Solid Surface Countertops vs. Quartz Countertops

Comparing Two Popular Types of Countertop Materials

Solid surface and quartz countertop

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

When you're looking for a kitchen countertop that looks great, returns excellent resale value, performs well, and resists heat, you may find yourself torn between two choices: solid surface countertops and quartz countertops. Often, it can be hard to distinguish one from the other. From a distance, both look remarkably similar. Yet if you drill down, you might find that the gap between solid surface and quartz countertops widens, and you might just find that one material works better for you than the other one.

Solid surface vs quartz countertop

The Spruce

What Solid Surface Countertops Are

Solid-surface countertops consist of mineral dust (mostly marble) mixed with a variety of plastic resins and pigments. Solid surface's main appeal is that it is easy to fabricate and can create invisibly seamed countertops.

Solid surface material was introduced in 1967 by DuPont under the brand name Corian, though there are now other major brand names offering the material, including Avonite and Swanstone. Solid surface is a decided improvement over laminate countertops since it is homogeneous: What you see on the top of the counter continues all the way down. Laminate, by contrast, is layered. If the top layer of laminate fails, the entire countertop fails.

While solid surface materials mimic the look of stone, no one is likely to mistake it for solid granite on close examination. For many people, the look of slab granite for a countertop simply cannot be duplicated. If that describes you, then you may wish to look for natural stone countertops.

What Quartz Countertops Are

Quartz countertops are a newer entrant to the kitchen countertop world than solid surface materials. These engineered stone products consist of about 95-percent ground natural quartz and other materials with 5-percent binding resins.

Both solid surface and quartz compete for a type of middle ground of kitchen countertops: a bit manmade and a bit natural at the same time. Neither are considered to be as premium as natural stone, yet both are considered to be higher-end countertop products than laminate, wood, and tile.


Click Play to Learn About Solid Surface and Quartz Countertops


Domestic kitchen with quartz countertops and chestnut cabinets
bukharova/Getty Images

Neither solid surface or quartz countertop choices are single-substance; all are a combination of many materials. Neither are all-natural. Both are aggregates of polymers and minerals. If a purely natural product is important to you, then natural stone slabs are your only option.

Solid Surface Countertops

Corian, the original solid surface counter, is made of about 33-percent acrylic resin (PMMA) and about 66-percent natural minerals. A bauxite derivative, aluminium trihydrate (ATH), is the most common mineral.

But if you're imagining something like that looks like granite particles, this is not it. ATH is a fine, white powder, much like baking soda. The many different colors and styles are achieved by different mixtures of pigments and mineral dust. 

Solid surface countertop

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops include 5- to 10-percent binding resins, either polymeric or cement-based. The other 90- to 95-percent is composed of hard, stone-like industrial waste products, such as marble, quartz, glass, and mirrors. Some companies have even begun to use nonfood-quality vegetable oils as one ingredient in the resins.

Quartz countertop

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Do-It-Yourself Installation

Fresh and modern white style home kitchen interior
Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images

Both solid surface and quartz countertops are difficult for the do-it-yourselfer to obtain source materials because they are generally locked down in a distribution/installation system of retailers, fabricators, and installers.

Solid Surface Countertops

In the case of solid surface materials, the materials can be cut by ordinary power saws and routers, and the seaming kits used to join pieces are not hard to use. Do-it-yourselfers who manage to purchase the materials can be successful with solid surface materials.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz, on the other hand, requires special tools that most do-it-yourselfers do not have. Even if you could obtain the sheets, it would be difficult to work with them. One option for homeowner installation is incidental pieces, such as ready-made, one-piece vanity unit tops.

Heat Resistance

Close-up of pans in the kitchen
Glow Cuisine/Getty Images

Solid Surface Countertops

If you want to honor your end of the solid surface countertop warranty, then you may want to keep hot items like glowing-hot skillets off of your Corian. In practice, though, solid surface countertops rarely give in to heat. In the rare likelihood of scorching, solid surface materials can be sanded out and repolished to remove the stains.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops have a higher heat resistance than solid surface materials. In theory, quartz countertops could catch fire if subjected to high enough temperatures. But such temperatures are almost impossible to achieve in a kitchen environment.

Seam Visibility

Beautiful modern kitchen in a new home
grandriver/Getty Images

With both solid surface and quartz countertops, diagonal seams are usually necessary at L-shaped turns. On long, straight runs, it's preferable to use long pieces of either material to avoid seaming.

Solid Surface Countertops

Seams are created with a bonding adhesive that creates such a tight seam that it is nearly invisible to the eye. 

Quartz Countertops

With quartz countertops, seams are covered and visible but not highly visible. The degree of seam visibility in quartz counters equals that of solid surface counters.

Scratch Resistance

New kitchen in luxury home
poplasen/Getty Images

Solid Surface Countertops

Cutting on solid surface countertops is not recommended. It is guaranteed that if you cut on solid surface materials, scratches will result. Solid surface countertop material, no matter the brand, is relatively soft.

The good news is that solid surface materials can be easily sanded and buffed smooth again. It's also a procedure that homeowners can easily do by themselves.

Quartz Countertops

While it is recommended that you not cut on quartz/engineered stone surfaces, in reality, they are difficult to scratch with normal use. Quartz countertops tend to be more scratch resistant than solid surface materials.

The key word is resistant. Quartz countertops are considered to be scratch resistant but not scratch-proof. When minor scratch result in quartz countertops, they can often be buffed out with a cream wax polish that is only minimally abrasive. But this buffing is not as effective as sanding solid surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. It's only good for hairline scratches. Deeper scratches will need to be addressed by a countertop technician.

Surface Sealing Needs

Modern kitchen design with stainless appliance
YinYang/Getty Images

One of the realities of owning a natural stone countertop is that it needs to be sealed. Porous stone requires sealing before the first use and periodically thereafter.

But solid surface and quartz countertops are both considered to be non-porous surfaces. Sealing is never required. The amount of resins in the mixes ensures non-porosity.  


A beautiful kitchen in new luxury home
hikesterson/Getty Images

Prices of solid surface and quartz countertops are virtually the same. The prices vary depending on the style and color of the material selected. Prices are difficult to compare because it is difficult to purchase the source materials alone. Most suppliers will sell only to licensed fabricators or contractors. 

Looking at raw materials alone, a sheet of Corian solid surface at 144 inches long and countertop depth (30 square feet) is about $1,100 to $1,200.

Quartz countertops cost from $50 to $150 per square foot. For quartz, a similarly sized countertop (30 square feet) would cost $1,500 to $4,500.

Should You Buy Solid Surface or Quartz Counters?

Counter top samples

michellegibson / Getty Images

A quick way to think of solid surface vs. quartz counters: solid surface is less expensive, though more prone to scratching, while quartz is more expensive and more solid, similar to natural stone.

If you want a contemporary look, then solid surface is the way to go. Solid surface can even be thermoformed or worked by hand into curvy, flowing shapes, something you cannot do with quartz counter materials. If you're watching your kitchen remodel budget, solid surface—along with other economical offerings like laminate—is a good choice.

If a stone-like look and feel is your intention, quartz counters would have an advantage over solid surface counters. Solid surface material weighs about 4.4 pounds per square foot of 12 mm material. Quartz weighs about 6.2 pounds for the same size and thickness. Thus, quartz is about 33-percent heavier than solid surface, which translates to a slightly more solid feeling when installed.

Quartz countertops are highly valued by homebuyers, so they return good resale value, as well.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Surface Material.

  2. Quartz Countertops Cost Guide. Caesarstone

  3. DuPont Corian Performance Properties. DuPont