Winner: Quartz. But under normal conditions, both surfaces are equally heat resistant.
Solid Surface: Cutting on solid surface countertops is not recommended. It is guaranteed that if you cut on Corian, scratches will appear. The good news is that solid-surface materials can be rather easily sanded and buffed smooth again–something you can’t say for laminate countertops.
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Confused about countertops? You should be. The three most popular types of kitchen counter materials — solid surface, quartz, and slab granite — look alike, at least at first glance. This is intentional. Amazingly stone-like looks are engineered into solid surface and quartz and are nature-made in slab granite.
Winner: Solid surface. As large-slab products, though, both solid surface and quartz countertops will have very few seams.
Solid Surface: Corian, the original solid surface counter, is made of about 33% acrylic resin (PMMA) and about 66% natural minerals. A bauxite derivative, Aluminium TriHydrate (ATH), is the most common mineral. But if you’re imagining…MORE something like that looks like granite particles, you’re wrong. ATH is a fine, white powder, much like baking soda. The many different colors and styles are achieved by different mixtures of pigments and mineral dust.
Basics Solid SurfaceQuartzSlab GraniteWhat Is It?Solid-surface is the term for a type of heavy polymer-laden countertop material. Due to brand competition, it is a lower priced and popular material.
“Quartz” is the catchy marketing term for what is more widely known as engineered stone, itself a term for a slurry of natural minerals combined with resins to create a hard, rock-like surface for countertops.
Think of it as less fake than solid surface but more fake than slab granite.Real 100% granite quarried directly from the earth and sliced into slabs. Nothing is added, nothing taken out.Brand NamesCorian, Formica Solid Surface, Avonite, Staron, Swanstone, Wilsonart Solid Surfaces.
More…Caesarstone, Cambria, SilestoneSlab granite is not associated with brand names, at least on the consumer level.Composition33% manmade (polymers); 66% natural minerals.10% binders; 90% stone-like materials, such as crushed or waste granite, marble and natural stone or recycled industrial wastes like ceramic, silica, glass, mirrors, etc.
100% naturalQuick HistoryDeveloped by Dupont under the Corian brand name as a more solid alternative to the then-popular laminate countertop material. Other companies flooded into the market after Dupont’s patent expired.
First developed by Italian company Bretonstone in 1963, the Bretonstone quartz counter technology is now licensed to 52 companies that use the original brevetto, or patent.Slab granite is quarried primarily from India, China and Brazil and shipped to the U.
S. for fabrication. Once found only in mansions, slab granite can now be found in homes of all demographics.Trend MeterCresting in popularity in the 1980s, if only because there were few alternatives, solid surface still enjoys well-deserved popularity as a functional, reasonably priced material.
Trendiest of all, quartz has surged ahead and is now installed in more homes than ever.Out of favor. While its name is often invoked to describe kitchen design excesses, slab granite remains a quality, if finicky, counter material.
While quartz countertops are 93% quartz (one of the hardest and most prolific minerals on the planet), the slabs are engineered using resin and post-consumer recycled products. They qualify for LEED points and have the GREENGUARD seal of approval due to their eco-friendly and sanitary properties. Quartz on its own creates a beautiful range of colors and patterns, mimicking granite and other natural stones. Plus, the addition of the post-consumer recycled products (typically glass) – combined with pigment – offers the opportunity to choose slabs with colors and patterns you’d never find in nature.
Disclaimer: We tricked you a little bit. We’re not going to discuss granite. It’s beautiful, but it has inherent weaknesses. It’s prone to cracks (expensive slab replacement), it’s porous (requires semi-annual sealing to protect it from moisture damage, mold, and staining) and granite slabs can also release low-grade radon into your home (not ideal in an environmentally-conscious era).
Appearance and Feel Solid SurfaceQuartzSlab GraniteAppearanceUniform, with a matte-like look. Solid surface can be buffed to a glossy sheen but manufacturers do not recommend this as it shows scratches immediately.
Lustrous, deep, three-dimensional. Surface can be honed to a gloss, if desired. Homogeneous appearance.Lustrous, rich, and crystalline. Can be honed to a gloss. Attractively chaotic appearance, in sharp contrast to quartz countertop’s homogeneous look.
How It Feels To The TouchMatte-like and soft, like touching a bar of soap. Eventually scratches will develop and this contributes to an increased matte-like feeling.Smooth and glossy.Smooth and glossy.
Visibility of SeamsLeast visible seams of all products because seaming caulk is perfectly keyed to the solid surface material.Visible, though a good installer can hide seams well.Same as quartz–visible, though a good installer can hide seams well.
Solid-surface countertops are a man-made material consisting of mineral dust (mostly marble) mixed with a variety of plastic resins and pigments. Its main appeal is that it is easy to fabricate and can create completely seamless countertops, unlike any other countertop surface. It was introduced in 1967 by DuPont under the brand name Corian, though there are now other major brand names offering the material, including Avonite and Swanstone. It is a decided improvement over laminate countertops,…MORE and over the older plastic material commonly called cultured stone.
Quartz, on the other hand, requires special tools that most DIYers do not have. Even if you could buy the sheets, it would be nearly impossible to work with them.
Quartz: These countertops include 5% to 10% binding resins, either polymeric or cement-based. The other 90% to 95% is composed of hard, stone-like industrial waste products, such as marble, quartz, glass, mirrors, etc. Some companies have even begun to use nonfood-quality vegetable oils as one ingredient in the resins.
Solid Surface and Quartz: Prices are virtually the same. The prices vary depending on the style and color of the material selected. Prices are difficult to compare because it is difficult-to-impossible to purchase the source materials alone. Most suppliers will sell only to licensed fabricators or contractors.
Note that in the charts below, “homogeneous” is used to indicate a material in which elements are mixed to form a consistent, even look.
Winner: Draw. Neither are very amenable to DIY installation.
Winner: If naturalness is the goal, quartz countertops win, but not by much.
Following is a comparison between these two excellent countertop choices on seven different criteria:
Installation and Cost Solid SurfaceQuartzSlab GraniteMust Be Sealed?NoNoYes. Slab granite, being porous, will stain if not regularly sealed.Requires Pro Installation?Highly recommended. Of the three materials listed here, solid surface is the only one that do it yourselfers might conceivably cut and install themselves, at least on a small scale.
YesYesDurabilityCan scratch and scorch (though scratches can be sanded out).Hard, but can scorch.Hard, but can crack. Will absorb stains if not sealed properly.Cost (Installed)$35 and up.$50 and up.$60 and up.
Zodiaq Engineered by Dupont, you can specify the Terra series, which has a higher post-consumer recycled content. This is the most affordable quartz countertop option.
One option for DIY installation is incidental pieces, such as ready-made, one-piece vanity unit tops.
Winner: Finally, one clear difference between the two. Quartz…MORE comes out ahead, by far.
Quartz: While it is recommended that you not cut on quartz/engineered stone surfaces, in reality, they are difficult to scratch with normal use.
In the case of solid-surface materials, this is unfortunate, as the materials can be cut by ordinary power saws and routers, and the seaming kits used to join pieces are not hard to use. DIYers who managed to purchase the materials can be successful with solid surface materials. Unfortunately, it is…MORE almost impossible for amateurs to obtain sheets of solid-surface material.
Winner: Draw. Both are completely non-porous surfaces, so sealing is never required. The amount of resins in the mix ensures non-porosity.
Corian countertops do not have the lustrous shine that a polished stone slab does, but keep in mind that a shiny natural slab is susceptible to dulling, scratching and abrasions over time. Corian’s non-porous surface is resistant to staining, mold, bacteria and heat. If you accidentally place a hot pot from the stove or oven directly on the surface, you might not need to worry (but we recommend using hot plates or trivets with any surface). As far as customer satisfaction goes, 98% of people who install Corian say they would install it again if they had the choice. That’s an impressive statistic.
Solid Surface and Quartz: Difficult for the DIYer to obtain source materials because they are basically locked down in a distribution/installation system of retailers, fabricators, and installers.
While solid-surface materials mimic the look of stone–thanks to the fact that includes mineral dust–no one is likely to mistake it for solid granite countertops. For many people, the look of slab granite for a countertop simply can’t be duplicated or beat.
Also, the strip mining practices required to extract granite are less-than-desirable for the planet, to say the least. It’s time to move on from granite and embrace more versatile, durable and low-maintenance options). In other words, we really don’t feel like granite is one of the best kitchen countertop choices at all.
Buy It If:Solid SurfaceQuartzSlab GraniteYou want a simple, no-nonsense countertop with a homogeneous look and with competitive pricing.You want a solid, stone-like countertop with a homogeneous look that requires virtually zero maintenance.
You want a stone countertop that has a one-of-a-kind appearance and you do not mind occasional maintenance duties.
Yes and no. After more than 30-years in this business, we do have an opinion about which products make the BEST kitchen countertop surfaces. So, here is goes.
Neither of these countertop choices is a “single substance” surface and neither are all-natural. Both are aggregates of polymers and minerals. If a purely natural product is somehow important to you, then natural stone slabs are your only option.
This is the product Kitchen Magic considers “The BEST value as a kitchen countertop option.” Corian is an engineered countertop, rather than natural stone, and is available in more than 100 color and pattern options. It is practically indestructible and, because the colors/patterns are consistent throughout the slab, repairing the rare scratch or ding is as simple as using a mildly abrasive cleaner or a fine-grit piece of sand paper. Plus, the slabs are 100% seamless for the ultimate “streamlined” look.
Corian weighs about 4.4 pounds per square foot of 12 mm material; quartz weighs about 6.2 pounds for the same size and thickness. Thus, quartz is about 1/3…MORE heavier than Corian, which translates to a slightly more solid feeling when installed. It is questionable whether cooks would notice, or care about, this difference.
If a stone-like look/feel is your intention, quartz/engineered counters would have some advantage over solid surface.
Cambria We admit, this is our favorite. Not only do they offer the longest warranties, they produce quartz countertops right here in the United States.
Only when you get close to the material and feel it do you begin to discern differences.
In the final measure, because the two products are so close in appearance and performance (except for scratching), whatever price you can find from local installers should probably be your deciding factor.
Schedule an appointment, give us a call (1-855-573-3223) or visit Kitchen Magic for free advice regarding the BEST kitchen countertop option for your kitchen remodel.
If you want a super-contemporary look, solid surface is the way to go. Solid surface can even be thermoformed or worked by hand (like wood) into curvy, flowing shapes, something you cannot say for quartz/engineered materials.
Solid Surface: Seams are created with a bonding adhesive that creates such a tight seam that it is nearly invisible to the naked eye.
Silestone These quartz countertops offer the second-longest (15 years) warranty of the group and also have three different textured series to choose from.
But recent years have seen the introduction of quartz countertops. Most of these are engineered stone products, consisting of about 95% ground natural quartz and other materials with 5% binding resins. It’s here that there is a serious competition with solid-surface materials. Both materials occupy the middle tier of countertop options, falling between granite at the high end and plastic laminates at the low end.
Isn’t the idea of the “BEST” kitchen countertop a relative idea?
Quartz: Higher heat resistance than solid-surface materials. In theory,…MORE quartz countertops could actually catch fire if subjected to high enough temperatures, but such temperatures are almost impossible to achieve in a kitchen environment.
Solid Surface: Generally, the party line is that it doesn’t have the best heat resistance in the world. If you want to honor your end of the warranty, then you may want to keep hot items like glowing-hot skillets off of your Corian. In practice, though, solid surface countertops rarely give in to heat. In the rare likelihood of scorching, solid surface materials can be sanded out and repolished to remove the stains.
CompositionDIY InstallationHeat ResistanceSeam VisibilityScratch ResistanceSealing NeedsCost
If your insides squeezed a little when you read the above granite disclaimer, we understand and would like to direct your attention to quartz. Quartz countertops offer the best that granite and Corian have to offer: the look and shine of polished granite with the true durability and low-maintenance attributes of Corian. Quartz countertops are so durable – and scratch, stain, and mold/bacterial resistant – they come with some pretty serious warranties, ranging from 10 to 15 years, and Cambria even offers a limited lifetime warranty.