Solid surface is a synthetic material made from a mixture of resin and fillers to create a super hard, highly durable product for use as countertops, cabinet fronts, benchtops, and more. First poured as a liquid, solid surface is chemically cured to tightly bond the material, resulting in a completely smooth, non-porous surface devoid of crevices, lines, or pits that may harbor harmful bacteria.
Because of this, solid surface is one of the most hygienic materials available, making it a great choice for labs, manufacturing facilities, medical facilities, food prep, and anywhere where cleanliness is key.
Although solid surface is designed to minimize the collection of bacteria and germs, no surface can be completely hygienic without regular cleaning and maintenance. Luckily, solid surface is super easy to clean, and once you know how to care for it, can last for decades while still looking new.
In this guide, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about cleaning, repairing, and maintaining your solid surface countertops.
Avoiding cross-contamination is paramount in the majority of manufacturing, testing, and commercial facilities, which is why performing daily cleaning is so important. Surfaces come in contact with hundreds of items and people throughout the day that transfer bacteria, dirt, grime, and oils.
Spills, dropped items, accidents, and regular messy work add to the problem, further demonstrating just how important keeping your surfaces free from residue really is.
Beyond the daily perils of working in a lab, medical facility, teaching environment, or manufacturing plant, unexpected accents happen all the time, and it isn’t unusual for countertops to be among the first casualties in a newly cleaned or refreshed laboratory. To properly care for solid surface, you’ll need to know how to perform regular daily cleaning and address emergency spills and messes.
Daily Cleaning & General Cleanliness
Personnel coming in and out, items and materials being used and put away, chemicals and food products, and everything else that cycles through an office or lab each day has the potential to leave behind particulate. Basic daily cleaning to maintain general cleanliness is the best way to stay on top of the task of creating a safe, clean work environment for everyone and protecting the integrity of your work.
Germs, dirt, and stray bacteria aren’t just bad for human health and the general feel of your facility – they can taint batches of products, cross-contaminate, or destroy test samples.
To maintain the basic cleanliness of your solid surface, use the following methods:
- Rinse with warm soapy water and a soft cloth or use a non-abrasive household cleaner (i.e. Fantastik®)
- Rinse again with cool, clean water
- Wipe dry with a clean, soft cloth
Removing Crusty Residue
Not all residue will come off with a simple wipe with warm soapy water, but when substances begin to stick or become crusty, you’ll need to be a bit more careful while you clean. One of the many benefits of solid surface is that it is available in a huge range of colors and finishes, including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss.
The finish you choose will depend entirely on your preferred look or the needs of your facility.
Here are basic instructions to remove crusty or caked-on residue from your solid surface. Be sure to follow the instructions for the correct finish.
- Matte: Because matte finish solid surface can’t lose its shine (it has none), it is safe to use moderately abrasive cleaners to remove caked-on residue. Using a moderate household abrasive (i.e. Comet®) and a damp sponge or pad, buff off the residue using circular motions.
- Satin: Satin finishes can tolerate a small amount of abrasion, but too much will make the surface lose its soft appearance. Using a gentle household abrasive cleaner (i.e. SoftScrub®) and a damp sponge, buff off the residue using circular motions.
- Semi-Gloss: Semi-gloss cannot handle abrasive cleaners, since this finish will show signs of regular scratching. To remove caked-on residue from a semi-gloss solid surface countertop, buff the surface with warm soapy water and a cleaning pad (i.e. Scotch Brite®).
- Gloss: Gloss finish solid surface is the most susceptible to flaws, scratching, and damage, which is why it is important to avoid any kind of abrasive cleaner or cleaning products. Using a soft cloth and warm soapy water, buff off residue using circular motions.
Surface residue left for too long can create a tough, lasting stain, which is why it is important to clean daily to prevent pigment from settling into solid surface. In most cases, basic surface stains can be removed with daily cleanings, but some stains may require more vigorous spot cleaning.
Here’s how to deal with stubborn or set-in stains:
- Matte and Satin: A paste made from baking soda and water typically does the trick to remove stubborn stains from matte and satin finish solid surface. Be careful not to scratch or be more vigorous than necessary while using this technique, and switch to a milder household abrasive should your countertop show signs of further discoloration or damage.
- Semi/Gloss: Though it is not recommended to use even mild abrasive cleaners on semi and full gloss finish solid surface countertops, it may be necessary to remove tough, set-in stains. A super gentle buffing with a Scotch Brite® pad or a similarly gentle household cleaner should do the trick.
Solid surface is highly durable and can’t be easily scratched or dented, but with years of use, small cuts and minor damage can occur. Thankfully, because solid surface is solid and monochromatic the whole way through it can easily be repaired and made to look good as new in a few quick steps.
Minor Cuts & Scratches
Scratches from heavy equipment, accidental cuts from knives or cutting utensils, and abrasions from everyday wear are easy to remove from solid surface, and if done regularly, you can keep your countertops looking new for years. Before you jump into one of these techniques for repairing minor scratches, be sure you are following instructions for the correct surface finish.
- Matte: Using a semi-harsh abrasive like Ajax® and a damp Scotch Brite® pad, buff in tight circular motions over the affected area. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Buff the dry surface with a soft cloth. This technique is called ‘blending’.
- Satin: Using a gentle abrasive like Soft Scrub® and a soft, damp sponge, buff in tight circular motions over the affected area, then rinse and towel dry as above.
- Semi-Gloss: Gently buff with a soft, damp sponge and Soft Scrub®. Rinse and buff with a gray Scotch Brite® pad. Rinse a second time and follow with a white Scotch Brite® pad. Rinse and towel dry as above.
- Gloss: Thankfully, solid surface is pretty hard to damage, because gloss finished countertops need to be repaired by a professional service. Don’t try blending your gloss solid surface as this technique may make the issue worse.
If your solid surface has sustained significant damage like deep cuts or gouges, it is easy to refinish the surface to restore its look and feel. Solid surface is solid all the way through, and your solid surface provider can easily grind down and refinish every few years to keep your countertops looking fresh.
Want to avoid needing to buff your solid surface or having it refinished? With proper maintenance, it’s easy to keep your countertops looking and feeling flawless. Here are a few techniques you can use to maintain the look of your solid surface while avoiding damage:
While solid surface is a highly durable material that can handle extreme temperatures, it is best to avoid coming in contact with extremely hot items or surfaces. In a food prep facility, for example, a hot pan should be placed on a trivet, a cloth, or some other heat protecting accessory to prevent warping, damage, or discoloration.
Removing stains from solid surfaces is relatively easy, but if you can avoid buffing out your countertops, you should. To prevent stains from setting in and becoming permanent or stubborn, be sure to clean up messes when they happen, perform daily cleaning, and use protective gear and special care when handling harsh chemicals.
Scratches & Cuts
To avoid cutting, scratching, or scuffing your solid surface, never use knives or harsh objects directly on the material. Keep wood or plastic mats and cutting boards for any required cutting, and avoid dragging heavy items across the surface to prevent inadvertent scratches.
What To Avoid When Cleaning Solid Surface
In addition to doing all the things you’ll need to do to maintain solid surface, it is important to also know what not to do when cleaning your solid surface countertops. Certain cleaners and solvents can be too harsh or damaging for use on solid surfaces, and several issues can arise if other issues are left unattended.
Here’s what you should avoid to keep your solid surface looking great:
- DO NOT place hot items (like pots and pans) directly on solid surface. Use a trivet or heat pad.
- DO NOT use paint thinner or acetone-based solvents to remove residue.
- DO NOT cut directly onto solid surface countertops. Use a cutting board.
- DO NOT sit, stand, walk, or drag particularly heavy objects over solid surface.
Purchasing High-Quality Solid Surface
Finally, if you are searching for solid surface countertops or casework, purchase from a provider that is reputable and experienced to ensure you are getting the best possible products. At OnePointe Solutions, we have helped to design and install countless lab and commercial spaces, including custom-built furniture and lab countertops.
To guarantee your solid surface furniture will meet your expectations, choose OnePointe Solutions to manage the design and build process, and installation of your solid surface countertops as well.
Need Solid Surface Countertops?
Give us a call today (866) 222-7494 to speak to a surface specialist to see if solid surface or any other countertops we carry are right for you.