Paper Countertops Look and Feel Like Stonecomments (15) May 12th, 2009 in Blogs
Paper might not seem like a suitable raw material for countertop fabrication, but when saturated with resin, heated, and compressed, the result is surprisingly stonelike. This type of paper-based panel is durable and has been used for years in industrial and marine applications, while also being the surface of choice for skateboard parks. Several manufacturers make these counters (see my source box below), but different processes result in varying performance traits.
Panels made of post-consumer waste paper are typically sought for their green attributes. This recycled paper is less uniform than virgin material, however, and can result in a countertop that varies in thickness, which can lead to installation difficulties—especially at butt joints. Virgin material, though less green, allows for tighter tolerances during fabrication.
The type of resin used to bind paper together also has an impact on the countertop. Phenolic resin, though extremely strong, is caramel in color, which limits the range of color choices. Also, UV-exposure causes phenolic resins to darken over time.
Klip Biotechnologies LLC makes a paper-based countertop, EcoTop, which is made with a different type of manufacturing process. Joel Klippert, the creator of EcoTop, describes the material as “a blend of bamboo fibers, which add dimensional stability to the counter; recycled demolition wood fibers; and recycled paper.” These materials are bound together with a VOC-free water-based resin.
The resin won’t darken due to UV-exposure and is clear, which enables Klip Biotechnologies to make counters from white to black and many colors in between. Unlike other paper-based counters, EcoTop does not need to be installed by a certified technician.
All paper-based countertops can be cut and shaped with carbide-tipped blades and router bits, just like solid-surface material. Panels are available in sizes as large as 5 ft. wide, 12 ft. long, and 11⁄4 in. thick, depending on the manufacturer. These countertops are stain resistant, but should still be properly finished. Some manufacturers provide their own finish product, which is a combination of natural oils and waxes that enrich the appearance of the top while protecting it from damage.
Damage that does occur, such as scratches and scorch marks, can be sanded out of the top. However, it’s difficult to do without creating a blemish, so refinishing the entire top is recommended. A yearly application of mineral oil or an approved finish will help keep this top looking new.
If you're interested and want to learn more about a specific product, you might find these Web sites helpful:
|Price: $35 to $90 per sq. ft.|
|Note: Costs reflect materials only|
|Read the complete article...
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by Rob Yagid
posted in: Blogs, green building, , kitchen, countertops
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