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.

And there’s so much more. Solid surface has no fissures, and is not porous, so it doesn’t require sealing. Because of its chemical composition, it doesn’t support the growth of mold or mildew. It is “seamless” because the two-part adhesive used for joints basically becomes solid surface when it dries. It is therefore also repairable. It is easily renewable with the proper equipment. And, it can easily be sanitized with a bleach product to rid it of germ sitting on its surface. This last characteristic makes it a great product for use in hospitals and medical facilities, and is NSF approved for use in commercial kitchens.

As they say, “With solid surface, you are limited only by your imagination and your purse.” It is so much more than just a kitchen countertop product. It’s wonderful for the bath: vanity top, tub and shower surrounds, wall cladding, shelving, flooring, moldings and sills. And, there’s no grout!

Solid surface has unlimited commercial applications as well. Architects are really starting to understand its features and design possibilities, and are specifying solid surface for horizontal and vertical applications in medical facilities, including operating rooms. There are reception desk counters, conference tables, casino counters, restaurant and food court tables and counters, and it has numerous applications all over airports. It can be found everywhere.

Solid surface has been sculpted, inlaid, thermoformed into interesting shapes and more. You may recall the beautiful sculpting done by the artist, Becki Babb. There are beautiful inlays. The Hotel Puerta America done in LG HI-MACS by Rosskopf & Partner is a perfect example of the possibilities, with each level of the hotel brought to life by a different famed designer and featuring massive amounts of solid surface. The level of sophistication fabricated into these jobs attest to the fact that almost anything can be done with this Space Age material.