Customers are often faced with a great dilemma when going through materials for kitchen countertops, which are easy on the eyes, have good resale value, serve them well, and are resistant to heat. Namely, you will almost certainly end up confused between two options – solid surface countertops vs quartz countertops.
In fact, both of them look nearly identical from a distance. Upon closer inspection, however, you will start to notice significant differences between solid surface countertops vs quartz countertops. You need to understand these differences in order to decide which one is the best for your home. This article attempts to help you with just that.
How Are They Prepared?
One of the biggest differences between solid surface vs quartz countertops lies in the methods used to make them and their compositions. Although both of them are artificial materials, they differ significantly in terms of preparation.
93% of quartz consists of natural quartz stone. It is by far one of the toughest materials used in houses. It is mixed with polymer resins for binding and pigments for its appearance. After setting, the finished countertop is hard and very resistant to heat.
On the other hand, the solid surface material is composed of polyester-based plastics or acrylics. These plastics or acrylics are heated beyond their melting points and poured into a solid mold afterward. The finally prepared countertop is a bit softer than quartz. Additionally, it is generally somewhat thinner, with a built-up edge, giving it the illusion of thickness.
What Are the Differences In Their Looks?
Both solid surface and quartz countertops generally look remarkably similar at first. However, depending on their color, finish, and pattern, they can appear different as well. Quartz tends to possess a notable glossy or polished finish. On the other hand, solid surface countertops tend to be a bit low-key in terms of shine. However, you will also come across highly polished solid surfaces and matte quartz at times.
The patterns featured on quartz generally resemble marble or granite. Thus, for people who prefer the look of natural stones, quartz is a good option. On the other hand, solid countertops tend to possess subtler designs and a much wider range of colors. That will allow you to give your kitchen a unique look if you wish.
Quartz and solid surface countertops also vary in terms of their thickness. Solid surface countertops tend to be around two or three centimeters thick. Some of them are also thinner, with their edge a bit thicker. Usually, they do not possess distinct seams, as their material can be melted by heating and then molded together.
Thus, even greatly thickened edges do not usually possess seams. Due to this, solid surface countertops generally have integral sinks. That is a sink composed of the same material but keeping a contrasting color. Smaller countertops could feature integral backsplashes as well.
How Do They Differ in Terms of Performance?
Both solid surface and quartz countertops require much lesser maintenance than natural stone. That is mainly because you do not have to seal them or buy special cleaning materials for them. That said, there do exist some differences in regards to their performance in due course.
Quartz countertops are hard and pretty resistant to scratches and minor damage. They are resistant to heat and staining as well. Due to this property of theirs, you can cut vegetables on top of them or put hot objects upon them.
However, solid surface countertops are more vulnerable to scratches and staining. Fortunately, you can remove these damages using abrasive pads. If your sink is lightly colored, then you can use bleach for this purpose as well. But as a result, you will have to invest more time and effort in maintaining these surfaces. And of course, as it goes without saying, you cannot use them as a substitute for cutting boards.
Also, it is important to mention that solid surface countertops are vulnerable to heat. If you place hot objects upon them, it can melt the counter or open up a seam. Red hot metals like iron can cause even more serious damage and destroy your sink. Thus, you need to be very careful regarding heat when it comes to a solid surface countertop. Apart from this, solid surface countertops are quite convenient to maintain and care for.
Can You Install Them Yourself?
It is quite hard to go with a DIY approach regarding both quartz and solid surface countertops. The raw materials are usually circulated in a distribution/installation network of fabricators, installers, and retailers. Thus, they are not easily accessible to the general public.
Regarding solid countertops, you can cut the materials using normal routers and power saws. You can easily join these pieces together using seaming kits. If you manage to get your hands on the raw material somehow, you will not have much trouble with a DIY approach in this case.
However, installing quartz countertops demands specialized tools that the average person does not possess. Even if you do manage to obtain the raw materials, installing them would be very difficult.
Alternatively, you can try going for incidental pieces like readymade one-piece vanity unit tops. These are much easier to acquire and can be installed using a DIY approach without much hassle.
Finally, How Do You Choose the Right Countertop?
As mentioned above, there are plenty of pros and cons when it comes to both solid surface and quartz countertops. You will get a lighter countertop minus seams if you decide to go with solid surface countertops. On the other hand, quartz countertops are much sturdier and closely look like natural stone.
Fortunately, both of them are easy enough to maintain as compared to natural stone. You will not have to go for sealing or specialized cleansers for either of them. Also, their prices in the market are virtually the same.
Regardless of your decision between solid surface vs quartz, you will have quality material for your kitchen countertops. Please have a good look at both their qualities, and then decide which one is best for you.