Before we even took possession, Paolo & I were researching green materials to slather across the apartment – wondering how and where we could crossbreed ‘don’t spend money’ with ‘don’t kill the planet’. Was it possible?
By way of inter-sleuthing, Paolo discovered a countertop material called PaperStone. Greenwashing – or novelty delight? PaperStone is made from recycled paper, stewed in non-toxic resins, manufactured with renewable energy and made local-ish to Vancouver. It’s the Al Gore of kitchen materials.
Unbelievably functional, there’s lots to love. Made of super compressed recycled paper, it’s pressed together until it has the density of steel. It’s impermeable, can be sanded to your preferred finish and plenty more. Who doesn’t love a stacked features list? As curious sorts, we made a new friend at Vancouver’s GreenWorks Building Supply where we picked up a price guide & indulged ourselves in stroking PaperStone. Not a lumpy, bumpy paper-mâché. It’s flawless. It feels gorgeous. I want it. A selection of a dozen colours preclude anything lighter than, say, a telephone pole. (Shades are the resin colours + paper. Lighter shades would require bleach, a no-no in planet-saving). PaperStone is seriously cool. Enormously cool. I really want it.
But, sigh for dramatic effect, PaperStone has no business in this apartment. I can’t afford it.
We can’t add PaperStone to a flipping apartment.
In a flip, added costs have to offer tangible buyer benefits. PaperStone is a lot more expensive than other countertop options – and how much do you expect of an apartment kitchen counter? You need a clean, attractive surface to cut potatoes & store your toaster.
1. What else does PaperStone offer a buyer? Not a whole lot. While no-VOC paint has benefits – I’m not going to be poisoned in my own home – PaperStone countertops provide only smug satisfaction. That rich brat on the playground: my daddy has a wind farm.
2. Is it a problem worth caring about? Had you even considered the environmental impact of choosing a laminate countertop over butcher-block or marble or granite? I hadn’t. In fact, I’ve got no idea what ranks where on the planet-killing scale of culpability. (Answers here).
3. Is it an obvious addition or improvement? Again – probably not. There’s little to no name-recognition and, on first impression, a counter made of paper sounds weird and high-maintenance.
4. Jump-off-the-page sales potential? While I can’t assume that everyone’s as bleeding-heart environmental as I am, this is Vancouver. We might cruise to Whole Foods in Range Rovers – but we do so armed with canvas shopping bags. Yuppie Hippies would love this stuff – once they heard the spiel. Maybe it’s a growing market and this stuff’s ahead of its time. Today, who’s ever heard of PaperStone?
Would it appeal to you as a buyer? You’d rather see better closets or a souped-up shower or underfloor heating, right? Would it appeal to you as a home owner? Or do you put it, as I do, in the rose-coloured column where money is no object? Maybe just a PaperStone cutting board for now. I’m glad we did the research but, at double Ikea’s cost, it’s an I-love-you saved for later. Sorry, planet – we’re mercenary little bastards. In this round we choose money.Hey, you want a s'more? Some more of what?