I know—glass countertops? You might be thinking “Have you lost your mind?”
When we think of glass, we typically conjure up mental images of either old scratched glass tabletops or broken pieces of glass lying on the floor.
But the new generation of crushed and recycled glass countertops doesn’t resemble either of those pictures. Instead, the new glass countertops have become the shiny star attractions of many a remodeled kitchen.
People who initially consider granite, solid surface or engineered stone countertops have been turning to recycled or crushed glass, whether it’s embedded in a colored concrete matrix or a resin polymer. The initial appeal of the recycled material tends to increase when they actually see it—these new glass countertops can really pop, sparkle and dazzle with their unique look. They truly are unique, as well—no two countertops will ever be the same.
Brands like Vetrazzo, Geo, IceStone or ECO by Cosentino embed recycled glass in a variety of colors in hard, durable countertop material. The glass, which can come from a whole spectrum of unique sources, even has some thematic possibilities—Coke or beer bottles, the dark tones of wine bottles, window glass with bluish or greenish tints, and even some recycled window glass with fragmented letters and phrases.
And recycled glass countertops tend to be less expensive than other materials like granite or solid surface countertops.
Two types exist: those with a concrete base; and those with an clear acrylic resin base. The brands that use white or neutral-colored concrete as an embedding matrix for their pieces of glass tend to have a three-dimensional, mosaic- or terrazzo-like look; while the acrylic, resin-based countertops have a colorful, highly reflective and almost gem-like look, as though they were made out of sparkling bits of color floating in a clear liquid.
For a really wild effect, I’ve even seen these countertops backlit from beneath, which produces a kaleidoscope of colors on the kitchen walls and ceiling. Disco ball! Seriously, the newness of these products definitely lends them to more modern or even ultra-modern décor—I wouldn’t normally recommend using them in a more traditional kitchen.
The two varying types of glass countertops have different pros and cons:
Concrete-matrix recycled glass countertops like Vetrazzo, since they use concrete as a base, should definitely be sealed. That means more maintenance. Unsealed concrete, or even concrete-based products with a sealant that hasn’t been renewed recently, don’t do well with oils, wine or highly acidic or tomato-based spills. They tend to absorb those stain-producing substances and then refuse to clean up. Regular application of a good sealant will prevent those problems.
Cosentino’s ECO product, on the other hand, needs no sealant, but isn’t as hard as concrete, so is more susceptible to knife wounds and burn injuries.
Both of these kinds of recycled glass countertops clean up easily, resist cracking and crazing, and shrug off low-heat pots and pans. You can get literally thousands of available colors, shapes and textures. The resin-based recycled glass countertops are non-porous and very low-maintenance.
On the downside, both concrete-based and resin-based glass countertops can break. Concrete is more liable to chip and crack, especially with excess weight—in other words, don’t let your teenagers hop up and sit on a corner of your counter, or anyone else, for that matter.
If you do get a dent or a ding or a crack, these countertops aren’t easily repairable, either.
But recycled glass can work very well for the right kitchen, and really wake it up. Take a look—you’ll see what I mean.