All About: Paper Composite Countertops

Countertop Spotlight

Are you thinking about renovating your kitchen? Doing research on countertop materials? If so, then our Countertop Spotlight series will help you. Today we look at paper composite countertops:

Material: Recycled Paper Composite

Origin: Paper composite countertops are made of post-consumer recycled paper and other fibers held together by a formaldehyde-free thermoset plastic resin. Available in thicknesses ranging from ¼ inch to 2 inches.

Environmental Impact: These countertops come from non-petroleum recycled sources (excluding the resin), but are not recyclable because of the small amount of plastic resin content. They can, however, be recut and retooled for future use.

Pros: Durable, handles heat well, resistant to stain and nicks; low-to-mid range cost; easy to work with; nonporous construction; lighter than natural stone.

Cons: Requires a sealant like mineral oil; not suitable with abrasive cleaners.

Brands: Richlite, PaperStone, Shetkastone.

Price range: $45-$75 per square foot. Richlight sample price: $65/sq. ft. for 5/8" thick, $50/sq. ft. for 1/2"

Kitchn Reader Reviews:

We have Richlite counter tops that are about 1 1/2 years old. They have aged nicely, even though we haven't been as faithful about sealing them as is recommended. There are some scratches but I think it adds to the patina. Sealing them every 6 months would probably deal with that issue. - Ritterpark
I have a Richlite counter, and I love it. It does get marked up a bit with scratches, etc. Mine is black, so maybe the other colors don't show these as much. But, I love this countertop. I had wanted slate or soapstone, and decided against it because of the cost. The Richlite was 45.00 sf installed. I can even sand it lightly to remove scratches, just like wood. Coat it with a light layer of mineral oil or beeswax and oil and it looks great. - Retrogrouch
I have Richlite (Sage color) in my kitchen and do love it. I do have to oil it a bit more often than I would like, especially around the sink area. But after applying mineral oil, it always looks beautiful, like the day it was installed. We get many compliments on it and people can't believe that it's paper. - Ginafly
We've had Paperstone for 3 years. I really love them. I rest a heavy pot of boiling noodles for a few seconds while I adjust my grip before draining, and have seen no adverse affects. I put hot dishes from the microwave straight on the counter--no problems. They will get scratched if you cut directly on them, but they're pretty tough. And sandable, if you want to refinish them. The only complaint I have is that, on my black countertops, I get gray swirly marks from cleaning with vinegar. This problem is easily remedied by buffing with a little oil, but I rarely take the time to do that. I would install these again in a new house, for sure. In a heartbeat. - Makehappymama
We have black paperstone too, and we have had a less positive experience than others, it seems. the water marks are out of control and lots of little tan-colored pits started showing up days after installation. When they were freshly cleaned and sealed they looked amazing, but that didn't last long. We ended up sealing them with some kind of extreme wood sealant that was recommended by the nice people at rockler, and now they're mostly ok, although we do get the weird swirly ghost marks whenever we wipe them down. - Muro.Lamere

Readers, if you have paper composite countertops, share your experiences below!

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(Images: 1. The Kitchn; 2. Marcia Prentice; 3. Leela Cyd Ross; 4. EcoSolution)