Recycled Glass Countertops: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Recycled glass countertops offer a very distinctive look. There are some major downsides, however, that make recycled glass a very impractical countertop material in most homes. Today, we’ll give you an overview of the material and help you understand its strengths and weaknesses.
We’ll also take a look at how glass countertops compare to quartz countertops, which are currently the most popular choice.
How Recycled Glass Countertops Are Made
Recycled glass manufacturers primarily use materials from curbside recycling and demolished buildings. Workers then combine that glass with resin or cement binders to produce a slab that you can use as a countertop.
Styles of Glass Countertops
Most recycled glass countertops feature a colorful mosaic of shards resting in the binding material. This produces a terrazzo look, which is currently popular in a variety of design applications.
You can also find homogeneous recycled glass countertops. To produce these, manufacturers melt the glass from various sources down and create a slab. This is rarer than terrazzo-style glass countertops.
Pros and Cons of Recycled Glass Countertops
Recycled glass countertops offer a distinctive look that classic materials have a hard time competing with. This distinctive look can give your kitchen a modern edge, especially since glass pairs well with materials like stainless steel.
Glass is Non-Porous
One of the most common complaints with natural stone countertops is that their porous nature makes them very easy to stain. Glass doesn’t have this issue. It won’t age or get discolored. The concrete in terrazzo recycled glass countertops will stain, however.
While glass is one of the more unique materials to make a countertop from, the benefits quickly fade away in light of the downsides.
Glass countertops are especially prone to cracking and chipping. Normal kitchen items like pots and pans can damage the surface easily, leading to very costly and complicated repairs.
This makes glass countertops in the kitchen a major liability.
Not as Environmentally-Friendly as You Might Think
The manufacturing process behind recycled glass countertops is complicated and not as environmentally-friendly as you might think.
Most manufacturers produce their recycled glass countertops in the United States. Some, however, originate overseas and are shipped here. That uses resources that can have a damaging impact on the environment.
Further, producing the cement and petroleum binders that give recycled glass countertops substance results in large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
These factors, combined, often outweigh the benefits of recycling glass.
Glass countertops for your kitchen come in a variety of contemporary designs. You are, however, limited in terms of the look you can achieve.
Many homeowners enjoy customizing their countertops with various edge designs. Glass is one of the least versatile materials for this purpose.
You also won’t find glass countertops in a wide variety of styles. It will only ever look like either homogeneous glass or a terrazzo surface. Quartz, on the other hand, can resemble a variety of materials.
The cost for recycled glass countertops is steep. You can expect to pay between $50 and $80 per square foot for the materials alone. Custom colors and patterns will drive the price up even further, as can more complicated installations.
Repairing recycled glass countertops comes with a steep price tag as well. If you damage the surface particularly badly, you may need to replace it altogether.
The Quartz Advantage
Pictured: Excava 4046
Quartz is the most desirable countertop material available right now and is likely to remain that way for some time. Unless you’re specifically looking for a homogenous glass countertop, quartz will almost certainly offer a better version of the aesthetic you want, all while being more reasonably-priced and durable.
Let’s take a look at the key quartz countertop benefits.
Pictured: Montblanc 5043
Quartz countertops offer much greater heat resistance than recycled glass countertops. This is due in part to the resin binders in quartz countertops, which hold up better under heat than petroleum and cement.
Like glass, quartz is not a porous material. This means it won’t stain or soak up moisture easily either. Quartz has the added advantage, however, of not relying on concrete (a porous material) to bind its elements together like terrazzo glass does.
Wide Range of Options
Pictured: Moorland Fog 6046
Glass’s natural color (as well as whatever shade it was tinted during its previous use) limits your options. As we mentioned earlier, you’re also limited as far as your ability to choose customized edge options.
Quartz, on the other hand, combines natural loose quartz with resins and pigments to produce surfaces resembling a wide variety of materials.
You can buy quartz countertops that resemble marble, granite, and even concrete. There are also plenty of unique quartz countertops that don’t look like anything else on the market.
From classy surfaces with a glossy finish to more subdued matte slabs, quartz offers it all. You can even find quartz furniture.
Increased Home Value
Pictured: Raven 4210
Glass countertops in your bathroom or kitchen might look great to you - but what about potential future buyers of your home? They may not be as enthused.
Quartz, on the other hand, is the most popular countertop material in the world right now. Its incredibly desirable nature means you can expect to recoup 80% to 100% of your costs when you resell your home.
Quartz is also very competitively-priced compared to the cost for recycled glass countertops. They can start as low as $40 per square foot, all the way up to $100-plus for custom, ultra-luxurious designs.
Pictured: Taj Royale 5212
While reading through these benefits, you may be thinking, “Yes, but surely quartz is horrible for the environment, right?”
Actually, no. At least not here at Caesarstone. Protecting the environment is a top priority for us. You can read in detail about how we achieve this here but to summarize, we recycle 97% of the water we use to produce our countertops, collect dust and debris during the manufacturing process, and maximize energy efficiency.
Our countertops are also produced using 93% loose quartz, which is one of the most abundant natural materials on earth.
Caesarstone Quartz: The Best Countertops On the Market
Our quartz countertops aren’t just better than glass. They beat all materials (including granite, concrete, and marble) in head-to-head matchups.
Our 93% quartz blend goes above and beyond, representing greater purity than many other quartz countertop manufacturers achieve.
Learn more about what makes our countertops superior here.
While recycled glass countertops offer a distinctive look, their many disadvantages make them impractical for most people. Using glass countertops in the bathroom or kitchen presents a major liability as glass can shatter and crack very easily, leading to costly repairs.
Recycled glass countertops are also not as beneficial for the environment as you might think. To top it all off, they are very costly and do not add value to your home in the same way a quartz surface would.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are recycled glass countertops durable?
Recycled glass countertops are not very durable. They can scratch and crack much easier than countertops made from other materials.
Do recycled glass countertops stain?
The glass itself is not porous. As such, it won’t stain easily. Binding agents manufacturers use to combine the glass fragments (most notably concrete) will stain, however.
Are recycled glass countertops heat resistant?
Recycled glass countertops are heat-resistant.