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PaperStone – The Unique Countertop That’s Both Sustainable and Affordable

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.

PaperStone Recycled Paper Surface in Slate (Black) in a kitchen designed by Rock Paper Hammer.

PaperStone Counters in Slate are featured in this kitchen designed by Rock Paper Hammer.
Courtesy of PaperStone® – Photo by Sara Rounsavall

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.

Not just for countertops, PaperStone can be used for a variety of applications, like this coffee shop tabletop. Photo courtesy of PaperStone®

Not just for countertops, PaperStone can be used for a variety of applications, like this coffee shop tabletop.
Photo courtesy of PaperStone®

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.

This PaperStone recycled paper countertop features a waterfall edge. Photo courtesy of Curbed NY. Photo by Matthew Williams.

This PaperStone counter in Slate features a gorgeous waterfall edge.
Courtesy of Curbed New York – Photo by Matthew Williams.

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.

Finishing of PaperStone – Should you Buff or Sand? Sanding effectively removes the textured surface giving the slabs a smooth, more mottled appearance. But note that oversanding can create an extremely mottled pattern, which is especially noticeable in the Gunmetal and Sienna colors.

Be cautious when sanding PaperStone because mottling becomes more apparent. This is especially noticeable in the Gunmetal and Sienna colors as seen above.

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.

Soapstone Sealer by The Real Milk Paint Co is available at ghsproducts.com. An all-natural protector for PaperStone and Soapstone counters, Soapstone Sealer is made from food grade Walnut Oil and Carnauba Wax. It provides a low luster finish without VOC's or added fragrances.

We like an all-natural protector for PaperStone like this Soapstone Sealer made from food grade Walnut Oil and Carnauba Wax. It provides a low luster finish without VOC’s or added fragrances.

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.

With PaperStone, you can have a gorgeous countertop AND feel good about it. Find out why we love PaperStone Recycled Paper Countertops at Greenhome Solutions

Courtesy of PaperStone® – shown here in Pewter
Saves 24,000 gallons of water
Eliminates 3 cubic ft. of landfill space
Eliminates 60 pounds of air pollutants
Conserves enough energy to power a home for 6 months
Saves about 20 trees
Saves 4 barrels of oil


  • 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


  • 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
PaperStone can withstand 45,000 pounds of compressive pressure per square inch, making it both beautiful AND strong!

Look at all those layers…PaperStone can withstand 45,000 pounds of compressive pressure per square inch, making it both beautiful AND strong! Shown here in Azure and Sand.
Courtesy of PaperStone®

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 Seattle showroom. If you live in Washington state, please call us for fast, free shipping on samples at 888-447-9877. Or, click here to locate a supplier in your area.

PaperStone Countertop Samples - Purchase Single Color PaperStone samples and enjoy fast, free shipping.

Call us to order SINGLE COLOR PAPERSTONE SAMPLES and get fast, free shipping: (888) 447-9877

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.

For more information on PaperStone recycled paper countertops, visit our product page or call us at (888) 447-9877.

Learn More

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.



GHS Photo Contest

Share your green building project photos featuring Greenhome Solutions products for a chance to win a $200 Visa® Gift Card

This contest ended March 31, 2018 but we’d still love to see your photos! Please email your project photos featuring Greenhome Solutions products to info@ghsproducts.com and you could be featured in future marketing campaigns.

What Flooring Do We Put in Our Own Homes? (Spoiler Alert: It’s Cork Flooring)

What types of flooring do we personally use in our homes? We’re not shy about it – we know a thing or two about flooring and we’re often asked to share what we’ve installed in our homes. Our clients want to know what our kids and pets crawl/walk/fall/slide/jump/roll-around on. So, what’s the one style of flooring that we all have in common? We’ll give you a hint…it’s the greenest flooring around!

Everyday Living on Cork Floors | Greenhome Solutions - ghsproducts.com

Everyday Living on Our Cork Floors! (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)

That’s right, it’s CORK flooring! But why do we love it so? Let us count the ways.

Cork flooring is…


Especially if you’re putting it down over a concrete subfloor, you’re going to get a much warmer feel than a hardwood or tile floor. That’s thanks to its ability to hold warmth. Its thermal insulating properties create a barrier between the cold concrete subfloor and the comfortable temperature of your home, so cork flooring is ideal in a basement, for instance. Cork helps to maintain that comfy indoor climate better than other flooring, and BONUS…we’ve noticed the added benefit of energy cost savings!


Or “cushy” as we like to call it. One of the benefits of using cork for flooring is that it “gives” because there are microscopic pockets of air that allow the surface to compress and then expand again, without damaging the structure. It literally springs back! Because of that, cork is softer and more flexible, so it’s very forgiving on your legs and back. Which is why we like to put it in rooms like kitchens where you’re often standing for longer periods of time, and where it’s nice to have that extra cushiness. That also means your breakable glassware and Grandma’s china has a better chance of staying intact when dropped, rather than shattering into a million little pieces (like it probably would on a tile floor).


Shhhh…did you hear that? Probably not, if you have a cork floor. Cork muffles that noisy foot traffic like a boss because of its acoustically insulating properties that allow it to absorb sound.


Calling all DIY-ers! Save money on professional installers and install it yourself. Because cork is available in floating panels and squares that simply lock together using a tongue-and-groove installation system, many homeowners choose to put it in themselves rather than hire an installer. The floating application sits right on top of any smooth surface, which makes it ideal for do-it-yourself renovation projects.


Cork is a plant material derived from the bark of the cork oak tree. Most of the cork flooring that we offer is produced from Portuguese cork oak forests – or ‘Montados’. Cork (or more accurately, bark) harvesting is an environmentally friendly process that’s done without cutting down or destroying a single tree. A tree must be at least 20 – 25 years old before the first cut is made to its bark and from then on, the cork can only be extracted once every 9 years. Trees are harvested by experienced, qualified craftsmen who manually strip the outer layer of bark with a small hatchet. Throughout its long lifetime – cork oak trees can be expected to live upwards of 200 to 250 years – the tree is continually regenerating bark, which makes the Montados industry an ideal example of renewable production.

And did you know that cork flooring is a recycled by-product of cork bottle stoppers? Once the bark is stripped from the trees, it’s washed, dried and then bottle stoppers are punched out. The material that’s left over is ground up to make other products like cork floors. Essentially every part of the bark is being utilized so there’s very little waste. In fact, many wine cork factories even utilize cork dust from the processing plant to co-generate electricity!

Cork production facility in Portugal. Pictures courtesy of Greenhome Solutions. Cork flooring available at ghsproducts.com.

Amorim cork factory in Portugal (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)


Do you suffer from allergies? Looking for an alternative to allergen-collecting carpet (the non-wool variety, of course)? Cork is a great option because it’s naturally mold and mildew resistant due to the waxy substance inherent in cork. AND it’s anti-microbial. Oh, and did we mention it’s also resistant to pests like termites?


Although they’ve more recently become quite popular here in North America, cork floors have been used since early in the last century, particularly in Europe. There are older examples of it featured in U.S. buildings like the Harvard Law Library and the Library of Congress. When properly maintained, cork flooring can last 40 years or more. It resists cracking and scuff marks and is airtight to gas and liquid (yet still breathable). Cork can bounce back from hard impacts, due to its natural and inherent flexibility, which increases the life span of the flooring. And unlike vinyl, the pattern and color of the cork can penetrate through and through. Which means you can sand it and refinish it as necessary.

As far as day-to-day maintenance goes, cork floors are a cinch to maintain. Simply sweep up any debris or loose dirt before wiping the floor with a damp (not soaking wet) mop or vacuum. For general spills, a damp mop will do the trick. If you need to deep clean, use a pH Neutral cleaner, preferably one that’s non-toxic. We like Wicanders Soft Cleaner for cork flooring.


With these unique characteristics and benefits, you’d think cork would be expensive, right? But in reality, cork is very reasonably priced. Cork flooring prices can range anywhere from $3 on up to $20 for specialty or custom styles. However, most of the cork we offer is in the $3 – $6 range, so it’s quite affordable. And even if you decide not to install it yourself, installation only adds $3 – $4/square foot.


Debunking cork myths…

Still on the fence? We’ve heard it all when it comes to our client’s hesitation to put cork in their homes. So, we thought it might be helpful to dispel some of the most popular misconceptions:

Won’t heavy furniture damage the cork floor? Can it really withstand all our family and pet traffic?

Softer than wood and harder than carpets, cork’s flexibility and “memory” is the perfect mix to absorb small impacts and dings. But it’s also dense enough to withstand heavy traffic and weight. That’s why you’ll find it in museums, government buildings and libraries. And don’t forget that cork has been used as the soles of shoes (hello, Birkenstocks!). While cork can spring back, it’s not invincible. Heavy furniture can leave permanent dents, especially furniture with narrow legs (like the incredibly popular Mid-Century Modern styles) so be sure to use floor protectors to prevent damage. What about pets, you ask? As we like to say, you have to love your pets more than your floor 🙂 And that sentiment goes for ALL flooring types. But when it comes to resilience and durability, cork is still our favorite flooring for how forgiving it is.

I’ve read that cork doesn’t work well in damp areas. Won’t water ruin the floor?

Though cork looks like it has a spongy consistency, cork does not absorb water like a sponge. Cork floats!  It’s considered impermeable yet breathable which is why it’s water resistant and oh-so buoyant. Think buoys, fishing net floats, wine corks, etc. Also consider that cork is used in engine gaskets to hold back liquid and pressure. However, since cork is available in engineered floating planks, where the cork is layered on top of a high-density fiberboard (HDF) layer that securely clicks the panels together, standing water can permeate those joints and cause warping. In rooms like bathrooms, where standing water or excessive moisture is a risk, a floating floor is not advised – we always recommend using a solid, glue-down option.

Will my cork floor fade in the light?

Unfortunately this one is not a myth – fading is a possibility, especially with the natural cork colors.  Exposure to sunlight (and UV light) can cause fading, which is important to note if you plan to put a natural-colored cork floor in a particularly sunny room.  If you opt for a darker pattern, or cork that’s stained in a darker color, there’s less risk of fading and discoloring. However, if you’re anything like our Mom, who likes to move furniture around her living room on a whim, your cork flooring will fare better in sunny rooms 🙂

Don’t I have to worry about the binder chemicals and adhesives used to convert cork into floor planks and tiles?

When you purchase cork flooring from us, or other reputable distributers, you can rest assured that our cork products have NO added urea-formaldehyde (NAUF), ZERO VOC’s, and NO harmful adhesives or resins. Our pre-finished floors have environmentally friendly surface finishes, with no off-gassing concerns.

Elina Picking out Cork Flooring Samples | Greenhome Solutions

I think she likes that one! (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)

I’m not crazy about the look of cork. Does it come in other colors or patterns?

Cork is super versatile. If you’re not a fan of cork’s natural tone variations or texture as-is, it’s available in many other styles, colors, patterns and sizes. It comes in tiles and planks, as well as roll-out sheets. Planks can offer a seamless look, while tiles of different colors can be placed in patterns of your choosing. There are tiles that feature a variety of innovative patterns and colors in both solid and veneer constructions.

The solid cork tile patterns and color on the surface goes through the entire thickness of the tile, which allows for sanding and refinishing as needed. Keep in mind that although the veneer cork styles offer highly decorative patterns that you won’t find in solid construction, they cannot be sanded and refinished because the veneer is simply a thin layer of color affixed to the top of a solid cork tile. So, there may be a bit of a trade-off for the wilder patterns. Also note that cork can be stained any color you like, or even stenciled if you prefer!

I’ve heard that cork is endangered. Should I refrain from buying cork flooring?

The truth is that cork is 100% renewable, and cork extraction can continue for as long as the demand for it exists. Cork demand has traditionally been driven by the wine industry. But as more and more wine cork is being replaced by alternative wine stoppers like aluminum screw tops and plastic stoppers, the decreased demand for cork has essentially devalued the cork oak forests (called Montados). The misconception that cork is “dying out” was initiated by an industry that wants consumers to accept the change in bottle stoppers and buy wine with alternative stoppers. Cork is not dying out but the demand needs to remain high so that the forests will continue to be cultivated.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been in Portugal since 1995 working with local communities to restore the cork oak forests. Part of that effort involves increasing market demand for cork forest products such as cork flooring. So, by purchasing cork flooring we’re supporting the Montados, rather than contributing to their endangerment.

Cork Oak Forest - Montado; Stacks of harvested cork | Greenhome Solutions

Cork Oak Forest ‘Montado’; Stacks of harvested cork. (Courtesy of Greenhome Solutions)

Our Favorite Flooring

As you can tell, we love us some cork! All the unique qualities of cork make it ideal to use in flooring, as it provides comfort and durability while also being a renewable and sustainable resource. What’s not to love?

Contact us to learn more about cork. Clearly, we really enjoy talking about it!

And CLICK HERE to browse our large collection of cork flooring.

Learn More

Sustainable Building Materials – Cork Flooring  |  greenbuild.org
Benefits of Cork Flooring  |  motherearthnews.com
Cork Sustainable Practices  |  corkqc.com
Wicanders Corkcomfort Cork Flooring  |  wicanders.com
Why Natural Cork?  |  Natural Cork (US Floors)