Turn trash into your treasured countertop. Recycled materials are becoming popular surfaces, thanks to a focus on environmentally friendly design. Here's a guide to some favorite green choices.
Selecting a countertop that looks great, is durable, and is good for the environment is no easy task. Thankfully, manufacturers are introducing new products all the time to address the growing demand for green materials. Here is our roundup of options for homeowners hoping to craft their countertops from recycled materials:
• Glass: Terrazzo is 50-95 percent recycled glass, which is mixed with porcelain or concrete and then buffed smooth. These countertops look similar to natural stone and are equally durable. The material is available in a wide range of colors, can last for several decades, doesn't need to be sealed, and is nonporous and heat resistant. On the downside, the material is typically as expensive as granite and harder to find.
• Plastic: Combining milk jugs, detergent bottles, yogurt cups, and other plastic rescued from the landfill, recycled plastic countertops are available in a wide array of colors and patterns. The affordable material is long lasting and moisture resistant, but it can burn and scratch easily. The aesthetic will appeal to homeowners with a more modern style.
• Paper: By compressing postconsumer paper waste into a solid block and then hardening it with resin, paper countertops have a warm, natural look similar to solid-surface countertops. It is durable, resists nicks and chips, handles heat, and is easy to keep clean. It needs to be re-sealed once or twice a year with mineral oil to prevent stains.
• Wood: Salvaged from old barns and other demolished structures, reclaimed wood makes a beautiful and rustic countertop. Wood can easily burn, split, and stain so it must be re-sealed frequently. If you don't mind the aged look, however, the surface can be used as a cutting board and the nicks and discoloration will only add to the timeless appeal. Reclaimed wood is about half the price of granite.
• Stainless steel: Made of 65 to 100 percent recycled content, stainless steel is a durable and low-maintenance option that can give your kitchen a sleek, modern look. Although the material resists heat and stains, it scratches easily and shows fingerprints (minimize the effect by choosing a brushed finish). Stainless-steel countertops can be quite expensive, on par with granite.
Top 10 Countertop Materials
See where recycled and alternative materials fall in this Top 10 list.
Countertop Pros and Cons
Use this simple fact sheet to weigh the pros and cons of the most popular countertop materials.
-Next to cabinets, countertops do more than any other element to define your kitchen. Plus, you use them everyday. So be sure to consider all your options before making a final choice. I'm Lacey Howard. Let's take a look at all the distinctive countertop options you have to choose from---- Tile, metal, wood, glass and concrete. Tile comes in many shapes, colors, finishes and sizes. You're sure to find something that fits your style and your budget. -Tile is heat resistant and can be installed in custom patterns. In fact, a practice do it yourself or can tile a backsplash or a countertop. Just make sure to use a quality wood saw and thoroughly seal the surface after installation. -Be aware that grout lines between tiles can stain easily and yellow over time. It helps to choose a darker tinted grout. Re-grouting every few years will likely be necessary. -Tile can chip but just replace individual tiles as needed. -Look for vitreous tile. It's harder and denser and will stand up better to the demands of the kitchen. Metal countertops such as stainless steel or copper can give your kitchen a restaurant or industrial feel. -Make sure to choose metal countertops that are stain and scorch proof. -And realize that scratches and fingerprints will show on metal until it mellows and develops the surface patina a year-long process. Wood is a great surface for cutting boards, so why not an entire countertop hardwood such as maple, beach and bamboo are ideal for wood countertops? Smaller pieces of hardwood are alt-impressed and glued together to form butcher block. Wood is great for an island or as an inset next to a sink. The surface is forgiving on small cuts. Wood countertops benefit from an application of mineral oil every 4 to 8 weeks. Glass is gaining a presence in kitchens. It's often used as an accent such as a snack bar or serving ledge. Glass manufacture for countertops is thick and crack resistant. Concrete is another countertop choice. It can be tinted and sculpted and you can mix in small stones and other particles for a variety of looks. Concrete countertops are created, polished and sealed onsite. A project best left to the professionals. You'll pay just about as much for a concrete countertop as you would a stone one. In order for concrete countertops to be stain-resistant, they must be sealed initially and again in every few years. They can crack and be difficult to replace or repair, but they are unique option that weather to a beautiful patina and can be any color, shape or texture you wish. Check out these options. All these services take a bit of care and upkeep. Ask a professional about cleaning, filling and maintenance, and knowing your countertop is going to show wear over time, but don't fight it. Embrace the beautiful natural patina of a well-used countertop.