As a designer, I get really excited when I hear of a new eco-friendly product that can help move the market to ‘greener’ pastures.  Discovering EcoTop was no exception to this… I first read about the counter surface in the depths of the blogosphere and instantly sent an email to the manufacturer inquiring accessibility.  Soon after, I received a response and quickly learned that the man behind EcoTop, Joel Klippert, had also started the revolutionary product Paperstone ten years earlier and had also contributed to Richlite surfaces….  I sensed I was on to something big.

I spoke to Joel several times on the phone hoping to learn as much about EcoTop as I could… I discovered the inspiration behind the product…. Still with Paperstone, Joel was helping his mother remodel her home and logically wanted to bring his recycled paper countertop into the mix.  His ma thought differently… she was concerned with Paperstone’s color fading and maintenance reputation and said “No”… Obviously, your world gets shaken a bit if your own mother denies your product!  Joel took this as a sign and instantly started to work on a new product that would remedy the other paper-based surfaces’ shortcomings.  Several years and millions of invested dollars later, EcoTop was born…

And EcoTop just might be the ‘greenest’ counter surface EVER created… It is made from 50% recycled wood fiber (salvaged from demolition sites) and 50% Forest Stewardship Council certified bamboo fibers, a rapidly renewable resource.. it is also completely recyclable.  The resin system is revolutionary as well… Using only water-based ingredients, the resins offer a wide range of stable colors (specifically lighter values) that were not attainable in earlier paper surfaces… It is also ridiculously durable, offering a compression strength of 50,000 psi!  This density makes it extremely heavy and easy to maintain.  All that is needed to erase stains and scratches is a Brillo pad and a little bit of elbow grease… All in all, EcoTop is petroleum and VOC-free and can earn up to 6 points on LEED Certification.

EcoTop in Ivory… factory install.

I timed it just right when I discovered EcoTop… I was working on two projects at the time and both were in dire need of a ‘green’ counter.  I connected with Joel Klippert right as he was entering production phase and ended up buying the first two sheets off of the line… An Espresso color for a coffee shop I was doing (fitting, eh?) and Ivory for a residence.  The sheets showed up and looked gorgeous!  Three of us had to lift the sheets off of a flatbed truck… I can attest to the product’s weight ( a three quarter inch 5′ x 12′ sheet of EcoTop weighs in near 400 lbs!)  We got them to the ground and instantly started playing around with them… an incredible feature of EcoTop is that it can be manipulated with traditional woodworking tools.  This makes it not only eco-friendly and durable, but the ultimate DIY surface as well.

So this was kind of cool… Joel happened to be in the Twin Cities right as we were installing the first sheet of his product at Nina’s Coffee Cafe in St. Paul.  He met us on site and gave some pointers on install and maintenance and shared some stories of how he got to where he is today.  It was pretty neat hearing the ambition he had for the future of EcoTop firsthand…

Well, I recently finished up with the coffee shop and felt it a necessary time to endorse this incredible product… here are a couple shots of the finished counter.

And for good measure I’ll throw in a working pic of the residential Ivory install that I’m putting the finishing touches on now…. (I’ll be sure to write about this project when it’s completed).

For more info on EcoTop, click this link HERE… I’m anticipating that when all is said and done, the surface will be around $60-70 a sq. foot, quite a bit cheaper than granite or marble.


About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.