Whether granite or marble, natural stone countertops are a popular countertop choice with homeowners. But as much as we love its aesthetics, natural stone isn’t exactly cheap. To make matters worse, nature doesn’t exactly concern itself with our kitchen needs and therefore its bounties need a little human-touch-fixer-upper. What a bother!
Instead of spending half our lives trying to keep a natural stone surface properly maintained, there's a simpler alternative – solid surfaces. A durable composite material made primarily from polymers (acrylics and polyesters being the most popular), solid surfaces are the closest thing to you'll find to purpose-engineered perfection. With the kitchen in mind, of course.
While it's usually used as a countertop, solid surfaces are very versatile and are used for a wide range of applications including backsplashes, waterfall edges and floating counters. To add colours and design elements, bauxite, minerals and dyes are used. Done well, a solid surface is nearly impossible to tell apart from the natural stone its supposed to mimic.
This versatility has paved the way for its growing popularity, with highly refined products such as DuPont Corian leading its development.
Looking for an Acrylic Solid Surface Countertop in Singapore? Visit Stone Amperor for all your Solid Surface Countertop Options and Installation needs in Singapore![Related Articles: Proper Care and Maintenance of Solid Surface Countertops. ]
Solid Surface Countertops – Care and Maintenance Made Easy.
A solid surface countertop is a virtually carefree option in comparison to natural stone. While it definitely has its downsides, a solid surface countertop is a good choice for anyone looking for something more affordable, reliable and, more importantly, easy to care for.
Here are five reasons that make solid surface countertops an easy-to-care-for option for busy homeowner:
1. Stains Away!
Non-porous and impermeable to liquids, you'll find that you'll almost never need to break your back (or heart) trying to remove stubborn stains from solid surface countertops. Even the most careful individuals are going to spill or drop something messy sometime, so it's a good thing that your countertop is near-impervious to staining. Hey, we know how it feels when a precious thousand-dollar countertop is ruined simply because of one missed resealing – with solid surfaces that's not going to happen.
A solid surface countertop's impermeability to water also means that they are perfect for sink areas and bathrooms. Just remember to wipe off any puddles of water or it could leave unsightly water marks over time!
Picture via University of Edinburgh.
2. Does not need Special Maintenance.
Don't have the time to do periodic maintenance? Because solid surfaces are non-porous you can skip this step entirely. This is an advantage for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the fuss of having to periodically reseal the surface, whether it's natural stone or wood. An exception to this are polyester solid surfaces which needs to be polished from time to time to keep glossy shine on.
3. Easy to Repair.
If a solid surface gets scratched, scuffed or dented it can be sanded out pretty easily compared to a harder surface like granite. It's also made from a homogeneous material, meaning that sanding it down won't reveal any unsightly inconsistencies underneath.
This also means that if a sizable portion of the countertop does need to be replaced, the damaged portion can be cut out quickly and then have a new piece reattached without leaving any visible seams. That's often not possible with natural stone where each piece is unique and therefore are always a little different.
4. Impact Resistant.
Although easily cut or scratched by knives and other sharp objects, solid surfaces are less brittle than stone. At the same thickness, its high flexural strength allows the material to absorb shocks and impacts without damage compared to hard stone like granite. It's nice to know that you won't accidentally crack or chip it if you absentmindedly put something heavy on it, or decided to climb on top of it to reach something.
5. Easy to Clean and Hygienic.
No pores means no snagging bits and pieces from leftover meals or other dirty things, making solid surfaces super easy to clean. For the most part, a simple wipe with a wet cloth and soapy water is all that’s needed to keep it clean.
More importantly, however, is that a non-porous surface doesn't provide bacteria and other pathogens a spot where they can breed and thrive. Keeping biohazard levels within a satisfactory threshold is a must if you want a healthy living environment.
It is this reason why solid surfaces are popular with hospitals. With so many sick people passing through everyday, a surface material that's easy to clean and keep clean is really, really important. And if solid surfaces are good enough for hospitals then it should be good enough for you.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can get careless. Durable as they are, solid surfaces are not invulnerable. With that in mind, here are a few essential tips you need to know and do to keep your solid surface countertop in good condition for years to come.
1. Don’t cut directly on the surface.
Solid surface countertops are soft materials, and cutting directly on these surfaces will cause chipping or scratching. Always use a cutting board.
Chips and scratches aren’t only aesthetically unpleasant but will also catch stains easily and poses a hygiene hazard when gunk and germs start to clog and fester. It's also not easy to clean it out.
2. Always use a trivet or pad – Don't melt it!
Polyester typically has a melting point of 260 degrees Celcius while acrylic at around 160 degrees Celcius. When cooking it’s common for a pan on stove to get as hot as 166 degrees Celcius, if not hotter.
Thus, putting a hot pan or dish directly onto an acrylic countertop is a no-no, and even on polyester it just isn’t a very good idea.
Some solid surfaces are more tolerant to this kind of mess-up. Ask your solid surface supplier in Singapore to find out more about heat-tolerant variants like Corian® DuPont™ today!
3. Avoid scrubbing with anything abrasive.
Don’t get the wise idea that more is better and start using abrasive scrubbers thinking it would remove a tough stain; because it’s going to remove more than that!
Scrubbing with an abrasive scrub can cause fine scratching to something much worse. The severity of the damage can range from dulling to outright gashing.
This type of damage is particularly noticeable on dark coloured, high-gloss finishes. Minor scratching can be polished away with the right tools and technique. Depending on your level of knowledge you might want to consider D.I.Y. repairs as detailed in the point below.
4. D.I.Y. repairs are nice, but don't botch it!
It’s always tempting to want to do your own repairs, but it’s important to first assess the type and extent of damage.
While it is possible to gently polish away minor scratching, deep cracks and nicks require filling with cyanoacrylate (super glue) or epoxy filler. More severe damage may require a new piece of the solid surface material cut out to replace the damaged parts. This task could be too complex for the average homeowner to accomplish.
Therefore, it might be better to get a professional with the right tools, replacement parts and skills to have a look at the problem.
5. Avoid strong chemical cleaners.
Avoid strong cleaners like bleach, thinners or acetone. Use ammonia-based cleaning products or soap and water instead. Strong cleaners have a nasty habit of leaving solid surfaces marked or discoloured. If any of these cleaners do come into contact it is best to wash it away quickly with soap and a flush of water.
Glass cleaners are ammonia-based and are abundant on the market; most hardware stores should carry them. Vinegar can be used to dissolve calciferous buildup (white calcium salt).
If you can't seem to solve the problem please do call Stone Amperor Consultants and we can give you the best advice on how to save your countertop.[Which natural stone is actually the best option for the kitchen countertop? Check out this to know 8 Pros and Cons of materials used in making the countertop.]