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Well, occasionaly one gets an email that starts a guy to thinking. I recieved this one today. In writing our blog, everything wound up being about granite and hardly anything about solid surface.
Here is the question we recieved:
“Why not devote a page to what solid surface is made from,
really. I know that it’s not made from 100% acrylic as the ads would lead
me to believe. No one seems to want to answer that question.
Excellent idea, a page on just that. I believe it may have been addressed in one of the pages, maybe not in depth.
What the ads are saying, in their own simple way, is that there is no polyester in their products, not that there are not other materials besides Acrylic.
Polyesters are a bit cheaper, or were at one time, tend to yellow in some colors. A bit more brittle as well, not from a homeowner’s standpoint, but from a fabricator’s standpoint. Of course, picking the right polyester based sheet color removes the yellowing issue, and the material has qualities that override the shortcomings. There is no perfect material for making a countertop, all have their flaws. Solid surface shops are well versed in these flaws, and follow strict rules in fabrication to avoid having problems with warranty claims.
Acrylic based solid surface is composed of Acrylic resins (from 90 to 65%) and ATH, Aluminum Tri Hydrate, an oxide of aluminum (from10 to 35% by volume.
The Bauxite comes from a common Bauxite mine, then finely processed until quite pure. At this point it like most materials from the earth, is very, very slightly radioactive until it is process. After processing, no radiation can be detected, because the clay is the primary source of the radio isotopes.
Once purified, the ATH is used in many products, toothpaste, paint, lots of common products. Solid surface takes a tiny portion of the amount made, which no doubt adds to the strip mining, but it would be done anyway. At least the ATH used is put in a very durable and long lasting product. Is it green? I wouldn’t say so, but I am no expert in those issues.
The Acrylic resins are blended with the ATH and pigments, into sheets which are either used intact as a solid color or ground into particles or chunks that are used in other mixed color sheets.
Once cured, there is no out gassing possible, it is a polymer reaction, where two molecules link up into a new molecule that even the original solvent will not dissolve.
To show the safety of the product, it is used extensively in dental work, both permanent and temporary. It has NSF51 rating for food contact, and all materials are FDA approved. The NSF51 is tough, not a simple approval, but a long term ongoing testing effort of everything that goes into and even everything that touches the product during manufacture and distribution.
Thanks for reminding me why we do the SSA site. We felt that exposing the granite industry’s lies were the best way to level the playing field. Soon we will be able to return to speaking about our product.
If you don’t mind, I am going to use your questions and my reply on the site, without your full email or name of course.