When it comes to choosing countertop materials for kitchens and bathrooms, Corian and quartz are two popular options worth considering. Both offer durability, style, and functionality, but they differ in composition, appearance, maintenance, and cost. Understanding the key differences between Corian and quartz countertops can help homeowners select the best material for their needs and budget.
What is Corian?
Corian is a solid surface material made from acrylic resin and natural minerals. It was first introduced by DuPont in 1967 and continues to be a leading brand of solid surface today. Some key facts about Corian:
- Made of approximately 1/3 acrylic resin and 2/3 natural minerals like bauxite, aluminum trihydrate and pigments
- Non-porous so resists staining
- Available in a wide range of colors and patterns
- Can be custom fabricated into seamless countertops and sinks
- Repairable if damaged – scratches and scorches can be sanded away
- Backed by a 10 year limited warranty
Corian offers a sleek, contemporary look and feels smooth and warm to the touch. It can be molded into custom curved shapes unlike more rigid materials like natural stone. While scratches and cuts can appear over time, Corian can be renewed by sanding and polishing. It’s a medium price point material, costing $$-$$$ per square foot installed.
What is Quartz?
Quartz countertops are engineered stone made from approximately 90% ground natural quartz crystals mixed with about 10% polymer resins and pigments. It is VOC-free and does not emit radioactive radon gas. Key features:
- Made of about 90% ground quartz and 10% polymer resins
- Very hard and durable
- Resists scratches, stains, burns better than other materials
- Non-porous so repels water
- Available in wide range of colors and patterns
- Does not need to be sealed
- Low maintenance
- Backed by warranties of 10-15 years
With a granite-like beauty, quartz offers consistent color and patterning but requires less maintenance. Quartz does not need to be sealed and keeps its luster for years. It’s more flexible for kitchen surfaces than natural stone. Small scratches can occur but quartz does not need polishing or refinishing work. Higher priced than Corian, installed quartz countertops cost approximately $$$ to $$$$ per square foot.
Both Corian and quartz offer good durability and longevity in kitchens. As an engineered material, quartz rates higher on durability tests than the acrylic-based Corian.
On the Mohs hardness scale, quartz ranks around 7 out of 10, similar to natural granite. Corian is softer, rating 3-4 on the scale. This means quartz resists cuts and scratches better than Corian over time. However, Corian can be resurfaced to remove damage.
Quartz has excellent heat tolerance, unaffected by temperatures up to 300°F. Corian can withstand heat up to 175°F before possibly blistering or discoloring. Both should have trivets used for hot pans.
With non-porous surfaces, both Corian and quartz resist staining quite well. Spills are less likely to absorb into the material. However, some chemicals and dyes can temporarily stain both if not wiped up quickly.
A benefit of Corian is that minor damage like scratches and scorches can be sanded away by a professional. Seams can also be filled if they crack apart. Repairs are harder with quartz as the material is more rigid. But quartz rarely needs repairs under normal use.
Corian and quartz come in a diverse array of colors and patterns to suit any design aesthetic.
Corian offers over 100 colors and patterns including bright solids, muted stones, abstract designs, metallics, and more.
Quartz counters come in a wide range of colored flecks and veins in different patterns mimicking natural stone. There are hundreds of options.
Corian can be shaped into rounded, curved edges not possible with quartz. Beveled, bullnose, and ogee edges can be created seamlessly with Corian.
Quartz has more limited edge profiles – typically square, rounded, beveled, or eased. Intricate edge detailing is harder to achieve.
Corian can be fabricated into large pieces giving a smooth, continuous appearance. With few or no seams, it can better mimic the look of natural stone.
Quartz seams are generally more visible between pieces since natural quartz slabs come in smaller widths.
Maintenance and Care
Both Corian and quartz require very little maintenance to keep looking like new. Neither material needs frequent sealing or polishing.
- Cleaning – Both can be cleaned with soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleansers. Quartz needs less cleaning than Corian surfaces.
- Disinfecting – Both resist bacteria growth. Occasional disinfection keeps surfaces hygienic.
- Sealing – Quartz never needs sealing. Corian may benefit from periodic resealing for stain resistance.
- Heat – Using trivets for hot pans is advisable to avoid discoloring. Quartz can withstand more heat.
- Scratches – Surface scratches are less visible on quartz than Corian. Scratches can be buffed out of Corian.
- Repairs – Corian can be professionally resurfaced but quartz is very difficult to repair. Chips or cracks in quartz must be replaced.
Quartz countertops are generally more expensive than Corian. Here are average installed costs:
- Corian – $55 – $75 per sq. ft. installed
- Quartz – $80 – $140 per sq. ft. installed
Costs vary based on color, edge treatments, and local labor charges. Corian is often 20-40% less expensive than quality quartz for initial purchase and installation. However, quartz requires less maintenance and replacement costs over its lifespan.
Which is Better – Corian or Quartz?
While quartz ranks higher than Corian in durability and heat-resistance, Corian remains an excellent surface material. The choice often comes down to pricing and visual appeal.
Corian works well when wanting a sleek, contemporary look on a budget. It offers great flexibility for molded shapes and seamless appearance. For a lower maintenance material with granite-like durability, quartz is a superb option. It’s better for busy kitchens prone to spills, drops, and high traffic.
Both Corian and quartz can be excellent choices for countertops. Consider your unique needs, kitchen usage, and style preferences when deciding between these two great surface materials. Consult with knowledgeable kitchen designers to view samples and get professional recommendations.
FAQs about Corian vs Quartz Countertops
Is quartz better than Corian?
Quartz is generally considered a higher performance material than Corian in scratch resistance, heat tolerance, and durability. However, Corian offers benefits like repairability, affordability, and seamless installation.
Is Corian outdated?
While introduced in the 1960s, Corian remains a popular and stylish countertop material used in modern kitchens. New colors, styles, and fabrication techniques keep Corian looking fresh and contemporary.
Is Corian good for kitchen countertops?
Yes, Corian makes an excellent countertop surface for kitchens. It provides durability, stain resistance, design flexibility, and easy maintenance. Its softer surface can show more scratches than quartz however.
Does quartz stain easily?
No, quartz has excellent stain resistance and does not need frequent sealing. Some liquids like oils, dyes or ink can stain quartz if left more than 10-15 minutes, but it is less prone to staining than other natural stones.
Is Corian cheaper than quartz?
Generally yes, Corian costs 20-40% less than quartz for initial installation. However, quartz requires less frequent replacement over its lifetime of 10-15 years versus Corian’s lifespan of 10 years.
Does quartz lose its shine?
No, quartz retains its shiny, polished finish for many years. It does not require waxing or refinishing to maintain its lustrous appearance. Only deeper scratches or etches would dull small spots that require professional repair.
Corian and quartz both enhance kitchens and bathrooms with beauty, versatility and long-lasting performance. Corian provides design flexibility, repairability and value. For superior durability with a granite-like patina, quartz is an excellent option. Consider how each material meets your priorities – from budget, ease of care, longevity and visual appeal. With its longevity and low-maintenance nature, quartz is a top choice that will beautifully withstand decades of use. But Corian remains a stunning and affordable selection. Discuss your needs with an experienced kitchen designer to decide if Corian or quartz best suits your countertop needs and desires.