Copper is a natural metal element that is often used for sculpture and building construction. Some homeowners also use copper rather than stone or laminate to create kitchen countertops. Copper is known for its rich, golden-brown coloring and its tendency to change color over time. This color-changing process is known as patina, and is caused by oxidation as the copper interacts with oxygen. As it oxidizes, the color of the copper can vary from shades of green and gray to deep brown or pink. Because of this effect, every copper countertop will develop its own unique finish.
Copper is a relatively soft metal, and can be bent or molded to form many different shapes. When you order a copper countertop, you'll find that sellers can create a virtually limitless variety of patterns, designs and textures to complement your kitchen's decor. Keep in mind that textured countertops will be harder to keep clean, but may also help to hide some stains and scratches.
According to Bob Vila's Home Improvement website, homeowners should look for copper countertops that are between .06 and .08 inches thick. Thicker units will be more expensive, but will also be more durable and dent-resistant. Vila estimates that copper countertops will usually cost around $150 per square foot for material only. To keep dirt and moisture from getting trapped in the seams, choose countertops made from a single, seamless sheet of copper.
Most copper countertops are made from a thin layer of copper laid over a wooden frame. They weigh just a fraction as much as granite, and are fairly easy for DIY homeowners to install. The cabinets in the kitchen must be measured carefully to ensure that the right size countertop is ordered. Once the countertop is complete, it is simply set in place on top of the cabinets and secured with screws. Screws should be installed from underneath so that they pass through the wood base under the copper, but do not penetrate the actual copper countertop. A complementary backsplash can then be added using copper or tile.
One of the primary benefits to copper is its relatively low maintenance requirements. It should be cleaned using a soft cloth and water to wipe away crumbs or dust, and mild dish soap can be used to treat tougher stains. Because the copper is fairly soft, extra care should be taken to avoid scratches and dents. A cutting board should always be used to avoid cutting into the copper. Homeowners should refrain from sliding pans and dishes across the surface as this can scratch the copper. Plumber's wax can be applied to the counter to help prevent water spots and stains, but metal polish should never be used as it could ruin the copper's natural coloring.
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