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.

Read more Solid Surface Manufacturing: Behind The Scenes

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!

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

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.

Read more 4 Interesting Characteristics of Solid Surface Material

The Science of Solid Surfaces

If you’ve been conducting research about the best options for your next shower, countertop or sink, you might be running into the term “solid surface” quite a bit. You might be asking yourself, “What in the world is a solid surface?” Basically, a solid surface is exactly what it sounds like: a surface that is solid. But that’s probably not the answer you’re seeking. So that you can make the best possible decision about upgrading your countertop, shower or sink, I’m going to explain what a solid surface is and the process we go through here at Tower Industries to ensure you get the best solid surface product available.

Whether you’re weighing your options for a commercial space or a residential space, it’s important to understand the manufacturing process for solid surfaces.

Customized Fabrication

Solid surfaces are made using homogeneous acrylic or polyester-acrylic blend resins mixed with other natural additives to allow for total customization. Yes, there are standard sizes available, if that’s what you need. But one of the greatest benefits of a solid surface is that it can be shaped, molded and fabricated to fit almost any space. In addition to size customization, color and pattern customization is also a major value of a solid surface shower, sink or countertop. The fabrication process of our solid surfaces also allows for custom inlays to our conference tables and showers, which is especially beneficial in commercial applications.

100% Non-Porous

Because solid surfaces are fabricated with one non-porous resin from front to back, there are no surface coatings you need to worry about damaging with spills and stains. In fact, the non-porous nature of our solid surfaces means that your countertop, shower or sink will be resistant to most household chemicals, so liquids won’t soak in and destroy the material. Additionally, our solid surfaces are resistant to the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, which is especially beneficial in a sink or shower application.

Durability

Another major benefit of a solid surface for both commercial or residential applications is its outstanding durability. Because solid surfaces are homogeneous, you won’t need to worry about veneers or surface coatings peeling or cracking. And although they can get scratched, solid surfaces are what we call “renewable.” This means scratches can be sanded and gouges can be filled, if necessary, and it’ll look as good as new.

Common Misconceptions

Although the phrase “solid surface” makes it sound like one, large seamless piece, often times this isn’t entirely true. Showers can be constructed using multiple large panels of solid surface materials installed in a such a way that they appear seamless, and a solid surface sink can be expertly joined to a matching solid surface countertop so that no seams are showing. At Tower Industries, cast shapes are fabricated in one solid piece, and the surfacing experts and installers fit these pieces together in your commercial or residential space so that the edges are practically invisible, giving the illusion of seamlessness.

Overall, solid surfaces are an excellent choice if you’re looking for durability and design flexibility. If you’re a die-hard granite fan, that’s okay, too. Solid surfaces can be fabricated to look exactly like stone, so don’t give up on us just yet.

If you have any questions about the solid surface fabrication process, please leave them in the comments below. We’d love to help you out any way we can.

Read more The Science of Solid Surfaces

Top 5 Kitchen Styles & Trends

Are you in love with your kitchen? Or are you desperately trying to figure out how to breathe new life into an old, boring space? Your kitchen is arguably the most important room in your home. It’s where guests gather during a party, where the family sits down at the end of a long day to share a meal, and where all of that magic happens at the stove. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses; it’s about having the living, cooking and eating space that you really deserve.

We’ve compiled some of the latest kitchen styles & trends below to help you get started on that kitchen remodel today.

Latest Kitchen Trends

Stainless Steel
You can’t turn on HGTV these days without hearing about stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel looks great, it’s easy to clean, and it’s durable. This trend has been around for a few years now, and it’s probably not going anywhere for a while.

Professional-style Chef’s Stoves
Homeowners aren’t messing around with their stovetops. Many are paying big bucks for professional-grade ranges, brass-sealed burners and high-end hoods. And a lot of these fancy stoves and hoods are made of – you guessed it! – stainless steel.

Soft & Neutral Colors
Bold, contemporary colors tend to be trendy (remember avocado green?) and don’t really stand the test of time. Homeowners are moving more and more toward soft, neutral colors for their kitchens, like beiges, browns, and warmer whites.

Hardwood Floors It wasn’t too long ago that tile was in. And not long before that, everybody was jumping on the laminate train. Not so anymore. Homeowners are choosing hardwood floors more often than not, and not just in the kitchen.

Eco-friendly Materials
It’s 2013, and now more than ever, we’re interested in protecting our environment when we can. Homeowners have jumped on this trend, too, opting for eco-friendly and sustainable kitchen materials, like flooring, cabinetry, surfacing and appliances, when possible.

Latest Kitchen Styles

Early American
Early American colonial kitchens are being reproduced in homes across the country (in a modern way, of course). We’re talking about Shaker-inspired cabinets, soapstone sinks, reclaimed pine or brick flooring and exposed ceiling beams.

Bungalow Bonanza
Bungalow kitchens are built with an eye toward efficiency: built-in kitchen, easy-to-clean linoleum flooring and mint tile are likely to make an appearance in a Bungalow-style kitchen.

Victorian Farmhouse
Go poke around Pinterest for 30 seconds and report back. What’d you find? You probably discovered that vintage is in. People love old stuff made to look new, which is probably why the Victorian Farmhouse look is coming back. Deep porcelain sinks, glass-front cabinets and nickel-plated stoves are hallmarks of a Victorian kitchen.

Mid-20th Century Modern
Think about the time WWII was coming to an end: cabinetry went from wood to metal, Formica became the go-to counter surface, and vinyl was all the rage for flooring. Bright colors and “space age” designs were popular, too.

Ultra Modern
Ultra modern kitchens could be described in one word: minimalist. The less stuff in your kitchen, the better. Clean lines, sleek surfaces, concrete floors and European-style cabinets make up this contemporary style. In other words, get thee to an Ikea as soon as possible!

A trendy kitchen that stands the test of time is the best kind of kitchen. Imagine waking up every day to a beautifully-designed kitchen filled with surfaces, cabinets and a sink manufactured with materials you picked out yourself. It’s a wonderful fantasy, right? Let’s turn that fantasy into a reality today! Whichever kitchen style or trend you decide to incorporate into your kitchen, remember that Tower Industries has many surfacing solutions for you to consider. We offer Meridian and Hanex solid surface countertops and sinks, natural stone countertops, kitchen cabinets and more. If you need design flexibility, Tower Industries is definitely for you.

Which style or trend do you like best? Are you all about Victorian vintage, or do you prefer a contemporary look? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more Top 5 Kitchen Styles & Trends