Corian is the brand name of a solid surface material created by DuPont in 1967. It is a composite of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate (ATH) which is derived from bauxite ores. It was developed primarily as a kitchen and bathroom countertop but has evolved use for other applications as well.
Formica laminate is also a composite material initially made of paper, textile, and resins to form a sturdy opaque sheet. Since its invention in 1912, it has evolved tremendously to include layered pressed wood panels and particleboard ensconced in resin and is a popular material as an interior décor item for household countertops.
Corian Vs Formica…an Overview
For the sake of clarity, this is a review of the products, Corian Solid Surface vs Formica Laminate. The company Formica also has a solid surface product which is similar if not the same as the Corian solid surface product. The Formica Solid Surface product is often mistakenly called Corian.
In selecting either Corian or Formica for your countertops, you will need to consider their characteristics against your needs.
The most important quality of the two materials is the difference in their composition. Corian Solid Surface is a homogenous block whose cross-section reveals an even consistent make-up all the way through hence the name solid surface.
Formica laminate cross-sections will reveal layers of wood substrates, textile or paper composites tightly held together, with resin layers as a protective covering on either side.
Corian comes in approximately inch thick slabs although custom orders can be made. Formica laminate is characteristically thinner in general but in recent years, they have been made in thicker sizes owing to the demand for stronger and heavier countertops especially for kitchen use.
As for countertop materials, these differences will inform many if not all qualities of the two products.
Corian is non-porous making it a particularly good choice for your kitchen countertops. This means it does not stain easily if at all. Keeping it clean and hygienic requires little effort and simple washing with soap and water will suffice. The occasional disinfecting can also be done.
This characteristic also means bacteria and mold cannot develop on the countertop since no moisture can seep through and get trapped on the surface or in crevices.
Laminate is also a tough waterproof material, resistant to water damage. It is an easy surface to clean requiring only wiping down with soap and water and infrequent disinfecting.
Should laminate crack, however, water will damage the interior considerably since the interior is composed of porous materials that will slowly absorb water, expand, wear away, and harbor bacteria if not replaced.
Corian Solid Surface can withstand temperatures of up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and in some cases, the damage is only possible at over 250 degrees. At 150 degrees Fahrenheit your laminate countertop will begin to melt and sustain permanent heat damage.
While Corian can withstand higher temperatures, by kitchen standards, that is not much heat and it would be advisable generally to avoid placing hot items directly on your countertops. In any event, constant heat exposure even on Corian countertops will eventually create heat stains which will leave your countertops rather ugly.
As with all inventions, time and innovation result in incremental improvements. Corian Solid Surface has evolved from a single color product and now comes in a dizzying range of patterns, textures, colors, and motifs numbering at approximately a hundred.
Laminate has equally expanded its repertoire of colors, shades, and patterns to give you an endless selection of possibilities. Improved sheet designs today even mimic the sophisticated appearance of quartz and granite, perfect for creating different design periods such as country, rustic and mid-century facades. With laminate, the possibilities are truly endless.
For aesthetics, you cannot go wrong with either.
Maintenance and Repair
Both Corian and Formica laminate are incredibly easy to maintain. Wipe them down with water and mild soap once you are done working and from time to time wipe them down using a dilute antiseptic solution.
Both surfaces are stain-resistant but not stain proof so it is best to promptly wipe away staining agents or keep them off your countertops entirely.
Neither Corian nor Formica laminate scratches easily. Both surfaces are hard and resist cracking. Formica laminate is however more prone to cracking than Corian. Once it has cracked, it is not reparable and even if a resin gel coating can be applied to seal the crack, it is impossible to achieve the even finish it previously had. It would be better to replace the countertop entirely.
Cracks on Corian surfaces can be sanded down and smoothened with a perfect finish as though the crack never happened, thanks to the homogenous nature of the solid surface.
Corian easily outlasts Formica laminate although both last decades. Corian can last up to 30 years in impeccable condition while Formica lasts about 15-20 years with the utmost care taken to prevent cracking.
The DIY culture may be spreading fast but with countertops, self-installation is a bad idea. Corian countertops can only be installed by a professional who will be able to join separate slabs correctly to create the seamless single slab look you want to achieve.
Attempting this yourself may leave spaces between slabs which will allow water and moisture through creating a breeding ground for bacteria.
Though Formica is touted as easy to install by yourself, it is also ill-advised to do it yourself. Installing them yourself increases the risk of cracking and scratching them, leaving room in the joints and cracks which will allow water damage.
Corian Solid Surface costs more per square foot than Formica laminate. The composite materials for Formica laminate are cheaper and easier to mold than Corian. Corian Solid Surface is also harder and thicker than laminate hence costs more to install.
Verdict: Corian Vs Formica…
Formica laminate performs exceptionally well as a kitchen countertop and some models cannot even be differentiated from Corian and other solid surface brands. In terms of wholesome value, however, Corian Solid Surface is the superior product.