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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Copper Countertop?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Granite, marble, and other high-end materials can be used for countertops, but a homeowner or builder should expect to pay a high price for them. For an attractive aesthetic and a high-quality surface, a copper countertop is a great choice, but there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to this material. A copper countertop will be less expensive than other options, and it will kill bacteria effectively; it is easy to clean, and it will be reasonably attractive. Installation, however, can be difficult, and the countertop will be susceptible to damage easily.

Copper is a relatively soft metal, which means the copper countertop will dent easily. It can also change color or fade after time, depending on what materials it comes in contact with. It may be possible to seal the copper to slow the fading process, but it is likely the metal will get dented, dinged, and faded over time regardless. The metal is also very easily dented or damaged during installation, though it helps if the copper countertop material is cut into smaller sheets during the installation process. The downside to cutting the sheets smaller, however, is the presence of seams in the material, which can be ugly and inconvenient.

The copper used during installation will generally come in sheets that are then glued with an adhesive to a solid block, often made of wood. This means installing the copper is not especially difficult, but installing it properly can be very difficult. If the copper is not installed correctly, bubbling may occur, which will lead to easy damage to the copper countertop. Dents and dings are much more likely if the copper is not glued down flat to the material beneath.

Many types of copper are antimicrobial, which means bacteria will not build up on the surface. This is good news for a homeowner who wants to install a copper countertop in a kitchen where food is likely to come in contact with the surface. It is also easy to clean copper countertops using a wet rag with soap and water, though abrasive scrubs should be avoided, as the copper will scratch very easily. Scratching will end up fading the countertop much more quickly and negatively affecting the aesthetic of the space. The look of copper is unique and will add aesthetic value to a space, but keep in mind that aesthetic can change over time.

How Much Do Copper Countertops Cost?

Copper is one of the most beautiful materials to use for countertops, so naturally, it is also one of the most expensive. Covering 10 square feet of countertop can cost you anywhere from $640-$970 for materials alone. You can also expect to pay between $62 and $80 for installation, meaning you can easily spend up to $1,050 on countertops for a relatively small space. It's important to consider how much counter space you have when trying to determine your exact budget.

What Factors Into the Cost of Copper Countertops?

There are a lot of different factors that determine how much you will pay for your new countertops, with each company providing a different estimate. To get the best prices, try to change your countertops in the late fall or early winter. This is when most contractors are seeing a downtick in their workloads and are more likely to provide discounts in order to have some work coming in. You may also be able to get a discount on your preferred countertop brand by trying to negotiate with multiple suppliers. Finally, regardless of the price you're quoted, try to budget an extra 10-15% in case of any unexpected setbacks.

How To Install Copper Countertops

Before you can install the countertops, you'll need to gather your supplies.

  • Adhesive
  • Beeswax
  • Caulk Gun
  • Circular Saw
  • Clamps
  • Copper Screws
  • Copper Sheets
  • Deck Screws
  • Metal Shears
  • Pliers
  • Plywood
  • Screwdriver
  • Soft Cloth
  • Tape Measure

Step 1: Measure

The first step is to measure the tops of the cabinets where you intend to install the countertops. Cut around 3/4-inch plywood to give yourself room to adjust the measurements with the circular saw, and don't forget to leave an inch of overhang where the plywood has exposed edges. Remember, measure twice, cut once.

Step 2: Attach the Plywood

Next, it's time to attach the plywood to the tops of the cabinets. When you have it in place, use 3-inch deck screws to secure it on the cabinet frames. Place the screws all the way around with 6 inches of space between each one.

Step 3: Cut the Copper

Use the metal shears to cut the copper, ensuring it will hang over the edge of the plywood by 1 and 3/4 inches. This allows it to curl around the plywood and attach underneath for a smooth finish.

Step 4: Apply the Adhesive

Add a polyurethane-based adhesive to the caulk gun. Use the gun to add the adhesive onto the plywood, remembering to cover the edges as well. 

Step 5: Attach the Copper Sheet

Place the copper sheet on top of the plywood, remembering to leave 1 and 3/4 inches on the exposed sides. Secure it with the clamps and wait overnight for the glue to dry.

Step 6: Affix the Edges

Use the pair of pliers to turn the edges of the copper down over the plywood. Use the metal shears to cut the corners and fold them in neatly. Use the screwdriver to press the copper screws through the sheet and into the plywood.

Step 7: Seal the Countertop

Finally, smooth the beeswax over the counter to seal the copper, then use the soft cloth to clean the countertop.

Consider Hiring a Professional

Because copper countertops are so expensive, it is a good idea to hire a professional contractor if you have never installed countertops before. This way, you can be sure that the job is done right and that unforeseen circumstances don't cause you to need to spend more money.

How To Clean Copper Countertops

You typically will not need to do much to keep your copper countertops looking beautiful. If you spill any liquids, wipe them up quickly to prevent spots. Otherwise, you'll only need mild soap and some water to wipe down the counters each day. Windex also works well. 

Avoid chopping food or placing hot pans directly onto the countertops as it can cause scratches or other spots. However, if you do notice any minor scratches, removing them usually isn't hard. If your countertops have a matte finish, brush them out with a 3M Scotch-Brite pad. If your finish is a mirror-polish, remove scratches and spots with metal polish or lemon juice and salt. Extreme cases can be sanded out or removed with a machine-polishing pad, respectively.

Taking care of copper countertops with a patinated finish is a bit different. First, it is important to keep acidic food from touching the countertops directly. They can ruin the look of patinated finishes, which have no protective coating. Windex is fine for daily cleaning. Keep in mind that patinated finishes look different on every countertop. Natural patination is preferred to give it a unique look.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By anon993655 — On Dec 02, 2015

Sounds like a little more research was warranted. 48 oz copper (roughly 1/16") countertops do not dent easily, and are an excellent choice.

I would also not recommend cutting countertops to get them installed easier - that sounds like a rookie mistake. We sell 10' + countertops all the time - never heard of anyone cutting it up to get it installed.

By TMulhern19 — On Sep 15, 2014

Copper countertops and backsplashes provide charm for a kitchen. But each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Thanks for sharing these pros and cons of copper countertops.

Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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