Pebble and resin countertops
Fourty years ago when I lived in Florida and had beautiful real pebble and resin countertops. These looked like glass with the pebbles actually sticking out on the bottom of the countertop. Today I'm building a new kitchen in my home and would like to have the same type of countertops but I can't find a distributor or company that makes them in the United States. I did find them in China. Is there someone in the USA that makes these countertops? If so how can I find them?
I looked and could not find any domestic pebble tiles or countertops either. As you found, most countertops were from China and tiles from Indonesia.
I remember the general time period 30-40 years ago (and felt I must have aged?) and thinking you could not walk into casual, no-tablecloths, restaurants without seeing table tops with embedded, maps, photos, news clippings, pasta, beans, spices, pebbles, bottle caps, sea shells... I guess people just grew tired of it. The resin---too often polyester I fear and not epoxy---tended to turn cloudy or even discolor over time. It would fracture if you dropped anything heavy on it and health departments started issuing fines arguing millions, maybe billions, would die horribly from food born bacteria that got into the cracks. Maintenance to polish/buff out and remove scratches proved expensive too I suspect.
I have seen some nice backsplashes in recent years with exposed pebble surfaces that are nice. I believe most were fabricated from 12x12 tile sections with mesh backgrounds. I don't know that I have ever seen a prefabricated countertop like you mentioned with the aggregate exposed on the bottom side. I guess if the mixture was poured into a mold and then released it could happen and would not hurt anything.
Truth is if you can layout and form your countertops making your own would not be that difficult. You could have whatever custom shapes and coutouts you might like. You could pick and wash your own polished pebbles, mix and them in with your base layer of resin and trowel the sticky stuff evenly into your counter forms. Just before that layer of pebble and resin cures completely you would pour on the top layer to bring the surface up to the top of your forms. You will probably want a false front---with appropriate release agent---for the pebble layer so the resin pour provides you with a smooth front surface. Be sure to allow enough thickness so you can polish out scratches and so forth. The resin is self-leveling so as long as your counters are formed level across the top you should have no real problems but you will have to work fast. It will be helpful to have someone mixing resin for you. You can finish edges with laminate bits and and plastic polishing compounds and buffing wheels. Trapped are bubbles are always the challenge. Please make sure you have adequate ventilation (as dust free as you can achieve).
When working with resins, always make sure the products are within expiration dates or they may never cure. You would be best to get them from a plastic supplier or someplace like Abitron---never from a box store. A real paint store fresh resins for you as well. It could get a bit pricey as epoxy resins are not cheap so do a cost analysis first by figuring how much countertop area and thickness you will have to fill.
Again, I am not certain even epoxy resin is going to stand up well to heavy and hot pots over time or what to expect from discoloration in a bright kitchen. I would look for products with as much UV protection as you can find.
I have specified a lot of recycled glass countertops for clients over the past few years if that appeals to you at all. Vetrazzo is one company that makes combination concrete and glass tops from old beverage bottles in all sorts of nice colors. Once sealed it has the properties of stone or concrete countertops. Price is comparable to stone. Here is a color chart for Vetrazzo.
Solid glass can make spectacular kitchen tops as well and offers nice under countertop lighting options that can be dramatic. It can get pricey if you end up wanting imported fused glass or something.
Concrete countertops can be drop dead gorgeous too and you can have any color. Add concrete staining for some truly special effects. It is fun to be able to pour shaped sinks in custom shapes as part of the countertop too. Price comparable to stone. I spec those made by artisans and brought to the job. Some parts of the country have great craftspeople that can form, pour and finish on site and even with marble, stone, etc. fragments like terrazo.
Good luck. Do post if you find something! Hope you find the look you are seeking.
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