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Richlite Countertops: Paper is No Longer Just for Taking Notes

by Amanda Brennan on June 29, 2010 · 13 comments

in Design,kitchen

Amanda is an intern at Postgreen and will be posting semi-regularly on products she is researching. Be sure to give her good feedback as any one of these products might find their way onto the Postgreen Homes site and into one of our houses.

Based in Tacoma Washington, Richlite® Company has released countertops which are derived from renewable or recycled paper resources. Their products are durable, heat resistant up to 350 degrees, stain resistant, and they look pretty cool too!  The FSC-certified or post-consumer recycled paper is treated with resin, pressed and then baked to create solid sheets.  It’s strength allows for long spans and cantilevers without any additional support. Isn’t the freedom of design amazing?!  Also, who is to say that you just have to use their product for countertops?  Their products are also great for use in the application of wall caps, stair treads, flooring, and columns and, many other architectural details.

Richlite currently manufactures two different styles available in a variety of colors. FSC surfaces, which has a matte finish and is offered in many warm colors, adds a sense of softness to a spaces aesthetic equation.  Their offered color names reflect natural and historical landmarks located near their main headquarters; chocolate glacier, browns point, yellow island, blue canyon, green mountain, redstone, and black diamond.

Cascade was released as a modern twist on their FSC surfaces.  They are created from a layering process of their matte finish solids.  One is able to choose from their offered styles or simply customize their own!  Their styles include names inspired by the Cascade Mountain Range; rainier, shasta, adams, hood, little tahoma and baker.

A percentage of the paper used comes from the pulp that is derived from trees located in managed and sustainable forests’.  The other percentage is derived from recycled resources. But the materials are not the only portion which makes an item green.  During the production process, 99% of the volatile organic compounds are incinerated and that heat from incineration is used for the drying process.  This allows for minimal thermal pollution and no hazardous waste is generated.

The prices vary depending on the color, the thickness and style. The FSC surfaces (all colors excluding black diamond) will run you about $41.33 on average per sq ft.  Black diamond will run about $32.85 on average per sq ft.  Color, shade, and grain are known to vary from samples and from sheet to sheet.

The Cascade line varies in price depending on the colors used in the layers and the thickness of each of them.

We need to begin to appreciate innovative surfaces and to replace the more traditional surfaces that we have grown up on.

Let me know what you think of Richlite’s countertop product in the comments.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shawn Busse June 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Hey Amanda! Welcome to the coolness of Postgreen.

Any links back to Richlite?


2 lavardera June 30, 2010 at 8:27 am

Just a comment – in the past Richlite did require some ongoing attention. It needed to be sealed to prevent oils or other things from staining it – no different than a concrete countertop really. Not a knock against it, just an fyi.

I’m using the past tense here because I’ve not updated on the material in a little while.

3 Nic Darling June 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Good call Shawn. The link back to Richlite is up now.

We should look into maintenance issues. Perhaps an update to the post Amanda?

4 Amanda Brennan June 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

For those few stubborn stains, try using a non-abrasive household cleaner. Richlite® recommends that you use SimpleGreen®* All-Purpose Cleaner.

Like most surfaces, Richlite® can potentially be damaged by cutting directly on the surface or setting a red-hot frying pan on the surface. The use of cutting boards, hot pads and trivets are highly recommended to protect the surface from potential damage.

5 Jeff Urban June 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm

hmmmm….nice concept, but outrageously priced. Doesn’t seem to fit with the 100K model…or with my budget.

6 Bob Moore June 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I have also used Richlite as a countertop (some years ago). It does tend to take on a worn look, kind of like leather. The point is, it won’t maintain a perfect, clean look forever, no matter how hard you try. Personally, I don’t need such perfection, but some folks won’t like it. It is also a very heavy, dense material to work with.

7 Micah June 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’m a big fan of Richlite and have used it on a couple projects. However, I believe your “cost p/sqft” calcs are coming from the costs of the materials only. Template, fabrication and install are still required. On all the jobs, where we have used the materials, the cost ends up being at or (generally) above a granite/quartz material. I have yet to find a decent option below the low end (Laminate) and the upper end (Granite/Quartz) when looking at “installed pricing”. I would love it if you can prove me wrong!

8 Mid America Mom July 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I looked at this material 4 years ago for a minor kitchen update. The maintenance was what deterred me, it is not the most family friendly. Quartz or granite was the alternative suggestion.

I do admit however a soft spot for soapstone. Being one the first types of stone used in kitchens way back, and for lab tables in school, perhaps able to find some salvaged? They handle the heat and you can remove scratches…

Mid America Mom

9 Carolyn July 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Ditto the previous comments that Richlite can’t really be considered a budget friendly material. We just replaced out kitchen counters and ended up going with Corian because it was the most budget friendly material for our needs. I am not a fan of granite, but one of the reasons it’s become so popular (and might I say overused) is that you can get it for around $40 a square ft, all in, all done if you search hard enough. There are no “deals” on green counter materials that I was able to find. I looked into buying some irregular/discontinued richlite and between the cost of transporting it to a fabricator near me in Maryland, fabrication and install, it was still way more than most traditional counter materials.

10 Linda Mensing July 22, 2010 at 10:48 pm

the only true all green countertop is shetkastone, developed and made in Minnesota by Stan Shetka an industrial arts professer. It does NOT, contrary to this product, use an acrylic resin to bind the product. The process uses only paper. It is durable beyond belief, looks and feels like stone, and can be easily repaired if marred and when you are done with it, it can be recycled as paper again. Check out all paper recycling, or stanley shetka to find out more. Their marketing is not great, if it were this stuff would take the countertop world by storm. Part of his vision is to replace particle board. The green speckled countertop is made from money from old US bills. He calls it ‘counterfit.” Check it out.

11 Willie Gee September 20, 2010 at 1:29 am

I love my 5-year old Richlite counter tops in my moderately-sized condo.! My fave salmon recipe calls for, after 3 to 4 min. on med.-high stovetop, about 4 min. in a 350 degree oven. Nary a worry about transferring the pan from oven to the Richlite counter. And my black-colored Richlite top is not bad about knife marks. Guess my mom’s frenetic shouting about not using knives on the old Formica countertops trained me for Big Person cooking. Since my kitchen isn’t huge like for a family of four, it was pricey but affordable five years ago and looks great if not a bit hazy on top. If you want a glossy look, get stoned (-like countertop treatments)!

12 Greenbuildingindenver September 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Intense competition has driven the price of granite way down in Denver. Two centimeter thick slabs with prefinished edges can be found for under $10/sq.ft. The 3cm slabs, which are easier to modify, run as low as $12/sq.ft. At these prices, most people wouldn’t consider anything else.

Is granite green? Well, apparently it’s mined in Italy, shipped to China for fabrication, then shipped here. Worldwide shipping by container is still very efficient and inexpensive. Shipping costs should rise significantly if and when a worldwide carbon tax can be implemented.

The following argument can be made that granite is green because of its durability. Many kitchen remodels happening today were started because the owner wanted granite countertops. Once a house has granite, it rarely needs replacing, and the chances of a gut kitchen remodel really drop.

13 kitchensandworktops August 13, 2012 at 5:57 am

Richlite is innovative, eco-friendly and very sleek. It is no wonder that it is becoming extremely popular!

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