Environmentally Friendly Countertops and Flooring
By: Danny Lipford
More and more materials for countertops and floors are available that are both beautiful and environmentally friendly. One product called shetkaSTONE is made from recycled paper, plant, and cloth fibers. While it has the look of stone, it can be cut and screwed like wood. It is water and stain resistant and comes in a number of colors. Best of all shetkaSTONE can be recycled again if it is ever replaced.
Richlite® is another countertop material made from paper combined with phenolic resin to form a chemically inert product that doesn’t release harmful gases into the air. It is harder than wood, stain resistant, and can be heated up to 350° without scorching. Unlike stone, Richlite® countertops can be cantilevered without additional reinforcement underneath.
IceStone® is made from recycled glass mixed with concrete to create a durable material that is environmentally friendly. It comes in dozens of colors and patterns and can be used on anything from kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities to shower surrounds and flooring.
Marmoleum linoleum floor tiles are made from a combination of natural ingredients including linseed oil, limestone, wood flour, and organic pigments. The natural antibacterial properties and lack of chemical gases make it the perfect flooring for those suffering from allergies or asthma. It is available in over 100 mix and match colors and installed with adhesive. Marmoleum® Click is a similar product that easily locks together to provide a homeowner friendly installation that doesn’t require glue.
While linoleum is much easier on your feet than ceramic tile, for the ultimate in cushioned comfort you might consider cork flooring. It is harvested every few years from the bark of the cork oak without killing the tree. The cork is then ground and pressed together into floor tiles that are surprisingly durable, given their resilient nature.
Bamboo is sustainable wood flooring, but unlike cork, it is as hard or harder than oak or maple. Bamboo comes prefinished in either a light natural color or carbonized to a dark brown and is available with vertical or horizontal grain. Both cork and bamboo flooring are available at The Home Depot.
Sandhill Industries manufactures ecofriendly wall tiles from 100% recycled glass that require half the energy to make than ceramic tile. They are available in a number of mosaic patterns and vibrant colors.