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Stainless steel, glass and paper composite countertops

Theoretically, it's possible to press any material into service for kitchen countertops, though these alternatives aren't nearly as popular as granite, quartz or laminate, and they have significant drawbacks. Here's a rundown of some up-and-coming and less common alternatives:

  • Stainless-steel countertops have an industrial, modern look. Stainless steel is extremely durable, heat resistant and completely seamless, experts say, but it is also expensive, noisy and prone to dents. Prices range from $100 to $150 per square foot. Stainless-steel countertops may be available from local fabricators, or from specialty sources such as Handcrafted Metal, Frigo Design and Brooks Custom.
  • Glass countertops are modern but fragile. They are sturdy, but will scratch, and can crack or break if you drop something heavy on them. Glass countertops are easy to clean, but show fingerprints and water spots. They are not common at the moment, but are gaining popularity among designers. Glass countertops are usually custom-made by architectural glass fabricators or art studios in a variety of textures, styles and colors. Prices can range from $60 to $300 per square foot. Makers of glass countertops include Artwork in Architectural Glass, Curvet USA, Think Glass and UltraGlas
  • Paper composite countertops are eco-friendly. Green Home Guide is fond of paper composite countertops, which are made out of recycled paper and resin (these countertops aren't flammable, despite their paper content.) They are basically a variant of plastic laminate Formica countertops, which don't necessarily use recycled paper. In a recent overview of kitchen countertops, one leading testing organization is unimpressed with these eco-friendly composites. For example, while the Richlite brand uses recycled paper, the resin still comes from petroleum byproducts, not to mention the fact that Richlite counters are susceptible to cuts and abrasions.

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