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Corian is the brand name for a solid surface material created by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont). Its primary use is as a countertop/benchtop surface, though it has many other applications. It is composed of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate (ATH), a material derived from bauxite ore. Corian is the original material of this type, created by DuPont scientists in 1967. A number of direct solid surface competitors to Corian have emerged since the expiration of DuPont’s patent on solid surfaces.
Corian is manufactured in three thicknesses: 6 millimetres (0.24 in), 12 millimetres (0.47 in), and 19 millimetres (0.75 in). Most Corian is manufactured at a DuPont facility near Buffalo, New York. Cross-section cuts show consistent color and particulate patterning evenly distributed throughout the material, giving rise to the category name “Solid Surface.”
Corian must be sold and installed by a DuPont certified fabricator and such installations come with a 10-year warranty covering both product and installation, for interior residential applications.
Dr. Donald Slocum, a DuPont chemist, is credited as the inventor of Corian solid surface in 1967. His name appears on the patent issued in October 1968. A “Space Age” material, the product has evolved since its invention and spawned many imitations. The product was first introduced for sale in 1971, at the National Association of Home Builder’s meeting in Houston, Texas.
Originally conceived as a kitchen/bath material available in a single color, Corian is available today in more than 100 colors. In the years subsequent to its market debut, DuPont introduced “integrated” Corian sinks that could be seamlessly integrated with a Corian countertop in a kitchen or bathroom.
In 2013, the company announced its Endless Evolution initiative in an effort to improve the material and find additional applications for its use.As part of this initiative, in 2014 DuPont introduced its "Deep Color" technology which was showcased in its “Corian 2.0” exhibition during Milan’s Design Week. The enhancement allows for the material to be created in deeper, darker colors that are more resistant to scratches and cuts than earlier generation Corian material.
DuPont has issued various sub-branded releases of the material which contain unique design elements and/or methods of manufacture. Notably these have included:
- Corian Private Collection: First colors introduced in 2002; This product line is inspired by the randomness of patterns found in nature. Some colors and patterns in this product line resemble stone and other natural materials and all colors have complex non-repeating patterns not found in other Corian products.
- Corian Illumination Series: First colors introduced in 2007; This product line is semi-translucent allowing for new designs calling for backlit applications.
- Corian Metallics Series: First colors introduced in 2010; This product line contains particulate of gold and silver fleck to give the product a metallic appearance. This creates a depth that simulates movement and variation of color when the same installation is viewed from different angles.
- Martha Stewart Living Collection: First colors introduced in the United States in 2010; This product line is a collection of colors created by home improvement celebrity Martha Stewart.
- Corian DeepColor Technology: First colors introduced in 2013; This product line uses new "Deep Color" technology to produce darker, more scratch-resistant colors.
- Stain resistant
- Seamless: In the fabrication process, joints can be made invisible by joining the relevant pieces with Corian's own color-matched two-part acrylic epoxy. The pieces are clamped tightly together in order to express any excess adhesive. After the adhesive dries, the area is sanded and polished to create a seamless joint. This seamless appearance is a signature characteristic of the material.
- Repairable and renewable: Cuts and scratches can be buffed out with a Scotch-Brite pad or orbital sander.
- Thermoformable: Flexible when heated, Corian can be shaped and molded into generally limitless forms which can be used in commercial and artistic projects through a process called thermoforming.
Heat resistance: the material is heat resistant up to 100 °C (212 °F), but can be damaged by excess heat. DuPont recommends the use of trivets when the material is installed in kitchens.
Scratches: The material can be scratched, with scratches particularly noticeable on darker colors.
Corian is a type of premium decorative surface. The expiration of DuPont’s patent on solid surfaces helped facilitate a number of direct solid surface competitors to Corian.
Major competing brands include:
- Aristech Avonite
- Formica Group Solid Surfacing
- Hanwha Hanex
- LG HI-MACS
- Samsung Staron
- Swan Swanstone
- Wilsonart Solid Surface
Corian and other solid surfaces also compete at a price point similar to other premium decorative surfaces. These other competitors include:
Safety of installed material: Corian meets or exceeds current emissions guidelines for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and is "Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified". Corian is nontoxic and nonallergenic to humans. It is free of heavy metals and complies with the EU Directive 2002/95EC on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). Its hygienic properties make it popular in installations where maintaining sanitary conditions is important (e.g. hospitals and restaurants).
Fabricator Safety: In 2014, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a case of a 64-year-old exercise physiologist who died from lung disease consistent with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis after 16 years of exposure to Corian dust. Dust from Corian was found in the patient's garage and lung upon autopsy. The authors said that the case was consistent with Corian dust causing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, but did not prove causality. DuPont scientists responded that exposure to other materials could not be ruled out.
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- Raghu, Ganesh; Collins, Bridget F.; Xia, Daniel; Schmidt, Rodney; Abraham, Jerrold L. (May 29, 2014). "Pulmonary Fibrosis Associated with Aluminum Trihydrate (Corian) Dust". New England Journal of Medicine 370 (2): 2154–2157. doi:10.1056/NEJMc1404786.