Are recycled glass countertops a good granite alternative?
When Dan and Amanda Sheil of Portland, Ore., planned their kitchen remodeling, they chose a recycled glass countertop over granite, reflecting a growing number of homeowners opting for the durability and unique look of this environmentally sustainable option.
“We’re ecstatic with our countertop,” Dan Sheil says of the Vetrazzo surface, which is made of glass pieces embedded in cement. “Everybody who’s been to the kitchen says, ‘Oh my, I love the countertops.’ It gets an immediate reaction.”
When the Sheils first discussed replacing their ceramic-tile countertop, they looked at granite. “But nothing was ‘This is what we want,’” Dan Sheil says. “Plus, my wife had misgivings that granite had run through its popularity phase. We looked at the whole gamut of options, including PaperStone and other ‘greener’ alternatives.”
They decided recycled glass was their favorite eco-friendly option, and that Vetrazzo’s larger glass bits made it the most attractive brand they saw. “There’s a three-dimensional feel to it,” Sheil says. “Some of the glass in ours is from buildings, with fragments of writing. It’s a fun little game to look through the glass and see the pieces.”
He says caring for the Vetrazzo is similar to what’s required for granite. “We have to be careful with anything dark, like tomato sauce. If we wipe it off immediately, there’s no problem. But even at 20 minutes there might be a little stain.”
Grace Elinsway, an Angie’s List member in Austin, Texas, planned initially to replace her Formica with engineered quartz, but changed her mind after seeing a friend’s recycled glass countertop. “I liked the idea of using recycled materials, and the product was attractive,” she says.
Elinsway ended up choosing ECO by Consentino on the advice of her installer, and says the price was about the same as for engineered stone. She says it’s been a durable product that she can clean with a damp cloth. “But I've been careful not to put very hot items directly on the countertop. I read that the material can crack when subjected to extreme heat.”
Low-maintenance glass countertop option
Deborah Varner, co-owner of the Granite Transformations franchise in Mukilteo, Wash., highly rated on Angie’s List, says her competitors’ recycled glass requires sealing because it’s made with cement, but her company’s product is easier to maintain.
“It’s 95 percent glass and 5 percent resin polymer,” Varner says. “The resin encases the glass and makes a completely nonporous surface, so it’s certified for commercial kitchen use.”
About 15 percent of customers at her Seattle-area franchise choose recycled glass, says Varner, with most opting for Granite Transformations’ signature product of engineered granite. But she believes interest in glass will increase. “It’s practical and durable and beautiful,” Varner says.
Chris Giegerich, owner of highly rated Absolute Kitchen & Bath Works of West Palm Beach, Fla., says about 5 percent of his customers choose recycled glass countertops by IceStone, Vertrazzo and Geos, while most choose engineered quartz. But he, too, thinks more kitchen and bathroom remodeling customers will consider glass.
“It has a ‘wow’ factor you don’t get with granite or Corian or any other surface,” Giegerich says. “Anyone who walks in the room will notice it.”