Popular countertop materials are finding themselves in new orientations of late. Departing from their usual horizontal kitchen and bath applications, solid-surfacing materials are creeping up adjacent walls to serve as backsplashes, shower walls, fireplace surrounds, and more.

“For unique applications, Corian is popular among homeowners and kitchen and bath designers, as it provides design flexibility,” says Maureen McGeehan, surfaces marketing manager for DuPont. “Corian can be thermo-formed into custom shapes, routed, carved, sandblasted, or laser-etched.”

Using solid-surfacing for vertical applications doesn't mean the whole wall has to be one color. Panels of quartz from Cambria are intermixed here, while DuPont Corian can be molded and formed to create smooth, curved installations.
Using solid-surfacing for vertical applications doesn't mean the whole wall has to be one color. Panels of quartz from Cambria are intermixed here, while DuPont Corian can be molded and formed to create smooth, curved installations.

Beyond bathroom walls and tub decks, McGeehan mentions other applications for Corian, such as window sills, switch plates, and wet bars. The material can be requested in special sizes that weigh less than standard countertop slabs, making it suitable for vertical applications. Sheets are available in ½- and ¼-inch thicknesses for these nontraditional uses, and for cost-effectiveness, can be cut specifically for tub and shower surrounds at sizes of 30 inches by 72 inches or 30 inches by 98 inches.

Quartz manufacturer Cambria also is offering a thinner profile for use in vertical applications (above). The 1-centimeter thickness is available in 20 colors from the maker's Desert and Quarry collections. “Our 1-cm product offers some design capabilities we didn't have before,” says Peter Martin, marketing director. “There are quite a few versatile uses. We see it in flooring or as a tile, as well as in wall cladding. The new thickness also lets users mix and match countertops with a backsplash in a complementary color, or add it to a fireplace surround to carry the quartz element into another area of the home.”

Vertical solid-surfacing installations involve the same or similar seaming and adhesives as traditional installations, makers say. And, in addition to a wide range of colors and design possibilities, the durability and ease of maintenance offered by solid-surfacing in these non-countertop installations ensures the growth of this trend.