Metal Countertops: Copper, Zinc and Stainless Steel
There's a reason professional chefs have relied on metal countertops for decades: they're anti-bacterial, stain resistant and add a beautiful glow to any kitchen.
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Copper: the Glowing Germ Fighter
Copper helped hoist humans from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age. Several millennia later, it can propel your kitchen forward, too. You can polish it — on a weekly basis — to keep a rosy gold or allow it to develop a patina of a burnished brown-black with green flecks. Copper inhibits germs, too. A recent British study highlighted copper's antibacterial skills: E coli survived on stainless steel for 34 days while on copper it lasted for only four hours.
Bronze and Brass: Rare but Beautiful Choices
More rarely used as a countertop material are the alloys bronze (copper and tin) and brass (copper and zinc). The mix of metals makes both of them harder than copper and both start out with more golden hues than their salmon-colored parent. Both will patina into dark brownish black tones.
Zinc: From Oyster Bars to Your Kitchen
Take a zinc lozenge for a cold, slather zinc oxide on your baby's rash, and — what the heck — put it on your kitchen countertops. People have for centuries and if you've eaten in an oyster bar, for example, you've seen a zinc countertop. Skip the polish and zinc's silver shine will develop a blue-gray patina. A soft metal, the edges can be decoratively shaped, echoing dentil or crown molding or your own design. Interest in zinc is leading more metal fabricators to put it in their repertoire.
Pewter: Enjoying a Renaissance
Pewter, an alloy of tin and small amounts of hardening agents such as copper, has graced French bistro and brasserie tabletops and bars for centuries. Lead was once added as a hardening agent but today's pewter is lead-free. It has a luxurious look and turns to a gray or charcoal patina. Like zinc, pewter is soft enough to be shaped into decorative edges.
The clean, attractive Look of stainless steel works in both traditional and contemporary kitchens.