Engineered Stone VS Solid Surface Countertops

Choose the best man made countertop for your kitchen or bathroom

When designing a kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel one of the most important decisions a homeowner will make regards the countertop material, and engineered stone vs solid surface countertops is a popular debate among designers and homeowners alike. Trying to find the middle ground between aesthetics, maintenance, cost and sustainability can be difficult, as there is no best option for everyone. Different households have different lifestyles and habits, and what works in one kitchen or bathroom may not be so great in another. The following guide helps to explain the differences between engineered stone vs solid surface countertops in order to help individuals make the right decision for themselves. Remember that no countertop material is going to be 100% perfect; the idea is to get the one that suits you and your needs better than the rest. Also, try to not get too caught up in listening to sales pitches from manufacturers as they don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.

Differences in composition

First off, knowing exactly what the two types are made of is essential to making the right decision. Engineered stone is a composite surface, made mostly of stone fragments (quartz) and a resin, or adhesive. Whereas natural stone is cut directly from the earth, engineered stone is created in a factory where it is cut into a countertop sized slab. Other fillers, such as recycled glass, can be added to the surface for a unique design in engineered stone. Solid surface countertops are made from a mixture of resin, or adhesive, and powdered bauxite (an aluminum ore) or marble. Colors are added for variety, allowing homeowners to choose a look that matches their design. Both countertop materials include a base derived from natural materials, but are man-made countertops.

Differences in application

While many designers and manufacturers will argue the merits of engineered stone vs surface countertops for whatever purposes, the fact is that both are excellent choices for kitchen remodeling and bathroom remodeling, a testament to their popularity. Engineered stone is popular because it is made from 93% quartz and can have other materials added into the surface resin for enhanced style, but it’s also known for its strength and durability, especially when compared to natural stone. However, solid surface countertops are often chosen because they are seamless in design, which reduces the areas in a kitchen or bathroom that can collect water and foster bacteria growth. Plus, solid surface countertops are non-porous, meaning they don’t stain and require almost no maintenance to maintain their original aesthetic qualities. Solid surfaces are better known as a countertop application, but they can also be molded into a sink and backsplash, seamlessly, for ease of cleaning and a uniform look throughout the kitchen.

Differences in maintenance

The good news is that both materials are easier and less expensive to maintain than natural stone countertops, but the differences in maintenance between engineered stone vs solid surface countertops are miniscule. Both engineered stone and solid surfaces are non-porous which makes them almost impervious to bacteria and neither need sealing in order to maintain their shine and good looks, unlike natural stone. Keep harsh chemicals away from your manufactured countertop surfaces and simply wipe up spills and clean with soap and water. You can also use a multipurpose cleaner on your countertops without damage, but resist acidic or abrasive chemicals and cleaners. While both are heat resistant, you should still use a heat pad or trivet with hot pans. Both of these surfaces are popular for households looking for low maintenance countertop care.

Differences in sustainability

Because green remodeling is showing no signs of slowing down, many homeowners are looking for kitchen and bathroom countertops that not only stand up to the household demands but that are environmentally friendly. While certain countertops are more eco-friendly than others, no countertop is 100% green. Also, because both engineered stone and solid surface countertops are man made using natural ingredients, the differences in sustainability are minute. It could be argued that engineered stone is slightly more sustainable because it can use recycled natural stone and other recycled materials in the base, but not in a way that would make it a big enough difference to a conscious individual. For the most green kitchen countertops, check out salvage yards and designers to see if there are excess materials up for grabs or materials that are going to be trashed, because sometimes they can be refinished for minimal environmental impact.