Solid Surface
Solid surface countertops are a non-porous countertop material that offers a seamless look as well as exceptional durability. A scratch-resistant renewable surface, a solid surface allows repair of minor nicks and scratches with mild abrasive household cleaners. Solid surface countertops offer many of the advantages of stone with few of the drawbacks. Cast from an acrylic resin that sometimes include crushed stone—particularly quartz—solid-surface material demands little maintenance and is extremely durable.
Solid surface vanity, sand mountain Sand Mountain Solid Surface Angled Front Vanity Top with Integral Bowl, Modified Ogee Edge
Intense heat and heavy falling objects (which shouldn’t pose much of a threat in bathrooms) can cause damage, but scratches, abrasions, and even minor burns (if you leave a curling iron on the vanity top, for example) can be repaired with fine-grade sandpaper. The color palette includes numerous solids and patterns. The methods and tools needed for working with this material are similar to those required for woodworking. Beauty of Solid Surface The latest solid surface materials do an excellent job of replicating natural stone. These surfaces are quite sophisticated and contain coloration throughout the material. Transolid® calls these colors, Natural Selections®. The advantage is that all these surfaces can be machined with attractive edge profiles, contoured around corners or can be repaired to a brand new finish.
Solid surface shower walls and base, sand mountain Sand Mountain Solid Surface Shower Walls and Base
The sheet or shape of solid surface must be “homogeneous”--that is, the color or pattern must be absolutely consistent throughout every part. This makes it very unlike gel-coated products such as cultured marble, or laminated products such as plywood or plastic laminate. It also makes it a little bit like wood, but without knots or grain. Seamless Construction
One of the best characteristics of solid surface is that it can be seamlessly put together to form a continuous sheet. This is especially helpful in the construction of a coved backsplash integral into a top. (Figure 1)

Likewise an undermount bowl can be seamless integrated into a vanity deck. This seamless construction provides a very sanitary environment.
Does Not Support Bacteria Growth
Solid surface is an extremely dense material. As a result, it provides an environment that is very unfriendly to bacteria. It remains the number one material used in hospitals across the country as a result of its resistance to the growth of bacteria.
Machinable
Solid surfaces are machinable with woodworking tools. This might be what gives solid surface much of its magic. It is immediately tied into an ancient tradition --woodworking, cabinetry, joinery--that remains fresh and vital as ever. Most woodworkers love solid surface, because, they say, you can do so much with it. Craftmanship and the skill of the artisan remain an integral part of the solid surface picture. Part of being machinable is that it’s repairable.
Hard Surface
There is a range here, but it is not clearly defined. The tests on the Spec Data sheets that are supposed to clarify things (steel balls dropped from different heights, etc.) seem only to make things less clear. Suffice it to say: harder than wood, not as hard as steel.
Non-Porous
Speaking chemically and technically, nothing is 100% non-porous. But solid surface is very close. It is unaffected by water and changes in humidity.
Stain and Chemical Resistant
Most household staining agents and chemicals, and even some industrial chemicals, will not damage it.
Fire Retardant
Most solid surfaces are fire-resistant or fire-retardant.
It Lasts
This is reflected by all these multi-year consumer warranties. Solid surface, unless damaged, should remain unchanged--for how long? Theoretically, based on what we know about the chemistry of the stuff, hundreds of years is not far-fetched.
What is in it? Most solid surface materials combine two main ingredients: a natural mineral (the “filler”) and a resin (the “binder”) , along with various additives.
Solid surface shower walls and base, white carrara White Carrara Solid Surface Shower Walls and Base
These are combined and then cast in a curing process that results in a sheet or a shape. ATH
The filler of choice in most solid surface is called alumina tri-hydrate, or “ATH.” ATH has great physical properties. It has excellent chemical and stain resistance; excellent water-resistance; nice translucency; hard enough to give superb impact-resistance but “soft” enough to be machinable; and one last almost magical property: not only will it not burn, but because it has “water in hydration,” when attacked by heat ATH actually releases steam. This makes it a natural fire-retardant..
Other Fillers
Other materials have been used as fillers for solid surface. Calcium carbonate was used in the first Corian sheets. Quartz is used to make some sinks, but yields a material too hard and brittle to be easily machinable. One brand uses glass fibers to add strength and impact-resistance to its product but at a cost of beauty and shine. Special fillers like glass beads have been tried and used to achieve specific effects.
Resins
Two main “families” of resins are used to make solid surface: acrylic and polyester. A purely acrylic-based resin yields a sheet that is thermoformable--that is, it can be heated, bent to a new shape, and cooled without any loss of its performance characteristics. The other chief difference between acrylic and polyester resins is that acrylics are unaffected by the ultraviolet rays present in natural light. Polyester resins (including those which are “acrylic-modified,” that is, mixed with acrylic resins) are used in many high-strength demanding applications besides solid surfacing, including outdoor applications like boats and aircraft cowlings. Solid surface products made with these resins are generally not considered to be thermoformable, although some manufacturers as well as fabricators do in fact cite some thermoformability for their products. Both acrylic and polyester resins start life as petroleum, and thus their cost is tied at least indirectly to the price of oil. But other supply and demand factors enter in to make the chemical market extremely volatile (no pun intended) price-wise. At today’s prices, acrylic is two to three times the cost of polyester.
Additives
Every solid surface product contains numerous additives.
Solid surface vanity, sandstone Sandstone Classic Solid Surface Vanity Top with Integral Bowl and Bullnose Edge
These include pigments, but also a host of additives that improve or enhance chemical and performance properties, or even affect such mundane things as the “pot life” of the resin in transit and storage: UV absorbers, cross-linking agents, stabilizers, the list goes on. One important additive which all solid surfaces share is a catalyst. This is the chemical, usually a peroxide, which causes the mixture to harden, or cure.
Use of Solid Surface Solid surface can be used in household areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and also in commercial areas such as banks, airports, schools, restaurants, hospitals, bath centers and offices etc. Typical uses include: Kitchen’s countertops, bathroom’s countertops, reception counter, working counter, vanity tops, sinks, bathroom, wall surround, windowsills, skirting board, meeting tabletops and guardrails etc.