Corian vs. Silestone: What to Know Before You Buy

Leveling a kitchen countertop

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Corian and Silestone are two major brands of premium kitchen and bathroom countertop materials. While the two might be confused with each other, they are very much different. How do these two countertop surfaces contrast and compare?

What Are They?

Corian

Corian is a brand name owned by DuPont. Corian is a homogenous countertop surface that is made of about one-third resins and two-third minerals. It is softer than quarter countertop materials such as Silestone. It can be easily cut and sanded. Competitor brands in the solid surface field include Samsung Staron, Swanstone, and Fenix.

Silestone

Silestone is a brand name owned by Cosentino, a Florida-based network of several home-related brand materials. Silestone is a hard homogenous countertop material made from quartz and other hard materials and has an appearance and feel similar to that of natural stone. Competitor brands include Cambria's Caesarstone and DuPont's Corian Quartz (formerly named Zodiaq and not be be confused with DuPont Corian).

How Do They Compare and Contrast?

The main way that Corian and Silestone compare is that both are homogenous countertop materials that emulate natural stone. Laminate and tile countertops are both layered and thus are prone to delamination. Corian and Silestone are solid, through-body materials. Also, both often (but not always) mimic natural stone.

Beyond that, Corian and Silestone are different; they do not even belong in the same category of materials. Corian falls in the category of solid surface materials and Silestone belongs in the engineered stone (i.e. quartz) category. Solid surface means that the product has a high amount of resins; quartz means that the product has about five times fewer resins, making it the more stone-like material of the two.

Can one product be considered better than the other? From a home resale standpoint, quartz countertops typically rate higher among home buyers than solid surfaces. Solid surfaces are generally priced lower than quartz countertops. But solid surface materials have the advantage of easier maintenance. If solid surface becomes scratched, the scratches can be sanded out. Not so with quartz countertop materials.

Composition

One area of concern among homeowners is whether the product has a natural stone or plastic appearance and feel. Of the two, Silestone would have more of a natural stone look and feel, though there are fabrication and maintenance advantages to Corian's higher resin content.

Based on technical data, Silestone has roughly 28-percent more minerals than Corian. Other than the idea that one—Corian​—has more polymers than the other, Silestone's greater mineral content does not matter much in terms of performance.

  • Corian: Made of about 33 percent acrylic resin (PolyMethyl MethAcrylate) and about 66 percent natural minerals chiefly derived from bauxite. Bauxite is the same ore from which aluminum is extracted.
  • Silestone: Made out of 94-percent natural quartz, Silestone has the remainder devoted to binding resins. Silestone is sometimes erroneously referred to as granite, which it is not. Granite countertops are quarried straight from the earth and cut into slabs. Silestone is an aggregate of resins and minerals.

Porosity and Stain Resistance

No countertop material completely resists staining. But Corian and Silestone both do a reputable job by resisting CLASS I reagents:

  • Corian: Corian demonstrates low porosity, absorbing 0.1- to 0.7-percent of its weight as defined by DIN ISO 4586 T7 standards. Corian resists stains from CLASS I reagents, which are materials such as ketchup, blood, olive oil, tomato sauce, and coffee. By contrast, CLASS II reagents are drain cleaners and paint removers, and these substances should not come into contact with Corian.
  • Silestone: Silestone states that one reason for choosing quartz (crystallized silicon dioxide) as the primary material is because it is extremely hard and resists acids. Like Corian, Silestone resists staining from the CLASS I reagents, and more.

Mold, Bacteria, and Fungi

Both products do an excellent job of preventing the growth of molds and bacteria, without having to order a special premium coating.

  • Corian: Corian does not support microbial growth. No special coating is required because it is part of the standard features of Corian.
  • Silestone: Silestone has a bacteriostatic formula "based on the use of latest generation silver ions," according to the Cosentino website.

Warranty

Both DuPont (Corian) and Cosentino (Silestone) offer warranties:

  • Corian: 10-year limited warranty.
  • Silestone: 15-year limited warranty.

Number of Colors

Likely, you will find enough colors from either manufacturer to satisfy your style needs, since both are viable, popular product lines. Silestone increased its palette of colors in the last few years from 60 colors to 90 colors today. Corian has added many new colors for a total of 172 colors.

Claim to Fame

Both Corian and Silestone are standouts in their respective fields:

  • Corian: Corian is the world's first solid human-made surface developed by DuPont in the 1960s. DuPont's patent is the one from which all other solid surface materials are derived.
  • Silestone: Silestone is produced by the Cosentino Corporation, which developed the product in 1990 as a malleable stone surface for those who do not want to deal with the problems of natural slab stone.

Luster and Depth

  • Corian: Corian has a duller appearance, but it looks great if shiny is not the look that you want. It does not have a deep look, though many of its colors do seek to replicate stone.
  • Silestone: Because it is quartz, some varieties of Silestone can be quite lustrous. Because of the embedded minerals, Silestone can look very deep and have a three-dimensional appearance much like (but not perfectly equal to) natural stone.

Radon

Granite is known to emit radon, a type of radioactive gas tied to cancer. Among Corian and Silestone, radon is either not present or in such negligible quantities that it does not matter.

  • Corian: None. Radon has never been found in Corian.
  • Silestone: Since quartz comes from the earth, some radon gas may be present. But the Cosentino Corporation, makers of Silestone, say that Silestone "has been tested and found to be low or free of radon gas."