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Finishing I finish up all the joints, corners, and edges with an orbital sander, then apply rubbing compound to all surfaces and polish by hand or with an electric buffer (Figure 6).

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Figure 6. All Swanstone seams and edges are sanded with an orbital sander. Finally, the surface is polished with a rubbing compound. The rubbing compound removes surface grit and little nicks that may have happened during fabrication. Installation on the job site is easy. Before setting the top on the base cabinets, I apply a bead of clear silicone caulk to carcase edges, then set the top. Some countertops are too big for me to fabricate in a single piece. For those installations, I’ll fabricate separate pieces, creating a lap seam where the two pieces butt together (Figure 7).

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Figure 7. Field splices are necessary for large counters that can’t be moved to the site in one piece. The substrate is cut 1/16 inch short to ensure a tight joint in the solid surfacing.

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Figure 8. Backsplash material comes with a recess for 3/8-inch plywood. The splash can also be cut in half for a shorter profile.

I then cut and fit the splashes, and glue them to the wall with panel adhesive. A color-matched caulking finishes the seam between the top and backsplash.

Cost

Though Swanstone doesn’t have the name recognition of the full-thickness solid-surfacing materials like Corian, it also doesn’t cost as much. The price of Swanstone falls somewhere in between the price of laminate and full-thickness solid-surface materials. For example, I sell a 13-foot countertop with integral sink for $1,400, installed, or a little over $100 per linear foot. Working with Swanstone enables me to offer a solid-surface material that is heat-resistant and difficult to chip at an affordable price. I can close sales that would have been lost to the higher-priced solid-surface products. Swanstone will soon introduce a factory prefabricated countertop with built-in front edge that will retail for $49 per linear foot, suitable for straight runs and L-shaped or U-shaped installations. The installer mounts a separate backsplash to the wall and glues on end caps. With this product, customers will be able to have a solid-surface countertop for little more than the price of a custom laminate top. Bob Cremone owns Vantage Tops in Woburn, Mass.