Laminate trumps Corian for price point and selection while Corian wins in the functionality department. If you're careful about using hot pads and cutting boards, a laminate countertop will serve you well. However, if you're worried about scratches and scars, you can buff stains and nicks right out of a solid surface countertop.
Laminate Price Range
Laminate starts at around $15 per square foot, including installation, as of May 2011. The price includes one sink or cooktop cutout, two miters and caulking. If you upgrade to a custom laminate selection, expect to spend about $25 per square foot. In the past, laminate edges detracted from the countertop's overall appearance; fabricators now offer edge profile options that delete the obvious seam on the front edge. Most retailers charge an extra $10 per linear foot for an upgrade to rounded or beveled edges.
Corian Price Range
Manufactured by DuPont, the Corian brand is nearly synonymous with solid surface. Though other manufacturers offer solid surface countertops, Corian pioneered the material in the 1960s. Expect to spend $45 to $80 per square foot for Corian, including installation. Corian sculpts integral sinks out of the same material so that your countertop and sink connect without seams. Your final cost will be at the upper end of the price range if you opt for a backsplash, inlay or upgraded edge profile.
In a tossup between the two materials, laminate serves as the greener choice. Though neither option is truly green, laminate uses fewer resources, according to Consumer Reports. Because of its synthetic petroleum base, Corian is not environmentally friendly. To DuPont's credit, the company minimizes waste during manufacturing, and Corian countertops emit low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Fabricators fuse the joints together in Corian, which translates to inconspicuous seams. Like most other countertops on the market, including natural stone, laminate surfaces show seams. While most homeowners barely notice joints, you may be more discriminating.
Though you can sand Corian, the material scratches easily, so you may be buffing your countertop frequently. If you leave a hot pan on Corian, you'll notice a shiny ring. Laminate does not scratch or stain as easily but, if it does, you cannot repair or buff the mark away.