Solid Surface Countertops
Created in a Laboratory to be Perfect in the Kitchen
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No counter material is flawless, but solid surface comes pretty close. Better-performing than laminate, more sanitary than wood, and less expensive than natural stone, solid surface countertops enhance the beauty and functionality of any kitchen.
Types of Solid Surface
The term "solid surface", while it can be a bit misleading (after all, isn't every countertop solid?), refers to the fact that this type of counter is made from a nonporous slab. The slab, in most cases, is constructed from a plastic variety. Every manufacturer has its own formula, but the general solid surface recipe calls for acrylic or polyester resins (known as the "binder") mixed with some fillers - the most common of which is a material called Alumina Trihydrate (ATH) - and finally, additives that enhance certain attributes.
Acrylic solid surface countertops generally perform better. They are harder than polyester slabs, more impact resistant, and hold their color better when exposed to ultraviolet light. Consequently, acrylic-based counters are more expensive. One well-known type of acrylic countertop is Corian.
Polyester-based slabs cost less than acrylic ones, but that's not to say they are inferior. Polyester counters have their own strong points, including chemical resistance and a higher sheen. Avonite is a popular manufacturer of polyester solid surface countertops.
Solid Surface Countertop Benefits
The advantages of solid surface countertops include the following:
- Cleanliness: Because solid surface counters are non-porous, they don't retain hazardous bacteria such as E. Coli. Mold, stains, and moisture are similarly unable to find a foothold in solid surfaces.
- Strength: Solid surfaces are impact resistant and should provide decades of strong performance with little or no maintenance. In fact, about the only thing that can damage them is high heat, so avoid resting hot cookware on the countertop. If damage is sustained, it can typically be repaired with light buffing.
- Versatility: Solid surface counters can be customized in almost any way imaginable. They are manufactured in a huge range of colors, patterns, finishes, and edge designs with options like built-in drain boards, trivets, and seamless integrated sinks also available. Some solid surfaces even imitate the look of stone or wood. Keep in mind that you can install solid surface throughout the kitchen, or just in one area as a workstation (i.e. an island).
Solid Surface Countertop Costs
The actual cost of solid surface countertops depends on the quality of the materials, the local economy, the complexity of the installation, and other factors.
- Expect to pay $40 to $75 per square foot installed for a good quality solid surface countertop. The highest-quality materials could cost as much as $80 to $120 per square foot installed.
- Assuming a kitchen with 30 square feet of counter space, the total cost to install solid surface counters might be $1,200 to $3,600. If this seems high, don't forget that installing a single island will be significantly less expensive (around $400 to $1,200).
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