Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cool Countertops with Big Green Cred

Consider the mighty countertop. You may not have the cash to plunk down for a whole new suite of chef-quality appliances or a wholesale kitchen remodel, but you can still transform the look of your kitchen quickly and inexpensively by just replacing your countertops. As much as dingy, timeworn counters bring a kitchen design down, the right new countertop totally revitalizes the room. Counters are also valuable real estate in the kitchen, serving as crucial prep areas. Fortunately, some of the most beautiful are also some of the most eco-friendly choices. That’s because a whole slew of eye-catching countertops are made from different recycled materials.

A dynamic Vetrazzo kitchen countertop rocking a stunning kitchen 
design, and in closeup below. (Photo courtesy of  Vetrazzo®.)

Some of the most popular recycled countertops are made from glass. Vetrazzo ( is touted as the “original glass countertop”, with products crafted from any amazing variety of 100-percent recycled glass. Including waste from broken stoplight lenses to recycled beer bottles, the colors and styles available reflect this diversity; every color of the rainbow is represented in the product mix, as well as color blends. The look of any particular counter is unique, because the size and shape of the glass pieces differ counter to counter. IceStone ( crafts counter slabs from 100-percent recycled glass, portland cement and pigment. The appearance of an IceStone surface is more regimented than a Vetrazzo surface; the glass pieces appear to be a more uniform size and the appearance of background binder is more dominant. Most recycled glass surfaces are fairly pricey, and are best installed by certified professionals.

Looks like slate, but it's paper! (Photo courtesy PaperStone® 
Evergreen | Photo: Paneltech Products, Inc.
 You’ll also find engaging countertops created of reused paper and wood products. Shetkastone ( creates solid-colored countertops from post-consumer and post-industrial paper mixed with binders. PaperStone ( is also made from post-consumer recycled paper saturated with proprietary resins and natural pigments, creating a non-porous surface. Cuts or abrasions can be sanded or rubbed out with an abrasive pad. EcoTop ( counters are manufactured using equal parts post-consumer recycled fiber and bamboo fiber, bound with water-based resin. The EcoTop process allows for very light counter colors, and the surface is scratch resistant. Recycled paper countertops are generally lightweight and most can be installed and modified by a homeowner with moderate DIY experience. 

Several manufacturers recycle stone waste in their products. Lithistone ( is one of the most prominent manufacturers, using a natural inert binder to hold together sand, pieces of quarry stone, and other recycled materials. Their countertops look much like a solid-surface product.

Where budget isn't an issue, many manufacturers will even craft a custom countertop made to your specifications. Everything old is new again, and looking great in the kitchen!

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