Solid surface is a non-porous low-maintenance counter top surface. It can mimic the appearance of stone, wood and other naturally occurring materials, and can be joined invisibly by a trained craftsman. Typically manufactured in sheet form for fabrication into finished counter tops, solid surface can also be cast into a variety of shapes, including sinks, shower pans and bathtubs. Sheet goods can also be heated and bent into three-dimensional shapes using a process called thermoforming which adds to the versatility of the product. Color and design flexibility are key factors when choosing engineered composites over natural stone.
In a residential setting, solid surface can be used as kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, and shower and tub surrounds. Countertop fabricators typically join solid surface sheets into desired shapes using a two-part adhesive, after which the cured joint is machined flat. The same method is used to create extra thick edges, which can be machined using tools and techniques similar to those used to work hardwoods.
A major appeal of solid surface is its seamless nature. Engineered composites have a gel coat surface finish which makes them impervious to bacteria, staining and most of the problems inherent in natural stone. Solid surface sinks can be joined to the countertop surface with no gaps, which eliminates areas for water to collect and bacteria to grow. Integral backsplashes can also be created that follow the contours of the wall “seamlessly” and without gaps.
Should the material become scratched or broken, solid surface can, in most cases, be repaired quickly by a certified solid surface repair company or trained fabricator. Because the surface is solid throughout, a countertop that has undergone years of wear and tear can be refinished. The installed product is available in a variety of finishes, ranging from matte to high-gloss, although most manufacturers recommend a matte or satin finish for ease of maintenance.
Also appealing, is the wide range of colors and textures, as well as the ability to custom-color the material for large projects. Hospitals, in particular, employ large amounts of solid surface for sinks, showers, nursing stations and wall cladding, because its seamless properties eliminate gaps and crevices that harbor harmful bacteria.