You have many countertop options to choose from, but the ultimate goal is to ensure you are completely satisfied with your purchase both today and years from now. Our goal is to make that possible.
Man-made solid surface materials and natural stone such as granite are the most popular choices in premium countertop materials. They offer upscale looks, superior performance and now are more affordable than ever. But which one should you choose?
As a leading supplier of premium solid surface material, we present you with a brief overview of the benefits of daily living with a solid surface countertop versus a granite countertop, and a checklist of key areas to consider. More info is below the pictures.
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Solid surface is composed of minerals, acrylic resins and colors that combine for an exact look in a broad range of colors and designs. While it offers the look of natural stone, the manufacturing process ensures consistency for very good color matching at installation and in the future when new needs arise in the home.
Granite is found all over the world and is attractive to buyers for its variation in color and texture. While this can provide an interesting look, it can make for future color/pattern-matching problems. Composition and pattern can vary from slab to slab and the quality of the granite is equally diverse – varying in hardness, stain resistance and strength. Also beware of granite that has been coated or dyed. These additives can cause problems later. Research the source of the granite and slab that you will receive, and test it for porosity, density and precise look.
Designing the Space It's not enough to just pick the countertop material. Homeowners must consider type and placement of sinks, connecting seams, edge treatments and more. These considerations are crucial to design and can significantly impact not only the fabrication of the final countertop, but also the maintenance required in years to come. Solid Surface can be routed, shaped and thermoformed, so it allows for more complex design options. Granite is very hard and heavy so it offers less design flexibility. Any design flaws should be noted prior to installation so they can be avoided.
Solid surface sinks are chemically-bonded to the countertop creating a smooth, one-piece look from countertop to sink. There are no grout lines, lips or recesses to collect bacteria and mold. Granite Sink installation requires a visible seam between the sink and countertop. Edges, seams and recesses are prone to moisture penetration, mold, mildew and bacteria growth without proper and routine sealing.
Solid Surface Consistency of pattern and color, plus chemical bonding to fuse solid surface pieces provide very inconspicuous seams. Seams are solid, flush to the surface and moisture resistant. There is no grout to clean, and liquids cannot penetrate the surface. Granite slabs vary in thickness and appearance. This results in visible and sometimes uneven seams at corners and back splash areas. The random, inconsistent appearance of granite further accentuates the seams where separate granite surfaces are combined. The seams are not chemically bonded, so they can become stained and dirty with time unless they are properly and routinely sealed.
Solid Surface Edges are formed by fusing two pieces of material together. With solid surface, color and design matching between pieces is typically very good, if not exact, since the manufacturing process ensures a consistent look and quality. Seams are smooth and very inconspicuous. Since it can be shaped and routed, edge options are nearly limitless.
With granite, no two pieces will be alike, resulting in visible seams made more obvious when patterns and colors are inconsistent. Because of the natural potential for chipping and flaking, special edge designs are limited.
Solid Surface Material® - meets FDA* standards for food contact, ASTM International standards (G-21 and G-22) for fungal and bacterial resistance and have NSF International approval in Class 51 for both "Splash Zone" and "Food Zone" areas. Of course, good hygiene is always recommended with the use of any product.*Food and Drug Administration, National Sanitation Foundation, American Society for Testing and Materials. Granite has small surface crevices so it's harder to keep them free of mildew and bacteria. Proper sealing and maintenance can protect against these conditions - as long as the sealant remains intact. Even so, granite surfaces do not currently meet FDA and NSF standards for food preparation areas. Nor do they meet ASTM standards (G-21 and G-22) for fungal and bacterial resistance.
Minor heat damage usually can be buffed away by the homeowner. More severe heat damage can be inconspicuously repaired by your certified installer. Trivets are recommended by solid surface manufacturers to protect countertops against exposure to extreme heat. You should refer to your warranty regarding coverage for any repairs.
Granite is very heat resistant; however, the sealant used on the surface is not. Trivets also are generally recommended by the stone industry.
Solid surface does not require sealing or special cleaning products. Soap and water will wipe away most stains. Minor scratches and burns can be buffed away by the homeowner without impacting the look or finish. More serious damage usually can be inconspicuously repaired by your certified installer. You should refer to your warranty regarding coverage for any repairs. Surfaces with a gloss or semi-gloss finish may require more maintenance than a matte or satin finish - scratches may be more apparent and require a more detailed buffing technique. Darker colors also may require more maintenance. Scratches and stains in solid surface can be buffed away .
Most experts agree that a granite countertop should be resealed every one to two years. In addition, weekly application of a stone polish may be recommended as well as specialized cleaning products and methods. Ask your installer what products they recommend for your particular stone and their frequency of use. When considering the cost of a granite countertop, these items should be included .Though granite is very scratch resistant, a cutting board is recommended to avoid scratching the sealant. When chips and scratches do occur, they are very difficult to remove. Repairs are usually visible, and serious damage may require full replacement of the countertop.
Granite products are generally not warranted unless a warranty is provided by the installer. Because each slab is unique, there is no way to predict its performance over time. The product may include internal fissures, natural cracks and impurities which may or may not affect its performance. Homeowners must discuss warranty options with each installer to determine what, if anything, is covered. There is no standard in place or recourse if the installer goes out of business.
Solid Surface is accompanied by no less than a 10 year, transferable warranty.
1 Solid Surface: Cutting boards are recommended by most solid surface manufacturers. Scratches can be buffed away. Granite: Damage to sealant may occur when cutting directly on a granite countertop.
2 Solid Surface: Minor heat damage usually can be repaired by the homeowner, and more severe heat damage can be inconspicuously repaired by a certified installer. Granite: Extreme or prolonged exposure to heat may damage the sealant.
3 Solid Surface meets the following standards for fungal and bacterial resistance; NSF Class 51 for food and splash zones; and FDA compliance for food contact. Granite: The natural stone industry has developed several specialized products and procedures to protect surfaces from some of the conditions mentioned above.
Sources: The Buyers Guide to Selecting Granite Counter Tops, Frederick M. Heuston, 2002, NTC Enterprises, Inc .Caring for Your Granite Countertop, by Frederick M. Heuston, 1997, NTC Enterprises, Inc. International Solid Surface Fabricators Association / http://www.issfa.commarble/ Institute of America / http://www.marble-institute.comnational/ Training Center for Stone & Masonry Trades / http://www.ntc-stone.combuilding/ Materials Supplies / www.bmsco.net/nc.htmlStone Care International / http://www.stonecare.com/