quartz countertops

A Point-by-Point Comparison of Solid Surface and Quartz Countertops

Much can be said for synthetic materials for kitchen countertops. They do not form naturally, but they are mostly made of natural materials that would otherwise be waste. Both solid surface and engineered quartz is an amalgamation of mineral dust and scraps, usually marble and quartz respectively, to produce beautiful products that grace many homes.

Solid surface entered the market a few years before engineered quartz, and it had a good run in that time. The first solid surface brand was Corian by DuPont, which came out in 1967. Others followed, most notably Swanstone and Avonite, because there was a high demand from homeowners tired of laminate countertops, and wanting something more solid. Most solid surface stones mimic the look of stone, although most people could tell the difference.

Engineered quartz entered the US market in the mid 1970s, the result of the licensing of the patented process called Bretonstone to a number of manufacturing companies. The process was for engineered stone in general, which was an aggregation of different materials, not just quartz. However, engineered quartz with is 90% or more quartz content became the most popular engineered stone. Top brands continue to create new lines for engineered quartz.

The competition between the two manmade products was intense, and many people took sides as to which was the better product for the kitchen. If you are considering putting in new kitchen countertops and wondering which you should choose, here is a point by point comparison of solid surface and quartz countertops.


image of aluminum trihydrate
Both solid surface and quartz stone are a mix of several substances, including minerals, resins, and pigments. In most cases, solid surface contains a significant amount of resin and mineral dust. In the case of Corian, for example, about a third or 33% of the product is made up of an acrylic resin, and 66% is a fine white powder called aluminum trihydrate or ATH, derived from bauxite. The remaining 1% is the pigments that give the product its color and style.

Quartz stone, on the other hand, only has a maximum of 10% polymer or cement resin and pigment, and a minimum of 90% industrial grade solid quartz materials. In terms of their components, quartz is the more natural product with a smaller carbon footprint than solid surface.

Fabrication and installation

person cutting into quartz stone using special tools
One advantage that solid surface has over quartz is that you can fabricate (cut) and install it yourself. It is not as hard as quartz stone, so you can use a regular power saw and router to cut it down to size, make the sink cutouts, and so on. Seaming kits are also available that amateurs can use quite easily. If you can manage to get solid surface slabs, you can save quite a bundle in installation costs. Unfortunately, in most cases, you cannot get solid surface directly from the manufacturers.

It is possible to get quartz slabs from retailers and attempt to do the fabrication and installation yourself. However, quartz stone is extremely hard, and requires industrial tools to cut through it. This is a good sign of its durability, but bad news for dedicated DIYers. If you want quartz countertops, you need to hire a professional to fabricate and install for you.

Heat reaction

burn marks on countertop
Solid surface is not resistant to heat. If you damage your solid surface countertop because you put a hot pan on it, it will probably void your warranty. That said, it is not as vulnerable to heat as some people believe, and it is possible to repair any scorching or burn marks by sanding them out and repolishing the surface.
Quartz stone does not handle heat particularly well, either. If heated at high enough temperatures, it is possible to set it on fire. It may resist heat damage a bit more than solid surface, but it would not be a good idea to put it to the test.


scratches on countertops
Solid surface countertops are quite soft compared to quartz countertops. The fact you can cut through it with regular tools means it will probably be easy to scratch with a kitchen knife or any sharp implement. You can buff them out, but it would be much better if it was a tad more durable.
Scratching and physical damage is not a big problem with quartz. While you probably should not chop up vegetables directly on your countertop for hygienic reasons, you probably won’t do any damage to it.

Another point against solid surface is that since it scratches quite easily. It will probably harbor bacteria if you are not particularly vigilant about wiping down and disinfecting your counters. Quartz stone is not only scratch-resistant; some brands even have bacteriostatic properties that keep bacteria from growing on the surface.

Other points

In all other points such as availability, non-porosity, and cost, solid surface and quartz stone come out equally matched. To choose one over the other, you need to look at the other points above. However, some people do say that solid surface is a better choice for homeowners with a taste for the unusual, while quartz works better for homeowners looking for a more traditional stone-like look and feel to their countertops.


Overall, quartz countertops tend to edge solid surface countertops by a considerable margin, although solid surface fans may argue against that conclusion. The point-by-point comparison above is factual, so it is not really open for debate.

That said, choosing the right manmade material for your countertops boils down to personal preference. If you decide that quartz countertops is more your style, you want to have a reliable countertop specialist assisting you. KNC Granite is just the one for you if you are in the cities of Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesda, Rockville, Washington DC, Alexandria VA, and Arlington VA.

We carry some of the top brands of engineered stone, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties. If you prefer natural stones, we also carry a large array of granite slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland.

We are also experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities, and specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects. We deliver on time and on budget.
Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote.

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