Environmentally Friendly Concrete Countertops
Concrete Countertops in kitchens, bathrooms and the home make for very unique design pieces and add warmth and texture to your interior. Fortunately there are options for people who are looking to incorporate environmentally friendly concrete countertops into their green home.
One such product uses recycled mixed paper, glass and coal fly ash mixed with virgin cement to create beautiful stone slabs for kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, flooring, tables, furniture and benches. It is manufactured by Tiger Mountain Innovations and the product is Squak Mountain Stone. The finished product has a Soapstone or Limestone finish to them once completed.
Tiger Mountain Innovations also manufactures cement composite called Trinity Glass that instead uses 75% recycled glass to create an earth friendly alternative to natural stone surfaces.
A second company manufacturing these concrete composites is Icestone, who's mix includes 100% recycled glass and cement matrix. Another manufacturer using cement matrix is Lithistone. They combine ground minerals, recyclables and organic mineral pigments into countertops, tiles, bathroom vanities and sinks.
Environmental impact of Concrete Composite Surfaces
Mixed post consumer paper is mixed with crushed glass, coal fly ash and virgin cement to make these environmentally friendly concrete countertop surfaces. Although the composition differs, the minimum post industrial recycled content is 49% and 2.5% post consumer recycled materials. There is < 1% Crystalline Silica in each slab. There is no steel reinforcement used in the manufacturing so it can be modified on site. There is a chance of size variances, usually ± 1/8" from slab to slab. These particular countertops need a sealant and it is treated with a micro emulsion, water based Acrylic sealant. Once completed, the slabs look very similar to Limestone and Soapstone surfaces minus the carbon emissions from mining and transport. These concrete slabs are individually made and can have holes or air pockets and uniqueness in terms of sizing so it is important to be prepared for the finished look.
The glass and concrete composites are manufactured from 75% to 100% post consumer and industrial glass and mixed with virgin cement and polished. It resembles polished granite stone without the heavy industrial impact of open pit mining and shipping of Granite, Marble and natural stone.
Coal Fly Ash, a by product of coal production that can be used as a cement substitute, is used by certain fabricators looking for sustainable, earth friendly materials. One of these manufacturers is Syndecrete. They use recycled materials and natural minerals in their manufacturing making their product half the weight and twice the compressive strength of standard concrete surfaces.
Health impact of Concrete Composite Surfaces
Because of its composition of recycled paper, glass and cement it is a very porous surface and requires sealant. Food preparation surfaces require continued maintenance and this involves the application of topical sealers and food grade waxes for maximum protection. These concrete composites do have minimal levels of Crystalline Silica (< 1%), a carcinogen common in sand, cement and Granite surfaces. It is very important to use a proper ventilator during installation as Crystalline Silica can be become more predominant during the cutting of these surfaces. Once installed, the presence of the Crystalline Silica is negligible.
The Sexy green Home Opinion
Concrete Composite Surfaces are a very sexy option for green design. Unlike natural stone, it does not have as detrimental impact on the environment from transportation, mining and quarrying due to it being manufactured from locally sourced recyclables and readily available materials. Concrete and glass composite surfaces have low emission levels and are a very sexy alternative for your green home.