Tips for Care and Maintenance of Solid
By Russ Lee
It’s an emotional subject. Your customer paid thousands of dollars
for her solid surface countertops, yet is unable to keep them
looking clean and spot free. And, it’s not for lack of trying
By the time you field her call she has, most likely, spent hours
sponge wiping and drying the surface of the tops with little
success. As her last resort, you have the opportunity to either
become a hero by offering a quick and easy solution to her dilemma,
or a goat by failing her in an hour of desperate need.
At times like this, it would be nice to have a secret weapon
something like the Lone Ranger’s silver bullet or Popeye’s can of
spinach. As it turns out, you do have a few magic bullets at your
disposal, but it takes a little knowledge and experience to know
which one to load into the gun.
Assuming the fabricator who installed your customer’s
countertops followed the proper steps in applying the final finish,
you must first determine whether the tops have a matte, satin,
semi-gloss or high-gloss sheen. That information would most likely
be recorded, along with other specification data, on your purchase
order to the
If your customer’s tops have a matte or satin finish, you should
make sure she understands that it is perfectly all right to clean
them with a Scotch Brite pad (green or gray is preferred for this
type of finish) and/or with a mild abrasive cleaner. “In fact,” you
might explain, “solid surface actually likes that kind of abrasive
action.” When used with a little water, the whole process generates
very little mess and is quickly accomplished.
Having laid the proper groundwork, you then load your magic
bullet. For matte finishes, I recommend a product called Enhance
Counter Top Cleaner, made by EMS, Inc. in Scotch Plains, NJ. This
product is useful as a cleaner, but its real virtue lies in the
protective coating it leaves behind, which resists water rings and
staining. It is easy to use, works well on other surfaces in the
home, and it only needs to be applied every so often.
In the intervening time, a wet sponge and mild detergent,
followed by quick wipe with a dry cloth, will keep the countertop
surface looking neat and clean.
For a satin or semi-gloss finish, my favorite product is Hope’s
Solid Surface Cleaner & Polish, made by The Hope Company of
Bridgeton, MO. This liquid contains tiny abrasive particles that
clean and shine the countertop at the same time. When using this
product, your customer often will be able to skip the scouring
process described above. What I like best about this particular
magic bullet is that it aggressively cleans while returning the
sheen of the affected area to the same reflective quality as the
In fact, I have even used it to remove multi-colored scratches from
the finish of my wife’s car with perfect results, after she has
spent a day of playing “dodge cars” in the supermarket parking lot.
As is the case with Enhance Counter Top Cleaner, SSC&P also
leaves behind a protective finish, which makes routine care of the
countertop almost painless.
For high-gloss finishes, I have found that the abrasive particles
in Hope’s Solid Surface Cleaner and Polish tend to limit the degree
of sheen possible. So, I recommend either Quick Shine Plus, made by
Protect All, Inc., in Anaheim, CA, or Enhance Counter Top Polish
(not to be confused with Counter Top Cleaner mentioned previously),
made by EMS, Inc. Both of these products are useful in cleaning
high sheen solid surface, and both create a protective layer that
resists water rings and stains for weeks.
When used properly, each of these products arms you with a
specific-use, magic bullet that effectively solves normal care and
maintenance issues for your client. Even better, she can use these
same cleaners and polishes on most, if not all, of the other
surfaces in her home with equally good results the only exception
being Solid Surface Cleaner and Polish, which contains abrasive
particles that could mar some surfaces like acrylic bathtubs or
cultured marble sinks.
One of the major benefits to using solid surface is that it is
renewable and repairable, which means that scratches and even
cracks can be repaired so that the countertop will look like new
gain. To help facilitate the process, each of the solid surface
manufacturers have published guidelines for homeowners to follow
when undertaking a minor repair on their solid
For major repairs, or repairs to high-gloss finishes, however,
the knowledge and skill level required usually eclipses
abilities of most homeowners, so these should be referred to a
But, for the plain old, everyday kinds of problems your customer
might encounter, such as stubborn stains, water spots and an uneven
finish, you might want to let her in on our little “Care and
Maintenance” secret. It might possibly turn you into a hero.
Russ Lee, a former fabricator himself, is editor of SolidSurface
magazine, a bi-monthly sister magazine of Kitchen & Bath Design
News that is aimed primarily at solid surface fabricators.