Installing a new kitchen or renovating an ageing one can be an arduous endeavour to say the least, and you will have a number of difficult choices to make when it comes to the materials you want to use. Choosing the materials that will make up your new benchtops can be particularly troublesome, with a massive variety of different materials on offer, from traditional granite to more modern materials such as engineered stone and epoxy resin.
However, if durability and long life are your main priority when choosing benchtop materials, it's hard to do better than solid, reliable stainless steel. Stainless steel bench tops have a number of excellent advantages that can make them an attractive addition to almost any kitchen. However, using this premium material in your kitchen can also entail one or two drawbacks, so it's important to know what you're getting into before you opt for stainless steel benchtops.
What are the advantages of choosing stainless steel benchtops?
- Durability: Metal benchtops are generally considered the last word in durability, and stainless steel benchtops are no exception. They will not dent under all but the most vicious impacts, are immune to heat damage (allowing you to move hot pots and pans directly from your stove top to your benchtops), and never chip, even if your benchtops have prominent corners and overhangs.
- Easy maintenance: Stainless steel's smooth, impermeable surface makes everyday cleaning tasks a breeze and ensures that your benchtops will never be permanently stained by red wine, coffee, food colouring or other notoriously stain-prone substances. Stainless steel is also immune to the rust that can befall other types of steel.
- Sanitary: Stainless steel's non-porous surface also means bacteria and other pathogens have nowhere to hide and a simple wipe down with an ordinary kitchen disinfectant is all that is required to thoroughly sanitise your benchtops.
- Custom orders: Unlike other kitchen benchtop materials, which are generally sold 'off the rack' in pre-cut sections, stainless steel benchtops can be manufactured to order by a wide variety of metal fabrication workshops who work with the material. This allows for a limitless array of designs and shapes, making stainless steel benchtops ideal for the most compact and/or bizarrely-shaped kitchens.
- Reflective: It may not sound like an important advantage, but the reflective surfaces of stainless steel benchtops can dramatically improve ambient light levels, a particularly useful trait in cramped or crowded kitchens.
What about the disadvantages?
- Expensive: Stainless steel benchtops are undeniably expensive, and large, custom-made benchtops can be amongst the most expensive available. Taking their durability and long life into consideration, installing stainless steel benchtops should therefore be considered an investment that will pay for itself over decades of service.
- Loud: Stainless steel benchtops can also be rather loud if you chop or tenderise foods directly on them, so using a suitable baffle (an ordinary wooden chopping board is more than sufficient) may be advisable.
Talk with a metal fabrication expert if you have questions about how stainless steel can be used in a home.