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Deeza
Unidentified kitchen countertop material in a 1925 home
Deeza

Hello,
I recently bought a home in NY built in 1925. Seems like the kitchen has been partially renovated throughout time until the 70s. The countertop is black with light wave pattern and metal edge. It is very sticky and when I wipe it down with a heavy duty cleaner, there is endless black goo that comes off onto the rag. What material could this possible be? Linoleum? Could it be toxic or is it possible to still salvage it? Somehow I am not able to upload a picture, but I could email it if you think you could help. :)

Thanks!

A. Spruce
Re: Unidentified kitchen countertop material in a 1925 home
A. Spruce

I have seen this a few times, not sure if it is linoleum exactly, but it isn't far off. Personally, i would not trust it as being food safe, things like this were not considered back then. I would recommend replacing it with a modern surface. If you absolutely must keep it, then I'd recommend getting tempered safety glass plates to put down over it, as this will seal the nasties from your food prep area.

dj1
Re: Unidentified kitchen countertop material in a 1925 home
dj1

I have seen a resin counter top that was sticky, but it wasn't black.

There is no reason in the world why you should keep it, new counter tops are so inexpensive.

If you are a DIY, it's a task worth taking on.

Fencepost
Re: Unidentified kitchen countertop material in a 1925 home
Fencepost

Linoleum was a popular countertop material back then, and this certainly sounds like linoleum.

The components of linoleum are non-toxic. There may be some linoleum or similar floor coverings made with asbestos, though most of that was made in the 1950s and 1960s. If yours was indeed installed in 1925, it may be safe, but you may want to have it tested to be sure.

There is no finish you can apply to encapsulate it to prevent the sticky residue you get when you clean it. Putting glass over the top as Spruce suggests would protect you from it, but I think it's just going to preserve the ugliness of wear. Even if you like the pattern and the historic appearance, you really should replace it. To keep a period look, you can replace it with a modern, heavy-duty linoleum (yes, it's still made) which will most certainly be non-toxic and food safe, and is still used as a kitchen countertop material. As a bonus, modern linoleum is considered a "green" product that contains no environmentally hazardous VOCs, won't offgas nasty fumes, and contains no petroleum products.

A This Old House Magazine article on linoleum: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,202857,00.html

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