What's the Difference: Metal countertops
A materials survey of countertops covering stainless steel, zinc, pewter, copper, and bronze
So, you can easily discern soapstone from granite, granite from marble, and marble from any other stone-countertop material. But can you identify stainless steel, zinc, or pewter? How about copper or bronze?
The popularity of metal-countertop materials has grown considerably over the years. All of them offer homeowner-friendly benefits. They’re all easy to keep clean and are relatively resilient when treated with care. However, none are inexpensive, and metal prices fluctuate so often that speaking in generalities is more accurate than giving definitive numbers. Here’s what distinguishes each material.
An alloy of carbon steel, nickel, and chromium, stainless steel doesn’t oxidize or develop a patina like other metals, so it has a consistent look throughout its service time. Although stainless doesn’t have the antimicrobial benefits of some other metals, it is less porous, which means it’s easy to keep clean. Stainless steel is classified into “series” based on the percentage of each component element, and it is further classified into “grades” based on its crystalline structure. Countertops most often are made of grade-304 stainless, the hardest of the materials discussed here and the most scratch resistant.
Finishes: Stainless-steel finishes are numbered from 0 to 8 based on their polish; the higher the number, the shinier the surface. However, a brushed finish is most popular for countertops because it shows less wear and fewer fingerprints than a mirror finish. Brushed finishes can be maintained with a product called Beekeeper’s Friend.
Cost ranking: Lowest
Zinc is a discrete element, whereas stainless steel, pewter, and bronze are alloys. An ordinary gray color, zinc is known (if at all) as a countertop material for oyster and seafood bars in Europe. Seams are welded and should be ground flush, but they are often visible due to color variations among zinc sheets.…