Glass Countertops Edging Out Granite

If you’re seeking a clear alternative to granite as a countertop surface, the glass is more than half full — it’s overflowing with creative possibilities, in fact — thanks to the esthetic advantages and practical flexibility offered by thermoformed glass.
CBD Glass StudioCreated via a special process that uses extreme heat to mold flat objects, thermoformed glass is rigid and strong, heat, scratch and stain resilient, highly reflective of light, and available in an amazing range of colors, textures and even shapes. It’s the ideal option if you desire both a clean, modern look in the bath or kitchen and an alternative to granite and other solid surface countertops.
“Glass is the material of choice today for people who value a distinctive appearance as well as durable practicality in their kitchen or bath,” said Vlad Fridman, founder and owner of CBD Glass, a Toronto-based manufacturer of thermoformed and decorative glass.
Each piece of glass “is as unique as a piece of art. And it works in any room,” said Karla Krengel, Chief Operating Officer for Chicago-based Krengel & Associates, whose Wood-Mode and Brookhaven cabinetry dealers in the Midwest carry CBD Glass products. “The medium can be molded into virtually any shape and will draw out the room’s reflective light qualities. I can’t think of another medium that can do this.”
Naturally green tinted, the hue of glass countertops can be modified using special translucent or opaque colors pre-coated onto the material’s underside or via edge-mounted/under-mounted LED colored lights. The result is a countertop which glows like a soft lamp, radiates like a dazzling gemstone or shimmers luminously like rippling water Fridman noted.
“You also can choose from an array of finishes and textures. The results are amazing,” he said.
Case in point: CBD Glass Studio offers a thermoformed one-and-a-half-inch-thick glass product that can produce an unforgettable effect, such as a pebbled or rippled surface or an exterior that appears snowy or frozen.
Additionally, with its high tensile strength, glass can bear heavy weight and be counterlever suspended or overhung more than two feet without any needed support. What’s more, while granite requires a substrate or plywood base underneath, glass countertops are thick and strong enough to do without it.
“Glass is very easy to maintain and to keep clean,” explained Fridman. “The surface is nonporous and hygienic, and it doesn’t absorb anything. Also, glass is heat resistant and relatively stain proof.”
Glass may be a safer and more earth-friendly choice as well. In recent years, the media have reported on allegations of granite countertops possibly emitting dangerous levels of radon and radiation. And instead of taking up space in a landfill some day, glass countertops can be melted down, recut and recycled.
But it’s the easily malleable properties of glass which are perhaps its greatest attribute, Fridman said. One-piece integrated countertops with custom-formed sinks can be created with glass for a visually memorable, uniform look. In addition, unique etchings and exquisitely detailed carvings can be made on its surface to create a lasting impression.
“When you use glass, the level of inventiveness and artistry you can infuse into your home is only limited by the imagination. You can create multi-tiered vanity tops, incorporate curvilinear angles and shapes, showcase rustic, antique or metallic finishes, mimic the look of onyx or clear blue water — the possibilities are endless,” said Fridman, who distinguished himself as an inventive engineer, in-demand designer and entrepreneurial glass artisan years ago in Moscow, Russia, where he was classically trained at the College of Art. His scientific and artistic discoveries have led to new designs, techniques, finishes, textures and technology in the glass industry over the last 28 years.
Countertops and sinks aren’t the only components which can be reinvented via glass. Floors, backsplashes, cabinet door inserts, dividers, frameless doors, sculptured walls, showers, skylights, railings, fountains, suspended ceilings and even fireplaces can be wrought from glass and attractively tinted, textured and shaped to make a dramatic statement.
“Decorative glass is an extraordinarily versatile material. There is currently a CBD Glass project in the works for a home, which is being made up of multiple layers of glass, and those layers will be incorporated into a floor. Each layer has a different part of a flower – almost making the flower come to life in 3-D,” said Krengel. “You can opt for a style that is simple or ornate, contemporary or traditional. But one thing you can count on is lasting value — with proper care, glass is meant to last a lifetime.”
Typically, the price point on glass is slightly up from that of granite (three-quarter-inch thick granite is often priced from $65 a square foot and up vs. approximately $85 per square foot and up for thermoformed glass). Fridman said its numerous practical benefits and esthetic charms make it a better value.
If you’ve made the decision to go with glass, it’s important to select the right fabricator and installer, Krengel added.
“Vlad’s clients, for example, tend to choose CBD Glass, because, quite simply, they can do far more than other glass manufacturers. Because of the wide range of what they can do and offer, I have a difficult time referring to them as a manufacturer. They are truly glass artisans, just on a larger scale. There are only a handful of people in the world who are able to work with glass as Fridman can,” Krengel said.
One of Fridman’s clients, for example, is Donald Trump, whose Las Vegas hotel features CBD Glass originals.
“We’re dedicated to producing the most superb and lasting artistic glass that reflects your individual taste and personality,” Fridman said. “Our designs and handcrafted creations do more than evoke the resplendent beauty of nature — they maximize your home’s potential to induce an inviting, refined and comfortable environment.”
CBD Glass has a showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart (#163-AB), located off Kinzie Street just west of LaSalle St. For more information about CBD Glass, call (866) 872-4223 or visit