Solid-surface countertops come in a wide array of colors, textured looks, and profiles. Solid surface can be machined into all kinds of profiles, rounded and beveled edges, one-piece back splashes, and integral sinks.
Solid surface is a 100 percent man-made product, which means great diversity when it comes to color and texture variations. It is made of resin, an acrylic or modified polyester; alumina trihydrate, a filler which allows for a Class 1 Fire Rating; color pigments; and added particles that give a mottled, veined, or textured look to the surface. Solid surface is machinable and can be cut into about any shape imaginable. It also can be heated and molded. Solid surface is the only material that features molded sinks seamed directly to the countertop with no gaps or caulks. Built-in coved backsplashes can be fused to the countertop to create a water-tight transition.
Various additives allow for the creation of hundreds of looks, from speckles of granite particles to the swirls of a marble vein. According to Russ Lee, Vice President of Surfacing for Fry Communications, marketing/communications agency for the International Solid Surface Fabricators Association, one product even includes metals that present a copper-like patina. Surfaces are available in finishes from dull matte to high gloss.
Solid-Surface Benefits Solid-surface kitchen countertops offer homeowners the benefits of a warm-to-the-touch surface with low maintenance requirements, says Lee, a former solid surface fabricator himself. Normal wear and tear requires only soap and water cleanup.
Solid-surface products offer these benefits:
Stain and chemical resistance
Durability—The product is "homogenous" meaning the color and pattern are consistent throughout. There are no veneers to chip, crack, peel, or wear out.
Long warranty. Solid-surface products generally come with a 10-year warranty.
Solid surface is manufactured to be stain, chemical, and scratch resistant, but it is not impervious to harm. It can be scorched and may crack if incorrectly installed too close to a high-heat producing appliance or if hot pans are placed on it. To prevent damage, homeowners are encouraged to use trivets or hot pads.
Wine, mustards, and other high stain producers could leave a mark if not quickly wiped up. Solid surface can be scratched and cut so homeowners are advised to use cutting boards. Damage can be repaired and the product restored often by using a non-woven scrubbing pad—such as Scotch Brite—or an or abrasive liquid cleanser followed by the pad to maintain the same appearance as the rest of the countertop. Always check with the manufacturer for their specific care instructions since care and repair options vary depending on the finish and the degree of repair needed. Deep scratches will probably require professional services, but repairs for cracks or chips can be practically invisible
The cost for solid-surface countertops is more affordable than one might suspect. It typically costs anywhere from $40 to $60 a square foot, but texture and pattern can affect the price. Regional markets impact pricing as well, Lee says, with the cost in the Southwest being half of what it is in the Northeast.