Install an ecological, healthy, sustainable and local kitchen counter
OPTION 1: Reuse a counter
Refreshing, repainting or enhancing your old counter will save you time and money while reducing the environmental impact. Greener option than buying a new counter, you can also buy a recovered counter or worktop, regardless of the material, and adapt it to your space. They are available in stores that sell recycled building materials, at merchants specializing in architectural recovery and you can even find them in classified ads from individuals.
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If you need to make joints, sealants or other for tiles, stones, concrete, wood, etc., find products free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
OPTION 2: Install a new work surface
It is possible to buy a brand new counter for your kitchen or bathroom and still limit its environmental impact. Than you should go to countertops-more.com the surface must however meet certain ecological requirements so that its impact is limited.
Material from regional sources (extracted, processed and manufactured within a radius of less than 800 km from the home)
Healthy (without urea-formaldehyde or other volatile organic compounds)
From recycled sources (at least 50% pre- or post-consumption) or fast-growing (eg bamboo, cork, agro-fibers) or certified “Forest Stewardship Council” (FSC)
Durable (which will perform its function and survive normal wear and tear for more than 25 years)
Counter and worktop – concrete
CONCRETE: poured, molded or composite, it is versatile, does not release VOCs, is very resistant and very durable. You will easily find regional, healthy and recycled products. On the other hand, it must be sealed regularly, has a strong gray energy, has a very hard surface, can stain or crack. Concrete produces dust continuously. It must therefore be protected with a non-toxic water-based sealer. Go one step further and opt for green concrete (ternary concrete) where post-industrial waste replaces around 30% of the cement. Consult our technical sheet on concrete finishing options . From $ 60 to $ 200 per p2, installation included.
Counter and worktop – oiled wood
OILED WOOD: assembled from hardwood slats, the wood countertop is natural, resistant and renewable. It is an excellent choice, especially if it is FSC, regional or from recycled sources. Wood is very hygienic, its natural acidity slows down bacterial growth and this resource benefits from being recycled. On the other hand, it is vulnerable to humidity, scratches and must be oiled with natural products periodically (with oil or wax for a food preparation surface and with varnish for other surfaces. Favor products with Green Guard certification, the least toxic on the market). It is suggested to install a wood counter far from a water source. It is therefore preferable to place the sink on an impermeable surface. From $ 10 to $ 90 per p2 depending on the wood, add $ 60 per square foot for installation. Go one step further and opt for wood treated with natural oil.
The Quebec product Prolam is a good choice. Designed as a floor for trucks, this surface is perfect for creating healthy and durable counters.
Counter and worktop – ceramic
EARTH TILES (ceramic, porcelain): natural, healthy and durable, they are easy to maintain, despite the fact that an accumulation of dirt can occur in the joints. It is very difficult to find terracotta tiles which are made with more than 40% of recycled materials and they are never from regional origin. $ 0.50 to $ 30 per square foot / add $ 2 to $ 10 per square foot for installation.
QUARTZ: made of crushed quartz combined with resin (generally 93% quartz and 7% resin), it is durable and pigments added to the mixture offer a wide variety of colors. Its uniform, non-porous finish requires no sealant. It is resistant to stains if wiped immediately and resists scratches (the use of a cutting board is recommended). On the other hand, the resin contained in these materials is sensitive to heat. It is a limited resource that must be extracted from the ground, which causes permanent damage to the various habitats, then shipped and treated. Prefer quartz quarried and made in Quebec. From $ 70 to $ 110 per p2, installation included.
SYNTHETIC STONES: new ultra-compacting technologies for stone, glass and porcelain (synthesized stones) make it possible to create new high-performance and ultra-resistant work surfaces. These surfaces are obtained by the use of high pressures and subjected to high temperatures and this without the addition of resin. An example is the Dekton or the Lapitec . However, these products are imported. It takes about $ 90 per p2, installation not included.
NATURAL STONES – GRANITE, SLATE, SOAP STONE, NATURAL MARBLE: stone is probably the most chic and appreciated material for worktops. Virtually indestructible, the application of sometimes highly toxic sealants and possible radon fumes (some quarries are affected) makes it less attractive. In general, the transport and extraction of the stone itself has significant environmental repercussions. You will find healthy and regional, but they will never be made from recycled materials. From $ 40 to $ 200 per p2, installation included.
Counter and worktop – Recycled glass
RECYCLED GLASS: pieces of glass suspended in a resin or cement binder. They are very aesthetic, durable and can contain up to 85% recycled material. However, these counters must be custom made, which can increase costs. State-of-the-art tempered glass panels are very resistant, hygienic and easy to maintain. The glass can be transparent, frosted or completely opaque. A slightly rough surface will hide the scratches. In addition to containing a high percentage of recycled glass, this type of counter can be healthy and regional. $ 120 per p2, installation included.
For the counters, marble and stainless steel are beautiful and healthy, but never regional or made from recycled materials. Melamine is also to be avoided since it is not durable (a melamine countertop will be three times less durable than the countertops presented above).
If you need to make joints, sealants or other for tiles, stones, concrete, wood, etc., choose products free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Countertops are generally made of massive materials which have strong impacts on natural environments – extraction, transport, etc. and many of them hide a strong gray energy. Several aspects are to be taken into consideration when choosing a counter.
There are no perfect materials for worktops. In addition to the various impacts they may present, there are paints, sealants and other adhesives required for certain materials, which are generally a major factor in indoor air pollution since they can emit toxic vapors. It is therefore necessary to opt for natural water-based products, without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or epoxy.