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Solid Surface Worktops

Solid surface worktops are not constructed from the same material from top to bottom. If you were to take a cross section of a solid surface worktop, you would discover that they have a core of chipboard with a solid resin outer surface. The term solid surface distinguishes this category of worktops from both laminate worktops (which have a much thinner resin outer layer) and true solid surfaces such as granite worktops and quartz worktops (which are the same material all the way through).

Numerous companies produce solid surface worktops. The most expensive of these worktops have a solid surface of more than 1cm. Some of the cheaper solid surfaces are only 3 or 4mm thick. All of the solid surface worktops on the market exhibit slightly different characteristics and pros and cons. They vary in terms of price, colour range, ease of installation, invisibility of joints and durability. However, it is possible to draw some conclusions about solid surfaces in general, and below we will attempt to summarise the strengths and weaknesses of this category of kitchen worktops. (In future posts we will examine some of the different solid surface worktops – such as, Getacore, Axiom Solid Surface, Earthstone, Staron and Encore – in more detail.)

Strengths of Solid Surface Worktops

Most people would have to agree that virtually all of the solid surface worktops look great upon installation. They usually come in a massive range of colours, tones and textures, the surface is warm to the touch, and they can be fitted with invisible (or, in some cases, near –invisible) joints between worktop sections.

Solid surfaces are non-porous (unless they become damaged), making them very hygienic and easy to keep clean. Any scratches sustained can usually be polished away and more significant damage can often be repaired to the extent that the defect doesn’t notice.

It is possible to fit some types of solid surfaces (Corian worktops, for example) with an integral sink, and, if desired, drainage groves can also be created. The more costly of the solid surfaces can be fabricated (manufactured off-site) in almost any shape. This means that you can tailor the worktop to fit your kitchen scheme, not the other way round.

Weaknesses of Solid Surface Worktops

Many of the solid surface worktops scratch easily. Although these scratches can usually be polished away, this could end up being both annoying and time consuming. Both dark and very white solid surfaces will show scratches and other marks much more easily than a mid-tone, matt countertop.

Most solid surface worktops are not particularly heat resistant. You will certainly not be able to place a hot pan or dish directly onto a solid surface, and some solid surface worktops come with warnings about the heat generated from hobs and stoves, and about pouring boiling water directly into an integral solid surface sink. (We will look at these flaws in more detail in future posts).

Some of the thinner and cheaper solid surface worktops will not be able to be used as an unsupported breakfast bar. This will obviously limit the number of kitchen designs to which they are suited.

All types of kitchen worktop have pros and cons, and solid surfaces are no different. Hopefully this brief overview has opened your eyes to some of the things to look out for when considering a solid surface worktop for your kitchen. Our future posts on the individual worktops that make up the solid surface category should help you even further.

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