A Crash Course in Solid Surfacing Materials

solid surface countertops

ssmcountertopsWe’ve gone over the differences in natural stone countertops before, now we’re talking about “Solid Surfacing Material” (SSM). While there may not be as many differences between brands of SSM, we’ll talk about what SSM is and what materials are commonly used in its creation.

What is “Solid Surfacing Material?”

A man-made material, solid surface is made up of acrylic or polyester resins, various minerals used as a filler with pigments added in. The result of this mixture is a completely homogeneous and non-porous surface that comes in a large variety of colors. With SSM you can get the look of natural stone without the hassle.

Solid Surfacing countertops can easily be made to fit your cabinet configuration, making it a perfect choice for seamless countertop installations. Solid surfacing is popular in hospitals – the easy to maintain, non porous material with seamless construction means there are less crevices for dirt and bacteria to hide in.

Wear and tear will show on SSM countertops eventually. While the surface itself may burn, get scratched or stain, owners are able to buff out surface markings. Deeper cuts and gouges can be filled if needed. It should be mentioned though that some darker/ highly pigmented surfaces will over time show scratches. Cutting boards are highly recommended if you decide to go with a SSM countertop.

Acrylic VS Polyester


  • Beware of solvents (Acetone, paint thinners)- They will damage the surface
  • Low gloss surface, less visual depth than polyester
  • Can be “thermoformed” into intricate shapes


  • High gloss surface
  • More brittle (An issue for fabrication and installation, not so much for the user)
  • Can handle higher temperatures
  • More difficult to guarantee solid seams

Acrylic currently makes up a large percentage of products on the market today. Still, if you would prefer a polyester based material there are still some options out there for you.

We hope you’ve found this informative, next time we’ll cover wood and concrete countertops.



Comparing Natural Stone Countertops

Today we have an amazing selection of materials to choose from when looking for a countertop. It can be a little daunting. We’ll be comparing some common countertop materials so you don’t have to. First up, we’re covering natural stone!



  • The most popular countertop material
  • Comes in a wide range of colors –  vibrant blues, deep reds, variegated browns and whites and more.
  • Few seams
  • Is treated to prevent staining- treatment can last 10-15 years
  • Should be cleaned with a stone cleaner- not an abrasive treatment
  • Depending on the color and complexity of cuts granite countertops can cost between $75 to $250 per square foot


  • Soapstone comes in far fewer colors than granite. The material is usually a dark greenish-black Lighter green-gray slabs are also fairly common.
  • Can be turned into a matching sink if desired
  • Requires treatment with mineral oil as soapstone is a porous surface
  • Costs between $100 to $150 per square foot


  • Typically comes in these five colors – green, red, gray, purple and black. Mottled and variegated purple slates which have shades of contrasting colors and visible veins are less common.
  • Like soapstone, slate can also be fabricated into a matching sink.
  • Slate is a non porous surface that requires minimal maintenance
  • Can be scratched because it is a relatively soft stone, buffing out scratches with steel wool is recommended
  • Can treat with lemon oil to give the slate a wet appearance
  • Costs between $100 to $200 per square foot depending on material and fabrication


  • Not as “natural” as the other materials mentioned, but quartz countertops are engineered using various sizes and grades of crystals to create slabs.
  • Can come in a variety of hues, patterns, and finishes that can mimic the look of other materials including granite and slate.
  • One of the hardest materials on Earth, quartz can withstand tough treatment.
  • Quartz countertops are made with ground quartz and a mixture of resins, resulting in a non-porous, scratch resistant surface that never needs to be sealed.
  • Costs between $65 and $ 100 a square foot.

We hope that you have found this quick comparison helpful. Next time we’ll be comparing solid-surfacing materials such as Corian. Keep check back for new posts.