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Solid Surface Introduction

What Is Solid Surface?

Solid surface is a manufactured material most commonly used for seamless countertop installations. It is frequently referred to as Corian®, a product developed by DuPont® in 1964. It can be readily cut, routed and sanded like wood and formed into countertops, shower walls, external cladding for buildings, signage, and furniture where non-porosity and infrequent maintenance are highly valued. These are just a few of the many applications.

Solid surface is made of acrylic resin, polyester resin or a combination of the two that is then combined with filler, color pigments, and chips. This composition is most frequently extruded or poured as ½” thick sheets that are 30” x 144” and are the same color throughout their thickness. This sheet material is workable like hard wood and can also be heated and thermoformed into curved and molded shapes.

How Do You Use Solid Surface?

Solid surface can be used in many ways.  If you can imagine it, you can probably build it out of solid surface. Here are a few common applications:

  • Horizontal Surfaces: Among the many horizontal surface uses are kitchen and bath countertops, commercial food preparation areas, tables and desktops, reception desks, workstations, window sills, laboratory bench tops, bar tops, and flooring.
  • Vertical Surfaces: Vertical applications of solid surface include shower walls, wainscoting, wall cladding, bathroom partitions, exterior building cladding, and signs.
  • Industrial Product Design: Versatility and formability allow for unique creations such as custom sinks, shower pans, chairs and furniture, lamps and lighting, and back-lit artwork.

Why Is Solid Surface So Desirable?

Stain Resistant (most stains can be wiped or scrubbed away)

Most surfaces can be marred, sometimes permanently, by such things as grease spots, blueberries, graffiti, make-up or lipstick, hair dye, shoe polish, or permanent marking pens. On solid surface, all of these blights can be removed with water or an abrasive cleaner.

Antimicrobial (bacteria, mold, and mildew resistant)

Solid surface will not support the growth of bacteria, which makes solid surface invaluable in healthcare settings like hospitals, doctors offices, gyms, hospices, and retirement homes. Not to mention kitchens and bathrooms.

NSF/ANSI Standard 51 Certified

The majority of solid surface brands carry this certification which means the material is safe for food contact for all types of food. That’s why it’s great for kitchen countertops.

Greenguard NSF Indoor Air Quality Certified

The majority of solid surface brands carry this certification, which means it does not outgas any of the roughly 300 substances that Greenguard deems harmful, and does not degrade the quality of indoor air.

SCS Certified Recycled Content (many brands qualify for Leeds Points)

Using these select types of solid surface that qualify for recycled content shows that conserving natural resources is important to you and your projects.

Renewable (easily repair scratches, chips, gouges, or cracks)

Light sanding will remove scratches, small chips, and scorches from cigarettes or extremely hot pots. Gouges and cracks may need the attention of a professional solid surface repairman.

Invisible Seams

Large surfaces require seams regardless of the material used. With solid surface, the seams are either invisible or remarkably hard to detect. This is not only good for aesthetics, but it also eliminates a place for crumbs, dirt, stains, and bacterial and other pathogens to get into.

Sealing and Painting NOT Required

If you think about that for a minute, it’s really remarkable and unburdening. You don’t need to reseal the surface every six months and you don’t need to worry that if you don’t, the grease will leak through and permanently stain the surface.

  • No-finish coat means no need for applying a finish, sanding, and applying another coat or having paint booths or drying rooms and all the assorted equipment.
  • No repainting means that when the surface becomes dingy or aged it can easily be fixed with a cleaner and some wiping or scrubbing instead of repainting or resurfacing.

More Dimensionally Stable than Wood (no shrinkage cracks or raised grain)

The grain of unfinished wood rises when it gets wet or absorbs moisture. Even finished wood can dry out and crack. Although solid surface can slightly expand and contract from temperature changes, it does not crack or absorb moisture.

Thermoformable (heat and bend into curves and shapes)

In recent years, the solid surface industry has begun to leverage solid surface’s ability to become pliable when heated to around 230 degrees. Once it is in this state, it resembles a thick wet lasagna noodle. When you drape the “noodle” over an object, solid surface will conform to the shape and retain that shape when it cools.

Abundance of Colors, Patterns, and Designs

Solid surface is available in a vast array of colors and patterns, for example:

  • Infinite solid colors
  • Small multicolored particulates like grains of sand embedded in the sheets
  • Larger particulates such as found in granite
  • Randomly variegated, swirled, and veined patterns that do not repeat

These patterns are often inspired by nature, but then sometimes do not at all resemble nature and are whimsical. Some have swirls of metal shavings or strands of other materials. You can also have custom colors made to fit your designs by sending a sample to be matched.

Touch and Feel

Solid surface is not stone-cold, like concrete, quartz, and granite. It is smooth and “warm” and provides a forgiving hardness; when a glass is tipped over, it may not break. However, when dropped from a distance, glass will likely break.

Outdoor Applications

The lighter colors of solid surface show very little weather or UV impact after many years in outdoor applications such as signs, outdoor benches, and cladding for buildings. An added benefit of the material is that graffiti can be removed without changing the appearance of the surface. Freezing and hot weather do not impact the material other than expansion and contraction. Over extended years, the more saturated and darker colors may show a white haze that can be washed or sanded away.

Resistant to Majority of Common Chemicals

Solid surface is not impacted by chemicals like ammonia, mild acids, and trisodium phosphates. However, nail polish remover, strong acids, and concentrated bleach will produce a hazing effect. Hazing can be removed with the use of a wet Scotch-Brite pad.

Who Makes Solid Surface?

DuPont invented Corian in the 1960s; it was the only source of solid surface material for years.  Since then, several brands have been developed that are all similar in how they look, wear, and are fabricated.  Other manufacturers and brands include:  LG HI-MACS, Samsung Staron, Wilsonart Solid Surface (formerly Gibraltar), Formica Solid Surface, Hanwha Hanex, Aristech Acrylics Avonite, Meganite, and Mystera, to name a few.

Who Can Buy and Where to Buy Solid Surface?

Solid surface can be purchased in sheets from many places. Distributors sell solid surface, but generally only to professionals. Nonprofessionals can buy solid surface through online marketplaces, such as eBay and Craigslist.  

SolidSurface.com offers almost all brands as well as accessories needed to work with solid surface. We are one of the few places where currently stocked full sheets along with remnants of solid surface are available to anyone including the DIYer, woodworker, cabinet maker, remodeler, and fabricator.