As contemporary kitchens move further away from the traditional kitchen stylings of the past, many homeowners are looking for fresh new ideas for materials to use. While stone countertops such as granite and quartz remain quite popular, some remodelers are looking towards a different type of countertop material for their kitchens: metal. Metal countertops are by no means new, as some materials such as copper have been used for centuries, and stainless steel has been a mainstay in professional kitchens. However, home kitchen trends have steered away from them for some time now, as the earthy appeal of granite reigned supreme. But as more homeowners are learning, metal countertops provide their own distinct aesthetic and are available in a similarly wide range of options and finishes, so just about anyone can find a metal countertop that fits their style. Some metals can also blend seamlessly into traditional design styles so it’s still an option if modern or contemporary kitchens just aren’t your thing. If granite and other stone countertops just aren’t doing it for you, you may want to consider trying metal!
What You Need To Know
Each metal countertop type has its pros and cons which will soon be discussed, but there are a few things you should know about metal countertops in general. Unlike stone countertops, which are generally the same stone material all the way through, metal countertops are thin sheets of metal laid on top of a wooden substrate and wrapped around to create a clean, seamless look. Metal countertops are non-porous meaning there’s no need to worry about food spills seeping through into the material and causing a stain. This also makes them a very hygienic anti-bacterial option, as there are no cracks and crevasses for bacteria to get trapped in. Metal countertops are generally quite durable, but they are susceptible to denting, so great care must be taken to ensure that heavy objects aren’t dropped onto the surface. This is of great importance, as a dented countertop cannot be fixed. They’re also susceptible to scratching, so be sure to keep your cutting board nearby.
Stainless steel countertops are the go-to option for professional kitchens. Unlike other metals, stainless steel
does not oxidize, so the color and character of the material will stay consistent over time. Stainless steel is the hardest and most durable of the metal options, and is more resistant to scratches, though it’s not entirely scratch-proof. Stainless steel is an alloy metal containing at least 10.5% chromium. Most stainless steel metals are made up of up to 60% recycled material, making it a great choice for the environmentally conscious. If you’re looking for a simple, streamlined design, stainless steel countertops will integrate nicely with your stainless steel sink and directly match your stainless steel appliances. For monochromatic contemporary and industrial looks, stainless steel is a great option. However, there’s no reason for stainless steel to be boring. Finishes include brushed, satin, and antique matte. Many manufacturers offer a variety of patterned stainless steel options which can add just the right amount of visual interest. Expect to pay $80-$90 per square foot.
Once thought to be a relic of the olden days, the warm aesthetic of copper has made a major comeback in kitchen design. Walk into any home goods store and you’ll be greeted by a plethora of copper kitchen accessories, from pots and pans to canisters and utensils. But if you’re looking to go big and bold in your kitchen, copper is a countertop material that will give your kitchen that unique edge. Unlike stainless steel, however, copper will not stay one color. Without consistant, weekly application of a wax or sealant, your copper countertop will naturally develop a reddish-brown patina. However, many homeowners love copper precisely because of this color change, which many believe adds a certain vintage character. Copper can also be professionally patinated to take on a rich, blue-green hue. Copper is a softer material which means it will dent and scratch more easily than steel. However, copper also has superior antibacterial qualities and is your best bet if hygiene is of supreme importance to you. The cost of copper will run you $100-$175 per square foot.
If you’re looking for a really unique countertop option, zinc might be the perfect choice for you. It’s also a soft metal which means that it is more susceptible to scratches and dents, but this also means that its edges can be more easily shaped to your liking. However, its lower melting point means that it won’t stand up as easily to hot pots and pans, so it’s best to play it safe and not place anything hot directly onto the surface. Like copper, zinc also develops a patina over time, except that it will have a bluish-grey look. If you’d like your zinc countertop to maintain its original coloring, a sealant will have to be periodically applied. Zinc countertops can also be quite expensive, ranging $200-$300 per square foot.
With a silver hue that ages into a dull grey patina with a satin sheen, pewter is actually the softest of the metal choices. Like copper and zinc, it can be scratched and dented with frequent, heavy use, so you may want to use this material for a non-work surface. As with zinc, avoid placing hot pots directly on the surface. It can also develop visible “pattern of use” areas that appear lighter and smoother than the rest. Pewter is an alloy rather than a pure metal, meaning its made up of 85-95% tin with bits of copper and other trace metals. Some pewter alloys can contain lead so be sure to source your pewter countertop from a manufacturer that provides surfaces for food prep. Pewter is available in matte, mirrored, or professional patina finishes and can run up to $400 per square foot.