PaperStone – the BEST countertops for van life!

Paperstone countertops in a DIY camper van

If you’ve looked into “van life” online then you’ve undoubtedly seen a LOT of wooden butcher block countertops in van builds. But just because you see a lot of people use butcher block doesn’t mean it’s the best option out there! Read below for why we swapped out our camper van’s butcher block countertops for PaperStone, and why we think PaperStone makes the BEST countertops for van life!

Why we don’t reccomend butcher block countertops for a camper van

When we first built our camper van we used butcher block for our countertops, which was one of the most common options we saw other people use in their builds. But just because everyone else uses butcher block in their camper vans doesn’t mean it’s the best option!

You can see our original countertops in the images above. While the butcher block worked fine, we weren’t totally satisfied with it, mostly because we found the butcher block to be fairly high maintenance. The wood had to be constantly conditioned with mineral oil (we didn’t want to use a non-food safe sealer on it), and whenever the wood got wet we still had issues with the “grain” rising. We found that the relatively soft wood scratched and dented easily. We also noticed that the oil caused the wood to yellow over time, which wasn’t the look we were going for. Vans are small, so small aesthetic details make a big difference!

We’ve also heard of other people having issues with their butcher block cracking on rough dirt roads. Thankfully we never had that problem, but we were mindful that that was a common issue and didn’t want to deal with a cracked countertop while on the road. 

Overall, the constant battle against water and scratches, and the constant need to oil our countertops, made us realize we needed a different solution. Enter PaperStone!

Why we went with PaperStone countertops for our camper van renovation

After a year and a half of using our butcher block we decided it was time for a camper van countertop renovation! When we started looking into replacement options for our van countertops we quickly realized options were limited. We needed something reasonably lightweight, non-toxic, low-maintenance, and durable: a tall order! Most countertops on the market are cheap laminate (not durable enough for a van), wood, or stone – which is way too heavy!

Thankfully we had recently learned from our friends Eric and Colby (@engineerswhovanlife) that PaperStone was a great and durable option for camper vans. After extensively researching other options on the market we felt that PaperStone had the best combination of good aesthetics and functionality. Read below to find out why.

Why PaperStone countertops are the best countertops van life 

PaperStone can match any aesthetic

One of my favorite features of our van is our flip up desk made with the same PaperStone as our countertops. This feature allows us to extend our counter space and work and easily work from our van. Our front seats both have swivels on them.

Because PaperStone comes in a variety of thicknesses and colors it’s easy to make the material work for almost any van design and aesthetic. Want dark and moody? They have you covered! Looking for something light and bright like our van? PaperStone has lots of options! They also have fun and vibrant colors if that’s more your thing.

We opted for their CoverPly line which offers a lighter-weight version of traditional PaperStone, with a beautiful Baltic Birch plywood core. The CoverPly also comes in a variety of thicknesses from ¾ inch to 1-¼ inch. The birch edge remains exposed while the surface retains the characteristics of the PaperStone material. In total, our van features about 12 square feet of usable counter space.

PaperStone is ultra durable and low maintenance

Vanlife can be rough on counters, since they get a lot of use. Thankfully our PaperStone countertops still look just as beautiful as the day we installed them! After the initial finishing and installation process maintenance has been easy. Once every 1-2 months we spray our countertops with The Original Bee’s Wax, which is non-toxic and easy to use. That’s it! The countertops can also handle a little bit of water, and are easy to wipe down after cooking.

PaperStone is easy to work with and install

We found PaperStone countertops to be relatively painless to install in our van, and the company offers an easy guide for installation. We just cut the countertop material with a curricular saw, and sanded it down a few times before finishing it using this process.

Final thoughts on countertops for DIY camper vans

As of writing this we’ve been using our PaperStone countertops for over a year and a half and I can honestly say they’re one of the best upgrades we’ve made to our DIY campervan. While PaperStone is more expensive than butcher block, we’ve found it to be 100% worth it. The lack of maintenance, durability, and high end aesthetic have made van life easier, and transformed the look and feel of our camper van. We plan to use PaperStone for all of our future rigs/van build outs!

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