Stainless steel heat rings are the preffered way to go if a heat ring is to be installed. The only reason to ever install a solid surface ring instead of a stainless steel ring is because the homeowner is just dead set against the appearance of the stainless ring.
In most cases, a heat ring will only be installed after a countertop has already been repaired at least once or twice and continues to crack. Also, cooktop rings are usually installed under a warrranty claim. I don't recall ever installing a stainless steel ring on a countertop that was not a warranty claim.
Usually, after the homeowner finds out about the extra expense involved with a cooktop ring installation they just opt to repair it as is and hope that it never cracks again.
A cooktop ring installation is quite expensive because it involes the cost of the ring itself, around $225-350, the cost to repair the crack or cracks, around $300-450depending on the amount of cracking, the cost of removing and reinstalling the cooktop, $150-225 depending on the model of cooktop, pop up vent systems, gas or electric etc. And there is extra labor involved in the preperation for the ring. The cooktop cutout has to be enlarged and then reinforced with wood, metal tape and or Nomex tape.
It is not uncommon for a job like this to end up between $800 and $1000.00 by the time everything is all said and done.
It is important that the customer knows ahead of time that the stainless ring is just way more durable and adds more protection than the solid surface ring. That being said, some people want what they want and therefore I will accomodate them.
I still have only ever had one solid surface ring to crack and the countertop itself did not crack so the fix was fairly simple and has held up ever since.
Stainless rings do not get damaged from the heat. Let me rephrase that. To my knowledge, stainless steel rings do not get damaged from the heat that a typical residential cooktop will create. I have never had a complaint about the stainless ring failing.
I did have one customer that had a stainless steel ring installed and they called back about 2 years later and said that the ring was rusting. Of course since it was stainless steel I knew that it wasn't rusting. During my on site inspection I was able to determine that it was not rust but a build up of grease around the cooktop that had just not been cleaned good enough.
After a good cleaning they were happy and off I went.
Here are some photos of stainless steel cooktop ring installations.
This coooktop has 2 very small cracks, they hardly show up in the picture. This top had been repaired by two other fabricators in the past so Dupont decided to put a stainless steel ring around the cutout this time.
Notice the tiny crack in the front. I should have outlined it with pencil so it would be more obvious in the picture.
As you can see, this cooktop area has extensive cracking around the cutout. It has also bee repaired in the past and Dupont has decided to have me install a stainless steel cooktop ring.
Here is an example of a stainless steel ring that is just stainless and not painted.
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