New Eco-Kid on the Block: Corn Countertops

Photo: mitchlee83/morguefile.comThey just keep coming up with innovative new materials for countertop construction; the days of choosing between cheap linoleum and luxury marble are over, that's for sure. Now there are a range of countertop products available, including those made from a variety of natural materials, concrete, recycled products, and more. The latest entry on the list is especially interesting, though: it's a countertop made from corn.

Yes, you read that right. Corn is actually quite a useful building material in addition to a food product, and it crops up in the production of a wide range of products. It's especially useful in recyclable and compostable materials like cups that break down in industrial composting facilities, as a natural product that can be used to make plastics, resins, and related products. Corn's popularity as a material is only growing, and it's not surprising to see it making its way into the home, too.

In strict point of fact, corn isn't actually the primary ingredient, but it's one of them, and it's playing an important role in the development of ecologically friendly, yet attractive and durable, countertop options for kitchens, bathrooms, and work areas in laundry rooms. Corn countertops are on par with their counterparts made from other materials in terms of estimated lifetime, and they can be very attractive, coming in a wide range of styles to accommodate different aesthetics and kitchen designs. Consumers designing a new home or considering a remodel have yet another green home option to consider when they're evaluating their countertop choices.

Multiple firms are working with corn, using it to make a resin that holds other post-consumer products together. For example, the RecycleTop by KlipTech is made from recycled paper bound with a resin made with corn and cashews. If you're hesitant to put paper in your kitchen, don't worry: it's thoroughly sealed into the resin, making for a beautiful surface that won't absorb water. It comes in several colors including a rich black and a beautiful coffee tone.

Meanwhile, Eco by Consentino is working with corn resins and recycled glass in its products, which come in an array of colors and two finishes, a matt and glossy. It can be costly, but for those interested in a unique and environmentally-friendly countertop, these corn countertops are definitely worth checking out. This product is available in a number of nations, too!

To install corn countertops, you'll need to work with a green contractor who's familiar with these products or willing to give them a try with your project. Make sure to look at samples first so you can determine which color and finish is right for you, and get a thorough project estimate for installation. Your contractor will want to meet with a plumber to discuss placement of sinks and the best integration of plumbing and counter. From New York sleek to flashy Miami, contractors can help you achieve the look and feel you want.

There's a bonus to using corn counters beyond the opportunity to have a conversation piece in the kitchen and feel good about using green building materials. You may be able to receive incentives and tax breaks for using certified green materials in your construction, especially if it's part of a larger green design project. This is especially true for businesses, as they can compete for certifications of their locations to get government recognition that may entitle them to tax offsets as well as excellent opportunities for public relations.

You can talk to a green design firm about the financial incentives available for working with environmentally-friendly materials. Tax credits and other benefits change from year to year, so be aware that your project may have a time constraint if you want to qualify for certain incentives. Expert consultants in this kind of work can help you get the most assistance with green building projects without compromising your aesthetic dreams or budget.

If corn is just too weird for you, don't worry. There are lots of other building materials on the market including a range of products for counters. Thanks to the fact that they're such a key component of room design and the home, they're an area of particular interest for manufacturers working on products with environmental appeal.

Katie Marks writes for

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