In the countertop world, you have a few choices at your fingertips:
- Solid surface
- Stone (granite, quartz, marble, etc.)
- Stainless steel
If you’re shopping around for new countertops, you might be wondering, “But what about Corian? Why isn’t that on the list?”
That question reminds me of an amusing conversation that I actually witnessed once in south Texas:
Waiter: What would you like to drink?
Friend: Coke, please.
Waiter: Ok, what kind?
Friend: Sprite, thanks!
Just like how “Coke” means the same as soda pop in some parts of the world, Corian is often mistaken for the product (solid surface) instead of what it actually is (a brand name). Most likely the name “Corian” is synonymous with solid surface because it was the first of its kind on the market back in the 1960s. While you can still buy Corian solid surface, you now have other choices, styles, and colors of solid surface available through Wilsonart, Avonite, Formica, Staron, Mystera, Gibraltar, LG Hi-Macs, and Meganite, too.
The chances are pretty good that if you’re still reading this, you’re considering either a solid surface or granite countertop, so let’s dive into their similarities and differences.
You may be surprised to hear this, but the price difference between granite and solid surface isn’t that wide. Ringing in between $40 and $71 per square foot installed, solid surface seems like a very economical choice for replacement countertops.
Granite, on the other hand, is typically what people think of as being the cream of the crop as far as countertops go. Think about it: granite is hewn from a quarry and transported however many miles to the workshop where it is cut, sealed and polished, and finally installed in your house. For all of the extra labor and precision (and beauty!), you might think that it’s going to be a lot more expensive, when actually, the prices are almost comparable. Of course, some granite costs are hundreds of dollars per square foot, but for nice, mid-grade granite, you can expect it to range from $45 to $80 per square foot installed. That’s really not so big of a difference!
Depending on the grade of solid surface you buy, you can have different types, sizes, and colors of aggregate. The more aggregate and the bigger the chunks, typically, the more expensive the solid surface will be. Solid surface gets its name because it is a solid…surface… That’s partially said in jest, but it’s also an important distinguishing factor between it and other countertop options. Solid surface is the same throughout the product, no matter if you cut straight down or shave some off the top (unlike laminate that has layers of color or granite that is made of many different minerals). Another plus in solid surface’s court is that the seams can almost be invisible. Keep in mind that the larger the aggregate, the more noticeable seams will be because there is more “busy-ness” to disrupt.
Each piece of granite is unique and beautiful with color, depth, and sparkle. These variations come from the process of the magma cooling underground, so no two slabs are alike. That can either be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. For most granite countertop owners, the variations in color are part of what add to the elegance of the granite, and a good fabricator and installer can make seams unnoticeable.
Solid surface requires very little upkeep, though you do have to be careful with sharp or hot things. It has an element of heat tolerance, but it can discolor, crack, or warp with anything over 350° F. The nice thing about solid surface, though, is that you can buff out most stains and scratches using fine-grit sandpaper. If you don’t want to break out the ol’ elbow grease, though, just use soap and water or a mild cleaner to wipe up messes before they have a chance to stain.
Granite countertops don’t require much maintenance, but you should polish and reseal at least once a year. Over time, the original manufacturer’s deep seal can wear off, making granite more susceptible to stains and other wear. All in all, you should use soap and water for everyday cleaning and wipe up spills as soon as possible (especially acidic ones like lemon juice). For more information on keeping your granite looking gorgeous for years to come, check out this page. Perhaps one of the best parts of granite is that it holds up well against heat and scratching, so you can get away with occasionally doing without trivets and cutting boards (though we still recommend you use them).
At the end of it, only you can choose whether solid surface or granite is right for your home. They’re close to the same price and maintenance level, but if you want surfaces that are eye-catching and drop-dead gorgeous, explore granite countertops. Contact our sales associates in Denver for more information.