Climate change has affected the way homeowners build and decorate their homes, and as a result, sustainable countertop options are becoming increasingly popular. If installing a sustainable countertop product is important to you, we can help. We understand what features to look for when choosing a sustainable material, and we have some insider information about eco-friendly products available on today’s market. Here’s what you need to know:
What to Look for In An Eco-Friendly Countertop Material
Knowing what to look for in an eco-friendly countertop material can help you decide which products meet your needs.
- Durability and longevity. Sustainable products should be lasting products, so they spend less time in a landfill at the end of their service life.
- Maintenance. Does your countertop of choice need to be oiled, refinished or sealed on a regular basis? It’s important to know this before making a purchase, and to be realistic about your ability to keep up with countertop maintenance. Don’t choose a product that needs more maintenance than you can handle, or you may have to get rid of your counter sooner than necessary – and that’s not green at all.
- Affordability. The cost of a countertop material will depend on its manufacturing process, source materials and more. Know your budget before you start exploring products, so you can look at realistic options for your needs.
- What makes it sustainable? Some countertops are made from recycled materials – others are made from reused materials. Don’t just assume a countertop is green because the manufacturer says so – find out what makes it environmentally friendly.
Eco-Friendly Countertop Materials
Demand for eco-friendly countertop materials has increased over time, so the type of materials available has also increased. Countertop manufacturers are always inventing new ways to recycle materials and create products that consumers want.
Recycled glass countertops are made from a combination of broken/recycled glass and resins. There are several companies that make recycled glass countertops, so you can pick the countertops with the look that you like best. Some examples of companies that make these products include:
- Grenite Recycled Glass
- Vetrazzo Recycled Glass
Recycled glass counters are easy to maintain – requiring little more than regular cleaning to look their best. These counters can be fragile, and are prone to cracking or chipping when something heavy is dropped on their surface. In addition, the manufacturing process behind recycled glass countertops is not as environmentally-friendly as some other eco-friendly countertop materials. Some of these countertops are manufactured overseas and must be shipped to the US, which adds to their carbon footprint. These counters can run between $50 and $80 per square foot for materials.
Reclaimed wood is a kind of re-used wood found in old buildings and structures. The wood is sanded and shaped to fit your countertops. Reclaimed wood is known for its beautiful character which may include stains, dents and scratches – all reminders of its previous service life.
Wood makes a good countertop material – and reclaimed wood is definitely environmentally friendly. However, there are some important caveats to note before making your purchase:
- Safety. Some old wood used in structures may be treated with chemicals that aren’t healthy for use on countertops. Know where your wood came from. Only buy reclaimed wood countertops from reputable sources.
- Cost. Reclaimed wood is becoming very popular, and it’s a limited resource. Cost for this type of countertop can vary dramatically depending on where the wood came from, its quality and other factors.
- Maintenance. Wooden countertops need to be oiled regularly. They can easily be scratched, but those scratches can be sanded down, and hidden by oils. Be ready to perform this type of maintenance if this is the type of countertop for you.
When you think of paper and its normal characteristics (easy to tear, dissolves in water), you probably would assume that paper would make a terrible countertop material. You’d be wrong! Recycled paper countertops are made from a combination of recycled paper and petroleum-free resin. Paper countertops can divert millions of pounds of paper from the landfill, and once it goes through the manufacturing process, it’s very similar to a soft stone.
In other words, recycled paper can make an excellent countertop material, available in a matte finish that looks and feels like freshly cut stone. If you’re thinking about installing recycled paper countertops, here’s what you should know:
- Maintenance. Recycled paper does need to be resealed annually, just like many natural stone countertop materials.
- Occasional refinishing. Older recycled paper countertops may be able to be refinished similar to wood countertops. Find out more about your specific countertops before buffing out any scratches.
- Fading. Counters regularly exposed to UV rays may fade over time. Think about the location of your counters, the amount of unfiltered sunlight that the counters are exposed to, and decide for yourself if these are the right counters for you.
Quartz is probably one of the most popular types of countertop materials available on the market today. Made from crushed stone and resins, quartz looks like natural stone, but is more durable and requires less maintenance overall.
Some important benefits of quartz countertops over other types of counters:
- Low-maintenance. Quartz requires no maintenance aside from regular cleaning. You do not need to seal or refinish it.
- Durability. It is a non-porous countertop material that should not stain or chip with regular use.
- Beauty. If you like the look of natural stone, quartz can be made to mimic the look of any stone you prefer.
Some brands that make quartz are more eco-friendly than others. At Seacoast Stone, we carry the following eco-friendly quartz products:
- Q-Stone – These porcelain tiles mimic the look of stalatitti marble and quartzite. They’re made from 40% recycled material.
- Silestone Eco Line Colour Series – Eco Line comes in five beautiful finishes and is made from 50% recycled material.
- Cambria Non-Porous Stone – Cambria operates with a variety of certifications that show their commitment to producing environmentally friendly products. Cambria’s quartz is top of the line in terms of beauty and sustainability.
- Wilsonart Quartz – Wilsonart quartz is made from 93 percent high quality natural quartz crystals, and exceeds the industry’s highest standards for indoor air quality, by producing very low emissions.