Kitchen Counters: Stainless Steel, the Chefs' Option

Stainless steel countertops are brains, beauty and brawn rolled into a hardworking surface. This professional chefworthy surface stands up to abuse nevertheless spiffs up easily to a glamorous showstopping glow. Are stainless steel countertops appropriate for you? This will help you find out.

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Nicholas Moriarty Interiors

The fundamentals: Stainless steel is a steel alloy that includes at least 10.5 percent chromium, making the steel resistant to corrosion (unlike conventional carbon steel).

Countertops are generally fabricated from 14- or 16-gauge material, which is then glued into a strand of plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to make a rigid surface. Type 304 stainless steel is commonly used, due to its higher chromium content (and therefore corrosion resistance) and capacity to be welded without affecting its strength or durability. Most common is that a few 4 brushed finish, however, stainless steel is also available in lace (smooth), antique matte and any number of specialization patterns.

Cost: $80 to $90 per square foot installed.

Studio William Hefner

Benefits: Stainless steel offers top-notch durability that stands up to industrial kitchens and their strict criteria for cleanliness. It is nonporous and nonstaining, resistant to heat and easy to wash. Additionally, it has a life expectancy of almost a century. Design purists will appreciate its potential for key sinks and backsplashes.

Disadvantages: Perfectionists, take note — while cleaning it is a breeze, maintaining stainless steel free of fingerprints and watermarks can be a chore. And the substance is vulnerable to dents and scrapes, so keep that cutting board shut.

Venegas and Company

Sustainability: Most stainless steel consists of 60% recycled material and, because it can be recycled again and again, has an elongated useful life. Be sure to seek out American-made stainless steel with a high percentage of recycled material. For healthy indoor air quality, the glues must have low or no VOCs, and the plywood or fiberboard should be labeled “no extra urea formaldehyde.”

chas architects

Maintenance: Stainless steel can be cleaned with a mild detergent, or use baking soda or vinegar diluted with water.

Particular factor: A nondirectional finish minimizes the look of fingerprints and water marks.

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