Stainless steel countertops have long been used in restaurant kitchens, primarily because of their practicality. Stainless steel countertops are durable and long-lasting, easy to clean and they have natural sanitary properties, requiring no harsh chemicals.
However, stainless steel has started to catch on for home countertops, particularly in the last couple years. The look is sleek and modern, and stainless pairs well in contrast with softer natural materials like wood or stone. The trend, in part, is also due to the fact that so many homes have granite now, the look can be a little cookie-cutter. In recent years, more homeowners are looking for new and fresh materials that are unexpected.
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Before you jump to buy stainless steel countertops, however, you should understand all the pros and cons. Countertops are a major commitment because they are expensive and they are intended to last for many years – even decades. The decision shouldn’t be made until you have all the facts and feel fully informed.
PRO: Highly Durable
Stainless steel will easily last you for decades. It is pretty much indestructible. Stainless steel countertops are highly resistant to any kind of damage from heat, water or stains – you name it. Chances are, you’ll get sick of the countertops before they show signs of wear.
Stainless steel countertops are not cheap. They usually run between $75 and $150 per square foot (or more) installed. That’s close in cost to natural stone like granite. However, if you’re looking to incorporate stainless steel on a budget, one option is to look at prefabricated restaurant pieces that can be refurbished for the home.
PRO: Sanitary and easy to clean
Steel is not a porous surface, so it won’t absorb dirt, germs and bacteria like other materials, particularly wood. This means two things: stainless steel is a healthy and sanitary surface (hence why restaurants use it) and it can be cleaned quickly and simply with just soap and water. No harsh chemicals are needed.
CON: Smudges and scratches
Many people love stainless steel, but certain people just can’t take that it smudges so easily. If you’re someone who is going to be bothered by that, stainless is not a great choice for your countertops. Stainless steel is also prone to scratches, so cutting boards are a must.
Stainless steel is trendy right now because it looks fresh and modern. The look is unexpected, and it can be particularly striking when stainless is paired with natural materials with richer textures. Some people choose to create a modern/homey contrast by pairing stainless steel countertops with warm wood and natural stone.
Some people will tell you that stainless steel countertops look cold and uninviting. That really comes to personal preference – some people just aren’t a fan of an ultra-modern look. And that’s perfectly OK. Everyone’s tastes are different.