I am looking for real-world performance information on green countertop options. How well do these actually function in a kitchen?

Asked by Suparna Kadam
East Brunswick, NJ

For example, how durable is the material? Does it stain? Does it scratch? What's needed to maintain it? Specific options I'm interested in: Paperstone, Richlite, EcoTop, IceStone.


Polly Osborne, FAIA, LEED AP

Answered by Polly Osborne, FAIA, LEED AP

Los Angeles, CA

Polly Osborne Architects

June 28, 2010

I think it would be nice for several people to answer this question, because I'm sure we have all used different products. Paperstone and Caesarstone are the products I use most often and have had good luck with. Richelite is very similiar to Paperstone.

Paperstone can be specified to have 100% post-consumer cardboard and a non-petroleum resin, which makes it an excellent green choice. It should get a sealer as a final finish, and Paperstone makes one. It has very fine dust, so wearing a mask when sanding is important. It can be worked like wood, but cannot be heavily sanded and is more brittle than wood.

I have used Paperstone as countertops, windowsills and cabinet door faces with excellent success. I have kept a piece of Paperstone out in the sun and rain now for several years to see how it will break down. It hasn't. Since I set it out there, Paperstone has come out with a rainscreen product, so I guess they were conducting the same test!

I do not use it on heavily used kitchen counters, however. I use Caesarstone for that. I think Paperstone would probably hold up ok, but one contractor I spoke with had some trouble with it staining, whereas Caeserstone is harder, denser, similiar to granite, and the only time I heard of it staining was with a color they have since discontinued. I think it would be more repairable too, if something went terribly wrong. I don’t know if it will wear well as an exterior material, as I don’t know that the polymers are UV resistant, whereas Paperstone’s are.

Caesarstone is a quartz product made of 93% quartz and 7% pigments and polymer resins. The only recycled content, unfortunately, is pre-consumer waste. It is Greenguard certified and ISO 14001 certified. There are a number of competing companies with similar products, although I haven’t used them. It is very nonporous, very stain and scratch resistant. That being said, I have never seen a product yet that couldn’t be stained or scratched!

The look of Caesarstone can be similiar to granite or concrete, depending on which style and color you pick. It doesn’t require any sealer and can be cleaned with soap and water. Although I don’t consider Caesarstone quite as green as Paperstone, it may be a safer bet if staining and scratching are a big concern. Caesarstone is available in many home improvement stores.


For more information:

Check the buyer's guides, etc in our green countertops Know How section.

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