Kitchen Countertops / September 24, 2018 / Addison Smith.
The basics: Plastic laminate countertops consist of a wafer-thin finish adhered to a plywood or particleboard substrate. That thin finish is a high-pressure laminate (HPL); it’s made of three layers of material bonded together by high heat and pressure: a clear melamine top for protection, a decorative layer and a backing made of phenolic resin-coated kraft paper. Well-known laminate manufacturers include Formica, Wilsonart and Nevamar.
Disadvantages: The material is heat resistant only to 350 degrees, so — as with many kitchen surfaces — it’s best to keep trivets nearby. The color palettes tend toward medium to dark hues, though Kliptech (the maker of RecycleTop) has solved that in its similar recycled paper and bamboo product, EcoTop, which comes in lighter colors, including Snow White.
Composed of smaller pieces of wood, butcher block can make great use of reclaimed or repurposed material. Sustainable butcher block can come from diverse sources, such as reclaimed shipping pallets or deconstructed buildings. Your knives will love this surface and, after it shows some age, you can just sand the wood a bit and refinish with a food-grade natural oil.
Countertops are typically fabricated from 14- or 16-gauge material, which is then glued to a substrate of plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to form a rigid surface. Type 304 stainless steel is commonly used, due to its higher chromium content (and therefore corrosion resistance) and ability to be welded without affecting its durability or strength. Most common is a number 4 brushed finish, but stainless steel is also available in satin (smooth), antique matte and any number of specialty patterns.
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