Move over, solid surface: Composite is here to stay. Often found in commercial kitchens, the impervious surface inhibits bacteria and cleans up easily. Ideal for busy cooks, composite resists stains, scratches and heat. The custom installation allows for special features, such as built-in drainboards and trivets. The color is not a coating but solid all the way through, and the smooth surface gains a rich patina over time.
What Is It? Composite countertop is formed from recycled materials (usually paper or wood pulp) and water-based resin.
Thickness, Overhangs and Edges. Measurements vary by manufacturer. Generally, a three-quarter inch thickness supports a 12-inch overhang; a one-inch thickness supports an 18-inch overhang; and an inch and a half thickness supports a 24-inch overhang. Choose from a wide variety of edge treatments.
Design Details. Composite sheets are available in a wide variety of solid colorsincluding black, brown, red and yellowto complement virtually any kitchen. Sizes range up to 12 feet long and five feet wide, eliminating the need for a seam in many cases. Otherwise, fabricators are able to produce subtle seams.
Eco-Friendly Features. Composite countertops are one of the most eco-conscious surfaces available.
Recycled content. The countertop is composed of recycled material or material that would otherwise go to waste.
Reusability. Though the surface itself is not recyclable due to resin content, it can be recut and retooled for future use.
Greener resins. Many manufacturers are incorporating water-based resins containing ingredients such as cashew nutshell liquid.
Health benefits. Most composites are free of VOCs (including formaldehyde), emit no radon gasses, and are considered food safe.
Maintenance. Wipe the countertop with a soft cloth and warm water daily. Nonabrasive household cleansers are suitable. Most should be periodically resealed with mineral oil or wax.
The Bottom Line. Warm-to-the-touch composite countertops lend a rich, earthy element to any kitchen. Customized installation makes it easy to install integrated drainboards, cutting boards and trivets.
Soft and sophisticated, soapstone countertops are brimming with practicality and natural appeal.