Quartz and Corian countertops are two of the most popular countertop materials on the market today. Both offer sleek, modern designs and have many similarities, which can make telling the difference between the two difficult. However, there are some key differences between quartz and Corian that can help you determine which material is right for your home.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with polymer resins and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-94% of the material, while the rest consists of the binding polymers.
Here are some key facts about quartz:
- Extremely durable and scratch resistant surface
- Non-porous – resists stains
- Available in wide range of colors and patterns
- Requires minimal maintenance
- Heat and scorch resistant
- Not completely seamless – may have small seams between slabs
- Resists most acids and chemicals
- Made in slabs and cut/fabricated for installation
The durability and low maintenance of quartz make it an excellent choice for busy kitchens. The seamless look gives it a sleek, contemporary style. While more expensive than materials like laminate, quartz counters are an investment that can significantly increase home value.
What is Corian?
Corian is a solid surface material created by DuPont consisting of natural minerals and acrylic polymer. First introduced in 1967, Corian was one of the first “solid surface” countertop materials on the market.
Here are some key facts about Corian:
- Made of natural minerals and acrylic
- Available in wide range of colors/patterns
- Can be fabricated seamlessly with inconspicuous seams
- Scratch and stain resistant with proper care
- Non-porous surface resists bacteria growth
- Can be thermoformed into unique shapes
- Entire countertop can be sanded and refinished
- Vulnerable to damage from heat and harsh chemicals
- Only available through authorized DuPont fabricators
Corian’s seamless appearance and ability to be thermoformed into customized designs make it a go-to choice for modern and contemporary kitchens. While quartz has surpassed Corian in popularity in recent years, Corian remains a sleek and stylish option.
Key Differences Between Quartz and Corian
While quartz and Corian share some similar traits, there are some notable differences between the two materials:
- Quartz is made from ground quartz crystals and polymers.
- Corian is a solid surface material made from minerals and acrylic polymer.
- Quartz is extremely hard and scratch resistant. It holds up well to heavy daily use.
- Corian is prone to scratches and marks without proper care. Quartz is more durable.
- Quartz can withstand brief exposure to heat up to 300°F.
- Corian can be damaged by temperatures above 175°F. Quartz is more heat resistant.
- Quartz countertops usually have slightly noticeable seams between slabs.
- Corian can be fabricated and installed seamlessly when desired.
- Scratches and marks on quartz can be difficult to remove. Quartz can’t be refinished.
- Light damage to Corian can be sanded out. Entire Corian surface can be refinished.
- Quartz is generally more expensive than Corian.
- Corian used to be pricier but costs have come down in recent years.
- Quartz requires very little maintenance aside from cleaning.
- Corian needs regular upkeep to maintain its appearance.
As you can see, quartz tends to be the more durable and low maintenance option, while Corian offers more customization and can be repaired and refinished. Both materials have their pros and cons.
How to Tell the Difference Visually
Unless you know a countertop’s material already, it can be tricky to identify quartz from Corian at a glance. Here are a few tips to distinguish the two:
Check for visible seams
- Quartz slabs will have a slightly noticeable seam where they meet. It may be small but can ususally be seen on close inspection.
- Corian can be fabricated into seamless designs using inconspicuous seams. Check corners and edges for any visible seam lines.
Look closely at the surface
- Quartz has a sparkly, granular appearance when viewed up close. You can see the flecks of quartz crystals.
- Corian has a more consistent, smooth and even solid surface with no sparkling grains.
Examine edges and thickness
- Quartz slabs are usually 1.25 inches thick. Edges are cut straight.
- Corian can be customized into thinner sheets around 0.5 inches thick. Edges can be curved and shaped.
Consider sheen and gloss level
- Quartz has a brighter sheen and reflectivity from its resin binders.
- Corian tends to have a flatter, matte finish unless polished to a gloss.
See if it can be scratched
- Quartz is extremely hard and scratch resistant. Attempting to scratch it with a knife should leave no mark.
- Corian is softer and prone to scratching. Try lightly scratching a small hidden spot. Corian will show light abrasions.
With some careful examination, you should be able to spot key differences between quartz and Corian. When in doubt, asking a homeowner or checking installation paperwork can provide a definitive answer.
Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops
If you’re trying to choose between quartz and Corian, it helps to weigh the pros and cons of each material:
Pros of Quartz:
- Extremely durable and hard surface
- Resists scratches, stains, heat damage
- Low porosity prevents bacterial growth
- Wide variety of colors and patterns
- Little to no maintenance required
- Doesn’t need periodic resealing
- Neutral colors match any style
- Greater design flexibility with large slabs
Cons of Quartz:
- More expensive than other materials
- Can develop slight seams between slabs
- Improper installation can lead to cracks
- Needs re-polishing to remove some scratches
- Can chip if subjected to heavy impact
- Heat damage can occur if hot pans left directly on surface
Quartz’s durability, stain resistance, and hassle-free maintenance make it a smart, long-term investment for kitchen counters. The range of stylish options available make quartz one of the most popular choices.
Pros and Cons of Corian Countertops
Corian also offers many redeeming qualities as a countertop material:
Pros of Corian:
- Can be fabricated into seamless designs
- Scratches and damage can be sanded out
- Entire countertop can be refinished
- Available in wide range of colors/patterns
- Can be thermoformed into customized shapes
- Resists stains with proper cleaning
- Won’t harbor bacteria growth
- Long manufacturer warranty when professionally installed
Cons of Corian:
- Needs frequent polishing/resealing to look its best
- Easily scratched/damaged from cutting or heat
- Not as hard or durable as quartz
- Seams more noticeable on darker colors
- Limited size availability – seams usually required
- Requires expert fabrication and installation
- Higher cost than materials like laminate
Corian remains a stylish, customizable option, but requires more maintenance to keep it looking pristine. It can work well in low traffic areas not subjected to heavy use.
FAQs About Quartz and Corian
Is quartz or Corian better for kitchen countertops?
Quartz is generally regarded as the better choice for kitchen countertops. It is harder and more scratch resistant, stands up well to heavy use, requires little maintenance, and resists heat and stains. Corian can work well but requires more care and may show wear sooner.
Is quartz worth the extra cost over Corian?
For kitchen counters that see daily use, quartz is usually worth the higher cost. Its superior durability will keep it looking like new for many years. The investment in quartz pays off long-term with low-maintenance convenience.
Can quartz and Corian withstand hot pots and pans?
Quartz can tolerate brief direct heat exposure up to 300°F. Corian is more prone to heat damage and scorching above 175°F. Using trivets and hot pads is recommended with both.
How thick are quartz countertops compared to Corian?
Quartz slabs are usually 1.25 inches thick while Corian sheets can be as thin as 0.5 inches. Thicker Corian can be custom ordered but standard thicknesses are thinner.
Can you cut directly on quartz or Corian countertops?
It’s not recommended to cut directly on either surface. Both can be scratched from sharp knives. Always use a cutting board on quartz or Corian counters.
Does quartz or Corian cost more for installation?
Quartz usually costs more overall for material and installation. Corian requires specialized fabrication which can be pricier than quartz installation alone. Total costs depend on the specific project.
Which resists stains better, quartz or Corian?
Thanks to its non-porous composition, quartz resists stains exceptionally well and requires little more than soap and water to clean. Corian can also resist stains with proper care but is more prone to permanent staining if not well-maintained.
In Conclusion: Key Points to Remember
- Quartz countertops are made from ground quartz crystals and polymers while Corian is an acrylic solid surface.
- Quartz is harder, more scratch resistant, and handles heat better than Corian.
- Corian can be fabricated into seamless installations but quartz tends to have slight seams.
- Quartz requires very little maintenance compared to Corian’s need for frequent polishing and sealing.
- Corian can be refinished but quartz cannot. Scratches and damage on quartz are harder to remove.
- Quartz generally costs more for materials and installation compared to Corian.
- For heavy use areas like kitchens, quartz is usually the more durable, low-maintenance option long-term.
- Carefully inspecting seams, thickness, glossiness, and attempting to scratch can help identify if a countertop is quartz or Corian.
Quartz and Corian each have their advantages. By evaluating their key differences and your needs, you can decide which of these popular countertop materials is the right choice for your home. With either option, proper care and maintenance is essential to maintaining the beauty of your investment over many years of use.