What is Cast Polymer?
Cast Polymer is the umbrella term used to encompass cultured marble, cultured granite, cultured onyx and solid surface products used in a wide range of household and commercial applications. Some of these applications include: counter tops, lavatories, vanities, shower receptors, bathtubs, enclosure sets, fireplace surrounds, window sills, wall panels, floor tiles, whirlpool baths and molding accents.
Cast polymer products are man-made, chemically–bonded, mineral-filled, polymeric materials which are molded and hardened to a solid material in a variety of shapes that meet diverse design needs. The manufacturing process permits a range of uses almost impossible to achieve with quarried stone. Cast polymer is stronger and less brittle than quarried marble; it is more durable than porcelain. Cast polymer products resist mildew and stains and are easily cleaned with non-abrasive cleaning agents. The one-piece, seamless construction of cast polymer is easy to maintain and resistant to breakage.
Today’s cast polymer products offer improved construction, top-notch raw materials, and superior quality control standards. The result permits a total kitchen and bath concept with products that last longer, look better – yet still allow freedom of color and design-versatility at an affordable price. ©ICPA 2015
What is Cultured Marble, Cultured Granite and Cultured Onyx?
Cultured Marble, Cultured Granite and Cultured Onyx, as their names imply, have the look of genuine marble, granite or onyx. Cultured marble, granite and onyx products are usually manufactured with a high-gloss coating, called a “gel coat”, applied during the manufacturing process, which becomes an integral part of the cultured marble, granite or onyx product. Colorants may be added to the polymer/filler matrix in a manner which provides a “veining” which mimics the appearance of natural products. The polymer casting process yields a rock hard, durable product which takes on the look and feel of the natural product.
Cultured marble, granite and onyx products easily meet nationally-recognized standards to resist water, heat, stains, burns, chemicals and everyday wear and tear.
What is Solid Surface?
Solid Surface products are manufactured with high performance resin systems such as acrylic and unsaturated polyester. They have very high filler content and do not have gel coats. These materials are used primarily in counter top and wall panel applications.
A design benefit of solid surface materials is their ability to be machined to like wood, though special equipment and fabrication procedures are required. They can be precisely cut and bonded to fit nearly any surface shape. Solid surface materials can also be routed for decorative edging which can be applied with specially formulated adhesives. Since the color goes clear through the product, scratches, chips and stains can be easily sanded out.
Solid surface materials are sold under a number of brand names including Avonite, Dupont Corian, Fountainhead, Gilbraltar, Nevamar, Surell and Transolid. A growing number of small producers and fabricators are also offering solid surface materials. ©ICPA 2015
Care and Maintenance Tips
Beautiful Cast Polymer Products for a Lifetime
More and more consumers are choosing cast polymer products to beautify the kitchen, bath, and almost every part of their home. Products such as counter tops, lavatories, vanities, shower bases, bathtubs, enclosure sets, fireplace surrounds, window sills, wall panels, floor tiles, whirlpool baths and molding accents come alive with the custom colors, shapes, textures and designs of cast polymer products.
Cast polymer products are man-made, chemically-bonded, mineral-filled, polymeric materials which are molded and hardened to a solid material in a variety of shapes to meet the design needs of today’s homeowner. Cast polymer products are commonly known as cultured marble, cultured onyx, cultured granite and solid surface.
Cultured marble, granite and onyx products are usually manufactured with a high-gloss coating, called a “gel coat”, applied during the manufacturing process, which becomes an integral part of the product. Solid surface products are manufactured in a vacuum system with high performance resin systems such as acrylic and unsaturated polyester. With no surface coat and no internal air voids, solid surface can be easily restored when slight surface scratches appear.
How can owners keep the “good as new” look of these products for a lifetime of beauty and service? Just follow these tips:
For cultured marble, granite or onyx:
- Use liquid detergent for regular cleaning to remove mineral deposits and soap scum. Restore dull surfaces by using liquid cleaning compound (such as is used for cars), followed by a light application of liquid wax or paste. Do not use abrasive cleaners, steel wool, scouring pads, scrapers, or sandpaper on any part of the surfaces.
- To remove built up hair spray, paint, tar, and difficult stains from the surface, use turpentine, denatured alcohol, or paint thinner. Be careful not to use turpentine or paint thinner on the hydrojets in a spa or plated components- damage to the plastic coatings may result.
- To remove plaster or construction residue, scrape the surface slightly with a wooden edge and wash with liquid detergent. Never use wire brushes or metal tools on any part of the cultured marble surfaces.
- If the stain is from hard water or mineral deposits, try using a cleaner for removing iron, calcium, or other such mineral deposits that are in your water supply. Most cleaning chemicals will not damage the gelcoat as long as label instructions are followed.
For solid surface products:
- Regular cleaning is easy using a non-abrasive cleaner and a damp cloth or sponge. If the product has a factory matte finish, then abrasive cleaners may be used. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Prompt clean up of spills will minimize even stubborn stains such as food dye, tea, fruit drinks, and some juices. For stubborn stains on polished surfaces, use full strength bleach for two to five minutes followed by a general cleaner, then flushed with water. On a matte finish, follow the same procedure or use a bleaching abrasive cleaner.
- Cigarette burns on the surface are usually a nicotine stain or scorch that can be easily removed by cleaning with an abrasive cleaner or buffing with a plastic (not metal), abrasive household sponge.
- Never set hot pans directly on a solid surface. Use a trivet or potholder to protect the top. Using your countertop for a cutting board will result in unnecessary damage that may require professional repair.
- Repairing superficial scratches is a breeze on solid surface products. Sand lightly with 350 grit sandpaper or buff with a plastic (not metal) household sponge. Deep scratches or chips should always be removed professionally.
Today’s cast polymer products are made with top-notch raw materials and superior quality control standards. The result permits a total kitchen and bath concept with products that last longer, look better – yet still allow freedom of color and design-versatility at an affordable price.