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.
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.
As with other countertop materials, stainless steel offers some options for edge finishes. The most common is a 1.5-inch wrap that mimics the depth of a standard countertop, using an eased square edge. Other choices are a beveled edge, bullnosed or rounded edge, or no metal on the edge at all.
While not quite a finishing option, custom stainless steel countertops also offer the opportunity to have a fully integrated sink created in your counter. With this custom option, the sink and counter are all one piece and there’s no intelligible seam between the counter and sink. Of course, this is a costlier option.