Among all the countertop choices, the most modern and functional just might be stainless steel. Prized for their practicality, stainless steel countertops are the surface of choice in professional kitchens across the globe. And, whether or not you’re a gourmet cook, there are many reasons that you might choose this type of countertop.
What is stainless steel?
Steel is stainless when it contains a minimum of 10.5 percent chromium. This is the substance that keeps the metal from rusting or corroding. While stainless steel comes in a number of grades with other metals mixed in, the most common type is 304, called austenitic steel. This is what is called food-grade stainless steel because it is safe for direct contact with food. This type is also more heat and stain resistant because of its higher levels of chromium and nickel.
9 Advantages of Stainless Steel Countertops
According to TV home guru Bob Vila, stainless steel is the “workhorse” of countertop materials. You’ll find them in all professional kitchens for a number of reasons, and Consumer Reports names stainless steel among the best choices for a modern kitchen.
- Durability – More than any other surface, stainless steel countertops will stand up to tough treatment, especially with a large family. The heavier the gauge of the metal, the more abuse the surface can take without being damaged, says Villa. For most home kitchens, 16 – 14 gauge steel is recommended.
- Burn Proof – Go ahead and set down a hot pot. The composition of the metal keeps the surface safe from burns or scorches.
- Rust Proof – Again the alloys in food-grade stainless steel prevent it from rusting.
- No staining –True to its name, Stainless steel will not be affected by acidic foods, red wine or oils. Simply wipe up any spills or drips and the surface is perfect.
- Very sanitary – The is another major reason professional kitchens choose stainless steel work surfaces. Steel is nonporous so it does not absorb anything, which means it won’t harbor bacteria. It is also a cinch to clean and sanitize. If you want the stainless steel to be shinier, just polish it with a bit of mineral oil.
- No sealing – Unlike most other countertop surfaces like stone, granite, marble, wood or concrete, stainless steel does not require any type of sealant.
- Design Neutral – Many kitchens already include stainless steel appliances because the metal works with all types of décor styles. It can be equally at home in a modern kitchen, or a country kitchen, depending upon much much you use and how you choose to use it.
- Environmentally friendly – Stainless steel is completely recyclable, so you won’t be contributing the landfill if you choose to remodel again later.
- Easy installation – In most cases, countertops are created specifically for your kitchen’s design. Manufacturers cut sheets of steel to fit your size specifications. These are then used with a wooden structure.
A few downsides…
All materials will have drawbacks for some consumers.
- Scratches and dents – Just as other countertop materials do, stainless steel will show scratches. Most stainless steel in the kitchen has a brushed surface, which helps hide small scratches. Still, the surface will develop a different look with time and use. Plus, serious blows to the surface can cause dents.
- Damaging to knives – While you can cut on a butcher block countertop, as well as some other, you cannot do so on a stainless steel countertop. The material will dull and damage your knives.
- Noise – Stainless steel countertops can be a bit “noisier” than others when chopping, pounding or plopping items down directly on the metal.
- An industrial look – Many homeowners may want a professional kitchen, but do not really want the industrial look that large amounts of stainless steel provide. That said, stainless steel mixes well with other kitchen materials and can be easily used in conjunction with other countertop surfaces to keep a space warm and inviting.