Could Copper Countertops Be the Next Carrara Marble? We Investigate

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When you're renovating a kitchen, you're likely to become overwhelmed with all of the options available to you. The smallest things can make all the difference and it's important that you plan out every inch of space. After quartz and granite, Carrara marble has been on the rise as a go-to countertop option for homeowners, thanks to its luxury look and timeless elegance. And while we'll never be completely over these stones, quite frankly, we want to see something different.

Enter copper countertops. This distinguished material is quickly becoming one of the most popular choices for kitchens, thanks to its unique qualities and warm hues. It might seem niche at first, but we're betting copper, along with other mixed metals, is going to be big in 2019. Follow our comprehensive guide to see if copper countertops are the right choice for you.

What are copper countertops?

Copper is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. When using it as a surface, in the kitchen, for example, a copper countertop is known as a "living" surface and changes over time. A living surface reacts to oxygen, acid, and other substances. You may have seen this in action on copper cookware or accessories when the finish becomes slightly rusty looking.

Pros of copper countertops:

1. They're full of character.

Unsealed copper countertops tarnish over time, producing a unique and colorful patina with hints of orange, red, green, blue, and other brownish hues. This will leave you with some distinctive marks, adding character to your kitchen and leaving you with memories of good times cooking and entertaining.

2. They're easy to maintain.

Copper countertops are easy to clean once you get past the fact that they are constantly changing. Keep on reading to find out how to clean yours.

3. Copper has antimicrobial properties.

We're constantly on the hunt for anything that helps to stop the spread of germs. (Who wants to be sick, eh?) Copper is known to have natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and some alloys are said to resist bacteria better than the chef's choice of stainless steel. Purchase copper countertops and lessen your worries over sticky fingers and compulsive cleaning.

4. They're versatile.

We've found copper to be an extremely versatile material that suits everything from contemporary townhouses to country cottages to an industrial lofts. Think of it as the slightly edgier sister to stainless steel and style it in an unusual way.

5. They're sustainable.

Copper is one of the most sustainable materials you can choose for your countertops and is very popular amongst those committed to sustainable living. It's completely recyclable and can often be salvaged from scrap yards or leftover commercial projects, so think about alternative ways of obtaining it before buying it off the shelf.

Cons of copper countertops:

1. Copper will discolor.

Not a fan of change? As previously mentioned, copper dulls over the course of time and creates a patina effect. If this is likely to bother you, it's not the option for you, even if you plan on being diligent at sealing. Check out images of aged copper countertops to see if you still like the look before investing.

2. They scratch easily.

Copper is a soft material and this means it is susceptible to everyday wear and tear from knives, pots and pans, and cutlery. These dents can easily be buffed out or waxed, but keep in mind the extra care required. If you'd rather embrace the look, opt for a distressed or hammered finish which will be cohesive with the additional marks and scuffs.

3. They're expensive.

Copper is not the cheapest of countertop choices and ranges from $100 to $175 per square foot installed. For comparison, Carrara marble ranges from $40 to $100 per square foot. Quite the difference in price. Is it worth it? That part is up to you to decide.

How do you clean copper countertops?

One of the positive aspects of copper countertops is how easy they are to clean. Yes, we repeat, minimal cleaning is required! For shiny countertops, you'll simply need a scouring sponge, some warm water, and soap. If you need a little bit more oomph, some lemon juice and salt will also do the trick — just be sure to give your work surfaces a good rinse and dry down right after.

To maintain the copper on a more long-term basis, waxing or oiling it periodically will help to keep it in tip-top shape. Sealed countertops will keep their shiny appearance for longer but will need treatment in the form of beeswax or butcher's wax to keep them in good condition.

Will you need a contractor?

Copper can be relatively easy to work with and if you're only working with a simple room, you may just get away with installing copper countertops yourself. Many avid DIYers have done just that. If you're an experienced do-it-yourselfer, look at the space and decipher if you might need help; a simple countertop will require minimal effort. If you're not handy with a hammer, always consult an expert. Having your copper countertop professionally installed will ensure that every possibility is thought of and the end result is perfect.

Emma Jane Palin is a multi-award-winning blogger and freelance writer with a penchant for design and interiors.

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