Avonite Surfaces offers a wide range of unique products that are used in many different applications. Some of these products may not be suitable for high traffic applications due to their unique characteristics, dark hues and saturated color. The color and finish guide below is intended as a general recommendation.
Choosing the Right Finish
The design flexibility of solid surface offers us limitless options for style. With so many choices it makes it difficult to choose sometimes. One of the most confusing issues is the subject of finishing. Most manufacturers present 3 options commonly referred to as matte, satin, or gloss and ask the end user or designer to choose one of these. Quite often the contractor’s quote assumes the least expensive matte finish as the default unless otherwise noted.
If the finish options are not discussed, most of the time customers are expecting to get the finish on the sample they are looking at when they chose the color. Managing the customer’s expectations for finishing choices and overall performance is critical.
Choosing the right finish requires consideration of the color, texture, and application. Where it may be easier for a manufacturer or contractor to advise against a polished finish in a kitchen because of the concern for maintenance, it should not be the polished surface that causes concern but rather the color choice. Here is an example. Let's compare two color options both from the Foundations advanced acrylic solid surfacing for an average kitchen countertop: Casablanca (a light neutral tan) and Dark Roast (a deep and rich brown).
The light and neutral Casablanca will not easily show signs of everyday wear but the Dark Roast may show early signs of wear simply because of its color. This scenario would be true regardless of the finish chosen. A polished Casablanca countertop can go years without showing any wear.
Finishing Dark Colors
This is a good time to discuss what finishes are appropriate for dark and rich colors like Dark Roast. There are some of these colors in everyone’s sample box. When it comes to extra dark colors like these, the "matte" finish is a very poor choice. Rough matte finishes on dark colors leave surfaces looking chalky and they easily smudge with fingerprints. All dark colors should have a minimum "satin" finish. Manufacturers put a minimum satin finish on the samples in their sample boxes because all of the colors look much better and cleaner.
Now let’s consider the question of long term maintenance for different colors and finishes. Regardless of which finish was originally chosen, similar finishing steps must be applied to restore the surface to its original finish. There are two steps for a matte, three for a satin, and four steps for a high gloss. Because of the specialty equipment used to achieve a high gloss, end users wanting a polished finish must be prepared to acquire this equipment and technique or contract their installer to refinish their surfaces periodically every 4 or 5 years depending on the application. In most cases, countertops that are used and cleaned everyday develop their own level of “patina”. Matte surfaces become more reflective with use. It is generally agreed that the satin finish offers end users the best look with the minimum required maintenance. However maintaining a polished surface is only one more step than a satin finish. Overall hardness and scratch resistance of all solid surfaces are relatively the same. Anything that is harder than the surface has the potential to scratch. Items such as ceramic jars or stoneware for example should have felt protectors on the bottom to prevent scratching.
Texture refers to how much pattern you see in the color. Saturated colors with little texture will show wear easier than full textured colors. Compare these two colors illustrated below. These are two very popular black colors from the Studio Collection. Notice the texture or pattern of the Black Ice versus very little pattern in the Midnight Sky. The extra texture in Black Ice will not show wear as easily as Midnight Sky or other saturated colors.
Some products in the Studio Collection from Avonite Surfaces create a few exceptions to these general finish guidelines. Many of these products contain minimum levels of ATH filler. This allows the products to have a clear matrix that does not show wear as easily as highly filled products. It is also this clear matrix that gives these products their depth and unparalleled beauty compared to all other products. This depth and clarity is enhanced by the polished finish. The combination of a clear matrix and a full texture like Black Ice create a very durable polished surface.