Acrylic Counters: Corian v Formica Solid Surface

chrisinsdSeptember 23, 2013

Hi all--curious if there are any folks out there who have installed or can speak to the quality of the Formica Solid Surface product (NOT Formica Laminate).

We bought a 1960s house a few months ago intending a complete remodel. Remodel will give a contemporary update to the modern vibe of the home, consistent with the architecture and period of construction.

Originally I had intended to install white w/a fleck quartz surfaces because they are really beautiful and durable. However, the costs of our intended remodel are mounting and I'm looking for large places to cut a few thousand here, a few thousand there.

Bye bye high end quartz, enter Corian. I've settled on Glacier White Corian counters for our kitchen as the clean look is very modern and will compliment out dark cabinets nicely. I haven't gotten the courage to tell my mother yet who has disparaged the material for years--but I think it's pretty cool stuff and will look perfect in the house.

Now my question--the Formica company also makes a Solid Surface product called (not so cleverly) Formica Solid Surface. I have found the Glacier White knockoff at a incredible price of only $28 sq ft installed.

But I can't find a single review of the stuff (or any comparison of solid surfaces for that matter)--are all "Corians" created equal? Is there any distinction between these products other than the color palette?

PS--sorry, not mentioning granite as I'm definitely with the 'granite is over' crowd. I had granite in an old condo a decade ago. It was cold and broke wine glasses and needed resealing and easily absorbed anything. It was fine--It was 2004. Interestingly, kitchen people at our local IKEA are switching countertop companies and with it they are ditching granite. She told me they hardly sell any of it compared to sales of Corian and Quartz. Admittedly IKEA caters to a more modern taste, but I must say I'm not surprised. Solid surface is making a comeback perhaps, at least certain varieties

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We installed the Formica solid surface in our previous home - lived with it for about 5 years. It is exactly the same as Corian, so if you like Corian, you'll like it. I did like that it didn't stain, the sink was integrated into the counter, and the color worked for our kitchen.

However, I wouldn't do it again. You have to be so careful about heat: you can't put hot dishes on it or even drain boiling water into the sink. I had to use protection under my electric skillet to protect the counter from the heat. And it is soft, so it is easy to cut into accidentally. After a number of years, the top can begin to look a little frayed from all the tiny accidents.

I would go with a quartz product - there are a number of manufacturers, Silestone, Zodiaq, Hanstone, Cambria (Cambria is probably the most expensive). I'm probably missing some brands.

I would advise to NOT do a solid surface, whether Formica or Corian. In fact, I would go with a laminate Formica before going with a solid surface.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:04AM
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I have had a Corian solid surface counter since the 1990's. I do not have any stains, scratches, nicks or cuts in it. It has received normal use. I do have a piece cut the size of a cutting board that I put all the hot pans on. We are remodeling a home and my DH wanted to put Corian in because he has liked it so much. I wanted quartz because of the worrying about the heat issue. We did decide on the quartz.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Fori is not pleased

I had the old Corian and I treated it badly because I was planning to remodel. It held up to everything. Is the new stuff the same as the pink stuff from the '80s? Dunno. I do like the (cheap) white solid surface. It's tempting.

The only thing you can do is get a sample, just like you would for anything else, and abuse it.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:19PM
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I think it sounds beautiful and we almost got it for our kitchen. We had NO plans though to get the integrated sink. We planned to get an undermount stainless steel sink with no backsplash-we wanted to do our own. However, do to financial problems, we went with butcher block. They are in and finished, and now we are getting ready to do our backsplash. However, we have white cabinets. It think with your dark cabinets the white solid surface or cream would be beautiful. Most people use cutting boards for everything anyway, even if they have granite or quartz. And the light color is not supposed to show scratches. Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Corian and Formica Solid surfacing is the same type of product. Solid surface is the only renewable countertop surface....which mean you can sand and buff out the scratches and mars. However, you want to sand and buff the entire countertop at once....that way the counterop finish is consistent. If you try to buff/sand out one little scratch it will become more noticeable because you're changing the finish in one little area.

You don't have to get the integral bowl that formica or corian offers....yes they can thermal shock/break from sudden temperature changes...Get a KARRAN integral bowl...they don't thermal shock. Or get a stainless steel sink.

People have mentioned the heat issues with corian/solid surface products....and mentioned quartz material. People please read the warranties!! The same heat issue applies to all quartz materials. You can't put hot objects such as pans or heat generated appliances on either solid surface or quartz. Period. Its states it in all warranty information for both solid surface products as well as quartz products. Remember the term heat resistant doesn't mean heat proof. Kind of like stain resistant can still stain it!! =D

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Funny that you are in the "granite is over" crowd, but you are asking about solid surface counters. I would stay away from them at any costs.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Thanks DesignerGirl for the sink tip!

To the other comment, while I recognize it is the same "type" of material (why I am considering both, I understand they are direct competitors) is there ANY difference in quality (i.e. one is more or less prone to thermal sink cracks), durability or other important items other than colors?

VW and Mercedes are both cars and both German, but have key differences justifying different prices. I'm wondering if the same is true here or it's just like paying more for "Windex" compared to the store brand blue cleaner.

Thanks for everyoneâÂÂs reply so far!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Thanks for letting me know about the heat issues with quartz. That really slipped by me. I am so glad I found GW. We have been doing a whole house remodel and you have really helped me.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 3:47PM
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I'm going with the Formica solid surface... have samples of that and the Corian and the LG solid. Can't tell a difference between them.

I like the solid surface because of the price, but also I can get drain runnels and that's difficult with quartz (impossible in my area).

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:32PM
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No there are no differences between the material. Not one is prone to scratching or heat more than the other. The company I work for fabricates both. They are the same. You could also look into other brands like: Hi-Macs, WilsonArt Solid Surface, Livingstone Solid surface, and Avonite (foundation collection) too...they are also straight acrylic brands of solid surface. Avonite also offer other colors in their studio collection...but they are not straight a acrylic..its a blend...which means it does scratch easier than a straight acrylic material.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:38PM
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Oh....another note: All the solid surface sinks each brand offers can and do thermal shock...Be careful!! Some brands offer a "free sink"...don't get it....I would go with KARRAN sinks without a doubt......We have used karran sinks since they were introduced.....haven't had a one thermal shock yet.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:45PM
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ChrisInSD, if SD stands for San Diego, go to the Fixtures showroom. One of the 1st kitchen displays as you enter has an LG Hi-Macs counter in white. I do not know the name of the color, but it has a very subtle pattern in the white. I liked it better than any of the white quartz patterns I saw when we were looking. I was drawn to that display several times, but felt safer going with natural stone (white macaubas quartzite) because of the heat issue in a kitchen. I have seen great pictures of white solid surface counters in modern European kitchens.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 5:30PM
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DesignerGirl-- thanks again! Interestingly, Corian lists the following on their website about care for the sinks: "Boiling water alone will not damage your Corianî sink. However, it is a recommended practice to run cold water from the faucet while pouring boiling water into the sink."

It seems like they are saying it's OK--would such damage be covered by their warranty then? What are typical causes of this "thermal shock" you see? Also, if the unthinkable happens, what is involved in replacing an integrated solid surface sink? I do like the feature and likely opt for it.

kaysd: Awesome! I will hit them up this weekend. Agree with your last point--these photos are what drew me to the material, combined with favorable cost.

This site is such a great resource.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:31PM
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robo (z6a)

I like solid surface counters but the sinks always seem to end up looking dingy. I think sinks just come In for harder use. Would definitely do an undercount ss or granite sink instead.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 6:54AM
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ChrisInSD- Corian (and most companies) have an "out" in their warranty. "Excessive heat" So, to answer your question as easily as possible: No. If you sink cracked and broke...they won't cover it, due to excessive heat. Its not the hot water that would normally hurt the sink...(Unless you're going from very cold to very hot water) .its placing a hot pan off the range/stove or cooktop and placing it in the sink.

If you were to crack your integral corian sink, it would have to be cut out of the top and replaced with a sink that can fit into the hole. It can be troublesome, difficult, and costly to do. Especially as time goes by....sinks get discontinued and sizes change..... I honestly & highly recommend using a Karran Sink, Stainless Steel or a Quartz Sink.

Other forms of thermal shock come from placing hot pans, or heat generated appliances directly on the surface of the material. (Such as a crock-pot or skillet) Always use a cutting board or trivet on all countertops, regardless of the material. You are paying a lot of money for a product...and to keep it looking a wearing the best...use a trivet and cutting board. (Its also recommended to use a trivet on laminate, quartz, granite, marbles, and quartzites.) Another form of thermal shock is flash back from using a large pan on a small cooktop burner...and reflecting heat unto the surface of the countertop.

The another important note, (and I'm honest, brutal and I preach about this all the time) which applies to ALL countertop surface warranties, regardless if it is laminate, solid surface or quartz. The 10 or 15 year warranties basically cover the material being free of defect or defective adhesive ...thats it. Defects are normally color defects that arises at the fabrication shop before the material is cut. Which means, they don't protect the consumer, they protect the brand itself. No countertop up and cracks on its own...usually its the customer doing something improper, a poor fabrication or a poor installation. All of those things are not covered in the brand warranty. Again, this doesn't just pertain to solid surface, it also true about most all surface countertop material as well. Always read the warranties themselves.

Here's the thing: No countertop surface is perfect or without some maintenance. It doesn't matter what product or material it is....laminate, stone, solid surface, quartz, wood......its going to require a certain amount of maintenance to keep it looking as good as the day it was installed.

Here is a link that might be useful: corian warranty

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Designer Girl: thanks again for the good info. Corian at least advertises that their warranty covers both product and installation. Are you saying that is incorrect?

Re the sink, the concern I have is I will likely be choosing a countertop that is the same color as the seamless sink so it will blend. Even though these Karran sinks can be integrated I'd be concerned the white color would not match the counter color the way the OEM product would...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Its covered if its done by an authorized fabricator or installer. Now, just because a company sells corian, or fabricates it....does not mean they are authorized by Dupont to do so....Make sure you research the company or call corian to verify they are authorized to fabricate.

"This warranty does not cover products made by other suppliers or manufacturers, nor does it cover
installations of Corianî
which are not performed by DuPont authorized fabricators/installers."

About the sink...Karran is seamless. its just like a corian sink, but without the tendency to thermal shock....if you call Karran and they could send you a color sample of the sink...and you can check to see if it matches the countertop color.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 12:07PM
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These two articles were actually what I was looking for, in the case anyone else is interested. There DOES appear to be a difference between the products both with respect to their construction and durability. Do appreciate everyone's input thus far!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 12:25AM
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Good articles, thanks. I misspoke above, we're going with Wilsonart, not Formica. Glad to read that Wilsonart received the award for indoor air quality/no off-gassing.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:28AM
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