While granite is unlikely to ever go out of style, the choice for countertop surfaces extends far beyond granite and includes synthetic surfaces like Corian, natural rocks like marble, and engineered quartz like Silestone. Granite, a natural rock, is extremely hard and durable, despite being porous. Corian is a homogenous, nonporous surface that is manufactured by DuPont; it is stain resistant and available in over 100 different colors.
This comparison examines the differences between granite and Corian in terms of cost, durability, appearance, maintenance required, installation and other pros and cons.
DuPont, a company known for construction products like nylon, invented the material used in Corian in the 1960s. Corian is made from a combination of natural minerals and high quality acrylics. Acrylic resin is combined with aluminum trihydrate in the manufacturing process used to make Corian.
Granite, a type of igneous rock, is formed when molten lava cools under the Earth’s surface. It contains minerals, like quartz, biotite mica, feldspar, and occasionally amphibole. The stone is blasted out of quarries as huge blocks of rock and then taken to a facility where the blocks are polished and cut into slabs for countertops.
Corian is nonporous and can be fabricated to achieve a seamless look. There are no spaces or nooks in the material to catch liquid spills or dirt, a fact that makes Corian countertops both durable and easy to clean. Moreover, the material is resistant to stains and often relatively easy to repair.
Though granite is a very durable and solid rock, it is naturally porous, meaning it can absorb spills in a way that can cause permanent damage. Still, it is not particularly easy to damage granite. Granite is more porous than the nonporous Corian, but it is less porous than some other natural materials, like marble.
The video below discusses the pros and cons of laminate, granite, quartz, and Corian and also contains many visual examples of all four countertop materials:
Granite is quite scratch resistant, enough so that food can be cut on the surface with a knife. However, acidic foods and spills are likely to stain the stone, especially if they are not quickly cleaned. The stone is also very heat resistant and will not crack if a hot pan or pot is placed on it directly from the oven. Though very durable as a natural stone, granite will likely chip and crack over time and hard, long-term use. When this happens, it can be very expensive to replace it.
Corian is prone to scratches and minor nicks, although minor scratches can be removed with a scouring pad. Most Corian can withstand heat, but it is not resistant to temperatures above 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures is likely to cause discoloration. Hot pots and pans cannot be directly placed onto a Corian surface.
Corian is highly versatile and is available in over 100 colors, some of which include patterns and textures that mimic natural woods or stones. When heated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, Corian is pliable and can be carved, engraved, and shaped into different objects. Pieces of Corian can be cut and glued to achieve a seamless look and used in different design applications. Corian can also be integrated with wood, glass, and stone, making it a very popular choice for residential and commercial projects. In general, Corian is a good choice for those who want to add a uniform, homogeneous look to their kitchens or offices.
Granite comes in a number of different shades (e.g., creams, grays, greens, browns, reds), both light and dark. Because granite is a natural stone, all granite countertops have unique colors and mineral speckles. Despite granite's uniqueness and relatively wide range of natural colors, granite has nowhere near as many color options as materials like Corian and Silestone do. Even so, those who want to achieve a unique look that no one else has should consider granite.
Corian meets all the emissions guidelines for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). It is also Greenguard certified. Corian is non-allergenic to humans, nontoxic, and free of heavy metals. The material also complies with EU Directive 2002/95EC on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, naturally-occurring radioactive elements occur in granite and can decay over time to produce a colorless, odorless gas known as radon. Long-term exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. However, the EPA says most all granite is safe in homes and cause for little, if any, concern; EU regulatory bodies have come to similar conclusions. The notion that granite is dangerous is persistent, though, so much so that the Marble Institute of America keeps a collection of erroneous granite reporting.
Corian does not harbor bacteria and is therefore a very hygienic surface; moreover, any spills are easy to wipe off. This makes Corian a convenient countertop surface for kitchens, hospitals, and laboratories.
Granite is said to harbor bacteria over time, but at least one study by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management suggests otherwise. According to the study, granite was actually the easiest surface to thoroughly disinfect using only soapy water, plain water, and vinegar. It should be noted that vinegar should not generally be used on granite surfaces, as it can cause permanent damage; however, it was used in the study for the purpose of disinfecting.
Corian countertops can be cleaned with soapy water or ammonia-based solutions. Once cleaned, the countertops need to be dried thoroughly to prevent hard water stains. Over time, countertops that are not cared for will appear dull and blotchy due to hard water stains. Heavy duty stains can be cleaned with Deep Cleaner for DuPont Corian.
Granite should be with soapy water on a daily basis. Cleaning solutions that contain vinegar, ammonia, or citric acids (e.g., lemon or lime) should not be used because these can dull a granite's surface with their acidity. If spills are not immediately cleaned, staining can occur. Some water-based stains can be removed with a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda solution, while water and baking soda can help remove oil-based stains. For regularly used granite countertops, resealing is recommended at least once every two years to help keep the stone resistant to stains.
Corian is used to make kitchen and bathroom countertops, as well as sinks, in residences and businesses like restaurants, hotels, and hospitals. Corian is easy to clean, and with proper care it does not promote the growth of mold and mildew. Its nonporous and seamless designs make it a good choice for bar counters, tabletops, and solid surfaces in healthcare settings.
The strong, heat resistant, and sanitary qualities of granite, along with its elegance, make it ideal for classic kitchen countertops. Granite is also commonly used in bathroom vanities for the same reasons. Granite backsplashes are now becoming fashionable in modern kitchens, too, and granite flooring may appear in offices.
The use of Corian does not just stop at kitchen and bathroom countertops. It can be used in very creative ways to make furniture, lighting, flooring, and interior and exterior wall cladding. Its nonporous nature makes it resistant to bacteria and ideal for all sorts of decor in healthcare and laboratory environments. With a recently invented process called dye sublimation, images can be embedded into Corian surfaces and cut out to create a permanent piece for use in interiors. To see the many ways in which Corian can be transformed into different objects, watch this video:
Granite has been used throughout modern and ancient times. There is granite in the Pyramids of Giza, and several ancient Indian temples are made entirely out of granite. Because of its resistance to the elements, granite is very popular as a material for gravestones or monuments in public places.
Corian costs $70 to $130 per square foot. Granite's pricing varies a lot according to appearance and coloring, but most granite goes for $40 to $150 per square foot. Installation costs for both materials often vary by region.
Corian or Granite: Which is Better?
Corian is available in a wide range of colors. Its seamless look and nonporous surface makes it easy to clean. It can be integrated with other materials to achieve aesthetic appeal. It is available at a better price than granite. The nonporous surface is hygienic and does not trap any germs. Corian surfaces can be repaired of small scratches with a scouring pad. But Corian does scratch easily and cannot resist high temperature; hot pots and pans cannot be directly placed on a Corian surface as this may cause discoloration.
Few factory-manufactured substances can beat the class, elegance and timeless appeal of a natural stone like granite. Homes with granite countertops have a higher resale value. Granite is hard, durable and does not scratch; it can withstand high temperature and does not discolor. However, granite is more expensive than Corian. Its porosity can trap spills if not cleaned up immediately and stain the surface over time. It requires maintenance, and can chip or break with impact of heavy objects. The cost of replacing or patching in a new piece can be expensive and since no two granite pieces look alike, it is almost impossible to make it look like the original piece.
- Next-Generation Solid Surface Material and Quartz Surface - DuPont
- What is Corian? - CDUK
- The environmental case for DuPont Corian solid surfaces - DuPont (PDF)
- How to Clean Corian — Guidelines for Long-lasting Beauty - DuPont
- How to Clean Granite Countertops - TLC Cooking
- Corian GreenGuard Certified - DuPont
- Wikipedia: Corian
- Wikipedia: Granite