Wilsonart Solid Surfacing - what the heck is it, anyway?

MizLizzieJanuary 2, 2013

Dumb question, I guess. But I found some samples in my "work in progress" box -- left over from a diverted laundry room makeover. And a couple of them are really pretty. Plain. But pretty.

So, what is it? I mean, is it Corian, basically? It isn't a sort of quartzite, I'm pretty sure. To the hand, it feels like Corian, not Silestone or Cambria.

We were beginning to think about ripping our our kitchen countertops and putting in Cambria, but the one pattern that will work for us is WOW. Like, very bold. It will require very simple backsplash decor, etc. I was just trying to get up the nerve to really think about "going there" it when I found these old Wilsonart samples.

Thanks, all. And Happy New Year.

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palimpsest

Yes, it is solid surface, similar to Corian. Corian is the proprietary name for solid surface at Dupont, who developed it.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 5:32PM
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cawaps

Yep, like Palimpsest said, like Corian but a different manufacturer/brand name.

Corian and its relatives don't get a lot of respect on this board, but I was eating out the other day at a cafe with Corian counters, and it looked nice. It's warm, resilient, pretty, and durable. Just don't stick a hot pan on it.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 6:34PM
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mjsee

I loved the functionality of my old Corian counters. If I could have found a color that worked with my "must have" back-splash I'd have done Corian (or one of its cousins) again. If you like the look...use it! (And one shouldn't stick a hot pan on any surface.)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:04PM
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oldryder

Solid surface (i.e Corian") was a medium price option 15 years ago when even a cheap granite like Lab green was $100 per sq. ft.

Solid surface has faded in popularity mostly because low priced granites can actually be cheaper and are far more durable. Even lower priced quartz surface colors are often cheaper than solid surface. this is understandable when you consider that the resins used are petrochemical based and oil is $100 a barrel vs. $20 a barrel 15 years ago.

The "quartz surface" products can be considered solid surface with rock chip inclusions. Quartz surface has the same vunerability to heat damage as solid surface since the resin matrix of quartz surface (30% by volume) is just as easily damaged as solid surface resins.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 10:44PM
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MizLizzie

I remember the old Corian countertops my sister put in her starter home over 20 years ago. I loved them. Something about the feel of Corian appeals. This Wilsonart is nice, too. Kind of buttery or something, and I thought it would be great in my laundry room.

For our kitchen, however, we first hoped to keep our old granite but that is looking unlikely. So I was looking for something with dark red in it. I saw a slab of Typhoon Bordeaux I loved, but all I've seen since has way too much yellow. So I started eyeing a piece of Cambria.

Oldryder, are you saying Cambria would be less durable than granite? I thought it was more durable. I do put hot pots on my granite, and sounds like I need to stop? I thought that was one of the advantages of granite. Duh! Maybe a big old slab of white Corian or Wilsonart is as good as anything. Clean, and easy to decorate around. Hmm.

FWIW, my sister's starter home is now a rental property and the Corian looks as clean and pretty as the day she installed it.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 8:28AM
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detroit_burb

the caveat is you have to put up with shorter available lengths in any of the man made products, but you can get granite slabs 10-12 ft depending on what you want.

My SIL who has her own style that I call 80's kitch (I really hate it, can you tell) has white corian that dates to 1989 in her kitchen and the island which sits only three squished together needed a seam in it which over time has grayed. It looks like trash. I don't know if this problem has been solved with corian seams. The corian surface has worn really well and still looks classic, though, despite the setting it is in.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 3:43PM
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MercerM

Since I'll be using corian, I've learned a lot about it. Here's some info: solid surface countertop material typically comes in maximum 12' (144") lengths. The width though is 30" but you can get a wider piece (no seams) in some brands in selected colors. Just one example: http://www.wilsonart.com/productlib/techdata/solidsurface/TechData_GIB.pdf

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Trebruchet

"Solid surface has faded in popularity mostly because low priced granites can actually be cheaper and are far more durable. Even lower priced quartz surface colors are often cheaper than solid surface. this is understandable when you consider that the resins used are petrochemical based and oil is $100 a barrel vs. $20 a barrel 15 years ago."

Allow me to respectfully disagree with oldryder as to the durability of solid surface. I just charged a guy $300.00 to diamond abrade his granite back to factory at his kitchen faucet area because the water had made it a muddy mess. The white vinegar and razor blade trick barely made a dent. I had to repolish around the entire sink and reseal. A solid surface top would laugh at hard water. A ScotchBrite pad and 3 minutes would have had this top looking like new.

Speaking of $300.00, that's about what a chip in a granite sink edge costs to fix and I've fixed many because of granite's brittle nature, the clumsiness of customers, and fabricator's inability to upsell a larger sink edge radius.

The good news for consumers is that granite is so cheap, consumers can just buy new. I just did a consult with a lady who replaced granite with granite. We're in the fashion business.

Take a look at the bathroom tops in an airport or hotel and get back to me about the durability of granite.

"The "quartz surface" products can be considered solid surface with rock chip inclusions. Quartz surface has the same vunerability to heat damage as solid surface since the resin matrix of quartz surface (30% by volume) is just as easily damaged as solid surface resins."

The International Surface Fabricator's Association recognizes estone as a solid surface. Since the Marble Institute of America recommends trivet use for stone countertops, this makes them equal to solid surfaces, whose manufacturers do the same.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 7:20PM
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Trebruchet

"the caveat is you have to put up with shorter available lengths in any of the man made products, but you can get granite slabs 10-12 ft depending on what you want."

As previously mentioned, solid surface comes in 12' lengths. Granite does occasionally. Fabricators can count on getting 10' out of an estone slab and with luck, a few inches more. With modern seaming technology, the length and width of solid surface sheets are moot. I can make any size sheet you want.

"...needed a seam in it which over time has grayed. It looks like trash. I don't know if this problem has been solved with corian seams."

This sounds like contamination which could be from customer abuse or fabricator error or both. The only time I've heard of methacrylate seams discoloring is white turning yellow and that's from too much catalyst. It is a very uncommon problem.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 7:30PM
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MercerM

Trebruchet, you're clearly very knowledgeable about various countertop materials. May I ask you a question?

You state, and I've heard this before that "the resin matrix of quartz surface is ...30% by volume" - I"m sure give or take. I've tried to get verification of this from manufacturers of quartz countertops, but of course they are very reluctant to disclose this information. May I ask how you've come by this information? I'm not trying to question the veracity of your statement, I'd just like to have a reference I could cite.

Anyway, if quartz countertops contain 30%+/- resin by volume, then it seems that at least some corian-type acrylic countertops are no more "plastic" (as some people claim) than quartz countertops (See Reference below)

Many people think that all acrylic solid surface countertops are 100% acrylic or acrylic/poly blends, but this is not true (at least for some of them).

From a Corian Spec sheet: "DuPont TM Corianî is a solid, non-porous, homogeneous surfacing material, composed of ñ1/3 acrylic resin (also known as PolyMethyl MethAcrylate or PMMA), and ñ2/3 natural minerals. These minerals are composed of Aluminium TriHydrate (ATH) derived from bauxite, an ore from which aluminium is extracted."
http://www2.dupont.com/Corian/mk_MK/assets/downloads/documentation/corian_specdata_en.pdf

So it seems that although there are clearly differences between quartz and acrylic countertops, the difference is not always in the amount of "plastic" that each contains.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:24PM
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