In Depth: Corian Countertops

Corian, developed by Dupont in 1967, is an artificial material that is solid, homogeneous, and non-porous, making it the perfect surface for a kitchen countertop. To make Corian, simply mix one part of the acrylic resin Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) with two parts crushed natural minerals (try aluminum tri-hydrate, derived from bauxite ore). Add some catalysts, pigments, stabilizers, and UV absorbers. Heat, mix, and let harden — you’ve got Corian. Using a temperature of 300A�F (150A�C), you can thermoform Corian after it’s hardened, and create, let’s say, custom-sized Corian countertops for your kitchen remodel.
Besides Corian’s primary use for bathroom vanity tops, kitchen countertops, and shower cladding, the material has hospital and lab uses, mainly because of its hygienic properties. Besides using this material for home kitchen countertops, Corian is also perfect for surfaces used in commercial food preparation, health care, testing facilities, and chemical laboratories.
First sold in in the late 1960s, Corian countertops were intended from the start as an integral part of the new industry of kitchen remodeling, though the material was only available in a couple of shades of beige and white. Today, there are well over one hundred colors and patterns of Corian, including patterns that mimic granite or marble. Quite a few purchasers of Corian countertops for a kitchen remodel have said they prefer the Corian to granite not only for the appearance, but also for the easy maintenance and the non-porous surface.
A cross-section cut of Corian will show you the homogeneous distribution of particulates and color throughout the material. This even homogeneity comes into play when actually building Corian countertops for a kitchen remodel — the joints can be completely sealed with the two-part color-matched acrylic Corian epoxy as the adhesive. Once clamped and left to dry, and then sanded down to remove excess adhesive, and then polished, the countertop joint will be completely invisible. In the same manner, a seamless backsplash can be added to a countertop.
One of the problems with Corian is that it scratches much easier than granite, making the material vulnerable to knife cuts (although any scratches and nicks can be buffed to smoothness with an orbital sander). Corian, being a heat-formed material, is vulnerable to scorching from hot metal, such as a frying pan or a pot. And then there’s the cost — although Corian is one of the most affordable of the “high-end” countertop materials, Corian countertops can still cost more in a kitchen remodel than the traditional choices for countertop materials, such as wood.
On the other hand, there are many patterns and colors from which to choose with Corian. Seams can be made that are nearly invisible. The surface is easy to clean and non-porous, and, therefore, does not support the growth of bacteria or fungi. Corian is inert and non-toxic — even when burnt, Corian emits only CO & CO2. Corian is a “Green” material, manufactured in compliance with strict standards to limit waste and energy consumption, and has low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.

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