As we know, washrooms have a significant part to play in reducing the spread of germs in any public environment, particularly when it comes to hand washing. Research from BioCote has shown the sink as the worst culprit for levels of contamination with more than 50,000 Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) present on or around the basin at any one time.
With improvements to wellness in both public and corporate areas, washrooms are being evaluated ever more by what they do or do not offer the user. Therefore it only seems consistent with these new developments that sinks, their design and capabilities are evolving.
Since our acquisition of Unique Fabrications (to be newly re-branded as ‘Dolphin Solid Surfaces!), we have been able to revolutionise our washroom offerings where sinks are concerned. Our new ‘Vanity Troughs’, also known as Wash Troughs or just Troughs are a new excellent addition to the washroom design. This is due to their streamlined shape, they are easy to clean and they help reduce the number of spaces where germs can be harboured, improving hygiene in the washroom. Troughs are a rapidly growing trend in washroom design, offering a more modern, stylish alternative to the standard sink.
What is Solid Surface?
Solid surface is a man-made material composed of a combination of materials such as acrylic, polyester resins, pigments and natural minerals. Solid Surface is a non-porous, low maintenance material used to achieve seamless installations. The main benefit of using Solid Surface in the washroom is that it is impermeable. It does not allow water or liquid to pass through it. Solid Surface sinks can be joined to the counter-top surface with no gaps, eliminating areas for water to gather and stagnate, stopping bacteria to grow.
There is also the creative benefit of using Solid Surface due to the limitless customisability and finish options you can choose from. These range from solid colours, marbleised, granite and multitudes more. You can also choose from different finishes such as matte, satin or polished.
Despite competition from solid stone surfaces, Solid Surface is fast becoming the material of choice for building owners and designers due to the customisability of the product, combined with longevity, durability, renewability and maintenance.
Materials in Solid Surfaces
Since the acquisition of our new Dolphin Solid Surface manufacturing branch, we offer our Solid Surface solutions using a wide range of Solid Surface suppliers. Solid Surface is an advanced composite of natural minerals and pure acrylic polymer. Solid Surface survives the impact of nicks and cuts that can occur with daily wear and tear. This is an ideal solution for high-volume, heavy traffic areas, especially where water usage is involvement i.e. the washroom. As its smooth surface does not allow liquids to penetrate, reducing the bacteria that would naturally build up. A homogeneous composite acrylic resin material, marks and stains on the surface are easily removable with a scotchbrite pad and household cleaner.
Another Solid Surface material type is Silestone. A natural quartz vibro-compressed with polyester resin achieving exceptionally high impact resistance. Silestone also offers exceptional chemical and scratch resistance using one of the hardest available minerals. It has an added hygiene benefit in that it can be available with a bacteriostatic structure formed using silver ions i.e. ion technology. The non-porous surface, like Corian, gives these Solid Surfaces a highly stain resistant finish.
What is the difference between Corian and Silestone?
On paper, Corian and Silestone look similar in how they are finished and what they offer, but they are in fact quite different. Despite being Solid Surface materials, Silestone is more commonly understood as ‘engineered stone', due to the quartz element that goes into creating a Silestone product. The quartz element means that the product has about five fewer resins, making the product a more stone-like material than Corian.
However, Silestone’s better mineral content does not mean it outperforms Corian in durability or appearance. Corian is still made up of around 66% of natural minerals mainly derived from Bauxite. Bauxite is an amorphous clayey rock that is the chief commercial ore of aluminium. Whilst 33% is acrylic resin. Silestone is 94% natural quartz, with the remaining percentage dedicated to binding resins. It is important not to confuse Silestone with Granite as they are not the same thing. An example being that a Granite counter-top will be quarried straight from the earth and cut into slabs as per the requirement of the purchaser/designer. Silestone is an aggregate, is has been formed by combining several different elements.
By using natural stone based counter-tops like Granite, they are prone to cracks and pores that are not naturally visible to the naked eye, leaving an allowance for stains and bacteria to thrive over time. Due to the way Granite is sourced, the finish/appearance will vary from quarry to quarry due to the way the rock as been exposed to the elements and how it is manufactured. Both Silestone and Corian can be colour matched across a project to the way it is manufactured, thus ensuring consistency of appearance within the building/buildings.
Why use Solid Surface in the washroom?
Solid Surface material choice is about preference, it also depends what sector the washrooms will be in. Corian for example does not support microbial growth, therefore it inhibits or destroys harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi and moulds. Therefore no special coating is required as it is part of the standard features of Corian. This makes it a valuable asset for washrooms in environments such as hospitals, care homes, schools, offices and leisure facilities.
While troughs are available as a solo item to suit whatever washroom you have envisioned, they work particularly well as part of the Dolphin ALAVO system. A modular, touch-free, behind-mirror hand-wash system keeping taps, soap dispensers and hand dryers concealed behind a back-lit mirror above the wash basin. By saving space, minimising water and reducing queues this wash wall system benefited every user in the process from design to purchase, contract and installation, facility management and the washroom user.
ALAVO is so customisable that the demand for different numbers of washstations, lighting options and differences in behind mirror accessories meant we needed to offer more. Launched in September 2018, we now have our Configure Online tool which enables the online customisation of our modular ALAVO system and Vanity Wash Troughs. It allows you to create bespoke designs using the interactive form, with the software building, outputting and sending drawings directly to you.
The system will then automate a unique system number to you, so that if you require an ALAVO quotation, one of our dedicated ALAVO specialists with talk you through the pricing of your newly built design.
What Vanity Wash Trough designs do you offer?
We at Dolphin currently offer six standard styles of Vanity Wash Troughs - Eclipse, Eclipse Fixed, Svelte, Zone, Unico and Lucid. These were developed due to popular design demands and to lend as inspiration on what look you can achieve in the washroom.
1 & 2. The Eclipse & Eclipse Fixed Vanity Wash Trough
Our Eclipse Vanity Wash Trough comes in two variations, one with a lift out cover panel, the other with a metal waste tray. It features an angled water run-off zone, discharging water through continuous drainage slots. Deep, square fascias to hide the waste pipework, with side fascias where trough ends are exposed.
3. The Svelte Vanity Wash Trough
The Svelte offers a minimalist slim line box section with slim, square front fascia and exposed waste outlets.
4. The Zone Wash Trough
A seamless top and integrated basin design. Basins can be hidden waste of proprietary bowls. Down-stand can vary in depth to hide waste pipes if desired.
5. The Unico Wash Trough
A cut-away front fascia to give a minimalist style and integrated user space zones with moulded waste chutes. Metal waste retainer can be unscrewed from under each waste outlet for easy cleaning.
6. The Lucid Wash Trough
Designed with a square front fascia to give a minimalist style and seamless top with integrated basins. Integrated user space zones with moulded waste chutes.
As previously mentioned, all our Wash Troughs offerings are fully customisable and our online configure tool gives the option to tailor design an outstanding wash wall system from hundreds of options.
How easy is it to install a Solid Surface vanity wash trough into the washroom?
Our Vanity Wash Troughs are supplied with heavy duty cantilever brackets which are fitted to the wall by the contractor. They are supplied fully assembled, with supporting brackets and waste outlets for easy installation for the contractor. It is extremely important that the bracket fixings are structurally sound as large point loads can be exerted on these Vanity Wash Troughs. Typically when Trough length is in excess of 3000mm, the Trough is joined and finished by specialist installers on site.
What care and maintenance is needed for Solid Surfaces?
Corian is not self-cleaning however it is easy to maintain its initial appearance. It is inherently renewable because it is solid and homogeneous all the way through. Due to the elements that Corian is composed of, it resists stains from class I reagents such as ketchup, blood, olive oil, coffee etc. hence its durability and effectiveness in heave traffic areas. Silestone is naturally very hard and resists acids due to its primary material quartz. Like Corian, Silestone resists staining from the Class I reagents and much more.
Where can I view Solid Surface Samples?
Our London showroom in Farringdon, is the only showroom in London showcasing a wide range of Solid Surface materials and colours.
Visit us to look through these samples and a consultant will talk through any questions you may have about Solid Surface and what an outstanding addition it can be to your project.