RECLAIMED Hardwood & Bamboo Countertops

 
Butcher Block and Hardwood Countertops

With the vast selection of green counter tops available on the market today, the question arises as to whether there is a sustainable wood surface alternative for the sexy green home. The answer is yes; There are some great counter top options available today.

One is of course Bamboo and Bamboo fibre composites and the second is reclaimed wood. These products are more than suitable for kitchen and bathroom countertops and are durable enough to withstand the rigors of everyday use in the home

Environmental impact of Bamboo & Wood Countertops

Bamboo for use as green counter tops is a rapidly renewable wood resource and is considered a sustainable product. It is important to note that there is some discrepancy about its legacy impact as not all bamboo sources are certified sustainable and there is a lot of product on the market that is not FSC approved. Be aware of supplier sources and particularly cheap bamboo. One great way to improve the environmental impact of bamboo is to look for bamboo fibre and recycled paper mixes. One such company who also founded recycled paper solid surface countertops is EcoTop, a company that manufactures their surfaces from a blend of FSC certified 50/50 blend post consumer recycled paper, and bamboo fibre and their own patented 100% water based binding system. The surfaces are then ready for installation with only a final finish required that is eco friendly, sustainable and all natural to preserve the surface. Bamboo countertops are also being manufactured with non toxic, food grade formaldehyde free adhesives into butcher block designs. There are two great suppliers of reclaimed hardwood. One of which is Green Building Supply. Who also produces bamboo plywood for use in the home and the other is Craft Art Wood Counter Tops

Reclaimed hardwood is another excellent environmentally sound product. Manufacturers use wood sources from old buildings, barns, farm houses, wine barrels, doors and tables. They then mill or form them into solid pieces or butcher block countertops and surfaces. These pieces can a weathered appearance adding to their charm. FSC certified lumber is sometimes used to make butcher block countertops as well but there is little in the way of recycled content in them. The most common woods used for reclaimed wood countertops are reclaimed Oak, Maple, Hickory, Red Oak and Cherry.

LEED points and SCS Certification are available when many of these products are used but choosing the right supplier/manufacturer is the key to certification

A more economic solution to using reclaimed wood is sanding older wood countertops for re use. This option does involve monitoring the air quality as dusk from the original varnishes, wood and by products can be toxic. If you choose this route, be sure to have a proper ventilation mask and use eco friendly or low VOC varnishes and sealers.

Health Impact of Bamboo and Hardwood Countertops

The indoor air quality of these products obviously varies with the varnishes, sealers and installation process. Much of the Health impact from these reclaimed countertops is the varnishes and sealers used to preserve this older wood. Many of them produce various levels of VOC's so it is important to choose a reputable supplier and treatment process, consider using AFM Safecoat, A low VOC emitting, water based replacement for high content lacquer. Of the many bamboo options, the Ecotop surface is VOC free and uses an all natural, formaldehyde free finish on its surface and does not contribute to the overall air quality while many commercial sealants, polishes and varnishes produce off gases for years to come. During installation and sanding it is important to reduce the air born dust from saws and sanders by using certified ventilators and working in well ventilated areas.

The Sexy green Home Opinion:

Reclaimed Hardwoods and Bamboo can be very sexy options for use in green homes. It is very important that if you do choose this option, you consider the FSC guidelines for sustainability of the bamboo and hardwoods and that if you are buying raw materials, you use varnish or sealant that has the lowest VOC emissions possible. Bamboo is not always considered sustainable so buyers beware regarding suppliers, sources and prices.

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