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Richlite applications: How architects, designers and makers use this sustainable building material

By June 9, 2015 July 27th, 2015 Countertop, interior design, piece-o-sheet, Richlite

At Intectural, we’re proud to offer Richlite, an innovative, sustainable material made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper. Manufactured by Richlite Company,  the world-leading manufacturer of paper-composite architectural surfaces, this material offers a  sustainable alternative to wood for a variety of applications.

Watch the video below to learn how Richlite material is made.

Richlite can be used like wood for a variety of commercial or residential surfaces or design accents. Below are some of common – and unique – uses of Richlite.

Exterior Cladding/Rainscreen

A sustainable alternative to other exterior wall paneling or wood, Richlite’s exterior cladding/rainscreen material (called Rainshadow) is manufactured to withstand outdoor elements with little to no maintenance. Water and weather resistant, Richlite requires no finish and no seal on the face, edges or fastener holes. You can real all about the benefits of using Richlite as a rainscreen solution in our previous blog post.

House with Richlite exterior wall cladding
Exterior wall cladding made from Richlite

One of our favorite innovative applications of Richlite outdoors is this leaf pavilion at Johnson-Habitat Park in Denver. Richlite is the perfect design solution for this park striving to be the leading design for environmental play and learning in the nation.

Richlite leaves

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe used Richlite (Browns Point from the Northwest Collection) for its hotel railings – a perfect natural building material for the mountaintop environment.

Richlite hotel railings

Interior Cladding

Richlite is also an aesthetically pleasing design option for interior wall paneling. San Francisco-based mobile dental clinic Studio Dental features Black Diamond paneling from Richlite’s Northwest Collection inside its mobile units to add contrast and create a highly contemporary ambiance.

Richlite interior cladding at Studio Dental
Richlite interior cladding at Studio Dental


Black Diamond from Richlite’s Northwest Collection makes for a beautiful – and practical – kitchen counter surface. The material is heat resistant up to 350 degrees, which means you don’t even need a trivet when placing hot dishes on the counter.

Kitchen counter made from Richlite
Kitchen sink made from Richlite
Richlite kitchen countertop

Richlite can also be used as a decorative kitchen material. For example, the kitchen pictured below features a Richlite backsplash. Redstone and r100 from Richlite’s Northwest Collection were fabricated into individual tiles to create a decorative backsplash above a residential stove.

Kitchen backsplash made from Richlite


Richlite’s impact and heat resistance lends itself well to bathroom applications. The bathroom picture below features Black Diamond from Richlite’s Northwest Collection as a shower surround and vanity countertop. The rich black color provides an attractive contrast to the white walls, sink, toilet  and cabinets.

Bathroom made with Richlite


Richlite is scratch resistant, making it a desirable material for product and furniture designers. It is a through-color panel, which means if the material does become scratched (though significantly harder than wood, Richlite – like any material – can be scratched or gouged due to strong force), there will be no difference in color. This is in contrast to many other surfaces, where the scratch shows as a different color then the material.

Twig Case Co makes iPhone cases from Richlite. In fact, its iPhone 5/5s case uses about 100 sheets of stacked paper. Our Paperback and iPhone 6/6 Plus case uses about 20. For Twig Case Co., Richlite offers a dense, consistent wood product without all of the splitting, and cracking characteristics found in solid wood or bamboo.

Twig Case Co mobile phone cases made from Richlite

Award-winning silversmith Adi Toch makes this elegant teapot from Richlite and Britannia silver.

Teapot with Richlite handle

The University of Calgary Student  Union has garbage bins made from Richlite. Side note: Those aren’t stickers – you can print on Richlite!

Garbage cans made from Richlite

Brooklin-based furniture design company TOKEN made the study desk pictured below using Black Diamond from Richlite’s Northwest Collection.

Study desk made from Richlite

Our sister company Epicurean uses Richlite to manufacture cutting boards and kitchen utensils sold all over the world. Richlite is great for culinary applications because the material is knife friendly (meaning  cutting on Epicurean cutting boards will not dull knives), heat resistant up to 350°F (so you can even use the boards as trivets), nonporous (which means it won’t harbor bacteria), and dishwasher safe (unlike traditional wood or bamboo).

Epicurean cutting board made from Richlite

Richlite can even be used as a medium for jewelry. Take, for example, this beautiful ring from jewelry designer Bryan Parnham.

Ring made from Richlite

Many products – at least in the initial development stages – do not require full sheets of material. That’s where our Piece-o-Sheet offering comes in handy. With Piece-o-Sheet, you can get small pieces of material for testing/prototyping small projects. See how one maker used Piece-o-Sheet to make a boat transom board from Richlite.


One reason Richlite is an attractive commercial building material is because it contributes to LEED points. Richlite has been used in many commercial applications, including as display and countertop surfaces, in office spaces, in classrooms and more. Below are some examples:

Display and countertop surfaces at Cherry Creek Library in Colorado made with Browns Point from Richlite’s Northwest Collection.

Retail displays made from Richlite

Richlite wrapped around steel framing creates an artistic work space at Red Bull’s U.S. headquarters in LA.

Richlite in Red Bull headquarters office space

University of Minnesota Duluth Bagley Nature Area Classroom features countertops made with Black Diamond from Richlite’s Northwest Collection.

Classroom with Richlite counters

Duluth Coffee Company, a coffee roastery and retail cafe in downtown Duluth, Minnesota features Richlite tables and counters for a contemporary, clean, industrial vibe.  Photo credit: Becca Dilley.

Coffee shop counters made from Richlite

Designed by Salmela Architect, this mini golf course at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota, is made entirely of Richlite.

Richlite golf course


Richlite is extremely impact resistant, making it an ideal medium for signage. Richlite does not dent like metal or aluminum, and also doesn’t expand/contract, warp or rust. The material also patinas over time and has an inherently natural, seasoned look. This stadium signage in Tacoma, Washington, is made from Yellow Island from Richlite’s Northwest Collection.

Signage made from Richlite

We’ve worked with countless architects, designers and makers in executing successful  projects using Richlite. And yet, the innovative uses for this sustainable design material never cease to amaze us. We always look forward to seeing what people do with Richlite!

Interested in how Richlite can be applied to your project? Contact us and we’d be happy to talk with you more about this sustainable, contemporary design solution. Want to buy a small piece of Richlite for a small project/prototype? Check out our Piece-o-Sheet website.

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