Paper Countertops Look and Feel Like Stone - Fine Homebuilding
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The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix


Paper Countertops Look and Feel Like Stone

comments (15) May 12th, 2009 in Blogs
RYagid Rob Yagid , senior editor

Easily tooled, not easily damaged. Paper countertops can be cut or routed to have crisp, defined edge profiles. However, manufacturers suggest that paper counters be finished with eased edges because the material can be sharp. Cutting and shaping ease are by no means a reflection of this countertop’s surprisingly strong durability.
Easily tooled, not easily damaged. Paper countertops can be cut or routed to have crisp, defined edge profiles. However, manufacturers suggest that paper counters be finished with eased edges because the material can be sharp. Cutting and shaping ease are by no means a reflection of this countertop’s surprisingly strong durability.Click To Enlarge

Easily tooled, not easily damaged. Paper countertops can be cut or routed to have crisp, defined edge profiles. However, manufacturers suggest that paper counters be finished with eased edges because the material can be sharp. Cutting and shaping ease are by no means a reflection of this countertop’s surprisingly strong durability.

Photo: Krysta Doerfler

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.

Klip Biotechnologies paper-based countertop
 

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:

Manufacturer Web Site
Paperstone www.paperstoneproducts.com
Shetkastone www.shetkastone.com
Richlite www.richlite.com
EcoTop www.kliptech.com

Price: $35 to $90 per sq. ft.
Note: Costs reflect materials only

Read the complete article...
Amazing Countertops
Manufacturers have improved old materials and developed new ones, expanding the potential for new and remodeled kitchens
by Rob Yagid
Get the PDF

 


posted in: Blogs, green building, , kitchen, countertops

Comments (15)

rickyrouter rickyrouter writes: Fellows, let's not forget about how nice these tops look!

Posted: 3:09 am on July 31st

little_e little_e writes: I have fabricated several paperstone countertops, and have had good luck. It cuts and tools nicely, and is a nice change from traditional solid surface. Two of the tops that I made were from factory defect pieces. The problem with the first was that it was off the nominal thickness (no problem, but a lot of savings). The second had a bow. This proved to be a problem because i was unable to get it out. (the homeowner had purchased it). I tried bending it with weights and heating up, but the bow always returned. I think its a cool product ,but I would not recommend it for an active kitchen. I scratches more easily than most solid surfaces, and requires more maintence.
Posted: 8:22 pm on March 11th

cutiecj cutiecj writes: our factory supply all kinds of stones.such as marble granite mosaic tiles and so on.for more information,please click: http://www.supply-stone.com/
Posted: 4:26 am on November 12th

cutiecj cutiecj writes: our factory supply all kinds of stones.such as marble granite mosaic tiles pillar
Posted: 4:25 am on November 12th

Peter_Kelly Peter_Kelly writes: This type of material isn't a savings over stone. The selling point is that it was a somewhat different tactile quality to it that makes it more comparable to solid-surface. Unlike traditional SS, it is generally sold as a full-thickness material which gives it a much more substantial feel and allows you to deeply rout the surface for and integral drain with an undermount sink. It is also considerably tougher and more heat resistant than material like Corian. A hot pan accidentally placed on the top won't cause it to crack.

Since products like Richlite are manufactured similarly to plywood (several thin layers compressed into one) I wouldn't recommend trying to sand out a deep gouge. Once you've blown through past that first, very thin surface layer, the appearance will change as the lower-level sheets tend to be much lighter in colour. Doesn't look very nice.

































Posted: 12:06 pm on May 28th

RYagid RYagid writes: Bamboo is already used in the creation of lots of "paper" based tops. Joel Klipert hopes to one day produce tops out of completely recycled bamboo (or sugar cane--another renewable grass). However, there isn't enough of a supply in the market right now to sustain his manufacturing process.
Posted: 10:59 am on May 26th

basementdesignpro basementdesignpro writes: In our basement finishing practice paper countertops are used for basement bars. There is no problem with cutting or routing them. I also advice to finish with eased edges avoiding being sharp.

This type of paper-based panel is durable and strong enough for basement bar purposes.

Barry
http://basementdesignpro.com
Posted: 2:39 pm on May 21st

JFink JFink writes: "What’s the worst top from an environmental perspective? In his opinion, that title goes to either concrete or natural stone."

Wow...really? I suppose his argument would be that trees will repopulate much faster than stone? I'm just playing the devil's advocate right now, but if that's the case, then bamboo would seem a far more environmentally-sound option that paper, right?
Posted: 11:54 am on May 21st

RYagid RYagid writes: dduffett, I couldn't disagree with you more. These countertops make use of waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill (none of which is polyester)and eliminate the need to extract virgin material from the earth to make new products. I don't think that there is anything wrong with someone who wants to spend their money on a responsibly manufactured product. I do, however, think there is something wrong with consumers who only look at the price of a product, and not at the product's impact on the world outside the walls of their home.
I don't think that "eco-friendly" should/can be limited in anyway. People often forget the link between the products and materials we use to build our homes, and the energy it takes to create those products. You argue for more responsible energy use, which I totally agree with. But what about all of the energy that's used to mine that soapstone or granite, transform it into a countertop and transport it to your kitchen? What about the lasting affect of the mine itself? I think paper countertops have value not because of their high price, but because of their smaller impact on the environment and our energy consumption.
Posted: 12:43 pm on May 20th

RYagid RYagid writes: I just got off of the phone with Joel Klipert, the president of Klip Biotechnologies. While he doesn’t have data that calculates their energy use compared to other manufacturers, he does admit that they use a bit of energy to produce their tops. “Right now, there’s just no other way to make our products.” He adds, “Until manufacturing processes improve, people should put things into perspective. If all countertop manufacturers are using energy, then it’s absolutely critical to select a company that’s carefully selecting their raw materials.”
So, what’s the greenest countertop out there? In his opinion, it’s a wood countertop made from a tree that fell in your back yard. What’s the worst top from an environmental perspective? In his opinion, that title goes to either concrete or natural stone. He finished the conversation with, “Have you ever seen a stone quarry?”

Posted: 8:25 am on May 20th

dduffett dduffett writes: 35-90 dollars a square foot, please. Definetely not wallet friendly. What are we doing- saving the soapstone supply for future generations? Eco friendly and full of polyester and resin. 2-3 times the cost of granite. Scratch it and you have to refinish it with more chemicals. Eco friendly? Something is psychologically wrong with people who levitate towards anything that is advertised as eco friendly that costs a small fortune. Is a retread tire burning more eco friendly than a good old fashioned Firestone doused with lighter fluid? Nothing against the environment but eco friendly should maybe be limited to saving energy not fancy "My house is better than your house and I'm better than you because I have this" cosmetic crap.
Posted: 11:31 am on May 19th

RYagid RYagid writes: Justin,

Countertop prices (stone in particular) fluctuate pretty drastically. Sure, you can probably find some granite counters for less money than these paper products. However, for many of the eco-conscious folks out there the environmental benefits of a material outweigh the higher cost. Buying counters that were made with recycled content, and made by a company who is trying to make good use of waste is the allure here, not potential cost savings. I think that's a common thread throughout sustainable/green consumerism. People seem willing to pay more for products they feel good about, or that they feel are better for them and the earth. I'd compare it to buying locally grown vegetables instead of buying the dirt cheap genetically modified stuff at the super market. ElGuapo, your granite counters may afford you the minor convenience of placing a hot pot wherever you want to. But again, those in the market for this type of countertop are willing to take on the minor inconvenience of having to place a hot pot on a trivet. FacilityMan, I love your question and I wish I had an answer for you. I'm going to shoot an e-mail to the president of one the companies mentioned in the article for a response. If I get some feedback, I'll post it here.
Posted: 12:32 pm on May 18th

elguapo elguapo writes: so how easy is it to scorch these countertops? not having to worry about a hot pan with no hot pad is what i love about my granite counters
Posted: 11:28 am on May 18th

FacilityMan FacilityMan writes: Re Green-----What many people forget is the cost of energy to create products, how do the various "paper" counter tops stack up?
Posted: 7:03 am on May 18th

JFink JFink writes: Rob - does this material, in general, come out to be a savings over stone? If not, I think some of the perks might lose their appeal when the granite crowd comes shoppin...right?
Posted: 1:04 pm on May 15th

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