Products > Countertops
Countertop Materials Hazard Spectrum Hazard Spectrum
The Homefree website now includes a “stoplight chart” for Countertops. Topping the list for healthier countertop materials is lead-free (US-made) ceramic tile, followed by solid surface products such as Corian, then engineered quartz and cultured marble. Plastic laminate and granite fall to the bottom of the ranking.Read More
Composite Woods / Substrates Hazard Spectrum Hazard Spectrum
In a standard two-bedroom apartment, there could be as many as 450 linear feet of baseboard, casings, and other trim. Follow these tips to minimize the hazardous materials in these applications.Read More
Cabinet fronts, doors, and drawer fronts tend to be made from solid hardwood. However, the rest of the cabinet is generally made from various composite wood materials, such as plywood or particleboard, which can release formaldehyde into indoor air. Follow these tips to minimize the impact that cabinets have on interior spaces:Read More
High pressure laminates (HPL) are made by pressing layers of resin-impregnated paper together under high pressure and heat. The top layer (overlay) is a paper very similar to what is used in coffee filters, impregnated with a melamine resin. The decorative layer is a paper printed with the desired design (wood grain, stone tile, etc), impregnated with urea formaldehyde resin. The bottom three layers are made from kraft paper, impregnated with phenol formaldehyde resin. Once pressed, the overlay layer provides a clear protective layer over the decorative print, and the laminate is a thin, rigid sheet. Because it lacks any reinforcement, HPL must be adhered to a substrate before it can be used. Countertop, flooring, and furniture are common applications.
This CP describes an HPL designed for general use in 2016.
Cultured marble is an engineered composite used for sinks, countertops, windowsills and other kitchen and bath surfaces that are exposed to moisture. The material is particularly valued for countertops cast with integral sinks. Cultured marble is a blend primarily of crosslinked polyester resin and calcium carbonate filler, which is cast into a mold of the desired shape. The mold is sprayed with a gel coat soon before the mixture is poured in; the gel coat will give the product a glossy finish and seal the slab. A small amount of contrast pigment and resin is swirled onto the surface of the mixture before it is poured in to a mold and allowed to cure. Once removed from the mold, the swirled contrast pigment produces a visual effect resembling a marble surface. Cultured marble has a different composition and manufacturing process from engineered quartz. Contrasting pigments are not considered as part of this CP.View Details
Natural stone countertops, such as granite or marble, are typically porous and must be sealed periodically to prevent spills from seeping into the stone and causing staining, or causing unsanitary conditions. Every countertop will require a different frequency of sealant application, depending on its density and the manner in which it is cleaned. Some natural stones do not require sealing at all. Manufacturers of natural stone countertops generally recommend that a penetrating or impregnating sealant be used when a sealant is required, because it is longer-lasting than a topical treatment. These sealants are poorly disclosed, but commonly contain proprietary fluoropolymers.View Details
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or acrylic solid surface countertops are countertops made from a manmade polymer. These countertops are cured in sheet form and can be cut or formed to a number of different shapes and layouts. Sheets can be joined with a polymer adhesive to achieve a "seamless" look. Because PMMA countertops are nonporous, they are stain-resistant and do not require sealing.View Details
Engineered stone is made by combining granules of particulates - often quartz-containing rocks and minerals, but also glass, seashells, or other materials - with a polyester resin, and pressing the mixture into a slab under high heat and a vacuum. This process is known in the industry as Bretonstone.
The slabs can be cut to size for use primarily as countertops, but also for flooring or other interior applications. Where quarried stone contains pores that requires the product be regularly sealed, engineered stone is non-porous so resists staining. Because they are frequently used surfaces, and may be near food, there is increasing attention about the growth of microbes on countertops. At least one major manufacturer of engineered stone promotes its use of the biocide triclosan, however due to a lack of disclosure about antimicrobials added to products for preservation purposes, it is not known at this time whether the inclusion of biocides in engineered stone is common. This CP therefore does not include a biocide.
This information reflects our best understanding of product composition in 2016.