Pros and Cons of Copper Countertops

January 17, 2023

One of the benefits of designing and building a custom home is being able to get the home you want, including all of the details you want in every room. It’s important to get things right, especially in the rooms you will use the most like the kitchen. There are several countertop options to choose from. Here are some pros and cons of copper countertops to help you determine if they are the right choice for you:

5 Pros of Copper Countertops

Copper countertops offer several benefits. Here are a few pros of copper countertops:

1. Copper Countertops Offer a Unique Look

Although copper countertops are popping up more often, they haven’t been a standard countertop material for long. This gives them a bit of a novelty effect because you don’t necessarily “see them everywhere”.

Even standard, traditional countertops, like marble, granite, etc., can help create a unique aesthetic, and the same is true for copper. Copper countertops offer a unique look and can add an interesting element to your home design. Using this material in a countertop is also one of the ways to add copper accents to your home design.

2. There Are Different Options

Copper may be more limited in options than something like tile, but it still offers different options when it comes to countertops. This is one of the reasons why copper pops up in interior design trends year after year. In addition to various sizes and application options, you can also choose between sealed and unsealed copper countertops.

Unsealed Copper Countertops

Unsealed copper countertops will oxidize as they age to develop a complex and unique patina. Over time, an unsealed copper countertop will feature a unique combination of red, green, and brown shades. This helps create a rustic look and feel that works well with farmhouse, craftsman, rustic, country, vintage, industrial, etc. interior design styles.

Sealed Copper Countertops

A sealed copper countertop maintains its shine longer than unsealed copper as long as they are properly cared for. The shine, luster, and vivid color of a well-maintained sealed copper countertop can make a statement and tends to fit well with modern and contemporary interior design styles.

3. Copper Countertops Are Easy to Clean

One of the benefits and big pros of copper countertops is that they are easy to clean. A mix of warm soapy water and a soft cloth will clean up and remove most things and can even remove light stains.

If you have an unsealed copper countertop with patine, some lemon mixed with table salt followed by a water rinse will keep it clean and pristine. You will want to stay away from citric acid, bleach, or ammonia on sealed copper countertops as these can cause staining, but cleaning products for glass or stainless steel appliances can be safe on sealed copper.

4. They Are Eco-Friendly

Copper is a natural product that can be repurposed and recycled. Not only does it not require manufacturing that produces harmful waste, but it’s also a metal that can last for decades and be salvaged and recycled into other items without losing its strength. This also means that if you opt for a copper countertop and ever want to switch to something, you can repurpose the metal into something else for your home or you can scrap it and sell it.

5. Copper Countertops Can Be Germ Resistant

Not all copper countertops are naturally germ-resistant, but there are some types of naturally antimicrobial copper. This type of naturally germ-resistant copper alloy is known to kill off germs more effectively than even stainless steel. These types of copper alloys are best as unsealed copper countertops as they lose some of the antimicrobial properties if they are sealed.

Opting for a copper countertop with antimicrobial properties can be a good idea for the kitchen as it cuts down on the risk of foodborne illness and the surface transmission of other illnesses. Just make sure the manufacturer has cleared this claim with the EPA; in order for a manufacturer to make the antimicrobial claim for their countertop, it must be independently tested and registered with the EPA.

4 Cons of Copper Countertops

As with anything, there are some potential drawbacks to copper countertops as well as benefits. Here are a few potential cons of copper countertops:

1. Copper Countertops Will Change Over Time

Copper is a “living surface” and its appearance will evolve and develop over time. An unsealed copper countertop will develop the various shades to create its unique patina over time. Although a sealed copper countertop will maintain its shine for much longer than an unsealed one as long as it is properly maintained, the appearance will still change.

If you are concerned about potential appearance changes or middle stages that aren’t quite the look you are going for, you can choose a different countertop material that maintains a more stable appearance. If you love the patina look and don’t want to wait for it to develop naturally, there are professionally painted copper countertop options that allow you to get a more uniform color in the final patina.

2. They Can Be Susceptible to Damage

Copper is a flexible metal because it is relatively softer than other metals. The potential downside of this is that it can be susceptible to damage. Sharp knives or objects can leave scratches and very hot objects can leave burn marks. Heaving objects that are dropped or banged into the counter can leave dents.

You can take protective measures by making sure you always use cutting boards to prevent scratches, pads under hot items to prevent burn marks, and protective cloth under heavy objects to help prevent dents. You can easily buff out minor dings and damages, but you may decide not to as they can give copper countertops a more textured appearance over time.

3. Copper Countertops Require Maintenance

All countertops require some sort of maintenance and some need more than others. Copper is relatively easy to maintain; you just need to quickly clean up acidic liquids that will leave stains. An unsealed countertop will show tarnishing and use far faster than a sealed one, but it is important to remember that the patina itself is a protective layer for the copper.

In the case of a sealed copper countertop, the protective layer is butcher’s wax or beeswax or a clear coat, which helps it stand up against frequent use over time. The wax will need to be reapplied every 1-2 months to maintain the protective barrier on a surface that is used and cleaned frequently like a countertop or sink.

The clear coat or lacquer coating may need to be reapplied every few years, every five years, or potentially not at all to maintain a protective layer; this will depend on the clear coat and the environment the copper countertop is used in.

4. They Can Be Costly

Copper countertops can be costly as copper is a more expensive material. Since countertops tend to be larger areas, the overall cost is already higher than some other materials and does not include any extras like special finishes, texturing, heavier gauges, etc.

If you would rather allocate your custom home design budget to other areas, choosing a different countertop material may be best. Depending on the rest of your custom home design and other elements you are considering, the cost of the countertop may not affect your plans.

Get Your Dream Home With Custom Home Group

These are a few pros and cons of copper countertops. There are several popular kitchen countertop materials available. Looking at the pros and cons of the options you’re considering, and working with an experienced custom home builder, can help you narrow down to the best option for you.

If you’re ready to get started on your own custom home, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090. We can help bring your dream home to life!