Looking for an affordable and sustainable alternative to cold granite countertops? Discover PaperStone – a recycled paper countertop that’s surprisingly warm.
PaperStone’s surface is a unique composition of recycled paper and non-petroleum resin with origins in the aerospace and marine industries. But don’t let its strength and durability fool you – it’s also warm and luxuriously smooth – making it an ideal kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity.
What is PaperStone?
PaperStone® is a paper composite surface made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, petroleum-free resins and natural pigments. Sheets of paper are essentially saturated with the resins and pigments, then compressed using heat and pressure. This process creates an extremely durable, structurally sound, and non-porous surface product that looks like stone, but is surprisingly warm and soft-to-the-touch.
Origins of Paper Composite Surfaces
Paper composite countertops aren’t new, in fact they’ve been around for decades, originally developed for use in science labs, industrial kitchens, and fabrication shops. Aerospace and marine industries use the material — we’re talking heavy duty applications. These are the types of commercial and industrial environments that typically value durability and structural integrity over aesthetics. Although, PaperStone is an attractive surface with a modern look and feel.
Look and Feel of PaperStone Countertops
PaperStone is often compared to soapstone or slate, thanks to its warm, soft and smooth-to-the-touch feel. Sheets of PaperStone are shipped raw and un-sanded with an organic micro-textured surface and matte finish. Since it’s a green product made entirely from natural raw materials, it will naturally age similar to a fine hardwood. The aging process develops over time and produces a worn-in feel and natural patina. For example, you may notice deeper luster in areas of heavier use. However, as one commenter on Houzz noted, “Some slight changes to that visual texture over time don’t bother me – it feels like it’s more alive that way..more like wood.”
PaperStone’s color comes from the natural pigments used combined with the natural color of the recycled paper. The color is not a surface treatment – it runs through the entire depth of the product.
Cost of PaperStone
The price of PaperStone varies depending upon the color and thickness of the slab, the layout of the installation, as well as the cost of installation in your area. You should plan to spend about $65 to $100 per square foot installed, which is comparable to a high quality quartz or granite product. But, the benefit to PaperStone is that it’s DIY-friendly, which is rare in the world of countertops. Fabrication can run you around $40 per square foot, which can save a skilled DIY-er a pretty penny.
We also like to talk about yield when we talk about the cost of PaperStone. If you can maximize the yield of the material you’re using, you’re not throwing away dollars. Since it’s available in several unique lengths, you can minimize product waste. This means less waste for the planet, and less dollars wasted by you.
Installation Options for PaperStone – DIY-ers, rejoice!
The ease of fabrication and installation of PaperStone lends itself to being DIY-friendly. Working with PaperStone is much like working with fine hardwoods or butcher block – it installs with common woodworking tools. If you are comfortable working with carbide-tipped tools, saws, and routers, you really can have a successful self-install on this product. We even provide a detailed FABRICATION GUIDE.
However, many of our homeowners see the value in the cost of a professional install, which includes fabrication, templating, delivery and installation.
So, professional install or DIY – the choice is yours.
Finishing of PaperStone – Should you Buff or Sand?
At Greenhome we encourage our clients to simply buff their PaperStone slabs, rather than sand them, to stay as true to that original, micro-textured surface and keep the matte finish. And BONUS…that matte finish creates less glare, which in turn shows less imperfections – like oily fingerprints and dust – than glossy, sanded counters.
At its heart, PaperStone is a natural wood product – it’s made from paper after all. And like finishing fine hardwoods, you also have the option of sanding when finishing it. Sanding effectively removes the textured surface giving the slabs a smooth, more mottled appearance. But note that over-sanding can create an extremely mottled pattern, which is especially noticeable in the Gunmetal and Sienna colors.
Those who prefer the shiny, polished look that sanding creates should be aware that with that finish comes additional maintenance. Because once you sand – and essentially cut – the surface in order to obtain that polished look, you’ll need to treat it with the sealant more often so it’s not as susceptible to stains and scratches.
Cleaning and Maintaining PaperStone Surfaces
Although PaperStone is ultimately a low maintenance surface, an initial sealing finish is highly recommended to enhance the natural color and protect it against oils and stains. We prefer a natural oil and wax based Soapstone Sealer which provides a low luster finish without the continuous reapplication that is often required with mineral oil.
Day-to-day cleaning is a cinch, thanks to PaperStone’s low porosity which means it resists stains, abrasions and water. Simply wipe clean with a damp cloth. For deeper stains use a non-abrasive, eco-friendly kitchen cleaner as dishsoap and harsh chemicals can dull the surface.
Time between applications of the sealer will vary. PaperStone recommends a yearly application to protect against stains and scratches, but ultimately it’s up to the individual owner. Some folks, like our Pro Sales Associate Pieter Sundgren, don’t mind the chalky or “thirsty” look a PaperStone counter can develop. He’s currently in year 2 and hasn’t resealed his tops yet because they’re still performing great and holding up well. But if you’re noticing that water doesn’t seem to bead up anymore or the luster is a bit diminished, the oil & wax sealer is a great way to refresh your countertops.
For more detailed information on care & maintenance, see our guide on How to Care for Your PaperStone Surfaces.
Sustainability of PaperStone
PaperStone as a material is truly deep green. From Forest Stewardship Council-certified recycled paper and natural pigments to non-petroleum resins made in-house from industrial by-products that would otherwise go to waste. But they don’t just make an environmentally friendly product, they also walk-the-walk in their Hoquiam, WA manufacturing plant. Committed to a clean manufacturing process, all raw materials used to create PaperStone are also from the U.S.
- Environmentally sustainable and responsibly manufactured
- Durable – heavy-duty solid surface that’s harder than wood, lighter and less brittle than stone or engineered quartz. You’ll even find PaperStone used as cutting boards and food prep stations in commercial kitchens.
- Stain Resistant – nonporous, resists food and water stains
- Certified Food Safe – certified safe by the National Sanitary Foundation and won’t harbor bacteria, mold or mildew
- Easy to Maintain – simply clean with a damp cloth or natural soap and water; apply soapstone sealer once every 1-2 years
- Warm, Soft and Smooth-to-the-touch – similar to soapstone
- Easy to Install – easy to fabricate and install by professionals OR DIY-ers!
- Larger Sheet Sizes – unique sizes to fit large or small kitchens with less waste
- Virtually Seamless – the large sheet sizes (up to 5′ x 12′) makes it possible to have fewer or even no seams; for larger applications that require adjoining two pieces together, joint gaps can be filled and sanded to make a seam virtually disappear.
- Multiple applications – PaperStone makes an ideal countertop but is also great for bathroom vanities, conference tabletops, window sills, partitions, furniture, benches, signs and displays. You can also use it in vertical building applications such as wall panels.
- Affordable – pricing is comparable to a quality quartz or granite product.
- 10 Year Warranty
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Heat resistant, but only to 350 degrees – we recommend using a trivet or hot plate
- Medium to dark color pallet – no hues lighter than a platinum gray and no white (at time of publication). This is due to the source raw materials including the high recycled content of their paper and non-toxic resins which aren’t clear. The resin combined with the recycled paper creates a product that’s closer to an amber yellow in color, which makes white or even light-colored sheets difficult to achieve.
- Requires a sealant – we love this walnut oil + carnuba wax Soapstone Sealer
- Perfectionists Beware – PaperStone is an organic raw material that will develop a natural patina over time
Summary of PaperStone Countertops
We are big fans of the recycled paper PaperStone countertops because they’re durable, affordable, water resistant and easy to work with. Despite the availability of lighter white hues, their range of colors (including their new lighter design collection colors) and price-point have made it a favorite choice for homes, restaurants, offices, universities and laboratories. They’re also stain and nick-resistant. If you do happen to scratch the surface, you can refinish it time and again, as the color goes all the way through the product.
Availability of PaperStone Counters – Ready to Buy?
Want to feel the warm, smooth texture for yourself? Single color samples are available in our showroom and online.
At Greenhome Solutions, we typically stock PaperStone sheets in SLATE (black) due to its popularity as a color and its lower price-point. The Slate product appeals to customers that are attracted to slate and soapstone countertops, but not the maintenance that comes with them.
If you’re looking for another color or additional sheet sizes, the turnaround time is only about 2 weeks.
PaperStone Products – The Earth’s Surface | paperstoneproducts.net
Modern Surfaces – Collection of Sustainable Surfacing Brands | modern-surfaces.com
Follow @wearepaperstone | instagram.com
Looking to update your floors? Read What Flooring Do We Put in Our Own Homes? to discover our favorite sustainable flooring option right now.