The Environmental Effects of Different Worktop Materials

Published on: Nov 13 2013 by admin

With so many different kitchen worktops available it is sometimes difficult to make a clear decision of which one to go for. Some of the more common criteria people look into are, ‘is it durable?’ ‘Is it expensive?’, ‘Would it look good in my kitchen?’, but have you considered its effects on the environment? Depending on the material, some worktops will have some impact on the environment where as some will have little to none at all. So which ones do effect the environment and how?

Natural Materials:

–          Granites and Marbles

Granite and marble are both natural stones and are commonly used in the kitchen. They look and feel great and come with many properties that will benefit any kitchen. Both stones have to be excavated from the ground in a quarry. This requires a lot of energy from machinery and transport which can cause problems like pollution and lots of noise.

–          Wood

Wood worktops have less impact in terms of pollution than granite worktops. Wood requires very little processing and only requires sawing and sanding. This requires very little amounts of energy. The main issue with wood comes from the environmental effects of cutting down trees. If the wood is not sourced from sustainable sources; habitats can be destroyed.

Manufactured Materials:

–          Quartz

Quartz worktops are great alternatives to granite worktops. They look and feel similar to granite but come with several different advantages. Quartz worktops are manufactured by combining quartz grains and colour pigments with a polyester resin. This is then poured into a mould to create a slab that looks very similar to granite. The environmental effect of quartz is similar to granite where both are quarried. This means pollution is created from the heavy machining required. However quartz is easier to source locally which reduces the transportation costs.

–          Ceramic

Ceramic requires considerable amounts of energy. This is because during the product process, the tiles are fired twice (sometimes more). When it comes to installing ceramic, the solvents used can affect the indoor air quality so it is advised to use solvent free mastics. Ceramic tile surfaces aren’t the best choice for worktops as they can create an uneven surface and are prone to damages.

–          Laminates

Laminate worktops are made of plastic coated synthetics. Most laminate worktops are made with high volatile organic compounds (VOC) papers and adhesives, but less harmful laminates are more available today. The environmental effects of laminates consist of slow release toxins which can have long term effects on your health. It can also cause allergic reactions and irritations.

Although the environmental effects of a kitchen worktop is important, there is not too much difference between each material. Each requires energy when collecting and transporting the material from its original location to a processing unit. The main thing to look into is its effects to your home. You don’t want a worktop that reduces the indoor air quality and can cause irritations or allergic reactions. The best thing to do is to pick a worktop that feels and looks great without causing harm to people who use it regularly.

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