Corian counter tops are often regarded as third cousin to more "glamorous" countertop materials, but solid surface deserves a second look offering truly unique qualities and a new world of possibilities for creative kitchen design.
Many consumers are confused about Corian. What the hay is it anyway? Solid surface?
A most basic description...
Corian is a cross between laminate and granite.
Solid surface countertops are manufactured by blending acrylic polymers (basically plastic) and stone-derived materials.
This mix is poured into molds to make half-inch-thick sheets. The composition is consistent all the way through... or "solid". Exactly the same inside and out.
Corian countertops are made by DuPont ( which makes Zodiac quartz counters). Corian is the big cat on the block, but other solid surface brands include Staron, Swanstone, Avonite, Wilsonart / Gibraltar, Formica, Hanex , and Meganite.
Differences in the "recipe" do exist between manufacturers, but the end result is essentially the same type of countertop material. Corian counter tops are a reasonably durable surface with specific advantages, but also some drawbacks when compared to a granite or quartz countertop.
I'll paint the whole picture for you here regarding all key factors: design, colors, sinks, seams, cost, care, repair & overall performance... let's take a look!
Corian colors in the past were limited to some pretty boring earth tones with a monotonous, speckled pattern. Appealing to some, but really couldn't compare to the depth and natural beauty of stone.
Luckily, those days are gone. Finding a new flair, pattern styles have expanded beyond the uniform speckled look of old with over 100 Corian countertop colors now available encompassing a broad range of textures and designs.
You can still pick from plenty of neutral beige and brown colors along with popular grays. Pure white and black colors like Glacier White and Deep Nocturne serve the modern-minimalist aesthetic.
And Corian colors gets playful with solids in yellow and blue too. Golds, purples, pinks, corals and coppers fall in-between.
The evolution and addition of new patterns, though, is what's so enticing offering options for any bath or kitchen design theme.
Grain shapes and sizes vary from sand to pebble... even recycled glass. Striations, veins, mottled color shading and movement are now seen throughout the collection for a far more natural look. Many pleasing patterns mimic marble, travertine and granite quite well.
Custom colors are possible too, if you can believe it! Send Corian a sample color from a fabric or paint sample and they will match it.
Edge styles to suit most bath and kitchen design ideas are possible with DuPont Corian counter tops... from a simple "eased" or "bullnose" edge to a fancy "Spanish" style.
A thick edge profile to simulate a huge block countertop, or to create the more elaborate designs is
easily accomplished with a laminated edge. In most cases, the seams of a laminated edge will be invisible as well (such seams typically show on granite).
Backsplashes can be installed in the traditional fashion just like with granite, marble or quartz countertops. Use stone, glass or metal or ceramic tiles configured in any design that suits your fancy.
You may even choose to install a full backsplash using the same Corian color as on the countertops. Note that the wall seam can be eliminated by molding a Corian backsplash into the countertop.
Corian sinks come in myriad single and double bowl configurations, colors and sizes. They have your lifestyle demands covered for kitchen and bathroom.
Sinks can be installed in all the usual ways such as top-mounted, undermounted, flush, beveled or molded right into the countertop for a seamless design.
Drain boards for sinks are commonly integrated right into the countertop to help keep the area tidy.
Seams are the bane of all other countertop materials. The one undisputed advantage DuPont Corian and other solid surface countertops have over all other materials are the nearly invisible seams.
Corian must still be installed in pieces or sections like other materials, so your countertop will have seams, but the materials and system used usually results in a monolithic, "seamless" look with most colors (especially solids).
Seams may still be somewhat visible on the more elaborate patterns with a less repetitive or consistent design. Considering there's little to like about visible seams, Corian is the clear winner in this category.
Corian can be molded into essentially any shape or curve via "thermoforming" allowing for almost limitless design possibilities.
Corian surfaces can even be illuminated (lights installed to glow
through the surface).
This pliability is what allows for integrated sinks, seamless backsplashes and inlays, which no other material offers.
Corian isn't just for the kitchen. It's possibly the most versatile and adaptable material also used for bathroom countertops, tub and shower surrounds, bar tops, wall cladding, furniture, boats and RV's.
Cost of Corian solid surface installation is often cheaper than granite or quartz countertops. The material itself tends to be less expensive, it's not prone to cracking, and is generally easier to fabricate with less wastage, all of which translates into lower prices for the average, basic install.
However, when comparing countertop materials, don't be surprised if the Corian price for your particular kitchen countertop design is similar (or even more in some cases) to quotes you get for a quartz or granite countertop installation.
The final Corian price can vary tremendously depending on the color chosen, complexity of the kitchen / countertop configuration, corners, bar tops, intricacy of design details like edges, sink mount, drain boards and inlays, special shapes or molding.
Labor costs will also vary (significantly at times) between contractors, from city to city, region to region and even seasonally. So, the above gives you some idea, but getting detailed bids from several contractors is necessary to accurately determine the cost of your installation.
Cleaning Corian counter tops is easy. Soap and hot water is fine (although soap leaves a dull film over time). You can use abrasive cleaners and abrasive scrub pads. Common kitchen and household cleaners are "safe" to use when used "normally". That is spray on, and wipe off.
Prolonged exposure to many common products (i.e. bleach) can discolor the surface. Also, window cleaners will leave a waxy film and should not be used.
Keep in mind.... even though solid
surface countertops are very resistant to chemical damage, it is
best to stick with pH neutral cleaners, like granite cleaners or those
made for solid surface. Corian is tough, but not impervious to stains or
High-heat and hot pans are like kryptonite to Corian. Unlike granite or quartz, Corian is not very resistant to heat and you cannot put hot pots or pans directly on the surface without risking a nasty scorch mark.
Placing pots and pans directly on your kitchen counter top, hot or not, is generally not a good idea with any countertop material.
Even with quartz or granite counters it is possible that grit trapped under the pot may damage the surface and/or the surface could undergo "thermal shock" and crack. It's rare, but possible.
However, Corian kitchen countertops cannot withstand heat for long and will essentially melt or burn if pots and pans that are too hot are set directly on the surface, so always use a trivet.
A stain in a solid surface countertop is rare, but no surface is 100% stain-proof. Most commonly Corian solid surface "stains" are actually spots from chemical damage. Again, be a little picky about cleaning products or you'll push your luck.
All cleaning products recommended here are pH neutral, safe and effective for use on Corian counter tops as well as natural stone and quartz.
Scratches are a common occurrence. A solid surface countertop is relatively soft, which helps keep you from breaking dropped dishes, but makes it easy to scratch from almost anything.
To avoid scratches always use cutting boards and trivets and refrain from sliding stuff across the surface.
Dents aren't as common as scratches, however, do sometimes happen if a heavy object is dropped onto the surface.
When comparing Corian vs. granite or Silestone, Corian falls short in the "durability" department. Granite and quartz can take heat and won't scratch or dent. Granite can stain, but these can be prevented and removed. Quartz can be chemically damaged (fairly rare), but is often permanent. So, pros and cons.... pros and cons.
The good news is that most damage to Corian can be repaired.
The meaning (and benefit) of "solid surface" becomes readily apparent when faced with a Corian countertop repair.
This countertop material is exactly the same all the way through the slab. If you chip or scratch ceramic or laminate you see the inside color is different.
Not so with DuPont Corian. The material is the same color and texture all the way through. What this means is that Corian counter tops can always be re-surfaced to eliminate scratches, scorches and stains. Small dents can often be repaired as well.
Minor Corian repair is a simple DIY job often requiring nothing more than vigorous abrasive scrubbing or sanding.
Sanding out a scratch or blemish is a handy feature of Corian that is certainly beneficial. The only drawback is that in some cases (typically with deeper scratches) you may end up with a depression that may be visible and noticeable to the touch.
Still, it's nice to know that a simple procedure can fix a scratch and re-surfacing is always an option since the color is uniform through the entire thickness of Corian counter tops and other solid surface brands.
Corian offers a limited 10-year warranty. Sounds great except it only covers product "defects", which would be a very rare occurrence. And this must be determined by DuPont Corian.
Also, it does not cover staining, or chemical damage, heat damage, scratches, dents or outdoor installations (UV rays can yellow or discolor Corian). Basically anything that could happen during normal use is not covered.
An example in the warranty states that if you happen to let a pan overhang the cooktop while heating, the radiant heat from the pan could cause a crack in the countertop. Well, this is not covered... considered negligence.
Same deal with
leaving bleach on the surface too long. Diluted bleach can be used to
clean Corian counter tops, but not the best choice considering that if you fail to rinse well, or spill
a caustic chemical directly on the surface it could discolor Corian.
The idea here is that the product is what it is... solid surface countertops are resistant to damage, but certainly can be damaged, so no coverage for "normal" damages. Scratches, dents, burns are not due to "defects" in the product.
To be fair, no countertop material is completely impervious to damage. If you take the time to learn how to properly care for Corian, use common sense and take reasonable measures to protect the surface (use cutting boards, set hot pans on trivets, use only pH neutral cleaners), then you'll easily avoid common problems.
Care and maintenance of your Corian counter tops is essentially the same as granite or quartz countertops. So, for more Do's & Don'ts and general countertop maintenance, go to the Care & Cleaning page.
Corian counter tops may not be the most popular "luxury" choice, but they shouldn't be dismissed either. Corian offers a few distinct advantages along with an upgraded and sophisticated style palette to provide plenty of design possibilities for your home.