This article describes two popular countertop materials, IceStone and Silestone (quartz) and also lists many other options for a homeowner to consider when updating their kitchen.
Each year, IceStone diverts more than 2 million pounds of glass from landfills into its precast slabs rather than using natural stone, which requires fossil fuels to mine and transport. They use crushed windshield, computer screens, bottle glass and other postindustrial waste and their manufacturing occurs in a daylit facility In Brooklyn, where production equipment uses soy-based lubricants.
IceStone places the 100% recycled glass in a cement matrix with no resins, plastic, or petrochemicals, meaning they won’t emit volatile organic compounds once they’re installed. Each slab holds Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification and the company also recycles its own waste products into road surfaces. It’s non-toxic, green, and sustainable. It’s also pricey – around $119 /sq ft installed.
IceStone is made with concrete and therefore must be maintained like a concrete surface, which is more maintenance intensive than granite-type surfaces. It requires sealing (once a year is recommended by the manufacturer) and waxing 2-3 times per year. It will also etch upon contact with acids and strong alkaline cleaning products.
Silestone and other makers of engineered quartz stone countertops, such as Zodiaq and Cambria, produce a man-made product that mixes quartz crystals with a resin to make a surface with properties almost identical to granite.
Quartz is widely regarded as an excellent countertop surface. While it may be made in an emission free way, it does often contain a petroleum-based resin. You could also consider where it’s made and shipped from- Cambria is manufactured in the US, Zodiaq and Hanstone in Canada, Caesarstone in Israel, and Silestone in Spain.
With high durability, no etching, a long warranty and starting at about $50 per square foot installed, engineered stone is a strong option.
Sunset Magazine recently posted an article comparing 16 earth friendly countertop options including:
1. Squak Mountain Stone: An alternative to quarried stone, these slabs are made of fly ash, post-industrial crushed glass, and low-carbon cement. Cost $50/sq. ft. Made with 50% recycled content including paper, with 1/3 less CO2 produced during manufacturing.
2. Durapalm: Harvested from coconut palms, this wood is slightly stronger than oak. Cost $23/sq. ft. 100% derived from old, non-fruiting palms.
3. BottleStone: Made of kiln-fired recycled glass and ceramic binders, it resists heat and stains and can be custom-designed using wine bottles. Cost $68/sq. ft. 80% recycled content and no VOCs.
4. Fuez: Made with recycled glass, fly ash, stone, and shells, it’s more durable than marble. Cost $80/sq. ft. Made with 60% to 80% recycled materials, including beer bottles, and manufactured using 100% wind-generated electricity.
5. EcoTop: This blend of bamboo, recycled paper, and wood fiber was originally used for skateboard ramps. Cost $35/sq. ft. 100% water-based resin and FSC-certified.
6. Vetrazzo: Made of cement and recycled glass.
7. Windfall Lumber: Reclaimed end-grain Douglas Fir by Windfall Lumber made with reclaimed wood from deconstructed warehouses.
8. Reclaimed Wood such as Endura: Reclaimed Wine Vat Oak by Endura made from reclaimed material from local wineries.
9. Teragren: Natural beauty with a soft aesthetic. Made of strand bamboo.
10. Seeta by TorZo: Made from agricultural waste like sunflower-seed hulls and acrylic polymer, this countertop gives a granite-like appearance.
Check out Sunset Magazine for six more great options!
Photo credit: Jess Chamberlain for Sunset Magazine
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