Corian countertops are a specific brand made and marketed under the DuPont name, but they may as well be synonymous with ‘solid surface’ countertops. They’re one of the most popular brands and they’re often pushed as being as good as, or better, than natural stones like granite or marble. Here’s the lowdown on them so you can make an informed decision about whether or not they will be perfect for your kitchen.
What is Corian?
Corian is the brand name of DuPont’s very popular solid surface countertop line. It was first introduced in 1971 and marketed as a ‘space age material.’ Until DuPont’s patent ran out, it was the first and only solid surface counter on the market. To this day, the name is still used interchangeably with the phrase ‘solid surface’, despite the fact that several brands make products that are as good or even better.
The composition consists of 33% binding resins and 66% minerals. Its composition makes it non-porous, so it’s stain resistant. It’s also heat resistant up to around 212 degrees F, but the manufacturer recommends the use of a trivet under hot pans to prevent warping . Color pigments are added to the resin to give them their final coloring.
Because it’s flexible when it’s heated, it can be bent and shaped in almost limitless ways. It can be used for almost anything, but its primary use is still in kitchen work surfaces. It can also appear seamless when installed since the epoxy used to glue the pieces together can be blended to match. Once the pieces are epoxied and joined, the dried seam can be sanded into invisibility, leaving a smooth, unblemished finish.
In a nutshell, Corian countertops are the man-made material that doesn’t look man-made, is more durable than the cheaper materials, and that is often more affordable than stone.
Strength and durability are all well and good, but what most people want to know is ‘how will it look in my kitchen?’. As far as color options are concerned, there’s no shortage of choices. The DuPont website features samples of all 113 colors available that you can order directly from the website.
Many of the colors emulate stone such as marble and granite while other colors in the collection feature metallic flecks in the material. The colors range from glacier white to dark blacks and blues, so whatever your kitchen color scheme, there’s a good chance you can find a color to complement it.
The “Private Collection” range of colors is designed to mimic those materials found in nature, like granite. It uses varying, complex, non-repeating patterns and colors to create a material that looks very close to the ‘real thing. It’s a popular choice for consumers who want the benefits of a man-made material but who don’t want their countertops to look cheap or plastic.
The “Terra Collection” features colors that have at least six and as much as twenty percent recycled materials in their composition. They showcase the brand’s move to providing greener options for their customers.
The “Metallic Series” features flecks of silver and gold that give depth and reflect light differently from different angles. It has a unique look that can really make your kitchen surfaces ‘pop’.
The “DeepColor Technology” line features darker hues and more scratch resistant surfaces for those consumers who want a darker color scheme without the worry of scratches showing in the material.
The latest line of Corian countertops is the “Charging Surface” countertops, which use an adapter attached to your mobile device that allows you to charge the device simply by placing it on the countertop. This option is available in all the current colors.
Comparing the cost of various countertop materials can feel like comparing apples and oranges, but if cost is important to you, it’s good to know where Corian stands when compared to the other popular materials available to you.
The cost varies depending on the style and cut that you need, but the cost per square foot for materials typically ranges from $42 to $65 per square foot, not including labor. It’s estimated that the average homeowner spends around $3500 to have Corian countertops installed in their home.
Compared to other materials, it holds its own, price-wise. It tends to be cheaper than granite by around 10-20%. It’s also cheaper than quartz, that ‘other’ man-made countertop material with a reputation for being a sturdy alternative to stone. Of course, depending on the size of your countertops and the options you choose, it can work out to be as expensive or even more expensive than either quartz or granite, especially if you have a great deal of pieces that need to be cut to fit your kitchen.
Compared to Formica and laminate countertops, it is more expensive. Laminate is often the cheapest option of all the countertop materials, but it’s also the least durable. It’s durability makes up for the higher price point, although Formica also makes a solid surface, and Corian does tend to be more expensive than the Formica range of solid surface options.
When considering the price, comparing them to other materials is tricky. Granite and quartz will cost more because they are more solid, durable options. Laminates and Formica laminates will cost less because they are pretty, but not as durable. Competing brands of solid surface counters may also cost as much or slightly less, but when comparing these, bear in mind that DuPont’s been making Corian for decades, not just years, so you know what you can expect in terms of quality and durability.
How to Clean Corian
The beauty lies in its’ simplicity. It may look like natural stone, it may be durable like quartz, but it is a creature unto itself when it comes to cleaning. Because they do not have to be sealed, you have more options when it comes to choosing cleaning solutions. Because the countertops don’t have seams, you don’t have to worry about dirt and bacteria getting trapped on their surfaces. The only thing you do need to worry about with cleaning them is preventing a film from developing on its’ surface. More on that in a econd.
Corian countertops can be wiped clean with just a wet cloth and warm, soapy water. You can also use many commercial cleaners and even ammonia-based cleaners without damaging them. The DuPont website does state that window cleaner should not be used because it can leave a filmy residue that builds up and makes the counters lose their shine.
Hard water stains can be an issue, but they’re easily treated with commercial cleaners designed to eliminate lime buildup. If you have stubborn spots, you can use a non-scratch scrubbing pad or a diluted bleach solution to help cut through the grime. Always wipe your counters completely dry to avoid spots and watermarks that can lead to mineral buildups. This will help keep them looking great for longer.
Avoid harsh chemical cleaners and oven cleaners as these could damage the finish. Also avoid scrubbing with harsh abrasives as these could scratch the surface. You can download a pdf of the official care and maintenance guide here.
Corian countertops are unique in that they can only be fabricated and installed by DuPont certified craftsmen. DuPont does this to ensure that the quality always meets their own rigorous standards. Of course, this can be a pain if you don’t have any certified fabricators and installers near you, but as long as your retailer sells it, they should be able to handle the fabrication and installation, too.
The wide variety of edging options offered by DuPont means you can get a look that is almost identical to a granite or quartz countertop. You don’t have to have a flat edge unless that’s actually what you want. According to the DuPont website, there are nineteen different standard edging options ranging from setback to triple bead. Some edging options also feature inlays for added detail and drama.
BacksplashesChoosing whether or not to have a backsplash can completely change the look of your countertops. Because Corian doesn’t have seams, adding a backsplash becomes less of a chore for you, maintenance-wise. No seams mean no grout to scrub and no place for bacteria to hide. Corian does offer backsplashes that look like tile but without the actual grout to maintain. Of course, you could always have the same color backsplash as your counters for a seamless, flowing look.
Corian sinks come in a variety of options that include beveled or undermount, mounted flush or stepped down. The idea is to create a look that is one single, flowing surface, from counter to sink and up through the backsplash. It is difficult to replace a Corian sink without replacing the counter as well, so it’s something to really think about before installing one.
It’s recommended that you not pour boiling water straight into the sink because it could warp the material. Many consumers state that they’ve never had a problem with this, but again, it’s something to keep in mind.
SeamsWhile Corian is touted as being completely seamless, the truth is, there are seams–you just can’t see them. Or, you won’t be able to see them if they’re installed properly (thus the reason for using DuPont certified installers). Because the filler used to join the pieces can be pigmented to match the counter itself, once the seam is polished you shouldn’t be able to tell that it’s there. This is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also great for cleaning and keeping the surface disinfected since there are no grooves for germs to hide.
Corian vs. Granite
In the wrestling ring of life, who handles a throwdown better? Let’s look at their physical qualities.
Corian - Made of a blend of resin and minerals, so it’s flexible, smooth, and requires no sealing. It does require a DuPont certified fabricator and installer, plus it’s not fully heat resistant and can scratch fairly easily. If it’s damaged by heat, the surface can warp and the entire counter will need to be replaced. It’s also less expensive than granite (usually) and comes in a wide variety of (man-made) colors and patterns. Minor scratches and dents can be easily buffed out, but bigger ones can look bad, and because it’s made from a resin, it can scratch much more easily than stone.
Granite - Is hard as a rock because it is a rock. It needs to be sealed, but it’s very heat-resistant and scratch-resistant. It’s usually more expensive, but it’s also extremely beautiful. In terms of ROI (return on investment), granite can’t be beaten. It’s less flexible than Corian and can crack more easily but this is highly unlikely. It’s also much harder for a homeowner to install, whereas a skilled homeowner could tackle a DIY solid surface installation if they felt competent enough.
It’s difficult to truly compare the two types of material because they are completely different substances. However, if you want to compare their cost, durability, and appearance, you’ll find that they can be very similar. A properly installed Corian countertop in the right color and with the right edging can look, at a glance, just like granite. It can’t take the heat as well as, but if you are careful in the kitchen and protect your investment, it can be as appealing as granite simply because it’s beautiful and requires almost no maintenance.
In truth, by comparison, the winner between the two depends on too many factors to calculate. If you don’t mind maintenance and you love the look and feel of real stone, granite is the winner. But, if you want something a little easier to live with and don’t mind being cautious in the kitchen, a solid surface countertop could be for you.
One of Corian’s biggest selling points is its flexibility. It is less likely to crack because it’s made of a resin/mineral blend that allows it to be bent and molded once it’s heated. Unfortunately, these same things mean that the material is prone to scratches from the simplest of everyday activities, from sliding dishes across its surface to dropping things on it.
Minor scratches can be repaired fairly easily. Abrasive cleansers can be used to sand away minor scratches, bringing the surface back to it’s ‘good as new’ look. While doing this, it’s important to keep the surface moist and rinse the scrubbing pad often to remove loose particles that could actually cause new scratches. DuPont sells their own cleaning pads which double as repair tools for sanding away scratches.
If your scratches are deeper, you can have them refinished with another layer of sealant after you’ve tried smoothing out the scratches yourself.
Where to Buy It
Corian may be considered a ‘premium’ brand under the DuPont umbrella, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have a hard time finding retailers who carry it. In fact, DuPont offers a tool on their website to help you locate authorized retailers in your area. However, because they require certification in order for contractors to sell, fabricate, and install the countertops, there may be few in your immediate area. Home Depot hardware stores are authorized retailers of DuPont countertops, so you should be able to find them at your local Home Depot.
Are Corian countertops better than other types of countertops? It depends on your lifestyle, your budget, and your tastes. If you still aren’t sure about having solid surface in your home, go ahead and request some samples from here and see for yourself what they look and feel like in your home.
Updated: February 22, 2017