Looking for a “Green Product” material that has one or more of the following characteristics?
• stain resistant
• scratch resistant
• heat resistant
• allows extended cantilevers and long spans
If so, Richlite® is a product worth looking into. The following will answer your questions on what the material is made of and it’s usability in the store fixture market. Beside a replacement for other solid surface materials for countertop it has a myriad.
- What is Richlite® made out of?
- Where does Richlite® paper come from?
- Does Richlite® use recycled paper?
- What type of paper is used?
- Is it considered a “green” product?
- Does Richlite® off-gas?
- What is LEED?
- Can Richlite® be specified for LEED projects?
What is Richlite® made out of?
Richlite® specializes in the manufacture of natural fiber composites. Richlite® is primarily paper treated with phenolic resin and baked to create a solid sheet. During the production cycle the layers of paper are gradually crossed-linked with each other to create solid, durable sheets. Once the curing process is complete, the structure of the product is permanent and cannot be altered. The final product is exceptionally strong and still maintains a warm and natural look.
Where does Richlite® paper come from?
Richlite® paper comes from pulp that is derived from trees. The trees are harvested from managed forests in North America that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC is the only organization offering a credible worldwide timber certification system for all forest types and plantations, and as such has already received endorsement and active commitment from a wide range of respected NGOs, including WWF, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace.
Richlite® Hemp countertops are produced out of paper derived from abaca fibers, commonly called hemp, from Ecuador and the Philippines. Hemp is an extremely sustainable crop that has been used in thousands of textiles for centuries. Richlite® is the first company to produce surface materials out of the fibers.
Does Richlite® use recycled paper?
Although some recycled content is used in Richlite®, the company does not have a set content percentage requirement established for its manufacturing process. Recycled paper isn’t uniform so producers have to add fillers that don’t meet the standards of Richlite®’s custom paper. In addition, recycled paper producers have to use a lot of chemicals to clean the paper that may not fit with the company’s environmental standards.
What type of paper is used?
We use a specially-formulated custom paper specified for color and strength capabilities.
Is it considered a “green” product?
Yes. Richlite® is classified green in large part because the predominate raw material is derived from renewable or recycled resources. Managed and sustainable forests, habitat conservation efforts, along with prudent manufacturing practices are just some of the environmental mandates that go into our product.
We use the most environmentally benign production methods and materials available. During the saturation and drying process, over 99% of the volatile organic compounds are incinerated. The heat from that incineration is used for the drying process to minimize thermal pollution. There is no hazardous waste generated in our process.
Does Richlite® off-gas?
No. Richlite® does not off-gas because the compounds inside it chemically cross-link during the manufacturing process and are locked into the solid surface creating a homogenous material. For more technical information on off-gassing, click here.
What is LEED?
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system designed for evaluating a building’s environmental performance. The LEED system has been widely adopted for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings.
Can Richlite® be specified for LEED projects?
Richlite® is currently researching its products to confirm they contribute to LEED building certification guidelines for rapidly renewable and low-emitting materials.
The Benefits of Richlite®
Richlite® is made primarily of paper purchased from managed forests throughout North America. The paper is treated with resin then pressed and baked to create solid sheets.
Richlite® is different in a natural and better kind of way. The same material has been used for decades by the aerospace industry for tooling, the marine industry for fiberglass reinforcement and the action sports industry for outdoor skate ramp surfaces. It’s beautiful, unquestionably durable and will last for years.
Generally speaking, Richlite® resists stains quite well. As with most any material, there is potential for some staining, particularly from red wines, juices, and mustard when left in contact for prolonged periods of time. Most spills and light stains may be cleaned with soap and warm water and scrubbed with a soft bristle brush. More stubborn stains may be repaired by a light refinishing of the material.
It’s significantly harder than wood but, like most countertop materials, can, under force, be scratched or gouged. Richlite® countertops should not be used as a cutting surface. Because Richlite is a solid color all the way through, when scratches do occur, there will be no difference in color – unlike many solid surfaces where the scratch appears as a different color then the material. Use of a separate Richlite® cutting board is recommended. Most cuts, scratches and nicks can be repaired with a light refinishing. Visit the Care & Maintenance area of this site for further information.
Richlite® is heat resistant up to 350º F. Due to its high heat resistance, the material does not need additional protection near stove areas though a trivet or hot pad is recommended to ensure no damage will be caused by exceedingly hot pots and pans pulled directly out of the oven.
Richlite® is recognized for its sanitary performance appreciated by chefs in the home and in high profile commercial kitchens. The National Sanitation Foundation, which sets standards for food service-related products has certified Richlite® 1000 for use as cutting boards with direct food contact in restaurants. The same material is used in Richlite® countertops. The surface is impervious and does not support the colonization of bacteria.
Extended Cantilevers and Long Spans
Due to the long, tough fibers inside Richlite®, the material will not bend or break under normal circumstances. As a result architects and designers love the stuff because they can design long spans and extended cantilevers without adding extra support. As a rule of thumb, 3/4”-thick material is structurally stable with a 12” overhang, 1”-thick material is stable up to an 18” overhang, and 1 1/2”-thick is stable up to 24″.
Care & Maintenance
Routine Cleaning and Upkeep
Richlite® surface is a durable, attractive material designed to stay beautiful for the lifetime of your kitchen, bath or office space. A simple wipe up with soap and warm water on a regular basis will maintain its beauty.
Richlite’s testing laboratory recommends that fabricators finish the surface with a non-oil-based sealant to provide a rich, polished finish that requires minimum care.
Generally speaking, Richlite® resists stains quite well. As with most any material, there is a potential for some staining. With stubborn stains, try a non-abrasive household cleaner – Richlite® highly recommends SimpleGreen®* All-Purpose Cleaner because of its effectiveness and earth friendly ingredients.
Repairing Scratches & Burn Marks
Richlite® is extremely dense and durable. The material is resistant to scratches and burns but, like most surfaces, can potentially be damaged by cutting directly on the surface or setting a red-hot frying pan on the surface. Richlite recommends the use of cutting boards, hot pads and trivets to protect the surface from potential damage.
Before you decide to refinish your counter, please contact your dealer or fabricator who installed the counter for advice. In most cases, it is preferable if the installer refinishes the surface for you. Light scratch marks and burn marks can be refinished using a Scotch-Brite®* pad (#7447/ Red Color). It is important to note, the refinished area will noticeably lighten compared to the surrounding surface area. Richlite® is made of paper which, like wood, patinas – or darkens – over time, especially in the lighter colors such as Baguette. The area will eventually patina and match the remainder of the counter surrounding it. In order to avoid affecting one spot, lightly refinish the entire section of the counter.
Your countertop is stain resistant to most all kitchen related substances with the exception of some raw meat juice (such as liver), high-alkaline fruit or vegetables (such as papaya and red beet), and high-alkaline soaps (such as automatic dishwasher powder) when left in contact for a prolonged time. Additionally grout (which is a high alkaline product) will lighten darker-colored Richlite® counters and darken the lighter tones. Cover the surface with a protective sheet when you are installing tile around countertop area.
Is it really made out
The Richlite® Journey
Ordering Richlite® is simple. Here’s how the material gets from the forest, to the factory and to you.
Step 1: Manufacturing
Richlite® orders a customized paper produced from suppliers who harvest wood pulp from managed forests within North America. The company goes to great lengths to ensure no old growth or other rare trees are used in its materials. The paper is treated with resin then cut to size and baked. Richlite sheets are inventoried by size, color and thickness in the company’s warehouse in Tacoma, Washington.
Step 2: Distribution
Richlite® distributes directly to certified fabricators throughout most of the United States. In the northeast part of the country, Richlite® is supplied to a fabricator through a distributor. Once your designs are finalized your kitchen and bath dealer will work directly with a certified fabricator to order the right size and material color.
Step 3: Fabrication and Installation
The fabricator receives the material then shapes the countertops to your specifications and installs them. In order to receive certification, fabricators must demonstrate their product knowledge and skill at fabricating with Richlite®.
Richlite® dealers should be able to answer most of your questions about the product but, if you need more information, please contact Richlite via e-mail at: email@example.com.
Is Richlite® a solid surface?
By the technical definition of solid surface, NO. Most solid surface materials combine two main ingredients: a natural mineral (the “filler”) and a resin (the “binder”), along with various additives. These are combined and then formed in a curing process that results in a sheet or a shape.
All that being said, some people have grouped Richlite® within the solid surface category because of the solid color through the material. If you cut it in half you’d find the same surface on the inside as you started with on the outside. If that’s not a solid surface, what is? But it’s not a poured plastic with fillers like most of the other products that call themselves solid surfaces. And it’s not a kind of laminated sandwich where a nice topskin is glued to a cheaper substrate. Richlite® is truly in a class of its own.
How durable is Richlite®?
Richlite® is extremely durable. Remember it’s been used for
industrial and marine purposes, and as a skatepark surface for years. The kitchen is the Richlite®’s least challenging environment.
How stain resistant is it?
Your countertop is stain resistant to most all kitchen related substances with the exception of some raw meat juice (such as liver), high-alkaline fruit or vegetables (such as papaya and red beet), and high-alkaline soaps (such as automatic dishwasher powder) when left in contact for a prolonged time.
Will Richlite® scorch?
Richlite® is heat resistant up to 350°F. A pot of boiling water won’t affect the look of the surface though a red hot pan under extreme temperatures will discolor the material. Hot pads are recommended to prevent scorching.
Since Richlite® is made out of paper will it darken over time?
The composition of Richlite® Surface is cellulose fiber and resin, much like Mother Nature’s trees (but with extra resin in our product to make it more durable). And similar to certain characteristics of wood, Richlite® Surface Baguette material does noticeably darken with age due to ultra-violet exposure and oxidation, much like Fir or Cherry cabinet material. It is this enriching color transformation that has many architects praising the look of the Baguette color. The Nutmeg, Slate Black, Merlot, and Indigo, do not display such a change because of their darker base colors. Sage has the capability of turning towards a drab olive. Of course, color evolutions can be restrained by employing ultra violet shields upon incoming natural light.
How scratch resistant is Richlite®?
It’s significantly harder than wood but, like most countertop materials, can, under force, be scratched or gouged. Richlite® countertops should not be used as a cutting surface. Because Richlite is a solid color all the way through, when scratches do occur, there will be no difference in color – unlike many solid surfaces where the scratch appears as a different color than the material. Use of a separate Richlite® cutting board is recommended. Most cuts, scratches and nicks can be repaired with a light refinishing.
Is the material food safe?
Yes. Richlite® does not support the colonization of bacteria and is food safe. Richlite® cutting boards are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation for use with direct food contact in restaurants. The NSF sets standards and certifies food service related products for the industry. The same material is used in Richlite® countertops.
NSF Standard 51
* SimpleGreen is a registered trademark of Sunshine Makers, Inc.; and Scotch-Brite is a registered trademark of 3M Company.
624 East 15th Street
Tacoma, WA 98421
toll free: 888 383 5533
fax: 253 383 5536
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Tags: Sustainable Materials