Inevitably, every customer that walks into my store (www.seacoastgreenovations.com ) to look at countertops asks the same question about Paperstone and Richlite: how does it hold up to the heat? This, unfortunately is the performance factor where paper composite countertops are outperformed by other conventional solid surfaces. Paperstone (www.paperstoneproducts.com ), Richlite (www.richlite.com ) and EcoTop (www.kliptech.com )can withstand temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit – granite can withstand heat up to 425 degrees. I don’t hide this truth in my store. I don’t hide anything, but I do consider this an opportunity to talk about sustainability.
The natural world is perfect, or at least as perfect we’re going to get, but our human expectations are often not. To live sustainably we have to think sustainably. Half the reason humankind has been so unkind to the natural world is due to our unwillingness to accept nature as it is. Wood products (i.e. Paperstone and Richlite) will be damaged by heat. That’s not a defect or a weakness, it is a simple reality. Wood is also beautiful and warm and durable and natural. Of course, we can prevent heat damage from happening to our countertops by simply laying down a trivet before we take hot bake-ware out of an oven. And it is worth it, isn’t it, if we want to enjoy the natural beauty of these products. Sustainability tells us that a simple precaution can reap great benefits. In this case, just pull out a trivet. But the granite industry did such a wonderful job marketing the heat resistance of granite countertops that people ask the heat question every day, even though 19 out of 20 people that come into my store state that they always lay down a trivet when cooking with the oven.
In other areas, Paperstone, Richlite and EcoTop are superior to conventional solid surfaces. They are more water resistant and stain resistant than granite, quartz or soapstone. They are also significantly stronger and easier to work with. Fabricators have a lot more choices for edges and styling because these products don’t chip. In fact, the countertop at my store has a drain-board routed into the countertop; something a granite fabricator would not even waste time attempting.
No matter what we compare, different materials will hold advantages over others while also underperforming in other matters. That is the reality of nature. It is the reality of sustainability. When we don’t accept that reality and create products that defy nature (vinyl flooring, granite countertops sealed with toxic, high VOC resins, tar roofing shingles) we pollute the earth excessively. In the case of countertops, a simple trivet can bring us back down to earth.