Solid Surface or Natural Stone

by Kevin Gilday & Tom Gilday

kitchen remodleing with concrete countertopChoosing Countertops for the Modern Kitchen

There are now many more types of kitchen countertop materials to choose from. And yet, most of our clients still choose natural stone.  One slight change we have seen in the past two years is that granite is no longer the rock of choice.  We've been installing the more "risky" choices of marble and limestone.  Why risky?  These stones are porous and need to be professionally sealed and maintained.  Even so, they are more vulnerable to staining than granite.  That is actually one reason you might choose solid surface over natural stone.  Solid surface material is non porous and therefore does not stain.

What Is Solid Surface?

You've probably heard the brand names Silestone, Casesarstone, Corian.  There are many others.  These all fall under the generic heading of solid surface materials.  What they all have in common is that they are factory made products composed primarily of ground up stone (or quartz) and a resin binder.  That's the simple definition.

There are several advantages worth considering (aside from no stains):

  • No seams.  Solid surface countertops can be fabricated in one piece to run smoothly and seamlessly around any corners (most kitchens have at least one 90 degree turn in them).
  • Malleable.  They can be shaped without the fear of breakage.
  • Color.  The rainbow's the limit.
  • Unique patterns.  Minerals and tints can be worked into the mix to create unique pieces.

And, because they are manufactured, solid surface counter tops are entirely consistent in their color and patterning.  That is a plus if you like predictability.  Whereas, those who love the spontaneity of natural stone patterns and veining would not view that attribute fondly.

What's The Hitch

A couple of things.  First, it's fake.  So when it is made to mimic stone, it fails.  At the same time, its "fakeness" is its strength as a visual element.  It succeeds when it is designed to revel in its artificiality.

Second, it softer than natural stone and vulnerable to scratching.  But there is a benefit wrapped around that shortcoming.  It can be repaired easily.

Third, it can't take the heat.  It is sensitive to high heat and the surface, though it won't burn, can be scorched is you set a hot pot on it.  Again, there is a beneficial and forgiving feature.  Most materials can have the damaged area cut out, filled with new material, and sanded out to look like new.

In terms of price, it is neutral.  A custom fabricated solid surface counter top is going to cost about the same as natural stone .

Artificial or Natural

Your choice.  We suggest that solid surface materials may work well when the kitchen design is in contemporary style.  Another design style that would welcome a bit of artifice would be in a transitional style.  It's all a matter of preference, tasteful selection and balancing of design elements.

 

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