Solid Surface Countertops: Basics to Know Before You Buy

When remodeling your kitchen or bath, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is what type of countertop material to use. Solid surface countertops have become an increasingly popular choice due to their seamless look, durability, and wide range of customization options. But before you commit to solid surface for your next project, there are some key factors you should consider. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about solid surface countertops to determine if they are the right choice for your home.

What Exactly Are Solid Surface Countertops?

Solid surface, also known as engineered stone, refers to a category of non-porous, homogenous countertop materials made from minerals and acrylic or polyester resins. Brands like Corian and Avonite are two of the most well-known solid surface manufacturers.

Unlike natural stone countertops which are mined from quarries, solid surface slabs are man-made in a factory through a process called cast polymerization. The resin and mineral powders are combined, poured into molds, vibrated to remove air bubbles, and then heated to cure the material into a solid, consistent slab.

The resulting countertops have a completely smooth, seamless appearance, without natural pits, cracks, or grout lines. Sheets can be fabricated to fit the exact dimensions of your space, with most manufacturers offering a 10-year warranty against defects.

Compared to laminate, solid surface is more durable, scratch-resistant, and can be repaired if damage occurs. The non-porous material also resists stains, mildew, and bacteria growth.

Benefits of Choosing Solid Surface Countertops

Here are some of the main advantages that make solid surface an excellent countertop choice:

Seamless Look

Solid surface slabs are thermoformed as one continuous piece and joints can be tightly bonded to create a completely seamless appearance. This gives off an elegant, high-end look compared to natural stone or tile countertops which have obvious seams between slabs or pieces.

Customizable Styling

With solid surface, you aren’t limited by the natural veining and patterns of stone. Instead, you can choose from dozens of color options, mix and match colors in your design, embed materials like crushed glass, or even create fully custom color combinations. Edges can also be shaped and built up for limitless options.

Extremely Durable

Solid surface stands up well to daily wear and tear. The material is resistant to scratches, dents, burns, and cracking. Though no surface is fully stain or heat-proof, solid surface holds up better than most and is easier to repair if damage does occur.

Low Maintenance

Routine care of solid surface counters involves little more than wiping with a damp cloth and mild cleaner. The non-porous material prevents bacteria growth and won’t need periodic sealing like natural stone. Repairs are also easier with solid surface since the material can be sanded and re-polished.

Easy to Clean

Spills and messes wipe up easily from solid surface countertops. You don’t have to worry about liquids seeping into grout lines or staining the material. Simple soap and water is usually sufficient for daily cleaning.

Integral Sinks and Bowls

One unique advantage of solid surface is that sinks and drainboards can be built right into the countertop material for a perfectly smooth and seamless look. The sink and counter become one continuous piece without seams, cracks, or overlapping edges.

Cost Effective

Though not the absolute cheapest option, solid surface countertops are competitively priced with materials like quartz and granite, starting around $55 per square foot installed. The price depends on the brand and customization options selected.

Disadvantages to Consider

While solid surface counters have many benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks to weigh:

Easily Scratched

Compared to quartz counters, solid surface is more prone to showing light scratches, cuts, and marks from daily wear and tear. Darker colors do a better job hiding small scuffs and marks. Keeping cutting boards on the counters can help minimize this issue.

Heat Sensitive

Solid surface can be damaged by direct heat exposure. The material itself is not heat proof, so pans and appliances should not be placed directly on the surface. Using trivets and hot pads is a must.

Challenging Repairs

Though scratches and damage can be buffed out of solid surface, the repairs require specialized tools and training. Significant damage will need to be repaired by a professional fabricator. The cost of repairs may be high if your counters are extensively damaged.

Not Completely Stainproof

Solid surface counters are highly stain-resistant, but not 100% impervious to staining, especially from highly pigmented liquids left to sit for prolonged periods. Spills should be promptly wiped up before they have time to soak in.

Seams Still Visible

While joints between solid surface slabs can be tightly bonded, some seams may still faintly show on close inspection, disrupting the completely smooth appearance. Skillful fabrication and installation are required to minimize visible seams.

Popular Brands of Solid Surface Countertops

If you decide solid surface is right for your home, there are numerous brand options to choose from. Here are a few of the most popular:

Avonite Surfaces

Offering over 150 colors and patterns, Avonite is known for its stylish solid surface designs. Their counters come with a limited lifetime warranty.

Corian (DuPont)

The original solid surface brand created in 1967, Corian has an outstanding reputation and offers a 10-year warranty. There are over 100 Corian colors and styles.

Formica Solid Surfacing

Affordably priced solid surface from a well-known laminate brand. Formica offers edging and sink bowl options for a streamlined look.

LG Viatera

With a glossy look and over 55 colors, LG Viatera is a newer brand quickly gaining popularity. Their sheets can be up to 65% natural quartz.

Gibraltar Solid Surface

Gibraltar offers unique options like translucent backlighting and recycled glass chips integrated into the solid surface material.

Swanstone Quartz

Providing a wide range of colors and patterns, Swanstone Quartz blends natural quartz into its solid surface for enhanced performance and durability.

Wilsonart Solid Surface

As a leading laminate manufacturer, Wilsonart also produces quality solid surface products that are Greenguard certified for low VOCs.

When selecting a brand, be sure to consider the color options, pattern variety, warranty length, and any unique features being offered. Narrow your choice down to two or three brands, then compare pricing and availability.

How Much Do Solid Surface Countertops Cost?

Solid surface counters are generally competitive in price with materials like granite and quartz. Expect to pay between $50 – $80 per square foot for materials and professional installation. Here are some factors that affect overall cost:

  • Brand: Higher-end brands like Corian tend to cost more than value lines like Formica.
  • Colors and patterns: Custom/unique colors and embedded accents will increase the price over standard options.
  • Edge profiles: Standard squared edges are the most affordable. Decorative ogee, bevel, chamfered, and other edge shapes cost more.
  • Thickness: Standard 1/2 inch slabs are the most common. Thicker 3/4 inch options provide more durability at a higher cost.
  • Fabrication: Simple rectangular cutouts are less expensive to fabricate than complex shapes and edge details.
  • Sink options: Integral solid surface sinks add approximately $300 – $600 depending on size and model.
  • Installation: Hiring an experienced professional for seamless installation will cost more than DIY.

Additional factors like tear out of old counters, plumbing, electrical, and backsplash tile can all bump up your total project budget. Carefully measure your space and get an itemized quote to understand exactly what is included in the price.

How to Choose the Right Solid Surface Colors

With hundreds of colors and patterns available, selecting the ideal solid surface palette for your space can be challenging. Keep these tips in mind when making your choices:

  • Base your choices on the overall style of your kitchen or bath – modern, traditional, transitional, etc.
  • Pick neutral solids like white, bisque or tan for a clean, timeless look. These also hide scratches better.
  • Go bold with a colorful solid to make a design statement. Primary colors work well.
  • Contrast lighter counters with darker cabinetry, or vice-versa.
  • Choose solid colors to mimic upscale materials like marble or granite.
  • Consider speckled, mottled and veined patterns for visual interest.
  • Match any existing tile backsplashes, floors or other materials already in the space.
  • Complement any glass, metals, hardware and light fixtures used in the overall design.
  • Select warmer cream and beige tones for a traditional vibe, or cooler grays for modern spaces.
  • View big samples under both natural and artificial light to gauge colors accurately.
  • Look at edge samples to see how color extends fully through the slab thickness.

By carefully considering your overall design and cabinetry, you can select solid surface colors that will look beautiful and stay stylish for years to come. Don’t rush this important decision.

Most Popular Solid Surface Colors

While tastes certainly do vary, these versatile neutral shades tend to top the list of most popular solid surface color choices:


Crisp, clean and timeless, white counters fit into almost any setting from modern to traditional. It reflects light and pairs with any cabinet finish.

Bisque and Off-White

Warmer than true white, bisque and off-white shades add a soft, welcoming vibe. They hide scratches and stains better than true white.


whether cool, warm or charcoal – grey beautifully complements modern and transitional spaces with its sophisticated, neutral palette.

Tan and Brown

Bringing warmth into a space, tan and brown hues coordinate well with natural materials like wood cabinetry and stone backsplashes.


For a striking, upscale look, black counters contrast beautifully with stainless steel, wood tones, and mosaic glass backsplashes.


A safe, universally flattering shade, beige works with any style from industrial to cottage. Soft beige hides use over time.

Keep resale value in mind – popular neutrals appeal to the widest range of buyers when it comes time to sell your home.

Should You Consider a Patterned Solid Surface?

While solid colors suit many designs, don’t overlook the unique possibilities of patterned solid surface slabs. Here are some benefits of choosing a pattern:

  • Makes a bold design statement and becomes a focal point
  • Provides visual interest and dimension without looking busy
  • Helps hide scratches, marks and wear over time
  • Offers a custom look without the cost of full customization
  • Feels warmer and more natural than plain solid colors

Some best practice tips when selecting a patterned solid surface:

  • Carefully view a full slab sample rather than just a small swatch
  • Ensure your cabinetry and hardware finishes complement the pattern
  • See how the edges are fabricated – patterns may not wrap around edges
  • Look at photos of the pattern installed to see the full effect
  • Choose small-scale organic patterns like marble or granite to mimic natural stone
  • Work with an experienced fabricator familiar with installing patterned materials

With the right pattern that fits your overall design vision, you can have counters that are truly one-of-a-kind.

Unique Solid Surface Options to Consider

Beyond basic colors and patterns, many solid surface manufacturers now offer unique customization options and specialty features, including:

Two-Tone Looks: Blend two complementary colors, like white and gray, for striking counters with contrasting front and back edges.

Metallic Effects: Add glittering mica powder or flecks of metal to create a radiant, jewelry-like shimmer.

Custom Embeds: Mix in materials like crushed glass, seashells, stones or recycled metals to achieve a custom inset design.

Backlighting: Some brands offer sheets with translucency to allow LED lighting strips to illuminate counters from below.

Thin Sheets: At 3/8″ or 1/2″ thick, thin solid surface pieces can provide lightweight options for walls, tub/shower surrounds, and vertical applications.

Textured Finishes: Choose a countertop texture – matte, satin, or lightly textured – rather than high-gloss if you prefer a muted look.

Woodgrain Patterns: Photographic prints can recreate the look of natural wood grains like oak, walnut and bamboo on solid surface slabs.

Don’t be afraid to inquire about special-order options direct from manufacturers. This allows you to get the customized look you want.

What Thickness Should You Choose?

Solid surface slabs are commonly available in two standard thicknesses – 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch. Here are guidelines for choosing the right thickness:

  • 1/2 inch – Best suited for applications like countertops, tub/shower walls, window sills, tabletops and backsplashes. Provides an excellent balance of durability and affordability.
  • 3/4 inch – The best choice for heavy usage areas like kitchen counters and vanities. Provides enhanced strength and impact-resistance. Ideal for sinks and cooktop cutouts.
  • 1 inch+ – Available from some manufacturers, but rarely required for residential use. May suit commercial applications. Significantly increases cost.

In most cases, standard 1/2 inch sheets offer sufficient durability for residential bathrooms and kitchens. 3/4 inch is advisable for households with young children who may play roughly around counters.

For vertical applications like tub/shower surrounds, 1/4 to 3/8 inch sheets can provide a lightweight and affordable option.

No matter what thickness you choose, proper installation and seam bonding are vital to prevent sagging and cracks over time.

How to Choose the Right Fabricator

Skilled fabrication and installation are crucial for achieving a flawless end result with your solid surface counters. Here are tips for selecting the right qualified professional:

  • Search for fabricators accredited by the Solid Surface Fabricators Association (SSFA).
  • Look for an experienced fabricator who has been in business for 5+ years.
  • Ensure they have expertise working specifically with solid surface materials.
  • Ask to see past examples of their solid surface installations.
  • Choose a fabricator who also handles installation to streamline the process.
  • Verify they offer a solid warranty to stand behind their workmanship.
  • Inquire about their templating methods – digital laser scanning ensures precision.
  • Make sure they fabricate seams in separate shop conditions to minimize dust.
  • Ensure your fabricator follows the solid surface manufacturer’s recommended procedures.

Taking the time to carefully select your fabricator will pay dividends in the finished look, performance, and longevity of your counters.

What’s Better for Edges: Straight or Decorative?

One advantage of solid surface is the ability to customize decorative edge profiles rather than simple straight edges. Some options to consider include:

Eased or Beveled – Provides a simple angled transition from counter to edge. Softens the look.

Bullnose – Rounded, convex shaped edge protrudes slightly. Creates shadow lines and contrast.

Ogee – Distinct S-shaped double curve is concave then convex. Timeless classic profile.

Chamfered – Angled edge with flat bevel acts as subtle transition from counter to edge.

Dupont – Dramatic rounded edge with convex curve and thin lip overhang.

Sharknose – A soft L-shape featuring both a rounded curve and subtle eased edge.

Keep these tips in mind when deciding on edge details:

  • Decorative edges cost more to fabricate than basic straight edges.
  • Profiles like ogee and dupont work well with both modern and traditional designs.
  • Full bullnose edges can feel too bulky visually in small spaces.
  • Eased edges provide a safe shape for families with small children.
  • Sharp angles can chip more easily than curved profiles.

View edge samples from your fabricator to get a feel for the options available and visualize what will work best in your space.

Should You Add a Backsplash? Pros and Cons

Backsplashes protect the wall behind a countertop from splashes and stains. On solid surface counters, a matching backsplash creates a streamlined, seamless look.

Reasons to install a solid surface backsplash:

  • Smooths the transition from counter to wall
  • Eliminates gaps and spaces where crumbs can collect
  • Allows you to extend your counter color and pattern
  • Can be removed and replaced if damaged
  • Offers a durable, stain-resistant surface for heavy use areas

Reasons you may want to skip the backsplash:

  • Adds cost to the project budget
  • Can make counters feel bulky and closed in
  • Limits ability to change wall colors and decor
  • Disrupts flow if you want an open-concept look
  • You plan to highlighting upper cabinets or floating shelves instead

If choosing to add a backsplash, 3/4 inch thickness is recommended for durability. For a lighter look, 1/2 inch can also work well.

Get creative by combining a short solid surface backsplash with open floating shelves or accent tiles. This gives you both protection and design flexibility.

Design Ideas for Two-Tone Solid Surface Counters

Using two complementary solid surface colors is an easy way to add bold contrast and visual interest. Follow these tips for stylishly working two tones into your design:

Perimeter Counters One Color, Island Another

Make the perimeter counters in a light neutral shade while using a deeper charcoal, navy or black solid surface on the island only.