Choices in Stainless Steel Countertops

With all the different choices homeowners have today in counter tops, it’s not surprising that many choose the beauty and durability of stainless steel. Besides its obvious advantages, stainless steel makes an excellent choice for other reasons, as well.

For one thing, it can be considered virtually anti-bacterial (which is why you see it so often in commercial kitchens). It also works wonders to “open up” small spaces. If you have a less-than-large kitchen work area, the reflective qualities of stainless steel can make the room seem exponentially bigger just from the way in which it acts just like a mirror to reflect everything around it – including light.

Scratches & Fingerprints

Some people don’t choose stainless steel as a countertop choice because of what they’ve heard about it showing scratches and fingerprints. On older countertops made of stainless steel, this most likely held true.

But the newer stainless steel countertops on the market have overcome the problem with non-dimensional surfaces and/or patterns worked into the surface that make everything with the exception of big dents and gouges virtually undetectable.

For those who already have older countertops made from stainless steel that have these problems, solutions do exist: You can now have them polished by professionals to hide any scratches and take care of future fingerprints showing for a fraction of the cost of replacing them with some other surface like natural stone.

Installation

When looking at stainless steel countertops, it’s important to know that it comes in varying grades. Most reputable companies that sell them know that while 12- and 14-grade stainless steel is used in commercial kitchens, residential-grade stainless steel should be 16.

Stainless steel should be installed with welding methods, it should be ground, and it should be polished. Soldered joints, which contain lead, should never be part of a stainless steel countertop used in any area where food is prepared.

Stains

Claims to the contrary, it is possible to stain a stainless steel countertop. When this occurs, you can almost always eliminate the stain by bleaching it, but don’t allow the bleach to sit too long in order to avoid corroding the metal. To avoid future staining, keep acidic foods, such as tomatoes, from direct contact with the surface.

Even though stainless steel is tough, it’s wise to always use a cutting board instead of slicing up foods directly on the metal surface. In addition to stains and scratches on your countertop, you also dull knives with this practice.

Pricey But Worth It

Like anything else, stainless steel countertops have their downside. The biggest of which is cost. To have this type of countertop installed, you’re looking at from $100 to $200 per square foot; to do it yourself (lot’s of work since it’s very heavy!), it’s still going to run you from $50 to $60 per square foot.

Cost aside, stainless steel countertops make a terrific, high-end choice for most homeowners looking for a “different” look that still spells quality. Check into it. It’s a good bet that once you have it installed, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to do so.