A Versatile, Durable Material
Solid surface counter-tops such as Corian, made by DuPont, are desired for their durability and beauty, with a stain-resistant surface similar in appearance to marble, granite or slate that can even be sanded and refinished if it becomes scarred.
Described by DuPont in its marketing material, Corian is a combination of crushed minerals and acrylic that can be shaped with extreme heat or cut like wood.
Methods of Installation
Installation is usually done by specialists, however, experienced do-it-yourselfers may be surprised at the pliability of the material. Tips on the installation process provided by The Natural Handyman in an article from Handy magazine, the official publication of the Handyman Club of America, note that a router and trim saw are usually sufficient for the cuts, and surfaces can be sanded and buffed to a high gloss. The article further notes that the substance of Corian is similar to MDF, and carbide-tip bits and blades are required to shape it. The Natural Handyman recommends using dust masks when cutting or sanding solid-surface materials.
As with any counter-top installation, the tops of the base cabinets must be level and solid so that the Corian top will lay properly. Pieces are cut and dry fit, beginning at one end and continuing to the other, drawing pencil lines on masking tape for visibility. Cut-outs for cook-tops and sinks can be made with a router, and The Natural Handyman recommends adding bottom supports to the corners of the cut-outs. Varying lengths may be ordered from DuPont or its outlets, and depending on the length and configuration of the cabinetry, end splices can usually be kept to a minimum. Careful adhesion and finishing of the seams helps make them less visible.
The pieces of the counter top are sealed together with epoxy and glued to the cabinet tops with silicon caulk. Blocks of scrap wood hot-glued to the Corian tops are used for clamping two pieces tightly together while the epoxy dries. Traces of glue are sanded from the surface when the blocks are removed. Joints are also sanded and the counter top is buffed and polished for the finished effect. Backsplashes are mounted after the counter tops are installed, by sealing with silicon caulk to the wall.
In cases of using heat to shape the Corian, an excess of 300 degrees is usually recommended, and backsplashes can be molded from the same piece as the counter top, eliminating cracks that can collect moisture and debris.
Another advantage to Corian is its forgiving nature regarding scratches, gouges and burns. The extremely hard and solid nature of the surface resists damage quite well under normal kitchen or bathroom use, but it can be damaged. Installers will usually keep scraps of the Corian to use in case repair is ever required. If that happens, portions of the top can be cut out with a router and plugged with pieces of the scrap, creating a satisfactory repair if carefully fit and finished. Shallow scratches can be sanded out and polished to a high gloss. No sealant or finish is ever required on Corian, since it can be polished for a good appearance and its surface is naturally hard and resistant.
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