Formica is the Kleenex or Xerox of the countertop world: it's a brand name that's far better known than the actual name of the product which, in this case, is plastic laminate. The Formica Corporation is so well known for making plastic laminate that you may be surprised to learn that it also makes solid surface countertops.
Just to confuse things, you might know solid surface material only as Corian, another brand name. In any case, there are many manufacturers of solid surface countertops. Here's a look at Formica's offerings.
Solid Surface Overview
Formica solid surfaces are more akin to Corian than to Formica laminate. It is a resin-based product, with the same material running throughout from top to bottom. By contrast, plastic laminate is made with paper or wood fibers and resin. It is a thin, laminated material applied on top of particleboard.
It depends on the thickness of the material and the application. Full-thickness solid surface sheets are about 1/2 inch thick and generally do not need backing, such as plywood or particleboard, when installed over standard base cabinets. However, it's a good idea to add support strips of wood or other material for wide spans or to provide additional support for a kitchen sink. Thinner solid surfacing is about 1/4 inch thick and should be supported by particleboard, MDF, or plywood, to prevent flexing of the countertop.
Cost and Warranty
In 2018, Formica's website quoted the average cost of a solid surface countertop at $42 per square foot. Keep in mind that this is the installed price. You can expect to pay a similar price for Corian solid surfacing. These costs figure in the middle-to-high range of countertop materials and are generally lower than granite or quartz countertops, both of which range from about $40 to $100 per square foot.
There is a 10-year limited warranty for the countertop product itself. As for any warranty or guarantee on the installation, that would depend on the installer.
Depending on the specific product line, Formica solid surfacing may be sold in two grades, Grade 1 and Grade 2. Grade 1 is commonly 0.24 inch thick, or about 1/4 inch. Grade 2 is commonly 0.48 inch thick, or about 1/2 inch. Full sheets of Formica solid surfacing come in two sizes, also depending on the specific product:
- 30 x 96 inches
- 30 x 144 inches
While most homeowners choose to buy professionally fabricated and installed Formica solid surfacing (and other brands), it's possible for DIYers to find a local supplier of the raw sheets and fabricate their own countertops.
Formica does offer solid-surface sinks, to a limited degree. It's best to check the company's website or visit an authorized dealer for the latest sink product offerings. As with other solid surface manufacturers, Formica offers sinks that can be undermounted, or installed on the underside of the countertop to create a seamless, rimless edge for the entire sink.