New options for kitchen counters

Kitchen counter alternatives to pressed wood: composite paper, aluminum, recycled porcelain, glass and quartz. Here is a look at their durability and cost.

Recycled quartz Eco counter top
Recycled quartz Eco counter top © Cosentino

The most common kitchen counters you will see are laminate countertops. They aren’t very durable and they contain a lot of formaldehyde. Really the only thing they have going for them is that they are cheap, but cheap doesn’t always last. And buying ‘cheap’ over and over is actually expensive, particularly when you consider that installation can comprise up to 75% of the cost. Here are a few new options that we do quite like, not just for the look, but more so for the material composition and durability.

Recycled quartz kitchen counters

The Dekton® counter is a ground-up mix of glass, porcelain and quartz heated to over 1,000 degrees Celsius and compressed underneath 25,000 tons. The final product does not require any resin or sealants. It is non-porous, not affected by UV rays and is very resistant to scratches, heat and stains. It is a great option for both kitchens and bathrooms.

It’s made by Cosentino, carries a 25 year manufacturers' warranty and comes with a variety of looks and colours. You can figure on spending about $150 per square foot installed. To learn more about Eco counters, watch this video from Ecohome’s Edelweiss House or visit Dekton.

Recycled quartz counter top
Recycled quartz counter top © Dekton

Composite paper kitchen counters: a counter made of 100% recycled paper.

Yeah, we know that’s a hard one to figure at first; paper is not something you think of when looking for durable kitchen counters, but it works.

The binding agents are completely GreenGuard certified and made with a cashew nut resin. The product is very durable and resistant to water and heat. Counters are available in thicknesses ranging from ¼ to 2 inches and come in a variety of colours. The final finish has the look of soapstone but at about a third of the price. They are manufactured in the United States but available in Canada.

Purchase and installation will together run about $80 per square foot, but maybe or a bit lower. It is not recommended to use bleach on this product as it could stain the surface. Visit Paperstone.

Recycled paper kitchen counter top
Recycled paper counter top © Paperstone

Silestone Eco kitchen counters

Silestone Eco countertops offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to similar surfaces available on the market. They are non-porous, as durable as granite, resistant to scratches and heat, and made using between 50 and 75% recycled materials such as porcelain, glass and mirrors. They are manufactured using non-toxic and environmentally-friendly resins that are GreenGuard certified.

Another statistic we like about this is that 94% of the water used to manufacture Eco counters is reused. The cost will range from $65 to $130 (US) per square foot, installation not included. Visit Silistone.

Silestone Eco kitchen counter
Silestone Counter © Cosentino

Icestone glass kitchen counters

These recycled glass countertops are made of small pieces of glass suspended in a binder of resin or cement. They are very durable and can contain up to 85% recycled content. Their appearance can be transparent, frosted or totally opaque.

However, these counters must be custom made, which can increase costs. It is advised to use a cutting board and not cut directly on the counter, though they have a slightly rough surface that will help mask any scratches. These counters as well are completely non-toxic. They are manufactured in the United States but available in Canada. Visit IceStone.

Recycled glass counter top
Recycled glass counter top © Icestone

Recycled aluminum kitchen counters

This is a great alternative to stainless steel but keeping a modern look. It is comprised of between 88 and 100% recycled content, and often sourced from post-industrial waste. Aluminum is usually less scratch-resistant than stainless steel, but with this one we have heard you won’t see a difference.

The counter is very healthy as it has no VOCs, it is stain resistant, and it is entirely recyclable at the end of life. As an added bonus, you can mold the sink, the countertop and backsplash out of the same material. 

Figure on spending between $50 and $120 per square foot, installation included. Visit Alkemi.

Recycled aluminum counter top
Recycled aluminum counter top © Alkemi