This is one of our the most common questions directed to us, particularly from those outside of the design, building and architectural community.
Solid Surface is a non-porous, machinable, hard-wearing, stain and fire resistant material derived from Aluminium Trihydrate (ATH). The general composition of the material is that of being formed upon 2 main ingredients: 'The Filler' (natural mineral), and 'The Binder' (a resin / acrylic). The inclusion of different additives, such as 'particulates' and pigments provides the unique range of colours and finishes available from using solid surface against stone alternatives such as Granite or Marble.
ATH is refined from Bauxite Ore using the Bayer process using sodium hydroxide: where crushed and finely ground Bauxite particles are then processed through 'Digestion'; 'Clarification'; 'Precipitation'; and 'Calcination'.
Whilst chemically composed as a 'man-made' material Solid Surface itself is, in essence, a composition of ATH formed from Bauxite clay, with an acrylic binder formed from petroleum. Therefore, as a material Solid Surface remains one of the most natural modern materials available on the market, but one which has an unlimited range of abilities relating to shade, form, tone, translucency. Unlike other stone variations it can be thermoformed (heated and moulded) into unique 3-dimensional curvilinear shapes. Once the 'filler' and 'resin' has been combined with the appropriate additives it is poured for curing into material sheets.
However, whilst "man made", Solid Surface materials are exceptionally sustainable - with materials across the suppliers being accredited against BREEAM, LEED, and Green Guard ratings related to the protection of the natural environment.
Solid Surface has a long history - being first introduced as 'Corian' by DuPont back in 1967. 'Corian' continues to be a name renowned for solid surface, however since this time many other varieties have entered the marketplace, including (but not limited to):
BSF Solid Surfaces Ltd are proud to work with an extensive range of Solid Surface materials as an approved and accredited fabricator across all material suppliers; member of the DuPont Corian Quality Network; and a member of the LG Hi-Macs Quality Club
It is 'seamless':
One of the biggest beauties of using Solid Surface is in the attaining of a continuous look. Whilst multiple pieces of material may be required to achieve a project the skilled workmanship of fabricators and installers, combined with the material's chemical structure, means that joints and gaps can be closed together to acquire a 'seamless' connection.
It is non porous:Whilst no material is 100% non-porous Solid Surface is very close; being unaffected by water and changes in humidity. Being non-porous also enhances the germ resistance of the materials, as there are no crevices for germs to breed and multiply. This means it is ideal for high-impact areas, such as washrooms, vanity units, and kitchens.
As per the non-porous nature of the material this further means that general, common staining agents will not affect the colour or finish of Solid Surface.
It is 'shapable':
Unlike hard stone, Solid Surface can not only be machined to produce an extensive range of finishes and edge details, it can be heated and manipulated in 3-dimensions to create unique forms, which cannot be achieved using other materials. This is why Solid Surface applications are not just internal - including desking, worktops, vanity tops, kitchen counters, but also across different furniture applications and use for external signage and facading. Further information on this can be found in the 'Thermoforming' section of the website.
It is Fire Resistant:
Different manufacturers of Solid Surface materials have different technical data attributed to it. However common between most is the fact that the material is highly fire resistant, complying with F0, F1, and Euro B1 classifications. Solid Surface is resistant against both 'droplet' and 'spread of flame'.
As would be expected these colours are uniform in nature, with no embedded effects. The variety is significant across material suppliers, with many (but not all) having specific references to RAL, Pantone, and NCS colours used across the design and construction industry. For large scale project our material suppliers can even provide bespoke colour offerings.
Some solid colours are considered to be more sensitive than others, and depending on its use may be subject to a disclaimer. Please refer to the colour guides here, or just contact us so we can advise and assist further.
Translucent solid surfaces are fantastic for creative unique and innovative spaces and places. By either combining natural light, backlighting, or even CNC patterning, different, distinctive finishes can be achieved in a variety of settings. Translucent solid surface is by no means "see through", however the level of translucency can be controlled either by the layering of material; applying darker solid surface behind a translucent layer; by cutting the thickness of the material surface; or indeed by preparing the colour of the solid surface substrate.
Particulates, mixed with colours, provides a wide expanse of finish options. Some of these provide a similar effect to Marble and Granite, however the effects available are wide ranging and extensive. As the material technology continues to develop so does the visual effects that can be applied through Solid Surface, be these from small amounts of 'speckling'; to wider 'strokes' of a alternative colours. Some materials (for example Corian 'Silverite') even have semi-reflective particulates to provide a metallic effect.
All projects are individual, even if the style of job is similar (for example - countertops). Each and every client requires their unique finish to a project - be this the overall appearance, or something even as simple as an edge detail, or the inlaying of a different solid surface material to create a 2-toned visual effect.
Extending on from the principles of classic joinery solid surface can be layered and machined into a number of edge finishes - including Bullnose, Shark Nose, Waterfall, Bevel, Ogee, Receeding, Ovolo, and so forth.
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