Stainless steel is popular for its strength, stain resistance and heat resistance. Characterized by its use in commercial kitchens, the nonporous, hygienic surface is great for food prep and easy to clean.
The reflective surface also can cause a small kitchen to appear larger. Its construction lends itself to integrated backsplashes, sinks, drain boards and soap dispensers, and the color usually matches pre-existing appliances and hoods. Though they're durable, you should employ cutting boards and trivets and beware of dropping heavy objects.
What Is It? Stainless steel is technically steel alloy containing chromium. It does not rust or corrode as easily as regular steel.
Thickness and Edges. Standard thickness is an inch and a half, but other options are available. Several edge profiles exist, including marine (no-drip), square, angled-back and bull-nosed.
Custom Options. Stainless steel countertops are custom made in virtually any shape, size, configuration and finish. Manufacturers fabricate them from sheets and cut them to templates. These are adhered to a wood or metal substrate and soundproofed. The range of finish options includes brushed, polished, quilted and hammered. A patterned finish helps camouflage scratches and dings.
Other Metals. Craving sheen in the kitchen? You can also choose from other metallic countertop options.
Maintenance. Wipe the countertop with a soft cloth and warm water daily. Use stainless steel cleansers to avoid streaks. Minor scratches can be removed with a non-abrasive pad.
Pros: Strong and long-lasting. Won't chip or fade. Withstands heat and stains. Inhibits bacteria. Seamless appearance. Forgiving on dropped dishware. Easy to clean. Eco-friendly. Requires no finishing.
Cons: Shows scratches and fingerprints. Can be noisy. Can dent without a firm underlay. Requires special cleanser.
Price: $120 to $160 per square foot, installed
The Bottom Line. Stainless steel is at home in sleek, contemporary kitchens. The nonporous, heat-resistant surface is ideal in food prep zones and near the sink and range.
Whether decorative or functional, wood countertops like butcher block lend warmth and natural beauty.
Because this durable surface is always custom cast, it's ideal for odd shapes.