Now, with greater emphasis on the environmental credentials of a surface, we see industry researchers pore through the properties of a product to try and identify those that tick the Eco box to meet the needs of those consumers seeking a sustainable product. However, in the overall reckoning it all relies on the research ability of a consumer determined to discover which product best fits and reflects their environmental persuasions.
I’ve scoured the Internet for as long as I can remember in search of products that not only tick the Eco boxes but are as hardy and resilient as those that don’t. I’ve not been very successful in that search but recently I was sent a sample box of a surface called Richlite and I have to say I was pretty impressed by its credentials. Richlite has been around since 1943 yet only recently introduced here into the UK.
The Richlite range comprises slabs that are manufactured using 100% post-consumer recycled paper, or from FSC certified paper with 90% rapidly renewable content, which has been saturated with a thermoset resin and then pressed in a plywood press under intense pressure and heat. The result is a unique material more durable and sustainable than other bespoke alternatives. A range of 10 colours make up the Richlite palette and include the innovative CascadeSustainable Kitchen Worktops by Richlite range incorporating multi layered edges pictured here.
An example of Richlite’s great strength becomes apparent in that it can handle longer spans without the additional support that other surfaces would require and the surface won’t crack. The ability to withstand high temperatures for any kitchen surface is vital and Richlite withstand tests up to a very impressive 350°F placing the surface’s heat resistance substantially in excess of Solid Surfaces. Versatility is another of its strengths and Richlite’s varied use in the commercial sector is a good indication of this: Skate Board parks, children’s playgrounds, fast-food outlets all benefit from the surfaces safety and durability. Even notable guitar manufacturers such as Martin and Gibson are now using Richlite as an alternative to wood on their fret boards. An impressive list that inspires confidence when choosing a surface for the everyday chores a kitchen worktop will be subjected to.
Impervious to water, Richlite can also be used for outside projects and, over time, like wood, the surface will develop a patina, a natural ageing process that adds further weight to the surface’s aesthetic appeal. The surface is highly scratch-resistant yet like all surfaces it isn’t scratch-proof but my research confirmed that surface scratches can be easily removed using a Scotch Brite pad. Another plus, for fans of dark colours is that, unlike Solid Surfaces, any scratches that may occur aren’t as apparent as the colour remains consistent throughout. Slab sizes at 1525mm x 3660mm are large by industry standards and as a result can accommodate most project sizes without the need for seams aside from adjoining pieces. Where necessary, joints remain visible but can be made inconspicuous if undertaken by a quality approved fabricator.
Eco Friendly Kitchen
Richlite is available in thicknesses of 12mm, 18mm and 25 mm and it’s cost compares similarly to other bespoke surfaces at approximately £240 per linear metre for a 12mm x 600mm standard depth worktop. With a lifetime warranty for indoor residential use, 20 year warranty for commercial projects and a 10 year warranty on external use in both commercial and residential applications, Richlite offers a greater level of protection against manufacturing defects than any other surface I’m currently aware of.
I could perhaps tell you, as others who’ve reviewed the surface have concluded, that colours in the range are similar to wood, slate or leather in appearance – that’s not strictly true but Richlite does possess that earthy desirability that’s missing in many contemporary surfaces and added to its other high ranking credentials, this will, I believe, increase its appeal with buyers looking for something unique.
Taking all the properties that a good worktop should possess into consideration, Richlite fares well. Long established across the pond – along with GreenGuard certification and with exceptional ECO credentials, Richlite certainly ticks many of the boxes one would seek for a kitchen surface.
When researching any product, I always aim to seek a consensus of positive feedback from the fabricators who cut and form the surface and from buyers who’ve specified it for their project. Together their opinions provide a good barometer of the qualities of a product and Richlite scores high on this scale.
If you’d like to discover more about Richlite for consideration in your project visit www.richlite.com