Kitchen and bathroom remodelling projects give you a unique chance to do your bit for the environment and become a bit more green, but using recycled materials when possible and opting for low energy consumption appliances and lights. Recycled glass countertops are the perfect way of doing so. They add interest and beauty to any kitchen, while still being practical and long lasting.
Recycled glass countertops come in a variety of styles and colours, so you are bound to find one that matches your home design plans. They range from those made of 100% glass to terrazzo style glass countertops made from a mix of recycled marble, granite chips and glass, with brightly coloured patterns. They are durable, easy to clean and environmentally friendly, making them perfect alternative to pricier granite countertops.
Recycled Glass Countertops: Pros and Cons
Most people love recycled glass countertops at first sight, but fear that glass is too delicate to withstand the wear and tear of kitchen usage. As with anything, recycled glass countertops have several pros and cons. Among the positives we can count:
- Extremely versatile: Glass countertops can be made into almost any colour, texture or style, and have a unique way of diffusing the light that other materials such as granite cannot produce.
- Easy to care and longlasting: With an average life expectancy of at least 50 years and resistance to acid and other damaging substances, recycled glass countertops are an investment worth considering.
- Environmentally friendly: The process of creating this kind of countertops has a lower carbon footprint than almost any other type of countertop material, and it uses recycled glass, giving it top points on the green department.
On the negatives we have:
- Pricey: While they are cheaper than granite ones, if you are looking exclusively for cheap countertops those may be out of your budget. On the other hand, they will last for half a century with minimal care, so they can be considered an investment.
- Difficult to find: Not all stores stock recycled glass countertops, so finding them may be a bit more difficult than more traditional ones such as quartz countertops. However, with the help of the Internet you are sure to find a supplier delivering to your home.
Shopping For Recycled Glass Countertops
Since this style of worktops is not as mainstream as say, wood or granite, finding the right one can be a bit of a challenge. If you are using recycled glass to keep your worktops eco friendly (as many people choose to do) then you want to make sure you are buying the real thing. There are some manufacturers that claim to make recycled glass countertops, but actually use non-recycled glass or just low quality glass remains. To make sure your countertop is actually sustainable look for marks such as Cradle to Cradle Certified™ and research the manufacturer.
If you are installing cement based terrazzo style recycled glass countertops keep in mind the additional cost of sealing them. Much like granite countertops, your new worktops will need to be resealed every 5 years. The seal can also become porous quicker due to use, so if you ever see water sinking into the material it’s time to get them resealed. Look for manufacturers that provide a sealing service and guarantee it to avoid large costs down the line as the countertops can get stained.
Since they are not a low cost, quick fix kitchen surface, it pays to do your research on both installers and manufacturers. Since recycled glass worktops are man-made, there are a variety of approaches to pouring one, some with better results than others. Do your research and go with a manufacturer that guarantees their product (and the installation of a potential new set of countertops) even if they are a bit more expensive. Get it right and you can have your kitchen looking great for decades.
Recycled Glass Surface Countertop Care and Maintenance
The good news is, once you have your brand new recycled glass countertops installed they are very easy to keep looking and working great, for decades. Day to day, you should just wipe the surfaces with a damp cloth, and only use a mild cleaner if it’s very dirty. They work very similarly to granite and stone countertops, as long as the sealing is intact.
In order to keep the sealing intact for longer you should remove spills as quick as possible, particularly acidic ones such as lemon juice or wine. While the sealing will withstand quite a bit of damage, regular exposure to acidic fluids will erode it quicker. Every five years you should get your countertops resurfaced and resealed by a professional, but otherwise you shouldn’t wax or apply short term sealing products as it’s not necessary.
Some people treat their recycled glass countertops like they are indestructible, and they are indeed very resistant. But habits such as using a heat protector under hot pans instead of just putting them straight on the countertop will reduce the chances of them suffering from thermal shock and cracking. Cracks are expensive to repare and can spoil the look and feel of your countertops, so it’s practical to be a bit careful. If you really want something indestructible, consider metal countertops instead.
If you are keen on doing your bit for the environment or want to ensure your home is as green as possible, consider recycled glass countertops as a great alternative to quartz, sandstone or granite countertops and you can’t go wrong. But if they are out of your budget, another alternative are paperstone countertops, made of recycled paper instead of glass so you can have the green kitchen you want.