5 Eco-Friendly Benchtop Materials For A Green Kitchen Renovation
As the effects of man-made climate change and global warming become more difficult to ignore, homeowners across the country are making changes to make their homes more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. If you are planning a kitchen renovation, you have a perfect opportunity to boost your home's green credentials by using sustainable materials to build your new kitchen.
If you are choosing benchtop materials for an eco-friendly kitchen renovation, you may wish to avoid conventional choices such as granite benchtops (which require lots of energy and carbon to create) and low-cost laminate (which frequently contains toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde). Instead, consider choosing benchtops made from one of the following eco-friendly materials:
If you have your heart set on benchtops made from natural stones, such as granite or marble, recycled glass benchtops are an ideal eco-friendly alternative. These unique benchtops are made from a mixture of recycled glass, cement, and powdered ceramic, which are melted together and cast into benchtop slabs.
A finished recycled glass benchtop closely mimics the variegated appearance of natural stone benchtops. Because the different materials intermingle in different ways during the melting process, no two recycled glass benchtops are the same, so you rest assured that your eco-friendly kitchen is truly unique.
Recycled glass benchtops also have a lot of practical benefits. They are very easy to clean, and unlike natural stone benchtops, they never have to be resealed to repel moisture. They are also extremely durable, capable of withstanding heavy impacts such as dropped saucepans, and highly resistant to scratching. This makes recycled glass benchtops both long-lasting and low-maintenance.
Stainless steel benchtops have unparalleled durability and longevity, but you may not realise they are also surprisingly eco-friendly. Most stainless steel products made contain large quantities of recycled material, and some stainless steel benchtops contain up to 100% recycled material. This does mean that stainless steel benchtops have high embodied energy, but they use very little unsustainable material.
Stainless steel's sheer toughness is also an eco-friendly plus point. These near-indestructible benchtops will probably last longer than anything else in your kitchen, and though they can be expensive, you should consider them a lifetime investment. Never having to replace your benchtops again will save a lot of materials, energy and carbon in the long run.
Wooden benchtops are timelessly stylish, but benchtops made from virgin wood are not particularly eco-friendly. You can improve the situation by using benchtops made from plantation-grown timber, but if you want to max out your renovated kitchen's green credentials, opt for reclaimed timber benchtops.
Reclaimed timber uses timber sourced from a wide variety of sources, such as disused barns, demolished warehouses, and even timber cladding from old railway carriages. These timbers are thoroughly cleaned, sterilised, and treated with preservative oils, before being made into new benchtops. This process requires very little energy or carbon.
Every reclaimed timber benchtop has a unique appearance based on its original use. Some benchtops still have visible manufacturing marks and identification stamps, adding real character to your renovated kitchen.
Reclaimed timber benchtops are also tough and durable, although they can be damaged a little more easily than recycled glass or stainless steel. They will also need to be resealed on a regular basis to prevent staining. However, reclaimed timber benchtops are one of the cheapest eco-friendly choices, so a little extra work to keep them looking good may be well worth the effort.