Even after 40 years, with changes in technology, formulation and manufacturing processes, much of what's new about solid surface is, in some ways, the same as what's old about it.
Solid surface still has a look of elegance and beauty, is easy to maintain, seamless, nonporous, heat-resistant, renewable, repairable and carries a 10-year warranty by most manufacturers.
For the fabricator, the past 40 years, and especially the past 20, have brought about innovations and improvements in the product itself, and also in adhesives, abrasives, tooling and machinery used to fabricate it.
For the architect and designer, these innovations translate into nearly unlimited design options and uses of solid surface not available 40 years ago.
THE BIRTH OF SOLID SURFACE
The lightning that ignited the solid surface industry started in early 1963, with a group of intellectual "malcontents or misfits" that DuPont put together and then "had the good sense to leave alone" — resulting in one of those exciting and creative mixes that come along only rarely in industrial history.
DuPont's building products team was made of six men, whose mandate was to look at all the new technologies and materials available at DuPont, and see which would make for good new commercial applications. Dr. Don Slocum, the only research chemist of the group, was assigned the area of kitchens and baths.
The first solid surface was created in these laboratories by Dr. Slocum, whose name appears on the original patent issued on October 8, 1968, and the product was called Corian.
There is something special about solid surface. It is reflected on the face of the woodworker who has just finished his first solid surface job. He understands it has similarities to wood in the way it is worked, and it has its own qualities and characteristics. The difference between a high-end solid surface job and a cheaper version has to do with the details and the value added by the fabricator. It can be likened to wood. There's quite a difference between a wooden board and a piece of fine furniture — the furniture bears the work of a craftsman. And so it is with solid surface. As they say, "God is in the details."
Then there's the look on the face of the homeowner who strokes a solid surface rounded edge for the first time. It is smooth, almost soft; it isn't cold. The look is clean and elegant. But perhaps it's after the first major kitchen cleanup that the true story is told. Many might argue that the main characteristic, the feature of solid surface most appreciated by the end user, is its ease of maintenance. Just wipe it up with a damp cloth and a bit of soap, and most cooking debris is gone. Add a dash of cleanser and water for pesky spots, and the job is finished in no time.