Copper Countertops: What's Right for Your Kitchen?

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During a kitchen remodel, you're likely to become overwhelmed by the wide variety of options available to you. The smallest things can make all the difference and it's important that you plan out every square inch, especially when it comes to the countertop material. After quartz and granite, Carrara marble has been a go-to countertop option for homeowners due to its luxurious, good looks and timeless elegance. And while we'll never be completely over natural stone, we're excited to see something different.

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Enter copper counters. This distinguished metallic material is quickly becoming a popular choice for kitchens, thanks to its unique qualities and warm hues. It might seem niche at first, but we think the lustrous option is worth considering. Plus, one look at this Scandi-chic cook space by deVOL Kitchens and it's easy to fall in love with the idea. Interested? Read on to see if copper kitchen countertops are the right choice for you.

What are copper countertops?

Copper is a soft metal that's also malleable and ductile with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. When using it as a surface, in the kitchen, for example, a copper kitchen counter 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 patinas and becomes uneven.

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 be naturally antimicrobial and has antibacterial properties. In fact, some alloys are said to resist bacteria better than stainless steel.

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4. They're versatile.

We've found copper to be an extremely versatile material that suits everything from contemporary townhouses to country cottages to industrial lofts. Think of it as the slightly edgier sister to stainless steel and style it in an unusual way. Also, it works in a variety of spots in a cook space, like the kitchen island or to make a bar top look oh-so-chic. And it doesn't have to be limited to a copper bar or copper countertops. Consider other ways to bring this metal into your kitchen, like through a copper backsplash or sink.

5. They're sustainable.

Copper is one of the most sustainable materials you can choose for your countertops and it is very popular among 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 seems bothersome, it's not the option for you, even if you plan on being diligent with sealing.

2. They scratch easily.

Copper is a soft countertop 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 extra care will be required. If you'd rather embrace the look, opt for a distressed or hammered finish that 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 $200 per square foot installed. For comparison, marble ranges from $40 to $100 per square foot. Quite the difference in price.

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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, a mixture of 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 long-term basis, waxing or oiling it periodically will help 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.

Copper Countertop Installation

Copper can be relatively easy to work with and if you're working with a small space, you may just get away with installing your kitchen countertops yourself. If you're an experienced do-it-yourselfer, look at the layout of your cook space and decipher if you might need help.

But there are some key differences between a DIY job and hiring a pro, and it really comes down to your ability level. If you're not handy with a hammer, an expert can provide advice on particular copper sheeting that's ideal for your space. Also, having your copper countertop professionally installed will ensure that every possibility is thought of, and the end result is perfect.

If you do decide to take the DIY plunge, know that at the end of the day, installing copper countertops isn't all that different than installing standard laminate countertops. The thickness of the copper will depend upon your personal preference, but thin copper foil tends to be a favorite since it's relatively easy to cut. You can purchase copper sheeting online or through a local contractor. It'll need to be applied to a sturdy base, such as plywood, using a special type of copper adhesive. Additionally, in order to do the job, you will need to have a comprehensive tool collection that includes a table saw, drill, bar clamps, files, sandpaper, and screws. Be very careful when cutting and handling copper sheeting, since it can dent easily during preparation. Keep in mind that placing the copper on the base can be very tricky, especially when it comes to the corners. And when you're finished, you can choose to seal it with polyurethane.

To get a better idea of how the entire process works, it can help to watch a few tutorial videos, like this one. If it looks intimidating, it might be time to call in a pro, and before you know it, you'll have a gorgeous copper countertop to enjoy in your new kitchen.

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Shelby Deering is a lifestyle writer who contributes to national magazines and websites, including Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Well+Good, and more. When she's not writing, you'll find her shopping flea markets, hiking, and going for walks with her corgi.