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Fresh looks in solid surfacing.

Fashionable and maintenance-free, solid surfacing materials are expanding in the traditional markets and into unconventional applications.

Countertops. Vanities. Tub and shower surrounds. Tables of all types including end tables, dining room tables and coffee tables. These are the most popular applications of solid surfacing materials, say the experts. Because of their beauty and durability, solid surface uses will continue to grow in residential and commercial areas, they add.

As the quantity and quality of fabricators increase, products made with solid surface materials will become less expensive, said Todd Vogelsinger, Ralph Wilson Plastics public relations manager. Furthermore, solid surfacings are becoming better understood and appreciated by consumers as a long-term value and investment, as opposed to an expensive alternative to laminates.

Vogelsinger said that the commercial market opportunities for solid surfacings have hardly been addressed or promoted. "Great growth potential exists here, where the budgets are larger and the call for heavy-wear, easy-care and good looking materials is always present," he said.

Besides countertops, Avonite solid surfaces have been used in fascias, furniture and signage, said Lilly Lihn, company publicist. "The use of solid surfacing materials has grown because burns, scratches and chips can be removed and the surface restored on-site to its original beauty, Lihn said. "High-quality materials in beautiful colors with great wearability all add up to the growth of usage," she added.

The rest of this article reviews the major solid surfacing products available on the marketplace. For more information, circle the appropriate number(s) on the Reader's Service Card.


Product: Avonite

Available colors: 30

Styles/patterns: 5

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 36 in. by 120 in. in thicknesses of 1/2 in. or 3/4 in.

Custom options: Available, minimum orders required.

Properties: Avonite offers a large selection of solid surfaces in 30 colors, an agate and marble collection, plus two granite patterns. The most recently introduced granite, Crystelle, simulates the intricate and varied patterns of natural granite. If damaged, the surface can be repaired to look like new on site. Avonite is uniformly colored and patterned throughout and chemically engineered to be stain resistant.

Training: Avonite trains and certifies its fabricators. Only Avonite-certified fabricators can fabricate Avonite. To date the company has trained more than 5,000 fabricators.

FORMICA CORP. Cincinnati, Ohio

Product: Surell

Available colors: 14

Styles/patterns: 6 solids and 8 granites

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 30 in. by 96 in. and 36 in. by 96 in. are available in 1/4-in. thickness; 30 in. by 96 in., 30 in. by 120 in., 30 in. by 144 in., 36 in. by 96 in. and 36 in. by 120 in. are available in thicknesses of 1/2 in. and 3/4 in.

Custom option: Available

Properties: Highly stain- and wear-resistant, Surell offers a rich surface as well as depth in color and pattern. Surell solid surface material is a cast, homogeneous, non-porous material that is designed to accommodate a broad range of interior applications with high durability and ease in maintenance.

Training: Formica Corp. offers a wide range of training, from basic seminars to more advanced one-on-one shop and hands-on training at Formica's Cincinnati facility. The company offers a certificate of training.

WILSONART/Ralph Wilson Plastics Corp. Temple, Texas

Product: Gibraltar

Available colors: 8 solid colors with an expanded palette scheduled for 1993

Styles/patterns: One "Quarry" and 8 "Stardust" stone-look designs that coordinate with solid color selections.

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 1/4 in., 1/2 in and 3/4 in.; widths of 30 in. (standard) and 36 in. (made to order); lengths of 96 in., 120 in., and 144 in. (Note: All Gibraltar panels are actually made 1-in. longer and 1-in. wider than listed, to increase ease and yield of fabrication.)

Properties: Gibraltar is a color-consistent solid surfacing material, from sheet to sheet and batch to batch. Because of this, the product can be matched to the line of Wilsonart decorative laminates.

It is a "hard" material, which makes it easier to sand and finish. It is also UL classified, and carries and advanced fire-rating, Class 1, which enhances its value in areas of tougher code restrictions.

Like other solid surfacings, Gibraltar is easy to maintain and repair and it is now available in a line of matching bath vanity and kitchen sinks.

Custom options: Custom colors and patterns are available for a minimum purchase of 250 sheets, purchased over the course of a year.

Training: The Gibraltar Recognized Fabricator Program is a four-level training course which begins with a one or two-day visit from a Gibraltar Fabrication Specialist in the fabricator's shop, where the basics of solid surface fabrication are taught through advanced fabrication techniques.

NEVAMAR CORP. Odenton, Md.

Product: Fountainhead

Available colors: 4 solid colors

Styles/patterns: 10 patterned items, 6 more to be added by March '93

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 30 in. by 98 in., 30 in. by 121 in., 30 in. by 145 in., 36 in. by 98 in., 36 in., by 121 in., 36 in. by 145 in. Thicknesses: 1/4 in., 1/2 in. and 3/4 in.

Custom options: Custom colors and/or sizes available with specific guidelines.

Properties: Tough, durable, high resistance to heat, impact, mildew and stains. Easy to clean and repairable. Design flexibility. Variety of colors and patterns.

Training: Accredited program for fabricators. Factory marketing and fabrication training for distributor personnel.


DUPONT CO. Wilmington, Del.

Product: Corian

Available colors: 18

Styles/patterns: Jewel series, Sierra series, Solid series.

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 1/4 in., 1/2 in., 3/4 in.

Custom options: The company offers a variety of sinks and lavatories with several mounting techniques, inlays, thermoformed edges, etc.

Properties: Marble and granite looks. Rugged, practical and easy to maintain.

Training: Four Corian training centers plus a consumer 10-year warranty covering material, fabrication and installation provided the work is done by a certified or approved fabricator.


Product: DurAllure solid surface countertops

Available colors: Cameo, Alpine White, Spicestone and Pepperstone

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 1/2-in. thick pre-edged countertops and bar tops

Custom options: DurAllure solid surface countertops come with a pre-applied front edge with a special inlay groove.

Properties: Homogeneous, densified, non-porous material with color and pattern throughout. Excellent fade and stain resistance.

Training: The DurAllure program utilizes an installation manual and hands-on training program with the company's national sales force.

SAFAS (Galaxy Granules) Corp. Hillside, N.J.

Product: Polyrock

Standard sizes and thicknesses: 1/4 in., 1/2 in. and 3/4 in.

Styles/patterns: 3 granite looks

Custom options: The company say it will custom blend for any color scheme

Training: In-house training at plant and a video.


Since most solid surface materials can be routed and carved like hardwood, many woodworking tools can be used. According to the experts, the most common equipment includes:

* panel or countertop saw

*routers for creating edge treatments and inlays


* straight edges

* circular saws with carbide-tipped blades

* routers with 1/2-in. carbide-tipped bits

* orbital and belt sanders

* spring clamp squares

* levels

* caulk guns

* chisels.

Safety glasses, dust masks and ear protection are also recommended when fabricating solid surfacings.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Dunne, Beverly
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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