The top manufacturers of these countertops are Paperstone, Richlite and Shetkastone. Each uses a proprietary method and mixture in their products.
How’s it Made?
Paper countertops are made from post-consumer paper and cardboard depending on the series. PaperStone’s original series is cardboard while the Certified series is office paper, both are 100 percent post-consumer recycled. Richlite’s r50 is 50 percent recycled corrugated cardboard and r100 series is 100 percent post-consumer paper.
This paper is reduced to fiber and reconstituted into specially designed sheets. The sheets are then soaked in natural phenolic resins, such as those based on cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL), and natural pigments. The resined sheets are then typically stacked into a high-heat pressure chamber and pressed into dense slabs from ¾ to 1 ½ inches in thickness. The standard size of recycled paper slabs is 60 inches by 144 inches but it is also available in sizes of 30 by 144 inches, 30 by 72 inches and 60 by 72 inches. The slabs are then sanded and buffed into a satin sheen.
Color Palette & Installation
Recycled paper materials for countertops generally offer a much smaller color palette than other less ‘green’ materials. Each color typically has a light grain pattern. This patina tends to come out stronger in a natural luster after a couple years of use. A new countertop made of these materials will generally also have a slight texture that will smooth out in time.
Prior to installation, a contractor takes measurements and creates a template, using physical or more advanced digital technologies that recently become available. Edging designs are typically bullnose, half bullnose, beveled, double radius and ogee. The slab is then cut with a saw and machined to the proper specifications. The surface supports both topmount and undermount sink styles. The countertop deck seams are filled with caulking material mixed with colored dust from the cutting. Although inconspicuous, the seams are typically visible, unlike solid surface or custom poured concrete countertops.
Most recycled paper countertops are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and are stain resistant when exposed to staining agents for short periods. But, as with other countertop materials, will stain by the likes of red wine, juice, mustard or other foods. General cleaning is accomplished with a mild detergent and non-abrasive pad or soft brush. For tougher, built-up stains, a cleaner such as Simple Green is recommended.
Paper-based countertops, while harder than wood, will scratch and should not be used for cutting or chopping, which means a cutting board should be used for cutting. They are also susceptible to heat over 350 degrees F, which means direct contact with hot pots and pans will burn and leave a mark. So, just like any other countertop material, trivets or hot pads should be used. Because paper-based materials are a uniform color throughout their thickness, scratches are less noticeable than with laminate. Light scratches and burns can also be buffed out with a red Scotch-Brite pad.
Paper-based countertops are very durable, which means that overhangs of up to 12 inches are possible without additoin structural support. Recycled paper countertops, much like solid surface or quartz surfacing, generally offer multi-year warranties against manufacturer defects.