit juice, ink, hair dye, and grease stain most countertop surfaces. However, solid surface countertops are resistant to stains. If a stain does occur, you can use some water and abrasive cleaner to scrub the stain away without causing damage to your countertop.
- Antimicrobial – Solid surface countertops do not support mold, mildew, or bacterial growth. Most bathrooms and kitchens experience high humidity levels, which is why these countertops are a great choice.
- NSF/ANSI Certified – Solid surface countertops are certified safe for food contact. Furthermore, no harmful substances are released into the air once the countertops are installed.
- Repairable – If your solid surface countertops become scratched or scorched, you can remove the damage by lightly sanding your countertops. If cracks, large chips, or gouges occur, a professional solid surface countertop specialist can repair the damage using custom-colored epoxy.
- Invisible Seams – Unlike natural stone countertops, long stretches of solid surface counters can be installed with invisible or almost invisible seams, which means crumbs, stains, bacteria, and dirt cannot gather in the seams.
- No Sealing Required – Wood and natural stone countertops require routine sealing to protect against stains and to decrease the porosity of the material. Solid countertops require no sealing.
- No Cracks – Unlike wood and natural stone, a solid surface cannot absorb moisture and will not crack due to temperature changes.
- Color Options – Solid surface countertops are available in a plethora of patterns and colors. You can choose from small particles the size of sand, larger particles like those found in granite, or veined patterns like marble.
- Feel – Unlike natural stone that feels cold, solid surface countertops provide a warm touch. In addition to this, solid surface countertops are not as hard as a stone, which means if you accidentally knock a glass over, the glass may not break; however, if the glass is dropped, it will most likely break on impact.
- Chemical Resistant – Solid surface countertops are chemical resistant to certain chemicals like mild acids, trisodium phosphate, and ammonia. If strong acids, concentrated bleach or nail polish remover comes in contact with the solid surface counters, hazing can occur. Luckily, you can remove hazing by scrubbing the surface with a damp scouring pad.
Cons of Solid Surface Countertops
- Vulnerable to Heat – Hot pots, pans, and appliances can damage your solid surface countertops. If your countertops are exposed to excess heat, the surface can become scorched, discolored, or damaged. Always use trivets or hot pads to prevent damage.
- Susceptible to Scratches – Solid surface countertops are susceptible to scratching; therefore, you should never cut directly on solid surface counters. To help minimize scratching, always use a cutting board when chopping or cutting food items.
- Sensitive to Harsh Chemicals – Solid surface countertops can be damaged if exposed to harsh chemicals like paint remover, nail polish remover, paint thinner, or oven cleaner.
- Expensive – Professional installation is preferred when it comes to solid surface countertops. Although these countertops are costly, they are incredibly durable and offer lengthy warranties, which can offset the cost of the countertops.
How to Care for and Maintain Solid Surface Countertops
- Daily Cleaning – Solid surface countertops are easy to clean and maintain. These manmade countertops are nonporous and come in three types of finishes – glossy, semi-gloss, and matte. Wipe the surface of the countertops down with a damp microfiber cloth each day to remove crumbs, spills, and dust. After you have cleaned your countertops, you need to dry them thoroughly to prevent the formation of water spots. Grab an absorbent towel and buff the countertop using circular motions to dry the countertop.
- Stain Removal – Although solid surface counters are stain-resistant, stains can occur; however, stain removal is a breeze. Use a mild dish detergent and a scouring pad to remove surface stains. If this does not remove the stain, you can use an all-purpose cleaner or glass cleaner on glossy and semi-gloss countertops. For matte counters, make a paste of water and baking soda and scrub gently to remove the stain. If these methods do not work, there are specialty cleaning sprays designed to remove difficult stains from solid surface counters.
- Required Maintenance – Unlike wood or natural stone counters, solid surface countertops do not require routine maintenance. Wipe your counters down daily, and if a spill occurs, wipe it up immediately to prevent staining.
- Repairing Countertops - If your countertop becomes scratched, scorched, or chipped, a solid surface repair specialist can repair the surface. Although there are DIY repair kits (epoxy fillers or super glue) available for solid surface countertops, it is generally best to leave repairs to a specialist.
- DIY Repairs – If your countertop chips, you can repair it using either super glue or epoxy. Using one of these products can protect your counter until a professional solid surface specialist can be called to make the necessary repairs. Here are the basic instructions on how to make a do-it-yourself repair for solid surface counters.
- Superglue – Superglue is typically used for small cracks. Once the superglue has dried for 24 hours, you can sand the surface using 220 grit sandpaper and then 400 grit sandpaper. Buff with a scouring pad to help blend the scratch with the remaining countertop.
- Epoxy – Epoxy is used to repair more extensive cracks. Mix the epoxy together, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then apply to the crack and allow it to harden completely. Then sand the surface using 12 grit sandpaper, working your way up to 400 grit sandpaper. Finish by scouring the countertop using a scouring pad to blend the repair with the rest of your countertop.
Although solid surface counters are durable, they can become damaged if not properly cared for. Acidic liquids can damage the surface of your countertop. Furthermore, allowing liquids to sit on your countertop for extended periods of time can result in a surface stain.
Solid surface countertops can become scratched when not taken care of. Cutting directly on your counters can result in scratches. In addition to this, sliding heavy, rough objects across your counter can cause scratches. Always use a cutting board to prevent scratching.
Heat Damage Prevention
Solid surface counters are made using resins, which can scorch if exposed to excess heat. Never place hot pans, heat-producing appliances directly on your counters. Use a trivet to prevent heat damage.
Chemical Damage Prevention
Strong cleaners can damage your countertops. In addition to this, acetone nail polish remover or paint thinner can harm the surface of your counters. If a strong chemical comes in contact with your countertop, flush the counter with clean water and buff dry using a clean, dry absorbent cloth.
Resurfacing Solid Surface Countertops
Did you know you can resurface your solid surface counters yourself? All that is needed is some sandpaper, elbow grease, and time to transform your countertops back to the way they were when they were first installed. The tools you need for this project include an orbital sander, a variety of sandpaper grits, and a scouring pad.
To resurface your countertop, and the entire countertop using 200 grit sandpaper. Then, sand again using finer grit sandpaper. Continue sanding the countertop using finer grades of sandpaper until you reach 400 grit sandpaper. Finally, scrub the countertop using water and a scouring pad.
Brands of Solid Surface Countertops
After Dupont’s patent on solid surface countertops expired, a number of competitors entered the market. Each brand is slightly different in its overall chemical makeup and design; however, they all provide an incredible countertop. Some of the brands of solid surface counters include:
- Corian Solid Surface Countertops – The original solid surface countertop remains the most popular choice. It is perfect for heavy use and offers one of the best solid surface countertop warranties on the market.
- Formica Solid Surface Countertops – Formica has been producing high-quality countertops for many years and is known for its reliability. In fact, this solid surface counter is heat resistant.
- Samsung Staron Solid Surface Countertops – Samsung counters are available in more than 70 colors and designs. Their counters feature metallic particles to provide richness and depth.
- Swanstone Solid Surface Countertops – Swanstone countertops are considered one of the most robust solid surfaces on the market. This countertop is perfect for busy homeowners who enjoy cooking.
- Wilsonart Solid Surface Countertops – Wilsonart counters have been awarded Greenguard Indoor Air Quality, which means zero noxious fumes. In addition to this, you can choose from more than 50 different designs.
Solid Surface in the Kitchen
Are you looking for a versatile, seamless countertop that can withstand the demands placed on it in the kitchen? Solid surface countertops are versatile and are easy to repair. These countertops are stain-resistant and easy to clean and maintain. Simply wipe your counters down with a damp microfiber cloth each day.
Solid countertops look great in both contemporary and traditional kitchens thanks to the numerous color and design options. In addition to countertops, you can have solid surface backsplashes installed for a continuous backsplash.
Solid Surface in the Bathroom
Because solid surface countertops are nonporous, they are perfect in high humidity areas of your home like the bathroom. The countertops are resistant to mold and mildew. In addition to countertops, solid surfaces can be used as shower surrounds, backsplashes, and more.
The Cost of Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertop prices are similar to natural stone countertops. The average price of solid surface counters depends on the pattern chosen, the color of the countertop, the manufacturer, and the edge profile. You can expect to spend between $52 and $120 per square foot, including installation.
The following can affect the overall price of your solid surface counters:
- Incorrect Measurements – If you measure incorrectly, it can affect the cost of your countertops. One way to ensure you order the correct amount of solid surface countertops is to have your installer measure your cabinetry before ordering.
- Seams – When two pieces of solid surface counters are joined together, the installer will use a custom tinted epoxy to join the countertops. Once the epoxy dries, it will be sanded, and the seam will be virtually invisible to the naked eye. Joining countertop pieces together takes time, which can increase installation costs.
- Edges – If you decide to have an elaborate edge, such as an ogee or a bullnose, it will cost an additional $15 to $20 per linear foot of countertops. These countertops must be cut and sanded during the installation.
- Corners – Corners, especially inside corners, are tricky during the installation process. When you have multiple corners, the cost of installation can be a bit more.
- Customization – Although each solid surface countertop is customized, extra features like built-in drainboards, backsplashes, and multi-level countertops can increase the price of installation.
- Worksite Location – The location of your kitchen can affect the overall installation costs. For example, if the kitchen is located upstairs, or if the delivery truck cannot be parked near your home, the cost of installation can be increased.
Best Cleaner for Solid Surface Countertops
If you have semi-gloss or glossy solid surface countertops, you want to use a cleaner that provides a protective coating that helps restore the luster of your countertops. Magic Countertop Cleaner removes grime, grease, and mineral deposits from your countertops. With its proprietary formula, your counters will stay cleaner longer and have a streak-free shine.
For matte solid surface countertops, diluted bleach will disinfect your countertop surface. Dip a cloth in diluted bleach and wipe the entire countertop. Rinse the cloth and wipe down the counters again to remove the bleach. Finally, buff the counter using a dry cloth for a streak-free finish.
Solid surface countertops are available in a plethora of patterns, styles, and colors. When deciding on a countertop, you must first decide if what you want your kitchen to look like. Do you want a bright and airy kitchen or a sophisticated kitchen? Do you want a solid surface backsplash that is identical to your countertops? Or do you want a contrasting tile to add interest to your kitchen?
After you have answered these questions, get a few samples of solid surface countertops, and take the samples home. Although in-store samples can help, the lighting in a store is much different than what is in your home. By taking a sample home, you can see precisely how the countertop will look in your home’s lighting, which will help you decide on the perfect choice for your kitchen and bath.
Once you have chosen color and pattern, it is time to hire an installer. The installer will measure your cabinetry. After your countertops have been ordered, the installer will deliver and install your solid surface countertops, leaving you with the kitchen or bathroom that you have always dreamed of.