Solid-surface materials revolutionized kitchen and bathroom countertops beginning in the 1970s and 1980s. This manmade material made from acrylic, epoxy, and polyester resins could be made to look like natural stone, could be fabricated in any size for completely seamless installations, and was extremely durable. The surface could literally be sanded clean if and when staining or other damage occurred.
Eventually engineered stone (quartz) countertops would become the "next big thing," but solid surface material was much more than a trend—it has settled into a role as one of the most important options for countertops and other building uses.
Solid-surface materials were pioneered by the Dupont company in the 1960s under the trade name Corian, and to this day, the Corian label is sometimes used generically (and incorrectly) to refer to any solid-surface material by any manufacturer. Other strong competitors for Corian include Swanstone, Wilsonart Solid Surface, and Formica Solid Surface. These products are all similar, though they use different formulations of resins in order to offer unique looks.
After solid-material exploded into use as a countertop material, it didn't take long for manufacturers to begin fabricating it for other uses, such as panels for shower walls. One of the most popular innovations was to mold integrated sinks right into the kitchen or bathroom countertops for an utterly seamless installation.
Integrated solid-surface countertop/sinks are still a very common style, but the durability and easy maintenance of the material has also led to the manufacturer of sink-only units—solid-surface fixtures that can be used with other countertop materials. You can, for example, now buy a solid surface sink to use with a ceramic tile, granite, or quartz engineered stone countertop. Usually, these are drop-in sink units that will work with any countertop material.
Here are some examples of solid-surface sinks in various styles for your kitchen.
Recessed Apron (Farmhouse) Sink
One interesting type of solid-surface sink is the apron sink. An apron sink, sometimes called a farmhouse sink, is typically very deep—10 1/2 inches, in many cases. The front of the apron sink juts out and is exposed, while the sides and back are hidden by the kitchen counter.
One iteration of the apron sink is the recessed apron sink, in which a slight recess on the front to allow for the installation of ceramic tiles to match or complement other design elements in the room.
Plain Apron Sink
Plain apron solid-surface sinks look classic, even though they are made from space-age polymers. A plain apron sink is pure and simple and lends itself to traditional-style kitchens,
It is worth mentioning that solid-surface sinks, while they may look like porcelain, actually function better. If scratched, dinged, or nicked, the surface can be sanded with fine-grit sandpaper to a smooth surface.
Conventional Drop-In Double Bowl
While apron sinks are currently on trend, there will always be a market for the classic drop-in double-bowl kitchen sink. Drop-in sinks fit into a simple countertop opening and are very easy to install. Solid-surface drop-in sinks come in hundreds of different colors and styles and can work with literally any countertop material.
While this style is common with porcelain and stainless steel sinks, it's a relatively new innovation for solid-surface sinks. A drainboard-style sink is about as green and eco-friendly as it gets. Why waste an entire basin of your sink for drying dishes, when you can extend an apron to serve as your drying rack?
Drainboard-style sinks also make for a cleaner countertop, because you're not always mopping up spills. The drainboard is also a great place to put your mini cutting board, allowing you to brush your chopping waste right into the sink. A drainboard feature can also be added to an integral sink/countertop unit. The fabricator can shape a drainboard recess into the countertop to the right or left of the integrated sink basin.
Left Side Drainboard Sink
Drainboard sinks are usually sold with the drainboard on the right side, but there are also solid-surface sinks configured with the drainboard extending to the left.
This doesn't mean that you need to be a "leftie" to want this type of sink. Even if you are a right-handed person, you may like the convenience of drying your dishes on the left side—away from the area where you like to do your cutting and cooking. Or, you may prefer the left-side drainboard sink out of practical necessity, such as if the right side of your sink backs up to a wall or stove, or if the counter is simply too short on the right side.