Articles in: Countertops

Meet The Material: Formica

Posted by: on February 13th, 2013 | 7 Comments
Image of gleaming Formica countertops from Scott Lander Design's award-winning Thomson residence renovation

Image via Scott Lander Design


Much like Wonder Bread, an iconic brand that came to symbolize the exuberance and optimism of post-war America, high-pressure laminate countertops like Formica were a common sight in diners, soda shops and nearly one-third of all homes by the early 1950s. Gleaming countertops like the one seen above in an award-winning home restoration in Pasadena, Calif., were seen as a triumph of American modernity and manufacturing ingenuity.

After falling from favor for several decades, Formica is now experiencing a resurgence in popularity as it turns 100 years old. There are now literally thousands of colors, patterns and textures of Formica. And with the adoption of new manufacturing processes that use nontoxic resins and recycled paper, Formica has become the darling of many budget remodelers and green builders.

What is Formica? Layers of paper soaked in resin and compressed together at extremely high pressure to form a surfacing material. It’s named Formica because it was originally produced as a substitute for mica, a naturally occurring substance that was used to insulate electrical material.

What are some of the cool properties of Formica? It’s super thin and very strong. Since it’s just paper, you can print virtually any pattern or design on it.

How is Formica used? Today it’s primarily used as a decorative application for countertops and tabletops, walls and other surfaces. It was initially developed by a research engineer at Westinghouse to be a strong, lightweight material for electrical insulation. By the 1930s, major automobile manufactures like Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac and Studebaker were using Formica to make timing gears.

What can you use Formica for? We’ve seen people doing lots of creative things with Formica lately, from making jewelry and sculpture to creating accent walls and colorful DIY headboards.

See even more reasons why Formica is making a comeback in kitchens, baths and many places inside and out of the home.

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Meet The Material: Terrazzo Tile

Posted by: on August 22nd, 2012 | Make A Comment
Image of a recycled glass terrazzo countertop

Image via Earth911

Terrazzo comes from the Italian word terrazza, meaning terrace, and refers to the 15th century Venetian workers who discovered how to recycle bits of used marble from upscale jobs to surface their terraces at home. Archaeologists also use the word terrazzo to the describe the burnt lime and clay floors colored with red ochre of ancient Neolithic buildings found in Western Asia from 9,000 BC [Wikipedia].

With the advent of electric industrial grinders and other power equipment by the 1920s, the production and use of terrazzo became widespread.

What is terrazzo? Terrazzo is composite flooring material made of recycled pieces of marble, granite, glass or other materials set in cement or epoxy-resin that can be used indoors or out. Available in a variety of colors and finishes, terrazzo can appear highly polished or richly textured and rustic. Most terrazzo installed today is epoxy terrazzo.

Thin-set, or polyacrylate terrazzo made with a mixture of cement and latex was developed in the 1970s, offering not only increased strength but also allowing terrazzo to be spread as thinly as a ¼ to ⅜ of an inch. Another advantage of thin-set terrazzo is that it accepts a wider range of colors. However, epoxy resin terrazzo can only be used for interior applications.

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Meet the Material: Bamboo

Posted by: on March 28th, 2012 | Make A Comment


Bamboo helmet image

Image via Build Direct


What is bamboo? Bamboos are giant, woody grasses, members of the family Poaceae. The over 1,400 species of bamboos are further classified as being either woody or herbaceous. Woody bamboos have sturdy, resilient stems (also called culms), while herbaceous bamboos possess softer stems. [Wikipedia]

What are some of the cool properties of bamboo? Bamboos are among the fastest growing plants on earth – recorded growing up to 39 inches in a 24-hour period.

Bamboos are also considered the world’s most ancient grasses, dating back some 30 to 40 million years, according to Bamboo For Gardens. Capable of producing 35% more oxygen and absorbing 4 times the carbon dioxide of hardwood trees, bamboos are quite beneficial to the environment as well. [Bamboo Fencer]

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Install a Hidden Cutting Board

Posted by: on January 28th, 2012 | One Comment

Day 28 of 31 Days, 31 Ways to Get Organized: If you’ve love the functionality of a kitchen island but don’t have room for one, consider installing a pull-out butcher-block chopping station right over your trash can. You can chop straight on the cutting board and easily whip discards into the trash can. 

Chopping station over the trash can

Image from The Farm Chicks

[Editor's Note: 31 Days, 31 Ways to Get Organized is a series featuring clever storage and organization tips that will help you clean house in the new year]

Bring in a Butcher Block-topped Cart

Posted by: on January 16th, 2012 | 2 Comments

Day 16 of 31 Days, 31 Ways to Get Organized: Even small kitchens can find space for a rolling cart topped with a butcher block — it adds both storage and prep space for better functioning workspace.

Storage and Organization Tips: Add a rolling cart topped with a butcher block for extra storage and prep space

Image from My Home Ideas

[Editor's Note: 31 Days, 31 Ways to Get Organized is a series featuring clever storage and organization tips that will help you clean house in the new year]