Monday, November 2, 2009

Countertops: Recycled Glass

Considering the attention being paid to the environment today, it is of little surprise that the variety of “green” building materials is on the rise. Whether it’s reclaimed lumber for cabinet doors, Energy-Star compliant appliances or low VOC finishes, there’s no shortage of ways to keep your kitchen “green.”

One of the fastest growing segments of this industry is recycled glass surfacing. There are several brands available: Vetrazzo, IceStone, EnviroGlass, amongst others. The make-up of each brand is essentially the same: The recycled material is crushed and combined with a binder (e.g. cement, epoxy) and then treated with various pigments and additives (e.g. hardeners, strengtheners).

Recycled glass countertops are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Each of the websites I've linked above will have photos of the colours they have aavailable. Do yourself a favour ... go see them in person. This is a great example of a product being improved by the use of a recycled material. The depth and shine created by the segments of glass is unique in the industry, and while the colour choice at the moment is somewhat limited, time and market share will improve that.

On the downside, recycled glass does not fabricate as well as other surfaces like quartz or stone. The fabricator has to pay particular attention to edges where chunks of glass can become dislodged. Recycled glass countertops also need to be sealed, which is not a major problem, but needs to be considered when comparing it to quartz or solid surfaces.


Johnna said...

I really want to be excited about vetrazzo countertops, but they just look like mosaic tile to me.

Arne Salvesen said...

Well, you either like that or you don't. It's like cork flooring - you either love it or you hate it.

It'd look cool in a display area, or as a backsplash behind a bar. A designer I work with has used it as a vanity top for a powder room. But I'd never use it as my primary work surface.

File this one under: "Close but no cigar."

Nell said...

ECO by Cosentino (makers of Silestone) supposedly doesn't need to be sealed. The product is being distributed through Lowes and other big box stores -- so we should know soon enough if that's true. It's attractive, and most of the patterns are less mosaic-y than Vertrazzo or IceStone. Palette is whites, off-whites, and greys.

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