A copper sink offers an aesthetic unlike other types of sinks, but its beauty isn't the only thing it has going for it. Bacteria and germs don't live long in an uncoated copper sink; they die off in a few hours after coming in contact with the copper. But the copper loses its antimicrobial properties if you wax it or have it varnished, which may be required to reduce the labor-intensive maintenance needed to keep it looking good.
Copper's Benefits and Drawbacks
Like any product you install in your home, learn its benefits and drawbacks so you can make an informed choice that you won't regret. Copper provides a decor aesthetic that is unmatched by stainless or other sink materials, but it is also labor-intensive: You must dry it after each use to prevent water spots.
Pros Aesthetic qualities Antimicrobial properties Available in many styles Does not corrode or rust
Cons Metal darkens with time Patina damage due to acidic juices and beverages Lower quality and thinner gauges can dent Labor-intensive maintenance * Higher cost
Regular sinks harbor bacteria, but in a copper sink, they don't last long, dying in as little as two hours after coming in contact with the sink. If you cook with fresh foods or periodically wash dishes in the sink, this is a huge advantage. You can choose from a variety of copper sinks with hammered or smooth finishes made from a single sheet of copper. To keep the antimicrobial qualities of the copper intact, do not choose a product with a coated, waxed, painted or varnished surface.
While copper sinks don't corrode or rust with time or excessive usage, you must maintain them to keep them looking good. Because of the metal's reactivity, it darkens over time. Without a coating, or by using abrasive cleaners, you can easily weaken the copper, which makes it susceptible to damage by acidic juices, liquids and even toothpaste. If you place a hot pan or utensil in the sink, it can mar or darken the finish of the copper. Cheaply made or lower gauge copper is also subject to dents, dings and warping.
Copper Sink Maintenance
Every time you use the sink, dry it with a soft cloth or towel to prevent water spots from forming. To keep its finish intact, clean with a gentle, alkaline- or vegetable-based dish detergent; rinse it and wipe dry. To retain the copper's shine and appeal, you may have to periodically wax it, but waxing removes its natural anti-bacterial qualities by coating the surface of the metal. Do not use abrasives or acid-based detergents, as they can damage the sink's surface.