Recycled Glass Countertops
For Homeowners Who Are Both Environmentally and Style Conscious
At first blush, glass might seem like an unusual choice for a surface that receives heavy use. Glass countertops, however, are far from fragile. In fact, they are not only as strong as stone, but they also provide the same elegant look that natural stone slab does. And by using a recycled material, you'll be doing your part to support sustainable building practices.
Types of Recycled Glass Kitchen Countertops
The main ingredient in a recycled glass counter is glass that's been salvaged from sources such as old bottles, reclaimed plate glass, and mirrors. While some of these counters are made from 100% glass, the most popular type of recycled glass countertop resembles terrazzo marble and contains a secondary ingredient known as a binder. One of two types of binders is typically added to the glass, and depending on which binder is used, the surface must be cared for differently.
- Concrete Binder: Glass countertops with a concrete/cement binder are porous, making them vulnerable to staining and also susceptible to acids (such as vinegar, wine, and lemon juice). To protect a cement-based glass countertop, it's necessary to regularly apply a sealant.
- Resin Binder: A resin is a type of plastic. Glass countertops with a resin binder do not require sealing, as they are non porous
Different Shades of "Green"
It's important to note that each brand of glass countertop is made differently, and that no product is absolutely eco-friendly. As a result, you should know the facts and apply your own standard of what's "green" when making a purchasing choice.
Some counters, for instance, are made from 100% recycled glass, while others have a portion of new glass. Furthermore, the recycled glass content of a given counter can be from post-consumer recycled glass (glass that's been thrown away) or pre-consumer recycled glass (glass waste from the manufacturing process). In most cases, counters contain both types of recycled glass.
Customers who truly want to be eco-friendly may want to avoid countertops with a resin binder, as it is derived from non-renewable petrochemicals. Then again, cement, which has an energy-intensive manufacturing process, isn't perfect either. Some products, however, have a cement binder made from recycled materials.
If you're really ecologically minded, skip the glass counters with binders and go for those that are 100% glass. But a countertop with a cement or resin binder is also a choice you can feel good about. Plastic-based laminate and solid surface counters aren't sustainable in the least, and even stone has its issues due to the quarrying practices required to unearth it and the energy needed to transport it.
Recycled Glass Countertop Costs
- Recycled glass countertops cost, on average, $50 to $120 per square foot installed. Assuming an average-sized kitchen with 30 square feet of counter space, that's a total cost of $1,500 to $3,600.
- Custom design work, the size and layout of the kitchen, removal and disposal of existing counters, local material and labor costs, the product selected, and a number of other factors can influence the actual project cost.
- Popular manufacturers of recycled glass kitchen countertops include EnviroGlas, Vetrazzo, and Syndecrete.