Solid Surfaces is a low-maintenance, non-porous and repairable countertop created by pouring stone pieces, acrylic, resin, and other chemicals into a mould. It has become a perfect mid-range countertop material. Buyers who are looking for other affordable countertop materials often gravitate toward Solid Surfaces.
SURFACES REPORTER (SR) is sharing some of the issues faced while working with Solid Surfaces. We are thankful to the experts from LG, REHAU, and NEONNEX who have shared insights in this regard.
Solid Surfaces have been around for over 50 years and are a mainstay in kitchens and bathrooms. Even though Solid Surfaces get easily cut or scratched by knives and other sharp objects, they are less brittle than stone. The concerns about using Solid Surfaces can be dodged easily with some simple measures.
CONCERN 1: Solid Surfaces are not suitable for moisture-prone areas as they absorb water.
In spite of being popularised as a ‘non-porus’ material, architects are hesitant to use Solid Surfaces in bathrooms, basin tops or other moisture-prone areas.
MYTH BUSTED: It is only a misconception that Acrylic Solid Surfaces absorb moisture. In the case of Solid Surfaces, if issues arise in moisture absorption then base material and poor fabrication are most likely to be responsible.
Through various tests, it has been established that moisture absorption in Acrylic Solid Surfaces is within the range of 0.01-0.04%. This percentage is very less as compared to natural stone whose moisture absorption is in the range of 1-6%. Ceramic tiles have a water absorption value of more than 0.5%.
Mr. Ajay Khurana, Chairman, REHAU South Asia shares, “Solid Surfaces by REHAU are non-porous hence they can be used comfortably even in wet areas. Especially the elegant and contemporary Solid Surface, REHAU RAUVISIO Mineral offers durable surface solutions for advanced living.”
CONCERN 2: Solid Surfaces are difficult to maintain. White Solid Surfaces look beautiful but people refrain from using them as they are believed to be more prone to stains & scratches
MYTH BUSTED: Spokesperson from LG states that as absorption in Solid Surfaces is practically negligible, stain resistance performance of Acrylic Solid Surfaces is either at par or is far better than any other surfacing material. Only a decent level of house-keeping is required to remove the stain as the stain is only at the top surface.
Solid surfaces are non-porous. Hence, spills and stains remain on the surface. You can use household mid-abrasive cleansers and scouring pads to remove the stains immediately. Soap and water or common detergents can be used to remove most dirt and stains. Stubborn stains can be removed using abrasive detergents with abrasive sponges like Scotch Brite. Metal scrubbers should be avoided.
For cleaning Solid Surfaces, you must avoid using strong cleaners like bleach, thinners or acetone. They can cause discoloring and further damage to your Solid Surfaces. It is best to wash away the stain quickly with soap and a flush of water. Use ammonia-based cleaning products or soap and water instead. Glass cleaners are ammonia-based and are abundant on the market; most hardware stores should carry them. Vinegar can also be used to dissolve calciferous build-ups.
Mr. Nehal Shah, MD, Neonnex Solid Surfaces lets us know that Neonnex conducts chemical testing for more than 30 different chemicals from 5 minutes to 60 minutes over the surface. Also, a clear report for “No Chemical Stain” is obtained from a third party testing laboratory. They conduct testing for exposure of over 15 types of household chemicals & regularly utilized natural products on their Solid Surfaces. Neonnex urges customers to use, care and maintain Solid Surfaces as per the recommendations made by the manufacturer to have a fresh look all the time.
Mr. Khurana from REHAU shares, “REHAU RAUVISIO Mineral is extremely resistant to scratches and stains. Durable and easy to clean. It is pleasant and warm to touch with a high-quality appearance.”
CONCERN 3: Solid Surfaces lose shine usually within two to three years of use
MYTH BUSTED: Every product gets deteriorated with continued usage. Naturally, Acrylic Solid Surfaces also lose a little shine after 3-4 years of use. However, as pointed out by Mr. Shah of Neonnex, Acrylic Solid Surfaces deteriorate at a much lower rate than other surfacing materials.
The roughness value of Solid Surfaces usually goes down by 8-10% after 4 years of usage. This value is higher than the roughness value of other surfacing materials. Moreover, the original shine of Acrylic Solid Surfaces can be easily achieved through ‘buffing’ which is not expensive.
Supporting this Mr. Khurana says, “REHAU RAUVISIO Mineral maintains its properties, features, and shine year after year. Moreover, after years of use, it can be easily rebuffed to restore its look as new.”
CONCERN 4: Solid Surfaces are not a good choice for Indian Kitchens which usually have more heat than others.
Indian cooking produces too much heat which is believed to be harmful to Solid Surfaces. This makes architects and designers refrain from using Solid Surfaces in kitchen countertops.
MYTH BUSTED: Solid Surfaces can withstand heat but not direct applications of it. High-heat applications can damage Solid Surfaces. They may discolor, scorch and can even crack on direct contact. Hence, it is important to use a coaster, trivet or hot pads. Never put a hot utensil directly on your Solid Surfaces.
Experts believe that heat issues can be effectively managed with the correct selection of base material, sealing product, fabrication details and method and usage design of Solid Surfaces in kitchen applications.
The expert from LG shares, “Acrylic Solid Surfaces have evolved to take care of all the requirements of a traditional as well as modern kitchen environment. It is an ideal material for Indian kitchens. To get a hassle-free experience just a little bit of planning and detailing is required at the early design stage. There should be adequate provision of air-circulation around heat-generating elements like hobs and built-in microwaves. Some additional accessories like silicone hot pads, common kitchen rivers, and metal roller mats definitely enhance the life of Acrylic Solid Surfaces.”
Mr. Khurana from REHAU reinforces the point by saying, “Solid Surfaces are a good choice for Indian kitchens. Especially to bear more heat, SS rods (stainless steel rods) are incorporated in Solid Surfaces to be used in kitchens. It is visible on top and it is advisable to keep hot utensils on SS rods to avoid direct contact with Solid Surfaces. The premium Acrylic Solid Surfaces REHAU RAUVISIO Mineral is a homogeneous, mineral-filled acrylic panel made of alumina trihydrate (ATH) and polymethyl methacrylate (solid surface material/SSM).”
Solid Surfaces provide a seamless look. However, finishing is the critical part and the final look can vary depending on the competence of the craftsman. It is important that the fabricators and installers are certified. The final finish varies according to requirements, however, to achieve a finish which is easy to maintain in daily use, a matte or semi-gloss finish is recommended.
The findings discussed above to establish the fact that if some precautions are taken and correct procedures are followed, then Solid Surfaces as a material can be used for many purposes. It’s hard to match its beauty and properties; with a little care, it becomes a very favorable choice for a classy look to kitchens, bathrooms & other areas.