Solid surface is available in hundreds of colors and visual textures, ranging from solid colors to marbleized , Cultured marble, cultured granite, and cultured onyx describe solid surfaces colored to resemble natural stone. Dozens of multinational companies manufacture solid surface sheet goods and sinks for the world market; and hundreds of smaller, regional manufacturers produce for local markets.
Although solid surface faces competition from natural stone and quartz surfacing, the material is popular in Asia, particularly in residential new construction. An emerging market for solid surface is in commercial and industrial settings, where its non-porous characteristics, combined with durability, renew-ability and form-ability make it the material of choice for many designers and architects. Also appealing, is the wide range of colors and textures, as well as the ability to custom-color the material for large projects. Hospitals, in particular, employ large amounts of solid surface for sinks, showers, nursing stations and wall cladding, because its seamless properties eliminate gaps and crevices that harbor harmful bacteria.
Solid surface is manufactured by mixing acrylic or polyester resin with powdered bauxite filler and pigments. The material chemically cures and is heated to 60°C or more. Cured material is then cut in sheets or shapes and sanded on one or both sides depending the brand used. Sometimes the material is brought to 160°C and cooled, to improve its heat resistance.
Acrylic-modified polyester solid surface can be mixed one sheet at a time using different formulations, affects and appearances. Acrylic-modified polyester solid surface can be injected into molds to produce various solid decorative design figures.
A surface fabricator shapes and installs functional and decorative surfaces, usually in buildings. Surface fabrication, as a distinct professional enterprise, usually involves complex tasks of surface shaping. A leading case is countertop fabrication.
For interior spaces, surfaces include solid coverings or decking for floors or walls, and countertops for kitchens, bathrooms, and workspaces. Natural surfaces are composed of naturally occurring materials like wood, stone, mineral, clay, gum and resin. Synthetic surfaces contain, in addition to any natural materials, man-made substances such as metal alloys or polymers. Solid surfaces are synthetic surfaces manufactured from polymeric materials.
Tools of surface fabrication include routers, drills, templates, clamps, ovens, suction cup grips, and table saws. Larger surface fabricators may also use CNC routers. For all but the simplest jobs, surface fabrication usually takes place in the workshop, after which the finished product is assembled and installed at the work site. Installation of multi-part surfaces, such as “L” and “U” shaped countertops, often involves complex work with specialized tools, to create a seamless result.
Solid surfaces is used in the following environment:
- Kitchen/Bathroom : kitchen worktops with integrated sink, vanity countertop, bath tub etc.
- Hospitality/Catering : bars, tables, reception desks etc.
- Shop Fitting : displays, counters, wall cladding etc.
- Airports : check-in counters
- Public buildings : displays in museums, facades, meeting tables etc.
- Hospitals : laboratory countertops, decontamination sinks, endoscopy etc.
Solid surface is priced to compete with natural stone or quartz surfacing. It is available in many colors and patterns. The material can be formed to shape, which makes it appealing to commercial and industrial designers. Specialist fabricators possess the skills and knowledge necessary to provide advice and customer service.
Certain high-heat applications (anything above 400 F /200 C) are discouraged, due to the danger of cracking. Because scratches in solid surface appear white to the human eye, most dark colors are not recommended for high use areas.