Solid Surface Manufacturing: Behind The Scenes

At Tower Surface’s 60,000 sq. foot manufacturing facility in Massillon, Ohio, solid surface products are cast in molds each and every day. The capacity and capabilities of our facility allow us to offer turnkey products to vendors no matter what quantity they may need. Whether someone is in need of one product or one thousand, we pride ourselves on being able to handle practically any job that might come through our doors.

There’s no getting around the fact that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for growth with solid surface, which is why we’ve chosen to invest in such an impressive line for manufacturing. Solid surface countertops, sinks, and shower basins are the preferred choice for modern residence halls, hospitals and other types of institutions, as they perform exceptionally well, are simple to install, and can be cleaned/sanitized with ease.

The future of solid surface manufacturing at Tower Surfaces is looking bright. As more of today’s institutions look toward this material as the preferred option for surfaces of all kinds, it’ll no doubt continue to move in a forward direction. To catch a glimpse of what it’s like at our Massillon, Ohio plant, have a look at this video.

Contact us today to learn more by calling (330) 837-2216.

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Natural Stone vs. Solid Surface: What’s the Difference?

At Tower Industries, we sell several different types of surfacing solutions, including quartzsolid surface, and natural stone.

We talked about quartz vs. natural stone in this blog post. Now, it’s time to shine the spotlight on natural stone vs. solid surface. How are these materials the same? How are they different? How should you determine which material is right for your application?

Let’s get to it.

NATURAL STONE

Natural stone (granite) is just that—it’s 100% organic, made by Mother Nature herself. It’s quarried from the earth in large blocks, sliced into slabs, polished on one side, and then shipped to the broker or fabricator.

Characteristics of natural stone:

  • 100% natural. ‘Nuff said.

  • Unique. No two slabs are alike, which can be a huge selling point (originality), but this also means you won’t find identical color and pattern from one slab to the next.

  • Strong and durable, but not indestructible. You can damage natural stone through excessive force or sudden fluctuations in temperature (which is why you should always use a trivet before placing a hot pan or pot on a natural stone counter).

  • Porous. In order to prevent staining and, more importantly, the harboring of germs and other icky stuff in the stone’s nooks and crannies, we recommend sealing natural stone countertops once a year.

  • Easy to clean when sealed properly. Use a soft cloth with warm water and any pH neutral, non-abrasive cleaner or mild dishwashing detergent. Rinse well to avoid a filmy residue and streaks.

  • Seams will be plainly visible, especially if the stone has veins or directional movement in the pattern.

 

SOLID SURFACE

Solid surface, on the other hand, is a man-made material composed typically of acrylic and/or polyester resins and pigments (the latter is what gives solid surface its color).

Characteristics of solid surface:

  • Manufactured surface.
  • Color variety. The color is controlled during the manufacturing process, so you can count on color consistency throughout the entire sheet and a wide variety of colors and patterns from which to choose.
  • Highly durable. Even more so than natural stone. Solid surface can withstand stronger impact  than stone. That said, solid surface can be damaged by excessive force and heat (we still recommend using trivets with hot pots and pans).
  • Non-porous. This surface is hygienic and doesn’t require sealing.
  • Easy to clean. A little soap and water usually does the trick.
  • Stain resistant. Thanks to the fact it’s non-porous.
  • Inconspicuous seams. This provides much more design flexibility. One popular application is combining a solid surface countertop with a solid surface sink bowl for a sleek and seamless look that is super-easy to clean.
  • Can be used in horizontal and vertical applications. Think beyond countertops—you can use solid surface in shower surrounds, wall panels, and backsplashes.

 

Now that you know more about natural stone and solid surface, how do you determine which material is the best choice for your application?

Think function. This is a personal decision, and only you can answer it honestly. If you want an ultra-low maintenance surfacing option due to the fact you have a large family, for example, and the countertop will see a lot of “action,” then solid surface beats out natural stone.

If, on the other hand, you want a truly unique look and you know you’ll keep up with a regular sealing schedule, natural stone can be a lovely choice. There really is no right or wrong answer—only what’s right or wrong for your particular circumstances.

Think aesthetics. Again, this is extremely subjective, and that’s OK. Your opinion is the only one that matters, at least when it comes to choosing materials for your own home. When you’re choosing materials that will appear in commercial settings, you need to think of the people who are using the space and what their likes and dislikes might be (same is true for the “function” test above…always consider the people who’ll be using the space).

The biggest difference between natural stone and solid surface when it comes to aesthetics is this: with natural stone, you’re truly going to have something that’s one of a kind. This might be extremely appealing.

When it comes to solid surface, you’re going to have many, many options in terms of colors and patterns. This can provide you or your designer a lot more design flexibility, which might carry its own appeal, depending on your goals.

Think price point. We’ll be honest here—natural stone will usually cost more than solid surface, so if budget is a big factor, keep this in mind.

 

Once you’ve made your decision, now comes the fun part: buying the material and awaiting the next step in the renovation process (e.g. the fabrication and installation of your new countertop). Before you buy, be sure to check out our product lines: Natural Stone CountertopsMeridian Solid Surface Countertops, and Meridian Solid Surface Acrylic Collection Countertops.

Happy shopping!

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Quartz Countertops Are Best Choice for Busy Kitchens According to Consumer Reports

It’s easy for us to talk up the wonders of quartz and granite. You probably wouldn’t expect anything less from us, right? After all, we sell these surfacing products.

This is why it’s helpful—for us and for you—to be able to point to an objective and respectable third party that also says you can’t go wrong when you select one of these surfacing solutions for your kitchen countertop. Yep, we’re talking about Consumer Reports.

Every year, typically in the summer, Consumer Reportsreleases its annual “Kitchen Planning Guide,” which evaluates everything related to the most important room in your house, from appliances to countertops to everything in between.

Regarding countertops, Consumer Reports ranked quartz as the number one kitchen countertop material for 2014, but granite was right on its heels, making both materials great choices for your hearth and home.

Check out this excellent video from Consumer Reports. It discusses some of the criteria the folks used to analyze each surfacing material, including quartz, granite, and many others.

In this video, you’ll hear one of the presenters say that quartz is the best choice for busy kitchens since it’s low-maintenance, heat and stain resistant, and comes in a wide variety of colors. We couldn’t agree more, and we’d just like to add that quartz is also strong, durable, and continues looking fabulous year after year.

If you’re considering quartz or granite for your kitchen countertops, be sure to check out our line of products: Meridian Quartz and Natural Stone. And if you’d like to learn more about these two materials in general, check out our article on the similarities and differences between quartz and granite.

Got questions? Leave them in the comments below or contact us directly. We’re happy to help!

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4 Interesting Characteristics of Solid Surface Material

Back in July, we talked about why solid surface material is a “solid” choice for your countertop needs. We highlighted the big advantages: the material is non-porous, it comes in a wide array of colors, seams are rarely an issue, it’s easy to integrate with sinks, and cleanup is fast and simple.

But guess what? Here are four other interesting characteristics about solid surface material.

1. Memories may fade, but your solid surface countertop color won’t. 

Kitchen countertops see a lot of action, don’t they? We’re talking lazy Sunday breakfasts with The New York Times crossword puzzle, holiday parties, afternoon homework sessions with the kids, book club with cheese and crackers (and wine!), cooking marathons, coffee with friends, a dumping ground for permission slips, bills, and smartphones…well, you get the idea.

But despite all this traffic, the color of your solid surface counter will withstand the test of time…as well as that wine spill from an over-eager reader of Fifty Shades of Grey (we won’t tell).

Isn’t it nice to know there’s one color in your life that won’t fade?

2. Pow! Kerplunk! Yes, solid surfaces can take ALL THAT.

We’re not suggesting you beat on your solid surface countertops, but let’s face it: accidents do happen. As in, someone drops a plate, a pot, a book, a laptop…sometimes by mistake, sometimes on purpose (those of you with kids can relate, I’m sure).

Here’s the thing: solid surface material can withstand impact much better than other materials, especially granite. However, ANY countertop can be damaged by impact, so don’t abuse your solid surface countertop by any means. Solid surface may also show scuffs and scrapes that happen under normal everyday use. This is where its renewability is so important – these scuffs can be easily removed using materials that you can buy at your local grocery store. See our care and maintenance blog.

3. Moisture doesn’t scare solid surfaces (but it does scare plastic laminates).

Because solid surfaces are, well, SOLID and homogenous, moisture can’t penetrate the material. This is an important characteristic, since moisture is one of the biggest reasons laminates separate and ultimately fail.

4. How unseemly your seams are, dear tile.

Tile is a popular choice in the kitchen, especially for backsplashes, but people tend to forget about All. That. Grout. Why is grout such a problem? Because it requires constant cleaning (you better save those old toothbrushes, folks!). Tile is also prone to cracks (and guess what can get in there?).

With a solid surface material, cleanup is a snap and you don’t need to worry about cracks harboring yucky things like mold, mildew, or bacteria.

So there you have it: four interesting but lesser known facts about solid surfaces. What do you think? Are you convinced this material was made in countertop heaven?

By the way, be sure to check out our solid surface collections: Meridian Solid Surface Acrylic Collection and Meridian Solid Surface Countertops.

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Solid Surface is a Solid Choice for Your Countertop Needs

When it comes to choosing countertops, materials like granite and quartz are often at the top of people’s wish lists. Today, I want to discuss another great option that often gets overlooked—solid surfaces.

Don’t consider it the ugly stepsister in countertop materials, folks. Solid surfaces are beautiful with lots of benefits. After you read this short article, don’t be surprised if you find yourself moving this material to the top of your must-have list.

Before I get into the benefits, let’s talk about what I mean when I say “solid surfaces.” In a recent blog post, I discussed the science behind solid surfaces, which are made using homogeneous acrylic or polyester-acrylic blend resins mixed with other natural additives to allow for total customization. Definitely check out that article when you get a chance.

Now, let’s get into the big benefits that solid surfaces offer:

1. Buh-bye, seams.

With granite and even quartz, seams can show. Not so with solid surfaces. This makes it an ideal choice for all designs, especially more complex ones, which brings me to my next point.

2. Hello, curves.

Fabricators can do so much more with solid surfaces because of its inherent flexibility, which makes it easier to shape. Think curves, turns, curls, and a whole bunch of other design options. In fact, think way beyond countertops. Solid surfaces can work in vertical applications as well (such as shower surrounds, partitions, dividers, backsplashes, and more).

3. Ready to binge on color? 

[caption id="attachment_932" align="alignright" width="225"] Rainforest[/caption]

With granite, what you see is what you get. Its so-called uniqueness is often a double-edged sword. Yes, each slab of granite is special because it’s one-of-a-kind, but it can often be difficult to work with since it doesn’t have a uniform appearance. While quartz does offer color consistency, solid surface is the material that will really impress you when it comes to color options. (Psst: that solid surface color swatch to the right is one of ours…it’s called Rainforest.)

3. Meet me at the intersection of cool sinks and countertops.

Designs often call for cohesion and smooth transitions, especially from countertops to sinks. With granite and quartz, this look is more difficult to achieve, but with solid surfaces, you can have your countertop and sink made from the same material. Talk about a cohesive look (and, again, one that doesn’t produce unsightly seams).

4. Give three cheers for easy, breezy cleaning (because no sealing).

Solid surfaces are non-porous, which means you don’t have to worry about bacteria and germs growing in nooks, crannies, or cracks. This makes cleaning straightforward—soapy sponges and hot water usually do the trick .Ongoing maintenance is super easy as well since there’s no annual sealing you have to worry about like you do with granite.

Bonus: solid surfaces are built to last, which is one of the many reasons most solid surfaces come with a limited 10-year warranty.

5. Tell your wallet to relax.

Granite and quartz typically cost more than solid surfaces. If you opt for solid surfaces, you get all the benefits above and extra wiggle room in your budget to boot—dollars you can put towards some other accent or design flourishes. That’s a win-win for everyone.

Be sure to check out our solid surface collections: Meridian Solid Surface Acrylic Collection and Meridian Solid Surface Countertops.

Read more Solid Surface is a Solid Choice for Your Countertop Needs