Here are six stylish and sustainable countertops that have it all over granite:
1. Recycled Glass Terrazo – Terrazo is an age old method of creating hard surfaces by combining aggregate, such as marble chips, with concrete. The resulting material is poured into place and smoothed out using grinders and polishers. Companies such as Vetrazzo, Enviroglass, and Icestone have taken this method and replaced the stone aggregate with pre and post consumer glass chips, creating eye catching surfaces.
2. Composite (Engineered) Stone – A suitable, and less destructive, substitute for granite countertops. Composite countertops consist of some sort of stone aggregate, ranging in size from powder to pea size granules, combined with polymers and epoxy. Pigment may also be added. Manufacturers such as Caesarstone and Okite offer GreenGuard certified product.
3. Paper – Composed of hundreds of sheets of compressed paper, and saturated with non-toxic resin, paper countertops, such as Richlite and Paperstone, provide a clean, elegant look with surprising durability.
4. Wood & Bamboo – In many late 19th century kitchens, wood countertops were the norm. By the early 20th century though, tile and other easy to sanitize hard surfaces had all but replaced them in most kitchens. However, wood is seeing a resurgence in popularity, due in part to an understanding of its natural anti-bacterial properties, as well as the warmer look. Bamboo has similar properties to wood and, when purchased from a reputable manufacturer such as Plyboo or Teragren, is made with non-toxic adhesives and responsibly harvested material.
5. Resin Infused Composite – Something of a hybrid, this surface takes composite board, such as Kirei and OSB, and saturates it with resin, much like that used for paper countertops. Because the resin and pigment permeate the material, it can be fabricated without need for staining or touch-ups. It also makes it resistant to water, allowing it to be used for bathroom and kitchen counters.
6. Concrete – Whether poured in place, or slab, lightweight concrete makes a lovely, versatile countertop surface. With the addition of pigment, surface detailing and various types of aggregate, this material can be endlessly customized. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages is the ability to create integral sinks, which provide a seamless surface transition. There are many artisans who specialize in creating and installing concrete countertops, as well as some larger companies such as Sonoma Stone.