Why Solid Surface?
Solid surface is a non-porous, renewable, low-maintenance countertop surface. A man-made product, it has the ability to mimic the appearance of stone, wood and other naturally occurring materials, yet can be joined nearly invisibly by a trained craftsman. Typically manufactured in sheet form for fabrication into finished countertops, solid surface can also be cast into a variety of shapes, including sinks, shower pans and even bathtubs. Sheet goods can also be heated and bent into three-dimensional shapes using a process called thermoforming, which greatly adds to the flexibility and versatility of the product.
In a residential setting, solid surface can be used with excellent results as kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops and shower and tub surrounds. Countertop professionals, known as “fabricators,” typically seam solid surface sheets into desired shapes using a two-part adhesive, after which the cured joint is machined perfectly flat. The same technology is used to create extra thick edges, which can be machined using similar tools and techniques as those used to work with hardwoods.
A major appeal of solid surface is its seamless nature. Solid surface sinks can be joined to the countertop surface with no gaps, which eliminates areas for water to collect and bacteria to grow. Integral backsplashes can also be created that follow the contours of the wall “seamlessly” and without gaps.
Easily Repairable & So Much Variety
Should the material become scratched or broken, solid surface can, in most cases, be repaired quickly by a trained fabricator to make the product look and perform “good as new.” Most manufactures offer a minimum 10-year installed warranty. Because solid surface is solid throughout, a countertop that has undergone years of wear and tear can be refinished to look as fresh and clean as the day it was installed. The installed product is available in a variety of finishes, ranging from matte to high-gloss, although most manufacturers recommend a matte or satin finish for ease of maintenance.
Solid surface is also available in hundreds of colors and visual textures, ranging from solid colors to marbleized, granite effect or wood grain. Newly developed fillers and production techniques make it possible to create solid surface colors and patterns that transcend the natural, to mimic the techno-culture of the 21st Century.
Uses & Limitations
Kitchen and bathroom countertops, tub surrounds, shower stalls and shower pans, wall cladding in residential and commercial settings, retail fixtures, areas that have a large amount of moisture, reception desks, hospital rooms and nursing stations, and food service areas.
Certain high-heat applications (anything above 400 degrees F) are discouraged, due to the increased danger of cracking. Also, because scratches in solid surface appear white to the human eye, most dark colors are not recommended for high use areas.
Solid Surface Resources (PDF Documents)