Kitchen Counters: Recycled Paper Surprises With Warmth and Durability

Stout and lasting, paper countertops are easy on the environment and your conscience, and they woo with a warmth like that of rock. But are they right for your kitchen? Find out here.

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Actual-Size Architecture

The fundamentals: Recycled paper countertops have been composed of postconsumer wastepaper, nonpetroleum-based resins and pigments. This mix is heated and compressed into a compact, monolithic slab with a feel that is often than some warm, soft rock — like soapstone. The primary manufacturers, PaperStone, Richlite, ShetkaStone and Kliptech, all provide several colors, though the material typically is available only in medium to dark colors, all in a smart-looking matte finish.

Cost: $40 to $80 per square foot installed.

Cascade Countertop, Ranier

Advantages: The compact, durable, nonporous construction makes recycled paper surfaces stain resistant and easy to maintain. And since this substance is a lighter weight compared to normal rock, slabs can accommodate longer spans without further support. Richlite’s Stratum and Cascade lines turn the makeup to a design feature with fun striped edges, as shown here.

Disadvantages: The substance is heat resistant just to 350 degrees, so — as with most kitchen surfaces — it’s best to maintain trivets nearby. The color palettes tend toward medium to dark colors, though Kliptech (the manufacturer of RecycleTop) has solved that at its own recycled paper and bamboo merchandise, EcoTop, which comes in lighter colors, such as Snow White.

Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs

Sustainability: These countertops receive a top grade for being written mostly of postconsumer recycled paper, and also the manufacturers back that up with nonpetroleum-based resins. Both Richlite and PaperStone get extra credit for using Forest Stewardship Council–approved newspaper, and Richlite moves to the head of the class with a GreenGuard certificate that shows its products’ advantages to indoor air quality.

Stratum Countertop

Care: This coating is easy to clean with a damp cloth, though bypass the soap and wipe any moisture up to make sure that your slab and complete look great for a long time. Richlite is the one manufacturer here whose products don’t require sealing. The other three all recommend a food-grade finish of either wax or mineral oil.

Special concerns: These goods will develop a seasoned patina over time, especially in areas of high use.

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