Head to head: Solid Surface and Granite Countertops
Durability is a major factor when considering the type of material for your kitchen countertops. Some look only at cost, but cost is relative, because some materials might be expensive on the outset, but lasts much longer than cheaper options.
Two of the more durable options for kitchen countertops are granite and solid surface. If you are in the market for one or the other, but not sure which one will work best for you, you should find out a little bit more about them. You will find that granite countertops have a slight edge over a solid surface such as Corian on most counts.
Granite is the top choice of homeowners and designers that like natural materials for their kitchens and homes. Marble may seem the more elegant choice, but granite is much more durable, so it is the more practical option.
Granite is an igneous rock found everywhere in the world. It is a very dense type of rock formed from slowly cooling magma just below the Earth’s surface. It comprises about 80% of the crust. Also it is highly likely that your home is sitting on top of granite right now.
Granite suppliers quarry huge blocks of the rock from different places, including the US, Brazil, Spain, and Italy. Once out of the quarry, they cut the blocks into 2 or 3-cm thick slabs and then transport them to distributors and retailers for more processing, such as fabrication and polishing.
Solid surface basics
Solid surface countertops, on the other hand, are one type of engineered or manmade stone material. The first solid surface brand to come into the market in 1967 was Corian by DuPont, which had a patent for it. When the patent expired in 2003, other brands began coming out. The original creation for solid surface was to provide a more durable replacement to laminate countertops.
Many types of engineered stones are available, differentiated by the composition and method of manufacture. In the case of solid surface, manufacturers mix together different types of crushed minerals (66%) resins (33%), and pigments, which they then pour into molds and heat to 60 degrees C or more. This process is known as cast polymer molding.
Solid surface and granite countertops cot approximately the same, with prices between $40 and $65 per square foot for a standard slab, installed. Some granite slabs might be considerably more expensive than the most expensive solid surface product, but there is no reason to choose exotic slabs if budget is an issue.
You can also opt for granite tiles in lieu of slabs to save a significant amount of money. Tiles are not as durable or attractive as slabs, but they are still better than countertop alternatives at the same price point. Solid surface tiles do not seem to be available, at least for kitchen countertops.
Overall, granite and solid surface are head to head when it comes to cost.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so making a judgment on which material has the better appearance is iffy. Generally, people that like the unexpected and often chaotic patterns and colors of granite would favor it over the more orderly and consistent look of solid surface slabs. Of course, consistency does have its own appeal, and it is much easier to find a solid surface slab to match a particular color theme or design.
Solid surface slabs can look a lot like natural stones. However, it does not have that unique look and depth of natural stones. Overall, most people embrace the esthetic unpredictability of granite countertops, and indeed, choose it because it is unique.
Return on investment
One of the things a real estate agent will tell potential home sellers that a nice kitchen can make or break a sale. Stone countertops are top favorites, but there is much debate on the relative returns on investment of different types of stones. Most homebuyers tend to like granite countertops more than solid surface countertops when asked to make a choice. However, it really depends on how well you sell it.
It all boils down to personal preference, as homeowners will feel that the choice they make gives the most return on investment. Overall, the perception is granite countertops have a slight edge over solid surface in terms of ROI because it is a natural material, and will most likely last longer than am engineered stone.
Granite and solid surface slabs are relatively maintenance free. They require minimal care to keep them in pristine condition. Some people argue that since solid surface is non-porous and does not require sealing, it has a slight advantage over granite. However, solid surface slabs are not heat-resistant, so they damage more easily with regular use. Granite, on the other hand, is heat resistant as well as scratch resistant, so in a hot, busy kitchen, that is an edge.
Most types of stone countertops require expert installation. Granite is extremely hard, so fabricating the cut holes and edges require specialty equipment. Solid surface slabs, on the other hand, are relatively soft. So, you can cut them yourself with a regular circular saw and save some money. If you get Corian brand solid surface slabs, they come with matching seaming material. So, you can actually install a countertop yourself with a little help with friends. You do need to build some type of support for the stone as well, so you probably need to have some serious DIY experience.
Between solid surface and granite, solid surface is easier to install because it is easier to cut. Of course, that also means it is much less durable than granite, so you will have to think about that.
The final tally
Granite holds up well against solid surface with a significant margin. Solid surface is available in a wide range of attractive styles and colors. It is a good option for kitchen countertops. However, it does not compare to granite in any aspect with the possible exception of installation. Even then, durability becomes an issue, so choosing granite countertops is the practical choice.
The only hitch is in finding a reputable supplier and installer for your granite countertops in your area. Granite ASAP is there for you if you are in the state of Virginia, including the cities of Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Chantilly, Herndon, Centreville, Tysons, and Washington DC. We offer free estimates and quotes for any of your kitchen countertop and remodeling needs.
We carry a wide range of natural stone slabs as well as the best engineered stone brands in the country. Over 100 colors of granite and marble slabs are available for inspection at our Chantilly, Virginia showroom.
If you prefer engineered stone, we can offer you products from the Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI brands, each one carrying the manufacturer’s warranty. You can choose what you want and we will deliver it ASAP!
Feel free to ask any questions over the phone, or get in touch using our contact form today!