Drink up, folks. Tonight’s happy hour could become tomorrow’s countertop. We look at the trippy things being done with recycled glass.
Thought you’d seen the last of those empty wine and liquor bottles? Well they could be coming back into your home, in the form of countertops.
Recycled glass counters are not only red hot, they’re getting trippy. Turns out companies are salvaging everything from decommissioned traffic lights to Skyy vodka bottles – making for a set of vibrant colors (or more subtle tones, depending on your taste) and a variety of textures and patterns.
They’re manufactured in slabs, and made from 100% recycled glass and Portland cement. The glass is then crushed or fused before its embedded in cement. Or long strips of float glass are fused together into one slab.
Natasha Winnik owner of Originate Natural Building Materials is a long time purveyor of recycled glass countertops. Her studio/showroom specializes in environmentally sound building materials and finishes. The two most popular glass countertops at Originate are Vetrazzo and IceStone. The main difference between the two, says Winnik, is the size of the glass pieces.
Georgia-based Vetrazzo, considered by many as the original recycled glass surface manufacturer, features the largest pieces of glass. Its slabs contain 85% recycled glass and 15% Portland cement.
So why, apart from the obvious fun of it, would you opt for a recycled glass counter?
1. There’s a story behind it.
These are countertops that tell a tale. Most of Vetrazzo’s glass, for example, is reclaimed waste stream glass mixed with material from curbside recycling programs. It’s not unusual to find a tiny bar code or other print embedded in your countertop, or parts of windows, dinnerware, car windshields and more.
2. The colors pop.
Vetrazzo’s 23 colors are named based on the origin of the glass. For instance, its ‘Cobalt Skyy’ is sourced from the signature blue glass of recycled Skyy Vodka bottles. And Alehouse Amber, well……you get the gist. A high gloss finish is standard – honed special ordered.
IceStone based in Brooklyn, New York, deals in smaller glass pieces than Vetrazzo, and offers 15 standard colors and six specialty colors.
3. They’re one-of-a-kind.
Interstyle, based in Canada, uses new and post-industrial recycled glass for their Architectural Glass Surfaces. Its ‘Ribbon’ slabs are made from strips of float glass, coated with ceramic glazes and fused together in the kiln. The result? Undulating streams of vibrant colored glass, each piece handcrafted for a slab you won’t find in any neighbor’s house. Ribbon glass looks, well, like ribbon, distinctive from the aggregate appearance of Vetrazzo and IceStone countertops. Ribbon can be used for countertops and partitions and backlit for a dramatic effect.
For the subdued palette, Architectural Glass Surfaces also makes a line called ‘Crush’, from recycled granulated glass and ceramic stain, and with a monochromatic appearance. Available in 12 colors ranging from pale blues and greens to milky white and gray.
Slabs can be shipped for local fabrication or finished at the plant in the dimensions you need, ready for installation, says Interstyle.
They may cause havoc in your home in their original state (think bottles dropping on a concrete floor, or glasses smashed on the patio). But once they’re manufactured into glass countertops, these babies are easy to take care of.
They’re comparable in strength, durability, and care and maintenance, to granite. To clean, just use a damp cloth or mild liquid soap or detergent when necessary. Then seal or polish two or three times a year.
The ‘Ribbon’ and ‘Crush’ lines can withstand heat and cold, are unaffected by UV rays, non-absorbent, impervious to liquids, do not need to be sealed, and are easy to clean. They can be shaped, cut and polished for a variety of applications. If they’re scratched they can be polished. But be mindful, says its manufacturer, that extreme and sudden changes in temperature may cause the glass to crack.
Ribbon in “Tropicana”. Photo courtesy of Interstyle
5. A little goes a long way.
At $187 per square foot, Ribbon is best as a one-of-a-kind accent piece.
Vetrazzo and Icestone run $100-$150 per square foot for material and fabrication. They don’t come cheap. And depending on the color and rarity of the glass, the price can go up, says Originate’s Cipriana Salazar. “Red glass is the hardest to come by, so the reds have the higher price point and yield limited edition series.”
But for that small island or powder room counter that requires only a few square feet for a dramatic effect, remnants can be had at Originate, 526 N 9th Ave Tucson, AZ 85705, 520-792-4207