Sleek, shiny stainless-steel countertops: They’re the standard in restaurant kitchens, but are they a practical choice for home kitchens? Sure, they’re strong, durable, and easy to maintain, but they’re not typically the first choice of countertop surface for the average homeowner. Nonetheless, they’re worth considering if you’re planning a kitchen remodel or end up touring a home with stainless-steel countertops.
Here’s the lowdown on cost, care, and more.
Cost of stainless-steel countertops
You might assume that a material this industrial-looking comes at a bargain, but that’s definitely not the case. Stainless-steel countertops are usually custom-made and cost $75 to $150 per square foot (according to Remodelista), which is considerably more than the average cost of marble ($60 per square foot) and quartz (which generally tops out at $75 per square foot). But their durability may be well worth the price.
Pros of stainless-steel countertops
“Stainless-steel countertops are ideal if you’re worried about bacteria and cleanliness,” says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert at Merry Maids. Why? Metals are nonporous, “and therefore are antibacterial and stain-resistant,” she says. Stainless steel is also resistant to rust.
A stainless-steel countertop is one of the easiest surfaces to maintain, which is why home architecture and design consultant Chad James likes using them in his projects.
“For years now I’ve been known for using metal for countertops,” he says. “For those of us who enjoy a clean kitchen that can literally be sprayed down, stainless steel is the way to go.”
Furthermore, you can set a hot pot on the surface. No more hastily throwing down a trivet before you pull a roasting pan out of the oven.
Stainless steel is also aesthetically pleasing and will suit a variety of kitchen design styles: modern, rustic, industrial, and more. Homeowners like that the counters come in a variety of finishes, including brushed, mirrored, antique matte, and hammered. The highly reflective surface can keep a kitchen feeling more spacious and bright.
Cons of stainless-steel countertops
They may be stainless, but they’re not resistant to scratches or dents. “Be warned: Even setting your car keys on top of them can scratch the surface,” says James.
If you want a flawless countertop, you’ll have to be vigilant. “If you’re the person who wants everything to be without blemish, I’d say run quickly from this option,” warns James.
That said, a brushed finish will hide scratches, and a higher grade of steel will be more scratch-resistant. So if you’re set on having stainless-steel counters, go with one of these options.
Another annoyance you’ll have to deal with on a near daily basis is wiping away fingerprints. If you have stainless-steel appliances, we know you can relate.
Stainless steel does “require constant wiping down as fingerprints end up everywhere, and don’t seem to ever fully go away,” says Johnson.
Beyond that, some people find that stainless-steel counters look cold. The constant clanging of bowls, pans, and silverware while you’re cooking can get annoying and will likely be worse than it would be on marble or wooden countertops.
To keep your counters looking their best, you won’t have to invest in a special stainless-steel cleaner—at least not for everyday maintenance. Johnson recommends wiping the surface down with warm, soapy water and a microfiber cloth.
“Then rinse the microfiber cloth and wipe down with water to remove the soap residue,” she says. “To dry, wipe down with a dry microfiber cloth.”
You may want to use a stainless-steel cleaner a couple of times a month, following the directions on the bottle. And definitely avoid harsh cleaners unless the label says it’s specifically formulated to use on stainless steel.
This article was originally published at Realtor.com.