Field seam repair before (above) and after (below) on a solid surface countertop.
Editor's Note: This is the first of several articles from Fred Vehorn on after-installation issues, with particular focus on expectations, common issues and care and maintenance services.
It will last forever; nothing can damage it! It's maintenance free! You will never have an issue with your countertop — you just need to clean it! These are all too familiar phrases that have been used to "get the sale." However, industry professionals, and now those consumers who own premium countertop surfaces know that this is not always an accurate statement. It's not surprising that premium countertop surfaces are no longer exclusive to the luxury market. Today it's not that uncommon to find granite in a section of a fast food restaurant, quartz at a company's cafeteria or solid surface on the walls of hospitals, etc. These premium surfaces can have an immediate impact on an area's image, personality, performance, status, functionality, bacteria protection, reliability, durability, renewability and so forth. However, is there anything that is completely maintenance-free?
I work for a company that specializes in identifying and resolving solid surface issues in the field. We don't fabricate, so 99 percent of the work we perform is in the field doing repairs and restoration. Over the past 20 years we have serviced more than 25,000 countertops. So, what have we learned when it comes to the most common issues? A lot, and I'm going to share some of that with you.
IMPROPER CUSTOMER EDUCATION
Customers either have selective hearing or they are not being educated about what can damage their solid surface countertops. Many, if not most, have the understanding that anything goes because nothing can damage their solid surface top! They have the "it's indestructible" mentality, and therefore use it as such. They begin to put hot pots and pans directly on the surface. They slide heavy, coarse items across the counter. They are installing heavy-duty restaurant style stoves and cooking at very high temperatures for many hours of the day. (We were told of one Corian owner that gathered his friends at his house party to demonstrate that dropping a bowling ball on the counter won't crack his countertop, and how it's virtually indestructible. He was very surprised, borderline shocked, when it cracked during the demonstration. Why? He told his friends that it didn't crack the last time he did it!)
SOLUTION: Set Proper Customer Expectations
All surfaces have their pros and cons, and customers need to be educated as to what they can expect of solid surface. What applications are better than others? Educating them on scratching . . . even diamonds can scratch; therefore, their solid surface can scratch, too. They need to understand the heat limitations. This and much more education would go a long way in reducing issues in the field.