Author Topic: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?  (Read 2350 times)

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Offline BillsBayou

  • Posts: 2
We remodeled the kitchen while we rebuilt after a hurricane.  Too much to worry about, so I didn't notice (or care) that our solid surface countertops were a satin finish, rather than a gloss.  Wife wanted gloss.  Fast-forward 12 years and I need a good orbital sander for upcoming projects.  Perfect time to get permission from the wife to purchase a Festool!

I don't know how high the installers went for the finish.  I'm guessing 400 or 600.  The installer gave us two cutting boards made of the same material.  We only use one.  I'll practice on the other.  My idea is to use a higher grit and work backwards until I see the finish match what we were given, then go back one more to account for 12 years of use.  The idea is to not start with a low grit if it isn't necessary to begin there. 

What progression of grits should I use to get to a gloss finish? 
What abrasive type should I use at each grit level?

I want this done right.  If I spend $200 on a ETS 125 and another $100 on sandpaper, my wife will say it is worth it if I get her the shiny countertops she wanted.  [wink]

My future projects will be building small tables to display bonsai trees.  There's no way I can get $300 out of my wife for that.  She'd drive me to Harbor Freight with a stack of coupons.  [scared]

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Offline Jim Kirkpatrick

  • Posts: 1072
    • Jim Kirkpatrick Woodworking
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2018, 06:58 PM »
Hi Bills,  First off,  [welcome] to the forum!  I had corian countertops in my kitchen for nearly 20 years.  This is my .02, FWIW.  Mine was a matte finish.  I have done some repairs on it and it was a lot harder than I thought.  It takes a lot of patience and trial and error, even to get a matte finish.  Your enemy is swirls.  The Festool guru you need to talk to is Steve Bace.  I'm not sure if he's still with Festool but he is a solid surface expert and was very helpful to me.
Having said that, you are talking a gloss surface.  I built a kitchen for a single woman who insisted on gloss.  She paid the counter fabricators an extra $1k to have it done, that was 20 yrs. ago.  The rule is the shinier the finish, the more susceptible it is to scratching.  Once applied, you will have to treat it as if you are a museum curator.   It does look beautiful but forget about putting a bag of groceries on it.  I would dissuade your better half from a gloss surface. 
Also, an ETS125 is not the sander you need.  You need an RO.  Preferably an RO150.  So with sandpaper (Titan),  you are over $1000 in investment.  I know it's not what you want to hear, but my advice to you if you are dead set on gloss is hire a pro to do it.
As a side note, we have since swapped out the counters for Quartz, and are very happy with the indestructible glossy surface.

Offline BillsBayou

  • Posts: 2
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2018, 09:02 PM »
Jim, if I hear you correctly, you're saying is:
- I should find an extra $320 she doesn't know about
- Get the RO 150 FEQ
- Tell my wife I needed a 6 inch sander for $100 more than the 120 ETS
- Polish my cutting board to a level she would accept, to test the process
- Ruin the cutting board's finish with a bag of groceries
- Get out of all the work involved in resurfacing the whole darn kitchen
- And I get to keep the $620 sander because "I can't return it. It's used."

The display tables for bonsai trees that I want to make will be the same quality and size as a premium coffee table. They just happen to be 8 inches tall.  The plan is to use reclaimed wood, and rough cut lumber.  The RO 150 looks like the right tool for the job.

By the way, the 120 ETS is a random orbit sander.  Did you say it's not? Or did I misread what you wrote?  I tend to misunderstand things, anyway.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2018, 09:08 PM by BillsBayou »

Offline JD2720

  • Posts: 1078
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2018, 10:08 PM »
I agree with Jim.
If you use your kitchen, you do not want a gloss finish on your solid surface tops.
I am speaking from experience. I have built several solid surface top. I also have solid surface in my wife's kitchen. 
If you want to try it, polish your cutting board as you stated.

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 278
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2018, 10:38 PM »
I agree with theabove advice.  We had Corian in our kitchen for 20 years, but have since replaced it with quartz and the Corian is now doing duty in my shop as work surfaces.  It scratches quite easily and a gloss finish would look awful after a short period of use.  I give the Corian work surfaces in my shop a going over about once a year with an RO sander going through 120/220/320 and finishing with 400 grit which gives a nice even matte finish without a lot of effort.

Offline Peter_C

  • Posts: 752
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2018, 11:23 PM »
Another vote for an RO150. I took my own counter tops to 500 grit using Granat, but these days Abranet, or Granat net are a good option too. You will need an interface pad for the net material. Also good to have a soft interface pad for doing corners. For the flat surfaces a hard pad is best, but the RO150 comes with a medium pad.

Our guest bathroom vanity is polished white Corian and it shows scratches even though we are very careful around it, and it is not used often. Master bath is sanded to 500 grit.

Corian chews sandpaper up! Feel a new piece of paper and then feel the paper you are using. You will find you are replacing the paper more than you might think. In other words buy 50+ packs, not 10 packs.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 5775
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2018, 11:54 PM »
The Festool guru you need to talk to is Steve Bace.  I'm not sure if he's still with Festool but he is a solid surface expert and was very helpful to me.

Still alive and kicking...ran into him at the latest Festool road show. Goggle him in the Las Vegas area.

Online RKA

  • Posts: 1522
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2018, 07:29 AM »
Jim, if I hear you correctly, you're saying is:
- I should find an extra $320 she doesn't know about
- Get the RO 150 FEQ
- Tell my wife I needed a 6 inch sander for $100 more than the 120 ETS
- Polish my cutting board to a level she would accept, to test the process
- Ruin the cutting board's finish with a bag of groceries
- Get out of all the work involved in resurfacing the whole darn kitchen
- And I get to keep the $620 sander because "I can't return it. It's used."

The display tables for bonsai trees that I want to make will be the same quality and size as a premium coffee table. They just happen to be 8 inches tall.  The plan is to use reclaimed wood, and rough cut lumber.  The RO 150 looks like the right tool for the job.

By the way, the 120 ETS is a random orbit sander.  Did you say it's not? Or did I misread what you wrote?  I tend to misunderstand things, anyway.

Technically there is a 30 day return period on that used tool.    [tongue]

There is one important clarification.  RO usually stands for random orbital, which is a fine finishing sander.  RO150 refers to Festool’s Rotex sander, which has a random orbit mode, but more frequently it’s used for it’s forced rotation mode which is much more aggressive.  That is what Jim was referring to and also why he’s not recommending an ETS sander.  Even for your secondary (primary?) uses, it sounds like rotex is what you want.
-Raj

Offline Peter Halle

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  • Posts: 11847
Re: Polishing a solid surface countertop to a gloss. Grit? Abrasive type?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2018, 07:49 AM »
Hopefully I'll see Steve Bace again next month in Vegas at the Festool Connect event.  Steve was a trainer in the solid surface industry and is indeed someone to speak with.  But he has also passed on some of his knowledge to the rest of the Festool team, so a phone call to Festool and a talk with one of their Application Specialists might be time well spent.

Festool had a solid surface training class taught be Steve in the Henderson facility.  I regret that I didn't attend, but I leave solid surface to those who do it all the time.  In speaking with an attendee, the RO 150 was the tool most used for the sanding and polishing of seams.

That was years ago and the abrasive technology has come even more forward.

Peter

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 266
Although I am not a solid surface expert by any means I have been making small cutting boards for friends and family out of Corian sink cutouts and other scraps for years. I have to respectfully disagree with many of the other posters here. Corian is very susceptible to swirls, etc. so I use an ETS EC 125 with a 3mm stroke to finish this material. I understand why installers use a Rotex 150 with a 5mm stroke because they need to true up mating surfaces, scribe edges and work large areas with their tools. I use a finish sander with a 3mm stroke with great results. If you are starting with super deep scratches I might agree that you need the Rotex but if you are just refinishing minor surface scratches I think that a finer sander like the ETS 125 (2mm stroke) or the ETS EC 125 (3mm stroke) should work fine. On my cutting boards I work through the grits all the way up to 500, 1000, 1500 (granat) and then 4000 Platin. It’s not quite HIGH gloss but it’s close. This stuff is pickier than wood so I don’t skip as many grits as I would with wood. I also use a vacuum with my sander and wash the material between each grit as the slightest contamination will cause scratches and swirls. In my opinion the sandpaper that you will need to do this right might coast you as much or more than the sander.